How to Hear God Through the Bible

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In my last blog post, “How Do I Listen for God’s Voice? Relationship“, I was referencing Peter Greig’s new book called “How to Hear God: A Simple Guide for NORMAL People. In the first part of this book, Peter shares how our relationship with Jesus can shape how we hear God’s Voice. It’s not the only thing covered in that book.

As the author points out, we learn to hear God’s voice through the pages of Scriptures. For some people, it is an easy thing to say “Open your Bible and read it.” Sadly, this is not the case for many Christians. They may well have a desire to read the pages of God’s Word; however, it is a daunting task for many of them. I understand the struggles and I’d like to share some ideas that will help you, in unlocking the hidden treasures in God’s Word.

When it comes to the Bible, there is an important piece of information that you should know. For one, the Bible is not a singular book. It is a collection of 66 books. That’s right. The Bible is really a library containing a variety of differing types of books.

Within its pages, you will encounter a variety of poetic songs called Psalms. You’ll also discover wisdom literatures better known as Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. You will also discover ancient history and discover ancient cultures. Ho about letters that were written by the apostles? Of course, there are also the Gospels and a history of the early Church.

For this reason, you can’t just sit down and read the pages of Scriptures as if it was a novel or a straight history book. I should know because that’s how I read God’s Word when I was a kid. I knew that it was not like my other books; however, I just had fun reading it. Therein likes your first tip! Yes, I can still recall the feeling of cluelessness in reading later portions of Genesis.

Yes, I firmly believe that the Word of God is divinely inspired and that the Holy Spirit guided the hands of different authors in the writing of each book. According to an article on Big Think, the book of Genesis was originally written around 1400 BC. You can read about it in “How Old Is The Bible?” Since Moses is credited with writing Genesis, it is a safe bet that the other four books are the same age.

The Holy Spirit did not write the various books that makes up the Bible, by Himself. The simple truth is, God’s Spirit worked with a wide variety of men, across a huge stretch of time. That is why the style of writing varies from one book to another one. It is also why you and I ran into a wide range of perspective in each book.

I trust that you are aware that Israel and its surrounding neighbors are not a part of what we would call Western Civilization. Yes, we are reading about ancient Middle Eastern culture and it’s why the customs seems alien to our modern Western ears. Plus, the history of Israel is told from a geocentric point of view.

When I first read about ancient Jerusalem, I had no clue about this city being surrounded by mountains. I’d scratch my head at passages like 2 Samuel 5:6-7. The taunt of the Jebusite commander seems boastful and strange. Here’s the Scripture in question:

Now the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, and they said to David, “You shall not come in here, but the blind and lame will turn you away”; thinking, “David cannot enter here.” Nevertheless, David captured the stronghold of Zion, that is the city of David.

2 Samuel 5:6-7 NASB

As a kid, I probably skipped pass the above verses. As an adult, I asked “What the heck is going on? Why is this guy so confident?” In 2006, I discovered some very helpful insight from Josephus. Josephus is writing to a Roman audience and he thankfully provided a valuable clue. It is how I discover that the commander was not making an empty boast.

The city is nestled between seven mountains and a fortified Jerusalem could hold off a large army. Because of this, the commander has good reason to boast in the defensibility of that city. Though David did not have an overwhelming force of men; David did have God, Almighty on his side and it is enough.

You may be saying “Oh great! I don’t have the money for books on the history, cultural background and the many commentaries!” I have good news for you. You do not have to buy a single book, these days. Today, you get to read “The Complete Works of Josephus Flavius” for free! Josephus is a Jewish historian and can provide some very useful insights into what you’re discovering in the pages of Scripture.

It’s not the only free source that is available. You can visit the Bible Hub and read through a variety of free online commentaries and you can do the same thing with the Blue Letter Bible site. I will use this site to read certain commentaries and check their reverse interlinear Bible. I use the BibleGateway site for my Bible quotes.

Perhaps you would prefer to listen to good expository teaching on specific Scriptures. Do you know that you can get a wide range of Bible teachings on YouTube? Bible teachings are not the only thing that one can find. How would you like to listen to an audio version of a sermon by Charles Spurgeon or some other preacher from an earlier time? If so, you can find plenty at Christian Sermons and Audiobook.

I just gave you a bunch of head knowledge and I did not appear to answer the question of “How to hear God’s Voice through Scriptures?” God uses the Word of God to speak into our lives in many ways. The problem is, you are going to need the above introductory level information to understand the answer.

I can’t tell you to read the Scriptures in the context that it is given and not give the tools to help you. Otherwise, you may read something like 1 Corinthains 14:34-35 and totally misinterpret Paul’s instruction. What am I talking about?

34 The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 NASB

Here is what you don’t know and it’s why it helps to dig into culture and history. In today’s churches, men and women sit together. In those days, husbands and wives were not allowed to sit together. They had to sit in separate areas. What dos this has to do with Paul’s instruction? Do you know that women were not allowed to read or write? It was rare to find women who could do so.

It was perfectly natural for a woman to yell to her husband, “Honey! What is that verse he’s talking about? What does he mean?” It’s why Paul is simply saying for wives to wait til you get home and then ask. You’ll have an easier time of it.

How can I be certain? It is through a process called exegesis. That is, I’m reading the surrounding verses and asking questions about what I’m reading. What do the text actually say and what is the context for Paul’s strange instruction and it is strange one. I’d ask Jesus about what is happening and find a need to check those online commentaries and cultural background.

The surrounding passages speak of a need for order and a respect for the one preaching the Word of God or one of Paul’s teachings. The texts also talks about how to properly use spiritual gifts. Yes, there were women prophet and a woman named Pricilla was often sent to share what Paul wrote. The part about the seating arrangement came from commentaries and readig about ancient Middle Eastern culture.

The next step is to ask Jesus, “How does this apply to me? What do you want me to learn or discover?” Because I live in a very different culture and the need for such instructions seems foreign, it helps to talk with the Holy Spirit about what is read.

Do not be afraid to ask Jesus about what you are reading and how it can be of help to you. The Scriptures is a rich treasure trove of wonderful insights. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul tells Timothy that all Scripture is beneficial and useful for a variety of situations.

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 NASB

At the same time, we are to read Scripture as a way to encounter Jesus is the Living Word of God. Here is what Jesus told the Pharisees of his time. Here’s John 5:39-40:

39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.

John 5:39-40

Ask Jesus to reveal himself in the pages of the Bible. Even better, you can ask “What Scriptures are pointing to you? how are you revealed? How does the Cross figure into this?” There is a world of adventures within the pages of the Bible that awaits you! Take care of what lens you are using to read Scripture because it will influence what you discover.

It is a good idea to put aside your biases and ask God, the Father to show you things that you may never have thought of. Here is what God told Jeremiah 33:3-4

“Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it, the Lord is His name, ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

Jeremiah 33:3-4

Are you going to take God up on that offer? You can trust His Spirit to guide you and help you on your adventure in learning to hear God’s voice.

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