The Father of Lies isn’t the only one trying to speak to us. Our Father in heaven has plenty to say. God’s voice echoes through our lives when we listen to godly advice from our parents, youth pastor or friend; when we feel nudged by the Holy Spirit; and when we read His words in the Bible. But listening isn’t easy, especially when God’s voice asks us to do things we don’t like.
The prophets in the Bible knew what that was like. They heard God’s voice calling them to confront their culture and speak up for truth. At that time, confronting the culture meant not only standing up for God with their countrymen, but also confronting the king — an act that could get them killed. Take a look at the lives of three prophets who listened to God’s voice and spoke up for truth: Elijah, Isaiah and Jeremiah.
Stories about Elijah appear in the second half of 1 Kings and the first two chapters of 2 Kings. You’ve probably heard how Elijah confronted the wicked King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel. King Ahab had married a pagan queen from another country and allowed her to set up altars to the false gods she worshiped. This displeased God, who sent Elijah to confront Ahab and Jezebel on several occasions. At any point King Ahab could have tried to kill Elijah, and several times Elijah fled for his life. The confrontations built up to a huge test between Elijah — whose name means “my God is Yahweh” — and the false prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Elijah asked God to send fire from heaven, and it happened! Jezebel was furious but, because of his faithfulness and obedience to God, Elijah did not die. In fact, Elijah never died. Second Kings chapter 2 says Elijah was taken into heaven by a chariot of fire!
Isaiah — whose name means “Yahweh [God] is Salvation” — also listened to God’s voice and spoke against the unfaithfulness in his culture. He warned the people that if they continued to disobey God, then God would punish them for their sin. But in the midst of all the dire warnings about their coming destruction, God also gave Isaiah visions of heaven and promises of a future Messiah. Many of the prophecies in the Bible concerning the Messiah come from the book of Isaiah. God also promised that He would restore Israel, redeem the Jewish people and punish those who had attacked His people. Because Isaiah listened to God’s voice and spoke God’s words, the people of Judah turned from their sin and asked God for help. He delivered them from the attacking Assyrians, and there was peace in Judah throughout the rest of Isaiah’s life.
Jeremiah was a prophet in Jerusalem during the reigns of Josiah and Jehoiakim. He, too, heard God’s voice and did his best to pass God’s message to the Jewish people. Jeremiah — whose name means “God will exalt” — warned God’s people of the consequences of disobeying God and not honoring His Word. But they were angry with him for the things he said and persecuted him for listening to God’s voice. Jeremiah was even thrown in prison for prophesying that Babylon would attack and conquer Jerusalem. He was in prison right up until the victorious Babylonians set him free. Even while in prison, Jeremiah continued speaking God’s Word, trying desperately to convince the Jewish people to turn from their sin and seek God’s forgiveness.
Obeying God’s voice and speaking His words to the people around you can be difficult. We are blessed that we can speak without being thrown in prison, but many people get angry when we — as followers of Christ — try to live the way God has called us to live and speak His words. Remember Hebrews 12:1-3: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, . . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. . . . Consider him [Jesus] who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Next time you hear God’s voice speaking to you, remember the lives of the prophets who heard God’s voice, knew that persecution would come and spoke up anyway. And remember the example of our Messiah, Jesus, who suffered so much so that we could be free from sin forever.