Look Who's Talking
Sermon Notes on Job 33:4 preached by
For God does speak - now one way, now another - though people may not perceive it. (Job 33 v 14)
These words were spoken by Elihu, not one of the three original friends of Job, but a younger man.
In the Advent readings there's a lot of speaking, whether its
- God speaking words of comfort through Isaiah, speaking tenderly to Jerusalem
- the voice of one calling in the wilderness, crying out in the desert
Powerful reminders us that God does speak, first one way, then another although people may not perceive or understand it
God does speak
God speaks to us because He cares for us and the world, never more powerfully demonstrated than at Christmas when He came incarnate into the world.
He speaks because He is a God who has a point of view.
He's not a God who sits back and doesn't care what goes on in the world.
Does not just sit back and stays silent, He wants people to know about Him and His will for the world.
At Christmas He especially wants people to know about the new life of His son.
God uses all kinds of people to speak, first the prophets, then people like John the Baptist and now people like us We have a role to speak out God's word, to be prophets for Him just as John was.
To speak out for Him
- to speak out against the things that detract from God's Kingdom and His will
- to challenge and disturb, as did John the Baptist
- to speak out for the things that extend and foster the Kingdom of God
First one way and then another
Sometimes God speaks in different way
Through people we don't expect, the last thing the Priests and Levites expected was to be instructed in the way of God by someone they probably saw as a reclusive nutter, an Essene(?)
In ways we don't expect
- not just in words
- but in silence, a bible verse, a poem, in prayer, through an image or icon
- and in actions, and act of kindness, a helping hand, through what we do not just say
- in circumstances
- in ways in which we think are just coincidences
Difference between what God says and the people through which He chooses to say it
The Priests and Levites tried to check out John's credentials to check the validity of what he said
Can be important and sometimes we need to check what we think God may be saying to us but
Sometimes God will use unlikely looking characters, like John the Baptist, a bit weird, to speak to us
Perhaps He will use someone with no explicit faith, or a younger person like Elihu, or someone we don't like
God sometimes has to use multiple ways to get through our thick skulls, just like a good teacher
And he may want to use us to do His speaking
But people may not perceive it
Sometimes it may take time before we recognise the voice of God, need to practice listening
Easier sometimes looking back to see the hand of God and understand His voice
But He wants to speak to us
- to encourage us
- to change and ultimately perfect us
- to use us for His glory
So we need to
- spend time listening so we can learn to hear
- spend time reflecting so we can test and understand
- spend time speaking so others can know the will of God
Sometimes we think that God can't or doesn't want to speak to us or use us, we feel we're too insignificant or not good enough
John the Baptist was not your regular church-goer, or linked into the power base of the church
Chinese Proverb: If we don't change direction we'll end up where we are going
At Christmas God speaks - loudly through the incarnation
First one way, then another - through people as diverse as John the Baptist, the shepherds, the wise men, the crib scene, the carol service, and may be even the Christmas cards we write
But people may not perceive it - the true message of the incarnation and Christmas was missed by many who were explicitly looking for it, looking for the Messiah. Many did not understand the message of John the Baptist; they ignored him and eventually put him in prison and killed him
But he spoke out and so should we, irrespective of how people respond
God wants to use us to speak out for Him, first one way and then another even if people don't understand it
Like John the Baptist and the prophets before him, to point the way to Jesus
Because as we remember at Advent, He will come again in glory and shout His final victory - and then there will be no misunderstanding