“Then the hand of the LORD was upon me there, and He said to me, ‘Arise, go out into the plain, and there I shall talk with you.’”Ezekiel 3:22
As one of the captives in Babylon, the prophet Ezekiel pondered over the fate of his people and God’s leading. His head and heart were full of thoughts that deeply moved him. There were so many questions that he dearly wanted answers to. God’s blessings from the past, written in Israel’s history, came to his mind. The great sins of his people towered like mountains before him. He saw that the punishment that God had sent was righteous.
All at once, he was interrupted in the midst of his thoughts. It was the voice of God that called him. Ezekiel had a listening ear and an open heart for the voice of God. God told him to leave the city and go out into the plain, into the quietness of the countryside. Ezekiel obeyed. He knew that God wanted to be alone with him. In his heart, he knew that God wanted to reveal something important to him, so he went to be there with Him alone. Ezekiel left his own thoughts behind, disregarded his worries, and went to meet his God. There, in the stillness of the plain, the glory of the Lord stood before him. Prayerfully, he fell down before Him, his face to the ground. His heart was saying, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”
God speaks in different places, at different times, and in different ways.
Scripture shows us again and again that God speaks to groups and to individuals. Knowing this, Asaph, who composed Psalm 50, exclaims: “The Mighty One, God the LORD, has spoken and called the earth from the rising of the sun to its going down” (Psalm 50:1). And in Psalm 19, David says, “The heavens declare the glory of God…there is no speech or language where their voice is not heard” (Psalm 19:1&3). God speaks in the city, in the country, in the forest, in the desert, on the ocean, on mountains, and in valleys.
From time to time, God will pick certain places and certain people for His message. God chose a place outside the city, in the plain, to speak to Ezekiel. He spoke to Adam and Eve in the garden, to Cain at the spot where he had slain his brother, to Jacob by the river Jabbok, to Moses on Mount Horeb, to Israel at Sinai, to Saul on the road to Damascus, to Jonah in the depth of the sea, to John on the island of Patmos, and so on.
Where has God spoken to you in a special way? Was it during a sermon at church, on your knees during prayer, on your sickbed, on a trip, on the road, while you were at work? All at once, you may have felt like Jacob, who said: “How awesome is this place. This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (Genesis 28:17). You knew for certain, “My God is speaking to me.”
Wherever God speaks to us, we are on holy ground. “Take off your sandals” (Exodus 3:5) and open your heart and ear for what God has to say.
There are times when God communicates with us in a clear and definite way. He spoke to Job in the stillness of the night. He spoke to Mary early in the morning. He encountered Paul “about noon” (Acts 22:6). He spoke to Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. In each case, God picked the time that suited the occasion best and when His message would be understood.
When is the time of day that you make time for God? When do you become still before Him? When do you leave the noise and busyness of life behind to spend time with Him? Were there not special times in your life when God spoke to you? When you quiet your heart, God can speak to you. Jesus went to places of solitude to pray and seek God.
Whenever God wishes to speak to you, He has “thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). These are special times of blessing. Your salvation is His concern. He wants to “instruct you and teach you in the way you should go” (Psalm 32:8). He wants to comfort you, as a mother comforts her child (Isaiah 66:13). What a privilege to hear the voice of the Lord. What joy it brings. What blessing it bestows! What revelations were given to those who listened!
David Brainard was a missionary to natives of North America in Delaware. When members of the ferocious tribe drew near his tent to kill him, they saw him on his knees. He was speaking to someone they could not see. In their superstition, that filled them with fear.
Then, all of a sudden, a rattlesnake crawled from beneath the tent toward the missionary and lifted up its head as if to strike him. But without harming him, it lowered itself again and slid off as silently as it had come.
The natives were bewildered and amazed. This white missionary must be under the protection of the great spirit, whom they revered, since the poisonous creature did him no harm. They returned and related the incident to their chief.
The next morning when Brainard, full of faith, came into the native village with Bible in hand, the whole tribe came and met him. They greeted him as if he were a long-trusted friend. They listened to the message of salvation. They accepted the gospel of Jesus and His love. The gospel had a great impact among that tribe. The tribe found salvation and was changed through the gospel of Christ. God was able to speak to them.
How has God spoken to you? When He spoke to you through His Word and His Spirit, did you understand what He had to say? Did God accomplish His goal? “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 3:15). The consequences of not heeding God’s voice are catastrophic. God calls, warns, asks, and pleads. Yet, if a person hears and continually refuses to obey, God’s sad response will be: “but you were not willing” (Luke 13:34). God will pass you by – and you are lost.
When, where, and however God talks to you, listen to His voice. When He speaks, say, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” (Acts 9:6) and pray, “Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths” (Psalm 25:4). Ask, and you shall receive.