In the Old Testament the concept of the Prophet is ‘one called (by God) to speak for God. God spoke to and through the Prophets who spoke God’s message not their own. As we have seen recently, the purpose of the Prophet was to speak the heart and mind of God to those around them, not just to predict the future.
The Prophets were judged in the Old Testament by their fruit, godliness, obedience to the commands of God, the accuracy of the word and whether the word was fulfilled or not.
Joel gives us a good example of the role of the Prophet. The people had begun to drift away from following God, they had begun to slumber spiritually and Joel shares the word of the Lord to them, Joel 1:2-12, then in v13-20 we see a call to repentance.
Joel 2:12-13 identifies that which God is seeking, a heart that is repentant. In fact Joel 2:28-29 shows us God’s response to a heart that is soft toward Him.
The word of prophecy is one way that God speaks to us; he also speaks to us through:
How should we respond to encountering and hearing from God?
- Prayer: we need to tune into hearing from God personally.
- Bible: God’s story comes to us through the narrative of the bible, as we get to know God’s story we get to know what is on his heart and allows God to speak to us. Josh 1:8.
- Teaching and Preaching: 1 Pet 4:11, 1 Thess 2:13.
- God Ordained Authority: Authorities in our lives are “ministers (or servants) of God” (Heb.13:7, Rom.13:1-7). They are God's delegated representatives.
- Parents (Col. 3:20. Eph. 6:1. Prov. 6:20; 15:5)
- Teachers/employees (Col. 3:22-25, 1 Tim. 6:1-2. 1 Pt. 2:18)
- Police (law) (Rom. 13:1-7. 1 Pt. 2:13-17)
- Church leaders (Heb. 13:17. 1 Thess. 5:12-14. 1 Tim. 5:17. 1 Pt. 5:1-3.
Authority is God's tool to work in our lives for character development, wisdom, protection and covering along with guidance and direction.
- Supernatural or Special Revelation
- Through dreams and visions. These were frequent in the Bible and during revival times (Acts 2:28).
- Through angelic visitations.
- Through prophecy (1 Thessalonians 5:20). Prophecy is a declaration of God’s heart and mind for right now. Listen, test and follow (1 Thess.5:20). God occasionally uses a prophetic song (or “song of the Lord”). Sometimes prophecy can be indirect or given corporately (“body ministry”).
The book of Habakkuk challenges the righteous to discern God’s will in adverse times and calls for perseverance while awaiting the establishment of God’s righteous kingdom.
In Habakkuk 2:1-2 we see four keys to hearing from God. ‘I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what He will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint’. Then the Lord replied ‘write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.’
Sample Discussion Questions
Each of us needs to have a desire to hear from God. Desire is the foundation of a life of prayer. How thirsty are you? Thirst motivates you to come and drink. How desperately do you want to know God? Your desire to know or meet with God motivates you to pray.
The word “desire” means to crave, to long for, to ask earnestly for, to have a strong affection or yearning for, to reach or stretch out for, to seek, to wish and to have a zeal for. It is an inward impulse or motivation.
The Hebrew word literally means to bend, or to turn aside to. It is an inclination. When you are hungry and you are driving along the road, your hunger causes you to “bend” or to “turn” off the road towards something that will satisfy that hunger. On the other hand, when you are satisfied, you have no hunger or thirst. You are full and have no desire for more.
Desire motivates and directs us. God responds to desire, when we ask, we will receive. When we seek, we will find. When we knock, it will be opened to us (Matt. 7:7-8).
- Create Space
We need to create space or room in our lives to hear from God. A key reason why we don’t hear from God more often is that we have many things in life competing for our attention. Hearing from God takes an intentional approach on our behalf.
- Write it Down
God begins to speak and his word begins to flow from his Spirit to ours. Writing helps us concentrate and assists in preventing our minds from wandering.
Look and listen, then write it down so you can run with it.
Hearing from God is one of the most important things for a successful Christian life. Take a few minutes to pray for people, pray against any hindrances experienced in hearing God speak and that each person would be proactive in the four areas that we find in the story of Habakkuk.
- How has prophetic ministry impacted your life in the past?
- How do you find God speaks to you?
- What are some practical steps we can take to hear God’s voice more effectively?