HEARING THE VOICE OF GOD
To ‘hear the voice of God’ does not necessarily mean the hearing of a literal, audible voice. It more often means recognizing and hearing with obedience what God has caused to be written in his Word and transmitted through his earthly servants who represent him. (1 John 2:3, 4) Thus, “voice” is used as applying to “every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth,” his commands whether presented to the individual verbally by God himself or by angels or men, or in inspired writing.—Ps. 103:20; Matt. 4:4; see OBEDIENCE.
HEARING JESUS’ VOICE
Jesus Christ spoke of himself as the “fine shepherd” whose sheep “listen to his voice, . . . and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice. . . . they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:2-5, 11) Those who are Christ’s “sheep” “know” his voice in that they recognize and acknowledge as true what Christ says as recorded in the Bible. They refuse to acknowledge the teaching of ‘strangers,’ false shepherds. They “listen” to his voice in that they obey his commands as set forth in the Scriptures. (John 15:10, 15) Since Christ Jesus is God’s Chief Representative, who always listens to Jehovah’s voice and speaks what Jehovah directs, the one following Christ will be in union with Jehovah.—John 5:19; 1 John 2:6.
The voice of the resurrected Jesus Christ
After Christ’s resurrection and ascension he appeared to Saul of Tarsus (later the apostle Paul), speaking to him in a voice that Saul understood, but that the men accompanying him did not understand. (Acts 9:1-9; 22:6-11; 26:12-18) At Acts 9:7, the account states that the men with Saul heard “a voice [“sound,” Da, Ro, ftn.].” Here the Greek word phonesʹ, the genitive case of pho·neʹ, is used, with the sense of ‘hearing of the voice.’ This allows for the meaning that the men heard only the sound of the voice, but did not understand. When Paul later related the experience he said that the men “did not hear the voice of the one speaking.” (Acts 22:9) In this account the accusative (objective) case pho·nenʹ is used. This can give the sense that, while the sound registered on their ears, they did not hear the voice as being distinct words that they understood as did Saul, to whom Christ was speaking.
The apostle Paul said, when writing to the Thessalonian congregation about the gathering of God’s anointed holy ones: “The Lord [Jesus Christ] himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s voice and with God’s trumpet.” (1 Thess. 4:16) The term “archangel” means “chief angel” or “principal angel.” Paul’s expression “archangel’s voice” evidently focuses attention on the authoritativeness of Jesus’ voice of command. Jesus, when on earth, revealed the authority that God invested in him, when he said: “For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted also to the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to do judging, because Son of man he is. . . . The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.”—John 5:26-29.
THE HUMAN VOICE
Voice, along with language, is a gift of God. Therefore, the voice should be lifted in praise to God. This can be done by speaking “the magnificent things of God,” upbuilding others with information from God’s Word of truth, or in songs of praise and thanksgiving.—Acts 2:11; Ps. 42:4; 47:1; 98:5; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16.
God hears his servant’s voice
Those who serve God with spirit and truth can call upon God with the assurance that he hears their voice, regardless of the language in which they call upon him. Moreover, even though the literal voice is not used, the petition to God being a silent one, God, who knows the hearts of men, “hears” or gives attention nevertheless. (Ps. 66:19; 86:6; 116:1; 1 Sam. 1:13; Neh. 2:4) God has heard afflicted ones who cry to him for help, and he also hears the voice and knows the intentions of men who oppose him and plot evil against his servants.—Gen. 21:17; Ps. 55:18, 19; 69:33; 94:9-11; Jer. 23:25.
Among the numerous things of God’s creation, many do not make a voice sound. But the Hebrew word qohl (“voice,” “sound”) is used with regard to the witness these voiceless things give to the majesty of their Creator. (Ps. 19:1-4) In a personified sense wisdom is said to keep “giving forth its voice” in the public squares, because it is available to all who seek it, and God has had wisdom proclaimed before all, so that there is no excuse for the one not listening.—Prov. 1:20-30.
The anguish of Jerusalem’s inhabitants in the face of Babylonian attack is compared with the distressed voice of a sick woman, “the voice of the daughter of Zion” being likened to that of a woman giving birth to her first child. (Jer. 4:31) The enemy would reduce Jerusalem to such a low state that any utterances made with her voice would come up from her position of debasement as in the dust and would be like the low voice of a spirit medium. (Isa. 29:4) Through the prophet Jeremiah, God also prophesied that Egypt would be vanquished by the Babylonians, who would come in force as woodcutters, to chop her down. She would lie on the ground, deeply humbled, weeping softly and moaning, her “voice” or “sound” being low like that of a serpent.—Jer. 46:22.
A solemn promise to perform some act, make some offering or gift, or enter some service or condition; a pledge, either positive or negative. Being a solemn promise, a vow carries the force of an oath or a swearing and at times the two expressions accompany each other in the Bible (Num. 30:2; Matt. 5:33), “vow” being more the declaration of intent, while “oath” denotes the appeal made to a higher authority attesting to the truthfulness or binding nature of the declaration. Oaths often accompanied attestation to a covenant.—Gen. 26:28; 31:44, 53.
A vow might be (1) a general vow of devotion; (2) a declaration of abstinence (in which case a person vowed to refrain from using for a limited or an unlimited time certain things ordinarily lawful in themselves); (3) a devoting of something to sacred use or to destruction.—Lev. 27:28, 29; Num. 30:2.
The earliest record of a vow is found at Genesis 28:20-22, where Jacob promised to give Jehovah one-tenth of all his possessions if Jehovah would continue with him and bring him back in peace, thereby proving to be Jacob’s God. Jacob was not bargaining with God, but wanted to be sure that he had God’s approval. As this instance points out, vows were made by the patriarchs (see also Job 22:27) and, as with so many other patriarchal customs, the Mosaic law defined and regulated these already-existing features of worship rather than introducing them.
Many vows were made as an appeal to God for his favor and success in an undertaking, as in Jacob’s case. Another example of such is the vow by Israel to devote the cities of the Canaanite king Arad to destruction if Jehovah gave Israel the victory. (Num. 21:1-3) They were also made as an expression of devotion to Jehovah and his pure worship (Ps. 132:1-5), or to indicate that one was setting himself or his possessions apart for special service. Parents could