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As we continue along in this series: relent, I want to go back to the original passage that we started in, the passage recounting Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Jesus fended the temptation of Satan that he, in his state of extreme hunger would turn stones into bread. “It is written,” Jesus reminded Satan, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” When we first looked at this passage, we applied it very practically – that the purpose of fasting and the practice of spiritual disciplines is not to focus on the fast or the spiritual disciplines, but to orient ourselves to feast on God. So whether you’re observing lent, or a one or two day fast, or even a 30 hour famine, you actually are missing the point if you make it solely about what you are abstaining from.
Today however, we are going to springboard off this passage in another way, that is, “How do we feast on God?” Because notice that Jesus says, man does not live on God alone, or even on God’s presence alone, but, specifically, “by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” God’s words are life. God’s words are what he feast on for they bring life. As the psalmist says in Psalm 19:7-10:
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
God’s words are life. Reviving, making wise, rejoicing, enlightening, enduring: life! Jesus has been nourished by the very words of God. Which leads us to add this layer of understanding to our study: our fasting, praying and seeking is not feasting, unless we are listening, for God’s words are life. In order for us to practice this, I’m going break it down very simply and unpack it for you. We have three points or issues to cover today: 1) Our God Speaks, 2) How does He speak? 3) How do we Hear his voice?
Our God Speaks
In scripture, the fast that God speaks is one of the most distinguishing characteristics of his nature and personhood.
- Genesis 1: God Speaks and creates everything.
- Genesis: God speaks to Adam (daily walks), Eve, Cain (the wicked Son), Noah, Abraham, Lot (through an angel), Hagar, Abimelch (king of Gerar) in a dream, Abraham’s servant (clear guidance), Rebeccah (asking God why herr preganancy was so traumatic), Jacob, Joseph, the cup-bearer, the baker and Pharoah. Moving on to Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers God speaks to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. Moses speaks to God as a friend and spends so much time in his presence that his face shines. The stunning repetition of these three books, is “The Lord spoke to Moses, the Lord spoke to Aaron”. Yet in numbers 11, as elders were appointed to aid Moses, the spirt cam upon them as well and they also prophesied, causing Moses to declare, “Would that all God’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” This prophecy was taken up and echoed by the Prophet Joel, who declared “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. (Joel 2:28-29), which is in fact what the early church recognized to have happened in their days. Not too get too big a head about God speaking to us, for in Numbers the Lord also speaks to the wicked prophet Balaam – both personally and through his donkey.
- In the time of judges – not the best spiritual time for everyone was doing what was right in there own eyes – God speaks to Joshua, Deborah, Gideon (some no-name dude, who couldn’t believe that God would really speak to him), Manoah (Samson’s mom), Hearing the voice of the Lord was considered the normal state of the people of God, at least collectively, so that in 1 Samuel 3:1, the exception to the rule is pointed out: Now the young man Samuel was ministering to the LORD under Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.
- God continues speaking, and his speaking is his distinguishing characteristc that sets him apart from the false gods. He questions the people through Habakkuk:
“What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols! That’s just a cursory list through the Old Testament, and I didn’t really even get into the prophets – much less the New Testament which the Old Testament anticipated to be a prophetic age. God speaks. He has always spoken. And his Word is life.
How Does God Speak? We’ll look at three.
- Through His Son:but in these last days he has spoken to us by his SonThe revelation of God in Jesus so surpasses any other revelation that God has given to man, just as the light from the sun overwhelms a tiny little flashlight. Jesus communicated to us perfectly everything of the Father, so that to see Him was to see the Father, to hear him was to hear the Father, to obey Him was to obey the Father, to love Him was to love the Father and to hate him was to hate the Father. John says it simply, “No one has seen Him at any time, but God the only son, he has explained him to us.” What’s God like – exhibit A – Jesus and there is no exhibit B. This is why there is salvation in no one else, because to reject the revelation of the Father – the Son – is to reject the Father himself. You cannot go to God, somehow circumventing Jesus. It’s like saying I will obey my mom, but disobey her word. What? God has spoken to us in Jesus. Even when Jesus said strange and hard things, like “unless a person eat my flesh and drink my blood he cannot inherit the kingdom of God” and many people turned away, and they said, to where will we go – you have the words of life!” There is one perfect speaker, and he is Jesus, and his sheep know his voice and when he calls them they come to Him because they hear him.
- Through His Word: have something more sure, the prophetic word,What do you trust: Bible or audible voice from God and your own eyewitness account? Peter wouldn’t trust his eyes or his ears, but He trusted the Word. Notice that we don’t elevate the Word over Jesus, but we trust Jesus, and Jesus trusted the Word – so much so that he said not one jot or title (the smallest specks of the Hebrew alphabet would pass away from the Word until the Kingdom comes in. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, The Bible has been so attacked by liberals, and historical revisionists, and people with scissors, claiming contradictions, but it has stood the test of time for it is life. The wisdom contained within will keep a young man pure by hiding it deep within his heart. I love this book. The more I study it the more I see how it fits together – it truly is one book even though it was written by over 40 human authrs from all walks of life, it has one author andd everything fits. It fits in my life – the more I understand it the more I see it as being as practical in its instruction as the latest and most hyped up modern best-seller, yet it was written thousands of years ago by middle-eastern shepherds and fisherman. It is the anchor which holds the various strands of Christianity together, yet speaks to each individual in power. Only God could have written such a masterpiece.