I was talking to a Jewish friend with a number of other people in the room a few of years ago. During the conversation someone said, “God spoke to me” and went on to state what they thought they had heard. After the crowd left my Jewish friend looked at me with a facial expression I have seen many times. A look which normally means I am about to learn something very important. He brought up the “God told me” statement and proceeded to explain why he would not make a statement like that. It was not that he believes HaShem does not speak to people, but rather his explanation brought a greater meaning to the dialogue between the Creator and His creation. My friend’s explanation went like this. God is always speaking, so to say “God told me” is to say He only speaks on occasion. A better way for this person to have explained their encounter would be to say, “In a moment that I was listening…”
Allow me to expound a bit. Is there ever a time in which HaShem is not speaking? I would say “no”. His voice is in world events, creation itself and even conversations we are having with others around us. The question is, “Are we listening for His voice in those things and at those times?”
In Genesis 12 we read of a dialogue between HaShem and a man named Abram. It appears from the text that he hears an audible voice, but was his hearing the audible voice due to his learning to hear an inaudible one? Let me explain. As Abram grew up in Ur and later in Haran, did he witness the sin and depravity of the culture and wonder if there had to be a better way of living? If so, he heard His voice. If ancient writings are true and his father was a seller of idols, did he look at them and consider they were just carvings of wood and stone? If so, he heard His voice. Did he look up to the stars at night and wonder just who it was that created the heavens and the earth? If so, he heard His voice.
My point is that Abram had made a lifestyle out of listening to the ever speaking voice of HaShem. On that now infamous day when the inaudible became the audible it was as natural to follow that voice as it was for Abram to breathe.
There is another person in the story though that does not get much credit until later. Her name is Sara. Scripture does not record her hearing a voice. That is not until Abram came home and told her to pack her bags as they were moving to a new place. From the text it appears that Sara did not question Abram’s decision, but started packing. How could she do this? I believe it was because she had been listening for the voice of HaShem as Abram had.
When Abram came home with the news, Sara did not need to get alone and pray, because the inaudible voice she had been hearing had now become audible through her husband’s voice. On that day, her husband’s voice and the Creator’s voice matched exactly. No questions were needed.
Through the next few weeks we will see the journey of Abram and Sara continuing to follow HaShem’s voice. We will read of the times their hearing was good and the times it was not so good. I am so thankful Father did not just give us the successes of this couple. If he had, the standard would have been too high to reach. I am also grateful He did not only record their failures as it would cause us to not even try. The successes and failures give me hope; for it tells me Abram and Sara were human, flesh and blood like you and me.
In Genesis chapter 17 HaShem tells Abram to “Walk before me and be perfect.” Thankfully the word translated perfect is not the best meaning for the word. In Hebrew it is tamiym and means entire, complete and whole. In the Complete Jewish Bible, David Stern translates it as pure-hearted. Other translations use whole-hearted. The Hebrew spelling is tav, mem, yod, mem. It is a picture of waters coming together and merging into covenant as one. Think about that for a moment. Have you ever seen two rivers come together? They don’t struggle to become one river, they just do. Flowing in covenant with our Creator should be no more difficult than two rivers combining into one. That is, if we have learned to “listen” to the direction we are supposed to flow.