That’s Not God
According to Williams, there are four ways you can tell you are not hearing God’s voice:
- God never says anything that contradicts Scripture
- God’s voice is not the voice of anxiety, unsettledness or exhaustion
- God’s voice is not the voice of obscurity – “Clear trumpet”
- God’s corrective voice is not one of guilt or condemnation, but loving discipline and conviction of sin
Today, we’ll examine number two: God’s voice is not the voice of anxiety, unsettledness or exhaustion.
Do the words of God cause anxiety?
If I understand Williams correctly, when one hears what he or she believes to be the voice of God, if the message given by that voice causes anxiety, unsettledness or exhaustion, then he or she must assume it can’t possibly be the voice of God. Given the first point Williams made (God never says anything that contradicts Scripture), I’ll begin by examining Williams’ second point in light of scripture.
When Israel found out their “promised land” was already inhabited, they felt anxiety. Their punishment for their lack of faith was to wander in the wilderness for 40 years until their “carcases [were] consumed in the wilderness.” Sounds exhausting to me. When all was said and done, their offspring obtained the promised land under the leadership of Joshua, that is, once kings were hanged, men, women, and children were slaughtered or enslaved, animals were crippled or killed, and cities were burned. And God said to Joshua, “You are very old, but there is still much land to be taken…” Altogether, the conquest took 40 long, anxiety-ridden, exhausting years of unsettledness. And this is just one example. The Old Testament is absolutely loaded with similar examples.
Now here’s the tricky part.
We must either believe that the Old Testament leaders (and/or writers) were not hearing God’s voice or believe that Williams is wrong. I hope that readers take the time to think this through, but for the sake of argument, put that idea on the back burner for a bit.
Here is the question.
Should we dismiss as NOT-the-voice-of-God any message that causes anxiety, unsettledness, or exhaustion? We can find the answer in Christ.
Just prior to His crucifixion, Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me…” The voice of God brought a message that caused Jesus to fall on His knees in prayer. Luke describes the scene:
…and having been in agony, he was more earnestly praying, and his sweat became, as it were, great drops of blood falling upon the ground.
Hematohidrosis is “a condition in which capillary blood vessels that feed the sweat glands rupture, causing them to exude blood,” and can be caused by emotional stress and acute fear. There are documented cases of people sentenced to death breaking out in a bloody sweat. Had God not strengthened Jesus, perhaps He would have fallen asleep like the disciples did:
And having risen up from the prayer, having come unto the disciples, he found them sleeping from the sorrow
John Gill explains the situation:
…he found them sleeping for sorrow; on his account; for he had signified unto them, how exceeding sorrowful he was; and they might perceive by his looks and gestures, the anxiety and distress of mind he was in, which must needs affect them; and besides, he had given them some intimations of his being to be betrayed by one of them, and of his sufferings and death, and speedy departure from them; and because of these things, sorrow had filled their hearts, and this had induced heaviness and sleep upon them…
If God’s voice is not the voice of anxiety, unsettledness or exhaustion, then why are Jesus and the disciples behaving in this way? Obviously, God’s message to Christ was to drink the cup, however awful it was, because doing so would bring redemption to the world.
My argument is two-fold.
First, God’s voice can and does, at times, produce anxiety, unsettledness, and exhaustion. Second, if we believe God is speaking to us, and the message we hear brings anxiety, unsettledness, and exhaustion, we need to examine the underlying cause or circumstances of our emotions and respond appropriately. I actually wrote a blog about this a while back, which you can read here.
Earlier I wrote:
Now here’s the tricky part. We must either believe that the Old Testament leaders (and/or writers) were not hearing God’s voice or believe that Williams is wrong. I hope that readers take the time to think this through, but for the sake of argument, put that idea on the back burner for a bit.
Off the back burner…
I propose instead of taking an “either/or” approach, we take an “and” approach. Why? Well, let me put it like this. Suppose God tells you He is going to give you and your family a house (we’ll call it the “promised house”), but when you find the promised house, you discover it is currently inhabited by another family. You think God might be telling you to slaughter every living thing in the promised house — the parents, the two-and-a-half kids, the dog named Spot, and a goldfish. You think God might kill you if you don’t obey Him, but your kids will take possession of the house after you are dead, as long as they obey.
That’s not the voice of God.
Read the other blogs in this series here.