When pupils study languages, there are four ‘assessment objectives’ that are tested, largely because there are four main ways in which we absorb and use language: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
Jesus is called ‘the Word’ (John 1:1 TNIV) and we often associate that with speaking and reading in particular. But just lately I discovered that the Hebrew word for Bible is Miqra, a noun formed from the verb ‘to call’, qara. Eugene Peterson writes, “The Bible is not a book to carry around and read for information on God, but a voice to listen to… It is a word to be listened to and obeyed, a word that gets us going.” (‘Practise Resurrection, P 33-34)
God speaks to us and we need to listen! He spoke to Moses at the burning bush and revealed Himself by a new name: Yahweh (Exodus 3:4-14 TNIV). He spoke to Samuel as a child, even though Samuel did not initially recognise His voice. (1 Sam 3:1-21 TNIV) He spoke to Jeremiah and appointed him as a prophet. (Jer 1:4-10 TNIV) In the New Testament, Jesus called four disciples by name and kept calling followers. (John 1:35-51 TNIV). Later on, His voice stopped Saul walking on the road to Damascus in his tracks and set him off on a new path with a new name, Paul. (Acts 9:4-19 TNIV)
Our whole lives are changed when we hear God’s voice calling to us and leading us. We need to respond; we need to follow where He leads. But the first step in all of this is to hear the voice of the Shepherd speaking to us. As John wrote in the book of Revelation, ‘Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Rev 2:7 TNIV)