By Nathan Washburn
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Greenbrier
It matters which voices we listen to. We are shaped, both in our thinking and in our feeling, in large part by the information we take in through our ears. This is why Jesus said, “Take care what you listen to” (Mark 4:24). It’s why He repeated often when He taught, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15). It’s why the Father said at the transfiguration, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him” (Mark 9:7). With all the voices and noises competing to be heard in our world today, we must find the one voice of truth — that of the Lord Jesus.
Early on, however, before Jesus came and taught and before God’s written Word was complete (like we have today), the chosen people of God had prophets who would bring the Word of the Lord. Like today, that word came when there were many competing voices. There were those who were guided by other spirits who would speak as fortunetellers, necromancers (those who communicated with the dead), and those who practiced sorcery and the like. When the children of Israel were given the instruction not to fall in line with those who did these things (Deuteronomy 18:9-14), it was for their own protection. The darkness had (and has) real power, and often people are winsome avenues of that power.
Instead of being guided by the voices around them, God would raise up a prophet for them who would tell them what they needed to know. In His grace, He would not leave them without a word or voice to guide them, but they must take care to listen to the correct voice. “It is to him you shall listen,” Moses made clear to them (v. 15), speaking of whatever prophet the Lord would give them for a specific time. With no written word of God, the presence of a true prophet who would deliver the word of the Lord to the people would prove to be crucial.
Prohibiting the people from exploring the different manifestations of the darkness was a loving thing to do. It’s much like when our parents tell us not to listen to or follow strangers but to stick close by their side and listen to what their voice tells us to do. That’s loving. No matter what sweet treat the stranger may offer that looks good in the moment, it’s the parent who has the long-term safety and flourishing in mind for the child.
Similarly, when we are instructed in the New Testament to listen to Jesus and to have ears that hear His teaching, it’s out of love that we’re told this. Our spiritual safety and flourishing are at stake. We don’t seek a human fortuneteller to disclose our future because we trust in the Lord who holds our future and has written down all our days (Psalm 139:16). We don’t seek a necromancer to speak to us on behalf of the dead because we believe in and serve the God of the living (Matthew 22:32). And we don’t submit ourselves to those who practice sorcery or align themselves to the spiritual darkness because Jesus has “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame” (Colossians 2:15) and is seated at the right hand of the Father “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named” (Ephesians 1:21). It absolutely matters which voices we listen to, so let us be those who listen to the voice of truth and light, Jesus Christ.