If you ask many Christians today if they hear God’s voice, many of them will tell you no. They say this in spite of the fact that Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice.”
The truth is we all hear God’s voice, but we often don’t discern it as His voice because of the many competing voices in the world. Many times we have thoughts come to us that are from God, but we don’t recognize them as from God because of our expectation of what the words He will say to us will sound like. We literally filter out God’s voice.
If you think about it, we filter out what people are trying to communicate to us all the time. If you are honest, how many times have you been in a conversation with a person and responded to what you thought they were going to say instead of what they said? Your filter created an expectation and caused you not to listen carefully, which created a breakdown in communication. If this is true with people, how much more true is it with the invisible God?
One of the biggest hindrances I’ve seen in my years in ministry is that people believe God speaks from the judgment seat and not the mercy seat. This causes sincere people to filter out the voice of God because they don’t understand how good He really is.
Sound too good to be true? Look at this verse of scripture out of Exodus 25:
21 You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. 22 And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat,
In Exodus 25 God gave Moses the instructions to build the house of God called the tabernacle. God’s tangible presence and word (ark of the Testimony) appeared inside the inner sanctuary which was called the Holy of Holies. His presence manifested and He spoke from the mercy seat.
The word mercy means compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm. God has all the power and authority in the world to punish us yet He chooses to continually forgive us!
I want you to think about all this for a minute. God could have spoken to the children of Israel from anywhere yet He chose to speak from the mercy seat. Why?
We must ask why to understand God’s character. God is a father and any good father loves His children. And He doesn’t love them based on what they can do for Him, He loves them based on who they are in spite of their shortcomings. God chose to speak from the mercy seat to emphasize His true character. He wanted to remind the children of Israel that He is good and He is love and He wanted a relationship with them.
Because of legalistic teaching, many Christians have never encountered God this way. Some run from God because of fear of judgment, while others serve Him with fearful expectation and never allow themselves to hear:
“I love you! I’m pleased with you! What can I do for you today?”
I can hear someone say now, “but Pastor Brian, I’m supposed to serve Jesus, He isn’t supposed to serve me.” While I believe in serving God and others, Jesus said in Matthew 20:28 the Son of man didn’t come to be served, but to serve. In other words, Jesus’s heart motive is to serve. And we truly aren’t capable of serving God or humanity effectively until we receive all that Jesus is wanting to serve us: love, favor, acceptance, healing, equipping, gifting, and much more.
At this point, you may be thinking, “How do I hear God from the mercy seat?” Glad you asked. Let’s examine why the mercy seat was called the mercy seat. Each year on the Day of Atonement, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies and sprinkled the blood of animals sacrificed for the atonement of the sins of God’s people. This blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat.
The point conveyed by this imagery is that it is only through the offering of blood that the condemnation of the law could be taken away and violations of God’s laws covered. This had to be done continually, however, because the blood of bulls could never take away sins permanently.
Since God didn’t want any disruption in His fellowship with us, He sent Jesus! Think about the commitment God showed you and me in sending His Son! Look at this passage of scripture out of Hebrews:
Hebrews 10:11-12 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,
Hebrews 10 teaches that the high priest had to continually offer sacrifices to appease the wrath of God, but when Jesus offered the sacrifice of himself for all sins past, present, and future, He sat down at the right hand of God. Since our sin is no longer an issue for God, He continually speaks to us from the mercy seat today about his plans for our lives. He’s not judging us today and He’s not in a bad mood!
God has probably spoken to all of us thousands of times and we haven’t heard His voice because of a filter that will only allow us to hear harsh words or criticism from God. We need to open our hearts to positive thoughts we hear about God’s dreams and plans for our lives! Many of these thoughts are from God because He is speaking to us from her mercy seat!
I hope this article helps you hear God’s voice more clearly. If you’d like to get more teaching check out this message I taught on “The Voice of the Father.”