Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” –Jonah 1:1–2 (ESV)
Okay, right off the bat I have some questions. Don’t you? How did the “word of the Lord” come? Like, was there an airplane with a banner flying across the sky above Jonah’s tent? Did an angel appear to him? Did God speak to him in a dream or impress upon his spirit? I. Need. More. Details.
Sadly, we won’t always be given details. But I’m comforted by a quick visit to the New Testament book of Hebrews. In Hebrews 1:1–2 we read, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (ESV).
We may not be told exactly how the word of the Lord came, but we can trust it came from the Lord. In fact, a “prophet” in the Old Testament is quite literally a mouthpiece for God. Further, we see Jonah (the prophet himself) doesn’t question the source of the message he receives. And, Jonah isn’t the only prophet to hear the “word of the Lord.”
“The word of the Lord that came to Hosea …” –Hosea 1:2 (ESV)
“The word of the Lord that came to Micah …” –Micah 1:1 (ESV)
“In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet …” –Haggai 1:1 (ESV)
Maybe these prophets had a vision—we know that to be the case with Obadiah. Maybe they heard the audible voice of the Lord like Samuel. Maybe an angel of the Lord appeared to them like Elijah. The fact remains, God spoke back then and He still speaks today. To prophets and pastors and leaders—yes—but also to you and me.
Sadly, many of us have a one-way communication channel open in our relationship with God. We pray, petition, and worship but we never practice the quiet discipline required to hear God speak to us. To borrow a pop culture reference, we “don’t understand the assignment.” As image-bearers of the one true God, we are created to know and glorify God and share the gospel. This means we can’t be the ones doing all the talking in the relationship. As believers we need to learn to hear and discern the voice of God.
The primary means God speaks to us is through His Word: the Bible. And the more immersed we are in Scripture, the more confident we become in our faith. When we spend time reading our Bibles and asking God to reveal Himself to us, we will learn to hear from Him and “understand the assignment.”
Tasha Calvert is an author, speaker and Bible teacher. She currently serves as the Global Director of Women’s Ministry at Prestonwood, in Dallas, Texas. She is married to Robert and has four daughters and a son-in-law. Connect with her at www.tashacalvert.com