TODAY’S READING: LEVITICUS 26-27
God has always wanted people to listen to his voice. To hear God’s voice requires an intimate relationship with him. However, in the Old Testament, Israel rejected God’s desire. Instead, they told Moses to go hear from God and write down what God said. In this way, they could follow God’s instructions, his rules and laws, without an intimate relationship with God, without hearing God’s voice.
Because Israel, God’s people, rejected hearing God’s voice for themselves, they could not hear God clearly and mixed other voices in with God’s voice. Therefore, the Old Testament provides a view of God that is conflicted. In one moment, he is loving and kind, like Jesus. But, in the next moment, he is vengeful and spiteful, inflicting wrath on his people. In these moments, he seems nothing at all like Jesus. In fact, he seems more like Satan.
We need to recognize the one voice, the loving and kind voice, as Jesus. This is who the Father truly is, for if you have seen Jesus then you have seen God.
Matthew 17:1-8 provides a very important lesson in recognizing the voice of Jesus. Peter, James, and John were led up a high mountain with Jesus. Jesus was transformed before them into his resurrected, glorified body. Suddenly, the three men saw Moses and Elijah standing next to Jesus. Peter says that if the Lord wishes they can make three tabernacles – one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. Peter is expressing his desire to elevate Jesus to the same level as Moses and Elijah. Why Moses and Elijah? Because Moses represents the law and Elijah the prophets. Peter wants to make what the disciples have heard from Jesus, his voice, equal to the law and the prophets.
But, right when Peter says this a cloud appears. From the cloud, they hear a voice that says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to him.” The disciples fell on their faces and were terrified. But, Jesus said, “Rise, and have no fear.” Jesus told the disciples they did not need to fear the voice they heard from the cloud like Israel feared the voice from the cloud at Mt. Sinai. Verse 8 says, “And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.”
Peter, James, and John learned that there is only one voice they were to listen to. And, that was the voice of Jesus. He eclipsed Moses and Elijah. His voice superseded all the law and all the prophets.
Further proof that the Jews could not distinguish the voice of Jesus, the voice of God, is found in John 10. At the feast of dedication, the Jews said to Jesus, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” In John 10:25-27, Jesus answered, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Those are Jesus’ sheep hear the voice of Jesus and follow him. But, those that aren’t Jesus’ sheep hear a different voice and follow that other voice.
What is the other voice? None other than the devil, Satan, the serpent of old. Genesis 3:1 says that the serpent, Satan, was more crafty than any other beast of the field. He is very deceptive. So much so, that Paul says we can be easily deceived by him. In 2 Corinthians 11:14, Paul says, “For even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” Satan can appear to men as one sent by God. In fact, without crucified and risen Jesus and the Holy Spirit, we cannot clearly distinguish between God’s voice and Satan’s voice.
With the help of Jesus and the Holy Spirit though, the veil is removed from the Old Testament so that we can clearly see where Jesus, and therefore God, is throughout the Old Testament. Leviticus 26 is an excellent example of the voices of Jesus and God being mixed with the voice of Satan by Israel.
LEVITICUS 26:3-13 – THE VOICE OF JESUS
Read Leviticus 26:3-13 and it sounds like Jesus.
This voice says observe my commandments and you will be blessed. It sounds like Jesus in John 15:10 when he says, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”
This voice says it will give the rain in its season, the land will yield its increase, and the trees will yield their fruit. Again, we see Jesus saying just this in John. Jesus tells his disciples that he is the vine and we are the branches. If we abide in him then we will bear fruit.
This voice says their will be an abundant harvest. The grain will be threshed, or harvested, until the grape harvest. And, the grape harvest will last until the time of sowing. The people would eat to the full and dwell in the land securely. Jesus says if we abide in him and his words in us then we can ask whatever we wish and it will be done for us. Jesus gives to us abundantly of his unsearchable riches.
This voice says that it will give us peace so that we can lie down and not be afraid in the land. Jesus is the great shepherd of Psalm 23 that makes us to lie down in green pastures, leads us beside still waters, and prepares a table for us before our enemies. We have peace as he leads us through the valley of the shadow of death and we do not need to fear.
This voice removes the harmful beasts from the land without a sword going through the land. We will chase our enemies and they shall fall before us by the sword. In the first case, we do not need to fear the harmful beasts, the governments and powers of this world, who wield the literal sword that kills. Jesus brings his peace without waging war according to the flesh with literal swords. We know that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places. We chase these spiritual enemies from before us with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, which is Jesus. We fight not with literal swords but by praying at all times through our mediator, Jesus Christ.
This voice will make his dwelling among us. In John 14:23, Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” The soul of this voice will not abhor, or hate, us. Hate comes from fear, but perfect love casts our fear. Jesus is the voice of perfect love and therefore cannot hate.
This voice has broken the bars of our yoke that made us go about on all fours like beasts. According to 1 John 3:12, Cain was of the devil. Cain was under the heavy yoke of Satan. According to Jude 10, Cain lived like an unreasoning animal, only acting on instinct. But, Jesus says in Matthew 11:30 that his yoke is easy and his burned is light. Therefore, we can walk erect to attain “to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13)
LEVITICUS 26:14-39 – THE VOICE OF SATAN
Read Leviticus 26:14-39 and it doesn’t sound like the same voice at all. In fact, it sounds almost exactly the opposite. If we know the voice of Jesus, then we recognize this other voice is different. It is the voice of Satan.
This other voice says it will visit us with panic, wasting disease and fever that consumes. Does Jesus ever do this? No! Throughout the gospels he is constantly healing all those that are brought to him. But, Satan does these things. As one example, read Mark 9:14-29 and see how it is evil spirits that bring about panic and it is Jesus that heals.
This other voice says that it will set his face against us and strike us down before our enemies. But, God says that he will never leave us or forsake us.
This other voice says that our strength will be spent in vain and the land will not yield its increase. But, God says he will pour out his rain on the just and unjust. God blesses all, even his enemies.
This other voice will continue to strike us, sending wild beasts against us. God is not against us but for us. Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
This other voice talks about destroying, bringing a sword, taking vengeance, and devastating. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief [Satan] comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” Everything this other voice is speaking of is the work of Satan. But, the very next words out of Jesus’ mouth are, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jesus is nothing like this other voice that is speaking here.
This other voice lacks patience. It gets tired of the people. As a result, this other voice brings death and complete destruction. Sin and death are works of the devil.
But, Jesus is love. In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Paul says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” Paul’s description of love, of Jesus, sounds nothing like this other.
We must learn to filter the Old Testament through the voice of Jesus. We need the Holy Spirit to continually renew our minds so that by testing we can discern what the will of God is. We must be willing to acknowledge that all scripture is breathed out by God, or inspired by the Holy Spirit, but not everything in the Bible is the voice of God or the voice of Jesus. I believe this is so in the Bible because it is so in the world we live in. Not everything we hear is the voice of Jesus. So, in the Bible, God gives us a training ground to discern the voice of Jesus, to rightly divide the word of truth of word, knowing what is the voice of Jesus and what is not the voice of Jesus.