“Then the rich man said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ He replied to him, ‘If they do not respond to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:30-31, NET).
Have you ever been in a quandary about what the right decision might be… and wished an angel from heaven with a trumpet would announce to you the answer? I sure have! However, according to this passage of Scripture, an overtly supernatural manifestation is not necessarily the best way for God to communicate with us.
As you probably recognize, this is the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. It seems like what God is saying here is that this kind of supernatural dramatics would not help, in many cases. The disposition of our hearts towards Him will determine whether or not we hear and heed to His voice. External dramatics, much less so. No doubt, for example, if an angel with a trumpet appeared to an atheist with a hard heart towards the existence of God, that atheist would explain the experience away.
This is not to discount the importance of supernatural experiences, when God decides that they are necessary. I actually believe that growing in the supernatural is an essential element of effective Christian living. My own daughter has had vivid visions of heaven, for example, and I’m in awe of that. However, we don’t rely on this kind of thing to root and establish our faith. A steady diet on the Word of God, prayer, worship, and listening is God’s standard plan for nourishing that budding growth within us.
In the Christmas story, we find a telling example of this principle. Both Zacharias and Mary had the astonishing experience of personal angelic visitations. However, these events did not serve to originate faith in their hearts. Rather, Gabriel’s visits exposed what was already in their hearts. Zacharias’ response to his supernatural encounter demonstrated the caliber of his faith, at that time. In contrast, Mary’s response to a nearly identical experience brought to the surface the childlike trust that already characterized her life.
So, if you’re facing a major decision today, and you are wishing that Gabriel would stop by and announce the right thing to do, Daddy God does have provision for you. He is even more intimately aware of your need for guidance than you are. He cares far more than even you do about making sure you walk into the right path for your life. He probably won’t send Gabriel, though (it could happen, but it’s not the usual way). He prefers to speak directly to your heart.
He wants to encourage you, have great confidence that He will show you the best way. Look for His gentle murmur. Look for His inner witness. Look for His peace. They will come, if you make space for them. Jesus has given us this precious reassurance: “Everyone who is of the Truth [who is a friend of the Truth, who belongs to the Truth] hears and listens to My voice” (John 18:37, AMPC).
I love how the Message Bible puts it too: “Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice.” Rest easy, dear one. He will make sure you hear Him, if you are longing to do so. You will perceive His message. You will recognize His voice.
My closing thought. Though the Father has an infinite myriad of ways to speak to us, He delights the most in simple, quiet intimacy. When we come to become so familiar with His voice that we immediately distinguish His first whisper, that’s where life is truly found. True faith, the deepest kind, is not to be moored in dramatics, but in His still, small voice.
How long have you been tuning into the gentle whispers of God? Can you see that you are now more closely familiar with His communication than you used to be?