The Spirit and the Voice
The book of Revelation is one of my favorite readings. Identified as the Apocalypse, it is an intense reading that draws upon, and evokes a range of emotions amongst its readers. Through the readings of Revelation, there are two words among many that catches my attention, they are spirit and voice. In addition, Revelation is filled with interesting symbols, sounds, striking images, and expressive themes. There’s suffering, persecution, martyrdom of the righteous, pagan idolatrous worship, and the invitation for heavenly, spirit filled worship. It yields prophetic messages, triumphant singing, music of the trumpets, cymbals, harps and various voices; such as the sounds of thunder, lightning, earthquakes and rushing waters.
Numerology is also an important component of apocalyptic writing. The seven churches in chapters 1 through 3 are represented by seven golden lamp stands. The number seven is mentioned 68 times in the New Testament (NRSV), 30 of which are in Revelation. It is said that the number seven represents completion. It is also used to identify the seven spirits of the Lord (Rev. 1:4; 3:1). The word spirit and voice are essential, as John made several allusions, of being influenced by the spirit, and a voice. He said, “I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet” (Revelation 1:10). See also Rev. 4:1-2.
The voice motif is important and powerful. It is an instrument of communication, with a range of varying aspects; high low, loud, soft, gentle, harsh, soothing, terrifying, sad or joyful. All of which are depicted in the chapters of Revelation, and are represented in our society. The world is very noisy; filled with all types of distractions which seeks to draw us away from hearing the right voice and following God’s commands. People must intentionally attune their ears to hear God’s voice, and be guided by the Holy Spirit. The Apostle John was careful to listen and to follow each command spoken through a specific voice, while he was in the spirit.
John opened his discourse by unveiling the purpose of his prophetic call. Assigned to take a message to the Seven churches in Asia Minor, located in the Province of Rome; his message was twofold: it connotes blessing and judgment (Rev 1-3). Under the rule of the emperor, the people neglected their covenantal relationship with the Lord, and engaged in the worldly, idolatrous affairs. But the word of God teaches that a relationship with the Lord, entails obedience, endurance and faithfulness, as noted in Revelation (Rev. 1: 1-2, 9; 20:4).
Amidst all the chaos, John consistently illustrates God’s powerful presence, even though it appears that the direct voice of the Lord is silent. John appeared to have remained calm, fervent and obedient, through all the activities around him. He was instructed by the angel, who was informed through Christ, and enabled by the Spirit with the message from the Father. The seer throughout this narrative, demonstrated the power and unity of the Lord; and the desire for covenantal relationship, holy worship, and sharing of the blessings reserved for the faithful. Blessings such as recorded in Rev. 3:2, for those who hear, heed and yield to the Lord.
As a pastor in a Cross Culture/Cross Racial setting, I am still navigating the natural resonance of my voice. I daily delight to hear what God would have me say, and do, to and with whom. I seek his majestic, awe inspiring actions in, through, and around me. I expectantly wait for the Holy Spirit, to give me guidance to convey God’s message to all who desire to hear.
The voice of the Lord is illustrated through the elements of thunder, lightning and earthquake. Depending on your perspective, these elements can be perceived as destructive or redemptive. In this world, it is natural to hear of, and encounter situations that distress and seeks to rob the children of God of the hope of His promises. So, it is imperative to surround oneself with individuals who lives, and speaks the promises of God, and seeks after righteousness. Equally important are the disciplines of prayer, meditation, fasting, daily reading of the scriptures, other devotional materials, and Bible study.
Taking time to be with other believers who can, and have withstood test, trials, and persecution, also gives strength to the faint. Engaging in conversations that discloses godly advice, and wise counsel, nourishes the soul, and aids in healthy Christian maturity. Like the Apostle John, may we be under the power of the Spirit, so we can hear God’s voice. John said:
“I was under the Spirit’s power on the Lord’s Day when I heard a loud voice behind me like the loud sound of a horn. It said, “(*I am the First and the Last.) Revelation 1:10-11
May your Christmas be filled with the spirit of hope, joy, peace, love. May the coming year 2018 be fruitful.