Sermon: The Still Small Voice

Bible talk by Steve Millay

The Still Small Voice
September 12th, 2013 4:59 pm     A+ | a-
Reading: Matthew 3

It must have been terrifying listening to John the Baptist. His cries of the coming fire and judgment probably sent shivers up the spine.
“Flee from the wrath that is coming”
“The axe is ready to strike the roots of the trees,
..Every bad tree will be cut down and cast into the fire”
“He will throw the wicked into the wind to sort the good from the evil”
“The wicked will be burnt up with unquenchable fire”
“Repent, for the Kingdom is at hand”
“There is one coming who is much greater than myself”
And all Israel waited and watch for this one coming that John spoke about. And John waited. But the fire and judgment that John spoke about did not come. Instead only a man named Jesus came. This man Jesus, of whom the scriptures teach: he did not cry or lift up his voice in the streets. Nor did he break even the bruised reed. 
John was puzzled, and the people were puzzled. John was so puzzled that he even sent disciples to Jesus to ask him, are you the coming one, or do we look for another? Jesus wasn’t really living up to the expectation of what the Messiah would be. They were waiting for fire to be poured out from heaven, and for the earth to be whipped clean of the wicked, and for Israel to be free from the Roman oppression. After all this is what John taught. But instead the Romans were still in control, the temple was still a place of corruption, and there had been no change in the Jewish government. All the while Jesus roamed quietly through the countryside, teaching in deserted places. So now even John wondered if Jesus was the Messiah.
Jesus answered Johns question by very directly saying “John – blessed is he who is not offended because of me.” In other words, John don’t be offended just because I am not doing the things you thought I would be doing. In fact, you are making the same mistake that Elijah the prophet made. (This is ironic because John is spoken of as coming in the spirit of Elijah.) Elijah thought that God would reveal himself in the wind or the earthquake or the fire. But instead, it was in a still small voice that God choose to appear to Elijah. The lesson for Elijah was that while it might look to you that the world is falling apart, that the wicked are prospering and the righteous have disappeared – DON’T BE FOOLED, because your God is actively at work in the hearts and minds of over 7000 people. People who refuse to worship Baal. People who truly believe in the Lord God with all their heart.
What John the Baptist could not see is that the sorting of the wicked, the fire and the time of judgment were actually taking place – BUT not outwardly with great signs and wonders, rather God was working even greater wonders, through Jesus, on the inside of men. He was convicting the hearts of man. Those who accepted and believed in Jesus were like the 7000 that did chose not to worship Baal. And those who rejected Jesus were sealing their own fate. They would suffer eternal judgment.
Even today, our God is hard at work. You may not notice it if you are only looking for the wind and the fires and the earthquakes. The real work is taking place inside individuals, in their hearts. And every day hearts are turning to God. The ones who are just waiting for the big signs before they commit (the earthquakes, the wars, the great signs from heaven) the ones who are waiting for these signs before they commit to God will be among the same crowd of people who ended up weeping and crying the day the rain came, and they ran to the ark that Noah built only to find the door had already been sealed shut.
Those who choose not to commit to God are not just the people outside of Churches, but even in the Churches there are many who really have not committed their lives to serve God, but they instead serve Baal. You won’t see them getting up early in the morning and going and bowing down before the Sun, cutting themselves. You won’t see them offering their own children upon the fires or even committing fornication just to please Baal. Instead the modern day Baal worshiper has found new ways to please their gods. 
Baal worship is one of the most powerful forces that we face today that can keep us from entering the Kingdom of God.
When the Israelites settled in the land they encountered the cult of Baal. The problem that faced Israel through most of its history was not that the people totally abandoned God for the worship of Baal. Rather they blended the worship of Baal in with the worship of God.
Yahweh was the God of power, the God who fought Pharaoh, who parted the Reed Sea, who led the Israelites through the desert, who parted the Jordan, who brought them into the land by toppling the walls of Jericho! This led to the idea that Yahweh, the God of the patriarchs, was a powerful warrior God, the God of the desert who could be counted on to march in with his heavenly armies in times of crisis. However, while Yahweh may be God of the desert and God of battles and God of power, it was Baal who was in charge of the more mundane aspects of everyday life, such as rain and crops and livestock. So the people would turn to Yahweh during the national emergencies, but on a day-to-day basis they would start putting their trust in Baal – also known to them as the Lord of Heaven! Baal was very powerful because they could see Baal. Baal would rise up each morning in the form of the sun and heat the earth. Baal was very visible to them! And therefore, especially when things were going well, the people put their trust in that which they could see.
Today, the customs have changed somewhat, but Baal worship is still very much all around us. Paul taught that a time would come when the lawless one will sit in the temple of God, calling himself God. What does this mean? Paul, in other passages, calls the church the temple of God. So when this prophecy states that the lawlessness would sit in the temple of God, that is the same as saying that lawlessness would sit or rule in the church. The warning is that a time would come AND HAS when the Church would fall away. When false teachings would be taught and people would be deceived into doing evil when they think they are doing good. Lawlessness is being without a law. That is - anything goes. And ever since Paul wrote these words, the Church and members of the Church have participated in and justified all sorts of evil. Things that are clearly unrighteous were being committed in the name of righteousness. And even today, the ways of men which the scriptures clearly teach as contrary to the ways of God – are being allowed and even encouraged by those who call themselves the church of God. And all over the world, people hate – people kill – people abuse their bodies -people fornicate – people destroy – ALL IN THE NAME OF GOD.  This is not a worship of the one true God, but this is a worship of something other than God.
Baal worshippers of today are those who turn to anything other than the one true God to handle the mundane things of life. False teachings, music, work, drugs, alcohol, money and other people are a few of the many things that people chose to devote their lives to rather than serving the one true God. And just like the Baal worshippers of yesterday – children are often sacrificed in the process. It is horrible to imagine the lives that many children have growing up in families where there is no love, where they are abused, where the Parents are absent, or where there is no Truth being taught. Schools are overwhelmed with the number of children who have developed learning and social problems as a result of neglect and abuse.
Its such a sad thing to say but perhaps the best thing would be for some major tragedy to happen. It would be a great way to wake everyone up. Perhaps some sort of nuclear disaster might rekindle this world’s belief in the one true God. The churches would be filled with frighten people who are repenting and ready to serve God. Who finally realize that this life is nothing more than a passing wind and soon each of us will be nothing more than the dust of the earth. When man will finally realize that you can only really put your trust in one thing – and that is in God.
But we know that many of those who repent during such tragedy usually turn to their old ways soon after the tragedy passes. Preachers throughout the world therefore try to use fear to keep people interested in what they are teaching. They warn of the fires of hell, or the torments by devils. They warn of everlasting pain and torture.  In some cases their words are very similar to the words that John the Baptist cried out.
“Flee from the wrath that is coming”
“Every bad tree will be cut down and cast into the fire”
“He will throw the wicked into the wind to sort the good from the evil”
“The wicked will be burnt up with unquenchable fire”
John’s words are similar to the words used by preachers of the world, but they are different in that John’s words proved to be true. God’s wrath eventually was visited on that generation. The bad were cut down and the cities were burnt by fire. The wicked were sorted out and completely perished.
The interesting thing about the words that John spoke is that the same words could be shouted out today to warn this world of the judgments that will come. In what may be now only a few years away Gods wrath will be poured out on this world and everything that is so precious to man today, all the goods, all the treasures, all the institutions, the governments, the stocks, the money the idols, everything will be completely changed. But – because these things aren’t happening now, men don’t listen to these warnings and men don’t hear the still small voice.
Life is busy, life is confusing. Life is filled with activity. But amidst all the problems around us, amidst the noise and confusion of life, the still small voice still speaks. If our ears are not cluttered with the things of this life then we can hear it. It’s funny, but when things are going well for us – we tend to turn away from the Truth we have been taught and just get swallowed up enjoy the pleasures of living. We easily get caught up in the ways of the world – because those ways are so visible and sometimes exciting.
But every now and then we are reminded that the world isn’t as beautiful and safe as we sometimes think it to be. There is a lot of tragedy, a lot of sorrow, a lot of pain, and a lot of cruelty. People are hurting, people are homeless, people are starving, and people are dying. Every day!
So if your day is going well, enjoy it – but never ever forget the things you can’t see. Almost everyone cries out to God when confronted with a great tragedy. The churches become filled with people, the nations pray. But how precious are those who don’t need a tragedy before they turn to God. There is no such thing as a part time child. Either you are a child or you aren’t. Those that worship God regardless on how well things are going or how poorly things are going can say that they are the children of God because they worship him full time – 24 hours a day. They are fully convicted that He is and He will take care of them in all things.
This world can be a very sad and lonely place. Don’t be discouraged by what is happening around you, or how far you may feel you have fallen. Listen for the still small voice and know that God is actively involved in the world around us.
We have Jesus to look to and follow. He showed us how to make it through the day. He wrestled with the same things that we wrestle with. He was frustrated at all the evil around him. All day long he faced persecutions and trials. As he prepared himself for the arrest and crucifixion, it must have been very difficult. More difficult that ANYTHING THAT ANY OF US have ever faced. But, because he believed the still small voice, because he could hear it regardless on how noisy life got, because he held on with conviction to the joy that was set before Him. He was able to endure the cross, and he put aside the shame of hanging there naked like a common criminal. Therefore, God was very pleased with him and raised him up to sit on His right hand.
So, we may come here afraid. We may come here exhausted, just wanting to die. We may come here frustrated by all the evil that abounds around us. We may come here feeling lost and alone. We may come here wishing our God would just stand up and reveal himself in wind or earthquake or fire. But our God instead answers us each time we come with a still small voice. The consistent, constant teaching of His word to us, this book we call the bible. All we need to do is hear it and believe it with our whole heart.
Once we do, then it really will not matter that the children of Israel have forsaken the covenant, or it really will not matter that they have thrown down the altars, or it really will not matter that they have slain the prophets with the sword; it really will not matter that we are the only one left and they seek our life. It really will not matter because even if the fig tree does not blossom, even if there is no fruit on the vines; even if the effort of the olive fails, even if the fields don’t yield any food; even if the flock is cut off from the fold, even if there are no herd in the stalls— even then we will still rejoice in the LORD, we will joy in the God of our salvation because we believe His still small voice.

Steve Millay
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