READER QUESTION: I was curious to know if there are any scriptures relating to hearing YHWH's (Yahweh's) voice and distinguishing his voice from your own line of thinking. For some reason I struggle with that notion. How would I know if I am using my own line of thinking or YHWH's?
GREAT QUESTION! We see in the Scriptures that YHWH occasionally spoke with an audible voice:
Exodus 33:11 tells us that he spoke to Moshe (Moses) "face to face" (see, also, Numbers 12:7-8, Deuteronomy 34:10). He also spoke to Joshua (Joshua 1:1) and Samuel (1 Sam. 3:1-14). A voice from the heavens was heard when Yeshua was baptized by John (Matt. 3:17, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22) and from a cloud that appeared when Yeshua was transfigured on a high mountain (Matt. 17:5, Mark 9:7).
And Paul and his traveling companions heard his voice when Paul was struck blind on his way to Damascus to murder Messianic believers (Acts 9:4).
The Bible offers the only written words/messages from YHWH to us today. Unlike in ancient times, no one today (especially in the "Western World") has the excuse of not being able to read, and therefore, not knowing what the Bible says.
(Unfortunately, many listen to all kinds of false teachers and teachings and "prophets" whose messages are designed to lead us astray, and they are consequently left in the dark about the real messages in the Bible!) The Bible is our ONLY blueprint for moral, holy living!
People can receive messages through the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) as YHWH speaks to us in various ways:
• Through the Bible: The Bible is YHWH's living word. Sometimes a passage "jumps out at us" which seems to be exactly "what we needed to hear" at a certain point in time. Often, particular verses come to mind while we read and/or pray, and God uses some of them to speak to us. Hebrews 4:12-13 reminds us that "the word of YHWH is alive" and "sharper than any double edged sword!" This suggests we must continually be reading the Bible if we are seeking God's wisdom and Will in our lives.
• Through prayer: YHWH's Voice is similar to the "voice" of our conscience. Over time we learn to recognize His Voice as He places thoughts into our minds. Of course, we must learn to weigh against the Scriptures whatever we feel we are "hearing"....
• Through others: YHWH often uses others either directly (by causing them to "hear" a message for us), or sometimes in more subtle ways such that they themselves are often unaware that they're being used. For instance, during the course of a conversation with someone, we "suddenly" recognize they gave us the answer to something we had been seeking. Again, whatever is said MUST be weighed against the Scriptures! If someone says, "God gave me a word for you: I think you should go ahead with that divorce of yours and not bother to try to reconcile with your spouse" - then you know that did NOT come from God, because YHWH says He HATES divorce (Malachi 2:16)!
• Through visions or dreams. Through the Ruach, God often gives us certain visions or dreams containing, perhaps just some words that "stick with us"; or entire scenarios that we "just know" were meant for us. Again, these visions/dreams MUST line up with the Bible!
It cannot be reiterated enough that, before relying on words, visions or dreams to guide or direct our lives, they should be carefully tested and clearly applicable. If you "hear" or "feel" a message from God, it HAS to line up 100 percent with what the Bible says. If you "hear" or "dream" that you are supposed to murder your neighbor or seduce your neighbor's wife, that is obviously NOT a message from YHWH!