Summary: God speaks to us loud and clear through the two main teachings of his Word - the law and the gospel.
This past Wednesday evening actress Anne Heche stunned the American public with her shocking revelations in an interview with Barbara Walters on ABC’s 20/20. In that interview Heche explained that for a time in her life she believed that she was actually two people. Heche claimed that Celestia – her other personality – was from another plant and spoke a different language directly with God. In perhaps her most revealing statement about this gift Heche talked about God’s voice speaking to her about one year ago. She recounted that experience with these words, “I was told to go to a place where I would meet a spaceship. I was told in order to get on the spaceship that I would have to take a hit of Ecstasy.” (From a summary transcript posted on the website: www.abcnews.com).
While Anne Heche’s claims and experiences border on the absurd the kernel of her statement doesn’t seem to be all that uncommon. “God spoke to me.” Perhaps you’ve heard those words uttered by a friend, co-worker, an acquaintance, or maybe even a family member. I have to be honest – those words make me uncomfortable. They make me uncomfortable – not because God couldn’t speak directly to us, rather those words make me uncomfortable because more often than not those words are used to justify an action or activity that would otherwise be considered questionable at best. Even worse is when that phrase is used to justify an action or a teaching that flies in the face of God’s clear words recorded on the pages of Holy Scripture.
For that reason I fear that many people today are listening for God’s voice in all the wrong places. They are the people who search for God but aren’t interested in looking in the one place that God has promised that he will be found, namely his written Word. While the fanciful tales of spaceships, speaking in unlearned languages, drug-induced visions and new, individualized revelations supposedly from God may sound tempting – God urges us not to abandon the rich treasure he has recorded for us on the pages of Holy Scripture. In the text for this morning God promises that as we delve into his Word we can’t help but Hear the Voice of the True God. Hear his voice as he I) crushes you at the foot of Mount Sinai. Hear his voice as he II) strengthens you on the heights of Mount Zion.
The writer of Hebrews originally wrote this letter to address a group of Christians who were on the brink of willingly forfeiting their Christian faith. Perhaps they were seeking a religion that offered them more earthly excitement. They liked the thought of seeing signs and wonders and other magnificent earthly manifestations of divine power. That’s what they thought the religion of their Old Testament forefathers was all about. Jesus had become boring to them. They wanted what their forefathers had – the excitement, the pomp and circumstance – especially the kind that was manifested around Mount Sinai. That was exciting, exhilarating religion – or so they thought.
It must have been exciting to hear God speak directly to his people at that earthly mountain called Sinai as he made his presence known with fire, darkness, gloom, and storm. There could be no doubt that God was present when he blasted his trumpet to summon the attention of the people. I’m sure that peoples’ adrenalin was pumping on that day. But they weren’t feeling eager anticipation. Rather they were scared stiff by what they saw and heard.
God’s voice rolled like peels of thunder from the top of Mount Sinai into the ears of his people trembling at the foot of that mountain. His voice proclaimed one command after another, stipulating all the different sacrifices that must be offered for all of the various kinds of sins they committed, and rigidly outlining specific festivals and ceremonies that must be followed or punishment would ensue. In fact, so strict was the voice of God from Mount Sinai that even ignorant, unsuspecting animals would be brought under judgment of death if they violated God’s decree not to touch this mountain. God’s voice was so awesome in its majesty and rigorous in its demands that the people were begging God to stop speaking. Even Moses was terrified by this confrontation with the decrees of God’s righteous voice that he says, “I am trembling with fear” (Hebrews 12:21).
Why is that important to remember? Because it’s a reminder that sinful human beings cannot stand in confidence before God’s might and majesty without Christian faith. Sinful human beings who seek God apart from his Word will wish for all eternity that God would stop speaking to them as they tremble in fear before his perfect justice and holy righteousness because they are under his judgment. That’s the warning God speaks to all people through the giving of his law at Mount Sinai.