The appeal of the prophet Jeremiah in the long ago was “please obey the voice of the Lord which I speak to you. That it may be well with you, and your soul shall live” (Jer. 38:20). While many today claim to hear and speak the voice of the Lord, Jeremiah did (Jer. 1:4-10; II Pet. 1:20-21). On this occasion Zedekiah the king wanted to hear but refused to listen. Hearing, listening and obeying the voice of the Lord are all required to be pleasing to Him.

The voice of the Lord is a revealing voice. Sometimes it reveals sin (Jer. 38:2-3). In Jeremiah’s time both the northern tribes of Israel, and the southern tribes of Judah were nearing destruction. It was by God’s grace that they were being preserved, and it was by His grace the prophet [Jeremiah] was appealing to turn before it was too late. The Jews at Pentecost following the resurrection of the Lord were in a similar place (Acts 2:36). The voice of the Lord reveals the wages of sin (Rom. 6:23). God’s word reveals a clear desire for righteousness (Prov. 14:34). Both then and now God’s desire and word has been that all would be saved.

As implied, above the voice of the Lord is a voice of warning. Jeremiah delivered the warning of trying to resist Babylon (38:3, 21-23). The Lord has warned from the beginning of sinning against Him (Num. 32:33; Gal. 5:19-21). Also important to understanding sin and righteousness is the principal of sowing and reaping (Gal. 6:7-8). To those who would sin, a warning, but to those who choose righteousness, a promise. A warning that should be frightful to all is the vengeance of the Lord. The warning voice of the Lord is needed to prevent us from entering the wide gate and broad way.

Sometimes the voice of the Lord is a hated voice. His love is great and His truth endures to all generations (Psalm 100:5), but His voice is still sometimes hated by those who choose to disobey. Jeremiah’s bad treatment by the king and his court (38:4-6) is an example. Stephen preached exactly what the Spirit moved him to say, and was stoned to death (Acts 7:54-60). The statement of the beloved apostle Paul (Gal. 4:16) further emphasizes the dislike of some for those who speak as the voice of the Lord. Is it any different today? Those who speak the Truth are often regarded as bigots, even ironically called evil. Hard to think about carrying the message of God and being hated, but history is replete with just such examples.

To the ones being saved, the voice of the Lord is assuring. It was to those who were listening in Jerusalem (Jer. 38:20), and it will be today to Spiritual Israel. To the obedient follower it’s a comfort (Matt. 10:28; 16:26; II Thess. 1:6-10). The Lord desires all be saved (I Tim. 2:4). Considering the voice of the Lord, one must be impressed with the fact that it’s the individual’s choice. The assuring voice of the Lord is ever present, but must be heard and obeyed. His voice is assuring in that it is infallible without fault or flaw, in contrast with the voices of this world. To those who will listen, He is still pleading today by His messengers: “please obey the voice of the Lord.” 

-David Hill, President of Tennessee Bible College