~This week we have the privilege of hearing from guest blogger Lee Schnabel. Lee has been ministering to Latin America for almost 20 years. Lee and his wife Lisa attend CitySalt. See the end of this blog post for more details.~
Why Doesn’t God Speak to Us More Often Through Angels or with an Audible Voice?
This question plagued me for many years as a sincere Christian who like many, just wanted to know what God would like me to do so that I could fulfill His will. There were times I thought why does God make hearing his voice such a challenge? Several years ago, I discovered Jack Deere’s book entitled, Surprised by the Voice of God. Deere mentions at least fourteen different ways in which God will speak to us. If you want to see them, you can skip ahead to the end of this blog and I have listed them with supporting Bible verses. After reading Deere’s book, it became clear to me that God is communicating to us in multiple ways. Our challenge is being more aware of what these means are so that we can get the full message. But Deere did not answer the question of why God does not speak more often with an audible voice or through angelic visitations? That answer was discovered in Scripture through reading multiple examples of angelic visitations (Acts 5:17-20; 8:26-28) and places where God spoke audibly (Luke 9:28-36; Acts 9:1-9).
Further review of these examples and others demonstrated to me that where God spoke in the Bible in an audible manner or through angelic visitations, the communication was critical for God’s overall plans being fulfilled. This supernatural communication was also key information that an individual or group of people needed so that they would have no doubt as to what God’s will is in the face of danger or severe adversity. Peter, James and John heard God speak in an audible voice that said, “This is my Son whom I love, with him I am well pleased. Listen to him” (Matthew 17: 5)! This message was likely to prepare these disciples for shock of seeing Jesus rejected by his people and crucified.
One example of supernatural communication from God in the face of great danger can be found in the example of the Apostle Paul sailing for Rome to stand trial before the Emperor Nero. This story is found in Acts 27:1-44. Acts chapters 24-26 deal with Paul being imprisoned in Caesarea for some false charges that were trumped up by a group of local Jewish leaders. During his trial before the local governor, Festus, Paul appealed his case to Nero. This was his right as a Roman citizen. Shortly after that, Paul set sail with Luke and Aristarchus along with several other prisoners under the watchful eye of a Roman centurion named Julius (Acts 27:1). Delays along the way pushed Paul’s trip to the end of the sailing season in the eastern Mediterranean. The ship hugged the shoreline of the island of Crete, but instead of waiting for a better time to sail, the ship’s captain plunged ahead and suddenly was caught in a terrible storm that began to drive them out to the open sea! Previously, Paul had warned the captain not to continue but he went anyway. After many days of a raging storm everyone aboard the ship gave up hope of being saved (Acts 27:2). Paul then addressed the captain and the sailors:
“Men you should have taken my advice to not sail from Crete, then you would have spared yourself this damage and loss.” But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand before Caesar[Nero]; and God has graciously given you the lives all who sail with you.”
In the end, the ship ran aground. Paul told the non-swimmers to lash themselves to planks from the ship and float in. Everyone else had to swim ashore. Amazingly, not a single person was lost. Luke even records the exact number of survivors, 276 (Acts 27:37)!
So, what are some lessons can we learn about God’s voice from this passage?
- The severe stress of facing death in a group of non-Christians with a handful of believers required very precise instructions from an angelic visitation speaking in an audible voice.
- Most angelic visitations are very dramatic in nature and are etched in one’s memory.
- God’s highest purpose appears to be his desire to have Paul testify to his faith in front of the Emperor. God was NOT going to let a storm keep that from happening.
- Curiously, the Lord took Paul through the storm rather than change the seasonal weather pattern and allow them to sail to Rome.
- God also did NOT miraculously pick the 276 people up in the ship and drop them on the shore. Some had to swim in and the non-swimmers needed to hold on to planks to get there. God will reveal his plans but human effort often plays a key role.
So, the next time you have an angel visit you or hear the audible voice of God, you can be sure the Lord is getting you ready for something really big and exciting to occur! Oh, and by the way, here are Deere’s fourteen ways that God will speak to us:
- The Word of God (Joshua 1:7-8; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17)
- Experiences in life that have divine significance (1 Samuel 15:24-29)
- Anointed observers that share God’s wisdom (Psalm 37: 25)
- Miracles (signs) (John 2:11)
- Audible voice (Luke 9:28-29; Acts 9:1-9)
- Internal audible voice (1 Corinthians 14:27-28)
- Voice of angels (Acts 5:17-20; 8:26-28)
- Dreams and visions (Acts 2:17-28)
- Internal impressions (Nehemiah 7:5)
- Words of Knowledge (Acts 14:9)
- Human messengers (Ephesian 4:11-12; 1 Corinthians 12:10)
- Prophetic words or tongues with interpretation (Acts 13:1-3; Acts 15:28)
- Creation (Romans 1:20)
- Reason (Acts 15:28)
About the Author
Lee has served as a pastor, missionary and educator to Latin America for nearly twenty years. His greatest passion is to equip leaders to impact their communities and nations with the saving power of the Gospel and the authority of God’s kingdom. During eight years in Chile, Lee and his wife, Lisa, saw scores of people healed in miraculous ways.
Currently, Lee and his CAPAZ ministry team are developing training programs for key church leaders in Bolivia, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Peru. Lee and Lisa have three married sons, and are enjoying their two grandsons.