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At a meeting I attended recently, one of the brothers pointed out that Christians need to be taught how to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. I responded by saying something like, “The voice of the Lord isn’t hard to hear. If He wants to speak to you, you’ll hear it. You don’t need to be in meditative prayer to hear His voice.” I was met with a small chorus of rebuttals:

“Be still and know that I am God, right?” “In quietness and rest is our strength, right?” “God’s still, small voice, right?”

The first two objections are easily answered. All one needs to do is read the statements in context.

“The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah. Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. ‘Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth!’ The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah” (Psalm 46:7–11). 1

The Lord communicated through the psalmist that God Himself is our fortress. He brings desolations and ends wars; thus, He controls all conflicts and will be exalted in them. So, be at peace. Trust Him. Rest in Him. Nothing here deals with being quiet to hear God’s voice.

The second, about quietness and rest:

“For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’ But you were unwilling, and you said, ‘No! We will flee upon horses’; therefore you shall flee away; and, ‘We will ride upon swift steeds’; therefore your pursuers shall be swift” (Isaiah 30:15–16).

In the verses that preceded the verses from Isaiah above, the Lord was chastising Judah for being a “rebellious people” and listening to lying prophets who speak “smooth words” and say, “…let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 30:11). The Lord’s response was that because they listen to the false prophets they will be like “a potter’s vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a shard is found” that is useful (Isaiah 30:14).

This is not a good thing.

It is obvious that the returning and rest in these verses has to do with the Lord chastising the people of Judah for trusting in themselves and rejecting Him. They thought they could rely on their strength and flee from the coming trouble on fast horses. That wasn’t going to work out so well. Therefore, this quote, in context, has nothing whatsoever to do with finding a quiet place to pray and hear God’s voice. It has to do with trusting in the Lord, not one’s own strength. In addition, it’s not “in quietness and rest” our strength lies but “in quietness and trust.”

Both the above passages deliver the same message.

I addressed the “still, small voice” issue in the past on this blog. The source of this misleading evangelical meme is in I Kings 19, when the prophet Elijah was running away from the evil queen Jezebel. I don’t have space to address it here, so I provided a link at end of this article. The reader will find that the account has nothing at all to do with being in some quiet place or moment in order to hear God’s voice. It concerns how the Lord was choosing to perform His will at that time in preparation for the years ahead—in small, quiet ways—anointing three people—but not in earthquakes, wind, and fire (1 Kings 19:15–18).

Pastors, speakers, and leaders in the Evangelical/Pentecostal/Charismatic church have been spinning out these misleading scriptures for at least a century. It is done because when they speak on a topic which they think their audiences need to hear, they simply insert an out-of-context quote to fit the message. Believer, I can tell you from experience that checking out the biblical sources of stand-alone quotes will bring a deepening understanding of who God is and His truth instead of just grabbing on to simplistic untruths.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy Bing images.

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