The voice of the Lord, the Presence of the Lord – that’s where my mind was today. I’m reading 4th Century Church Father, Athanasius, on the Incarnation of Christ, the Word, the Son of God. Athanasius says, “He had by no means hidden himself out of sight of men, nor simply given the knowledge of himself in only one way but unfolded it to them in various ways and through many channels.” This fits with what Paul says in Romans One that God has revealed himself to all and we are without excuse. Athanasius goes further saying that our being made in God’s image is sufficient to know God The Word (Jesus) and through him then to know the Father – BUT – we are weak and careless and sometimes, “Care not to have clear knowledge…” and so creation reveals more of God. But then our failure to receive and know what was plain, God gave us The Law and Prophets so that if we haven’t gotten close enough to know God, then hear from some humans who have. He says that all of the universe is moved by God so that we might know Jesus and he reveal the Father.
All of this comes from this morning seeing 1 Samuel 3, when Samuel heard and met the Lord for the first time. I have always loved this story. I relate to it well, having come to faith in Christ at a very young age, just a young boy. And then called to preach at a young age. And so here is Samuel given to the service of God as just a boy. Chapter three is so much. I could preach a series from this. It talks about how Samuel was serving in God’s presence, and that God’s Word was RARE. It says that Eli’s vision was failing… the Lamp had almost gone out and Samuel was in the Temple, where the ark of the Lord was located… then the Lord called…
How do you respond when calls? Samuel says, “Here I am”, and runs to his master, teacher, the prophet, Eli. Oft times when we first hear God, we don’t even recognize him. We hear the call – but don’t know who or what that is, but at least availability is a good response.
Then once again – praise God he keeps calling. Samuel again responds, “Here I am”, but still he thinks this is Eli who responds, “I didn’t call you.” And we are told, Samuel did not yet know the Lord, because the Word of the Lord had not yet been revealed.” Samuel needed some recognition help, somebody.
v8 once again… and again, “here I am” – THEN – THEN – Eli understood that the Lord was calling the boy – Oh listen follower of Jesus. WE – who already know, should pay attention and reveal to the one who does not know, that God is speaking and we should listen. We need to have our spiritual acuity alert. Someone tells us, “well I heard this… and that happened… and I was reading… and I heard a sermon…” and when they all seem to be lining up and saying the same thing, we need to be aware, and say, “I think God is speaking to you.”
THEN – with a little assistance, anticipation, expectation, and excitement Samuel is ready to hear and v10, The Lord came and stood there and called as before. Folks need to know that God still speaks, that he cares, and that when he speaks it is always an invitation to which we should respond, Listening. God’s voice is always TRUE, revelatory, inviting, and is transformative. We always have an opportunity to change from knowing in theory to knowing by experience. Yet we have to stop and listen. Jesus is there. His revelation will always fit with his Word, but it will also always change us.
Let me end with this quote from Oswald Chambers – “A lily, a tree, or a servant of God may convey God’s message to me. What hinders me from hearing is that I am taken up with other things. It’s not that I will not hear God, but that I am not devoted in the right place… God may say what he likes but I do not hear him.”
The voice of the Lord, the presence of the Lord is with us, but are we ready, eager, expecting to hear, listen, and obey?