As an author, teacher, speaker, and as a mother and grandmother I’m very affected by words. I have a notebook where I write down phrases that are well-spoken. That is one of the many things I love about God—that He loves words. He is a God who speaks.
Right from the beginning of the Bible in Genesis 1 ten times we read the words, “God said…, God said…, God said….”
In Genesis 3:9 he not only talks but he asks a question, “Where are you?”
Then in Exodus 3:4 God calls to Moses from the burning bush. A little later, in Exodus 19:3 God calls to Moses on Mt. Sinai.
Throughout the books of the prophets there is this repeated phrase, “The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, Micah, Jonah…”
At various times God spoke in dreams. Think of Joseph, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel and many others.
And while we’re thinking of God speaking, we chuckle about God speaking through a speechless donkey. The apostle Peter recounts this Old Testament story in his epistle (see 2 Peter 2:16). I guess it’s not something funny that God could actually speak through a donkey, but I do laugh because Balaam talks back to the donkey.
I’m not sure what this would sound like or look like but in Job 38:1-41:34 God speaks in the whirlwind. However it sounded, the questions God asks come through powerfully and Job repents (Job 42:1-6).
If we search further we find that God not only speaks but he writes. In Exodus 34:1 it says that the commandments were “inscribed by the finger of God.” He writes even on stone. Of course that shouldn’t be surprising: He made the very stones he wrote on.
Then there’s that scary situation in Daniel 5:5 when “Suddenly the finger of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall.” We know it was God writing on that wall.
If we skip to the New Testament we read (John 8:6 and 9) of men catching a woman in adultery and hauling her before Jesus. Jesus wrote something, something very convicting, on the ground and they all slunk away.
So God speaks and writes but it gets more fascinating. In 1 Kings 19:12 Elijah is fleeing from the scare tactics of Jezebel and God whispers to him—a low whisper. God reminds Elijah that he’s not alone. There are 7,000 others who have not bowed to Baal (vs. 18). What an encouragement for a depressed prophet.
Here’s a curious passage in Isaiah 7:18. God whistles. Bible translators, George and Florrie Cowan did a translation for a language group in Mexico that had whistle talk. It is a tonal language. Yes, God whistles.
I’ve been reading the sad book of Jeremiah recently and in chapter 25 verse 30 it talks about a God who roars. A few verses later (38) it adds “like a lion.” Is this one of the verses that convinced C.S. Lewis to present Christ, as Aslan, the lion of Judah?
In Zephaniah 3:17 we learn that God not only speaks, writes, whistles, whispers, and roars, but he also sings. “The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with his love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” What a lovely thought that is. I have the image of Matthew, when he was dating my daughter, Dietlinde, taking her in his arms and waltzing around my living room singing to her.
I hear people say that trusting Christ is like sitting on a chair. Sitting on a chair? No, no. It is like falling into the arms of the One who loves us, feeling His warm embrace as He sings a love song to us and tells us we will never have to go through the tough times alone.
When we come to the New Testament we learn that Jesus is the Word (John 1:1, 14), the perfect Communicator of who God is. Obviously Philip didn’t get it because in John 14:6 he says to Jesus, “Show us the Father.” And the next few verses Jesus explains, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”
In Acts 2 we learn about the coming of the Holy Spirit and God speaking to each one in his mother tongue. Is English listed there? No, why not? Because you weren’t there. If you had been there you would have heard the gospel in English.
One of my favorite passages is Acts 26 where Paul is doing what Paul does best–giving his testimony (verses 12-29). Now he is before King Agrippa. The commentaries tell us that this would be 26 years after his startling experience on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9). As Paul relates that story to the King he says, “God spoke to me in Aramaic.” What is noteworthy about that? Was this the only language Paul knew? No, he was a Roman citizen so he would have known Latin. He was well educated so he would have known Greek. But God spoke to him in Aramaic, his mother tongue. This fact was such a significant factor in his conversion experience that he notes it when he recounts the story many years later.
So this is a God who speaks. He speaks in our heart language—the language we learned at our mother’s knee. He asks questions. He writes, sings, and calls out to get our attention. He whispers and whistles. He speaks in dreams. He roars.
What does all this tell us about God? He communicates. He reaches out to us in verbal communication and many other forms of communication. He is not silent. He is not reclusive. In all these different ways he’s showing that he wants to converse with us.
If he speaks, and it’s clear that he does, then obviously He has a message to convey. What is the message? It is not just helping people with a shopping list or directions to the next city. It’s not just teaching us how to order food at a restaurant or return a pair of shoes because we bought the wrong size.
No. His message is powerful, a life-changing message. It is not an insignificant thing that we as Bible translators are working hard to make this message understandable for every people group around the world. The message is so incredible that messengers are willing to lay down their lives to get it out there.
This is God’s message of truth—that no matter your ethnicity,
you can be brought into the family of God.
All human divisions are broken because Jesus died on the cross and conquered the grave. The door is now wide open for us to have access to God. It is a message of peace for all people. We all have the chance to embrace Christ.
There are still 1,778 language groups where Bible translation has yet to begin. The fact that God speaks, writes, whistles, whispers or roars has not occurred to these people. They don’t know that He writes because for them the book is only a pile of blank pages. They don’t have any idea that He sings because they have none of his love songs in their language. How would they know that God wants to communicate his message of peace to them when they don’t know if He speaks their language?
Recently I was on a month-long speaking tour. Every day I watched the story of a man named Eric who is working with Christ followers in the Middle East, a very dangerous place to be a Christian. Those men are tortured, beaten, imprisoned, isolated. Some have been killed but they are still asking for God’s Word. They are asking if we have the stomach to work with them to get God’s truth to their people. Do we?
It was a question I had to ask after the death of my husband in Papua New Guinea. God gave me the strength and grace to stay and finish the translation after that tragedy. And now I know that giving God’s Word to a people group is something worth dying for. It’s also something worth living for. I also learned through those dark days that God did not fail me and now I can say to you with 100% confidence—He won’t fail you either. Just listen, my friends. Listen to Him speak.
Please check out these key verses to learn even more:
v Ephesians 2:12-14
v Romans 2:11
v Ephesians 2:19
v Ephesians 1:4-5
v Romans 8:15
v Romans 10:11-15
v Colossians 1:13-14, 19-20