The Voice of God: From Burning Bushes to Quiet Whispers

Mark Jobe
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Celebrated film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg asked, “What does God sound like?” I was in Hollywood at the production headquarters of DreamWorks. Twenty other evangelical pastors and I had been invited to preview the film The Prince of Egypt and offer our feedback. I felt a little out of place as the youngest pastor there, and in the company of nationally known church leaders. They invited me as a representative of the “younger generation.”

From his seat in the DreamWorks conference room, Katzenberg described the team’s most difficult task in creating the epic film. “We had a hard time knowing how to record the voice of God in the burning bush scene,” he explained. “We considered the thunder voice approach and the deep baritone ‘James Earl Jones’ style, but in the end none of those seem to fit.” He paused. “Then we had an idea. We took the voices of a hundred different people—men, women, and children—and recorded them into one single voice track.”

God’s lines were spoken by all the film’s lead actors together. Sound engineer Lon Bender directed the actors to whisper the lines, so that none would dominate the performance. He and his team then took the voice of Val Kilmer, who voice-acted Moses, and made his voice louder than the others. As a result, Kilmer gave voice to both Moses and God, suggesting that often we hear God speak to us in our own voice.

The concept of more than a hundred different voices making up the voice of God actually has a prophetic ring to it. God speaks in hundreds of languages to the hearts of people around the world through His Word.

Do You Hear Him When He Speaks?

Of course we can never know, this side of heaven, what God’s voice sounds like exactly. But Scripture tells us clearly that God does speak to us. He has spoken through the prophets and through His Word, and most perfectly through His Son, Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1–2). The question, then, is not whether God speaks but whether we hear Him when He speaks. If we ever hope to successfully transition from one season to the next, we must learn to quiet our soul, listen attentively, and discern the voice of God when He speaks to us.

Stillness repositions us to hear God’s voice more clearly.

In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, I began reading Psalm 46 every morning as I watched the sunrise with a strong cup of coffee in my hand. The psalm starts with a reassuring declaration: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.” In the middle of a time of elevated death tolls, sickness, economic trouble, and national crisis, my soul needed to meditate on those words each day. What struck me as I read the psalm each morning was that verses 1 and 2 were connected to the practice given to us in verse 10: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Being fearless and grasping that God is our refuge and strength is tied to the practice of being still and knowing. Be still means that I have to stop doing, scrolling, planning, talking, watching, and hash-tagging. It means that I stop. I cease activity. It is in the stopping and the stillness that my soul can finally breathe and my spirit can begin to grasp that God is my refuge and strength.

It is in stillness that fear and anxiety start to shrink in the presence of the Great I Am. Stillness allows me to process my thoughts and direct my thinking toward a focus on His Word. It allows me to pause and strengthen my knowing.

Stillness repositions us to hear God’s voice more clearly.

Just the other day I was on my cellphone talking with my wife, Dee, when her voice became choppy. I had to walk outside the building to find better reception. If I had stayed deep inside the building, my wife’s voice would have continued to be unclear. I had to reposition myself before I could hear her clearly again.

We Must Respond

When we refuse to respond to His voice, God sometimes uses other means to move us along. Jonah refused to go to Nineveh, so God sent a storm and a man-swallowing fish. The population of earth refused to listen in Noah’s day, so God sent the flood. Pharaoh refused to listen, so God sent the plagues.

Often it is the extraordinary interruptions and dramatic wake-up calls that motivate us to reposition ourselves to listen attentively. I have heard many stories of people who, just before they awakened to the voice of God, were startled by a dramatic disruption in their life. A nearly fatal car accident. A difficult and painful divorce. A cancer diagnosis. The collapse of a business venture. The loud, attention-getting sirens are not an end in themselves but merely a warning of what is coming. The flashing lights and siren of the police cars and security vehicles make way for the president’s entourage, but the first family is not in the police car. Do not confuse the announcement with the presence.

For Further Reading:

What Now?

by Mark Jobe

I want to live God’s calling, but where do I begin? Be it in the midst of a spiritual lull, a midlife crisis, or an unforeseen pandemic,...

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