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R1. Listening to & Heeding God's Voice.    [Make a Comment]

We are to listen to & heed God's voice.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scriptures

Genesis 3:8a
They heard the voice of ADONAI, God, walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze ...

Exodus 15:26
He said, "If you will listen intently to the voice of ADONAI your God, do what he considers right, pay attention to his mitzvot and observe his laws, I will not afflict you with any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians; because I am ADONAI your healer."

Exodus 19:5
Now if you will pay careful attention to what I say and keep my covenant, then you will be my own treasure from among all the peoples, for all the earth is mine

Exodus 23:21-22
Pay attention to him, listen to what he says and do not rebel against him; because he will not forgive any wrongdoing of yours, since my name resides in him. But if you listen to what he says and do everything I tell you, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes.

Numbers 12:6-8a
He said, "Listen to what I say: when there is a prophet among you, I, ADONAI, make myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream. But it isn't that way with my servant Moshe. He is the only one who is faithful in my entire household. With him I speak face to face and clearly, not in riddles

Deuteronomy 13:5(4)
You are to follow ADONAI your God, fear him, obey his mitzvot, listen to what he says, serve him and cling to him

Deuteronomy 18:15-19 (Maimonides RP172; Chinuch C516)
ADONAI will raise up for you a prophet like me from among yourselves, from your own kinsmen. You are to pay attention to him, just as when you were assembled at Horev and requested ADONAI your God, 'Don't let me hear the voice of ADONAI my God any more, or let me see this great fire ever again; if I do, I will die!' On that occasion ADONAI said to me, 'They are right in what they are saying. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kinsmen. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I order him. Whoever doesn't listen to my words, which he will speak in my name, will have to account for himself to me.

Deuteronomy 27:10
Therefore you are to listen to what ADONAI your God says and obey his mitzvot and laws, which I am giving you today

Deuteronomy 28:1-2
If you listen closely to what ADONAI your God says, observing and obeying all his mitzvot which I am giving you today, ADONAI your God will raise you high above all the nations on earth; and all the following blessings will be yours in abundance - if you will do what ADONAI your God says ... (CJB)

Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God ... (NKJ)

Deuteronomy 28:15
But if you refuse to pay attention to what ADONAI your God says, and do not observe and obey all his mitzvot and regulations which I am giving you today, then all the following curses will be yours in abundance (CJB)

But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you (NKJ)

Matthew 7:24
So, everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on bedrock.

Luke 11:28
But he said, "Far more blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it!"

John 16:3
However, when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own initiative but will say only what he hears. He will also announce to you the events of the future.

Supportive Scriptures

Isaiah 30:30
ADONAI will make his glorious voice heard, and he will reveal his arm descending with furious anger in a flaming firestorm, with cloudburstsm tempests and hailstones.

Jeremiah 7:22-23
For I didn't speak to your ancestors or give them orders concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. Rather, what I did order them was this: 'Pay attention to what I say. Then I will be your God, and you will be my people. In everything, live according to the way that I order you, so that things will go well for you.'

Jeremiah 11:2-4
Listen to the words of this covenant; then speak to the people of Y'hudah and the inhabitants of Yerushalayim; tell them that ADONAI the God of Isra'el says: 'A curse on anyone who does not pay attention to the words of this covenant, which I enjoined on your ancestors at the time that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of that iron-smelter. I said, "Listen to my voice, and carry out all my orders; then you will be my people, and I will be your God"'

Jeremiah 26:13
Therefore now, improve your ways and your doings; and listen to the voice of ADONAI your God; then ADONAI will relent from the disaster he has decreed against you.

Jeremiah 31:30-33(31-34)
"Here, the days are coming," says ADONAI, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Isra'el and with the house of Y'hudah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers on the day I took them by their hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt; because they, for their part, violated my covenant, even though I, for my part, was a husband to them," says ADONAI. "For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Isra'el after those days," says ADONAI: "I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will any of them teach his fellow community member or his brother, 'Know ADONAI'; for all will know me, from the least of them to the greatest; because I will forgive their wickednesses and remember their sins no more."

Psalm 29:3-9
The voice of ADONAI is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, ADONAI over rushing waters, the voice of ADONAI in power, the voice of ADONAI in splendor. The voice of ADONAI cracks the cedars; ADONAI splinters the cedars of the L'vanon and makes the L'vanon skip like a calf, Siryon like a young wild ox. The voice of ADONAI flashes fiery flames; the voice of ADONAI rocks the desert, ADONAI convulses the Kadesh Desert. The voice of ADONAI causes deer to give birth and strips the forests bare - while in his temple, all cry, "Glory!"

John 16:7-8
But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I don't go away, the comforting Counselor will not come to you. However, if I do go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will show that the world is wrong about sin, about righteousness and about judgment

James 1:22-25
Don't deceive yourselves by only hearing what the Word says, but do it! For whoever hears the Word but doesn't do what it says is like someon who looks at his face in a mirror, who looks at himself, goes away an immediately forgets what he looks like. But if a person looks closely int the perfect Torah, which gives freedom, and continues, becoming not forgetful hearer but a doer of the work it requires, then he will be blesse in what he does.


This Mitzvah is related to the Mitzvah on "Obeying Torah". The emphasis here is somewhat different however, in that this Mitzvah has to do with listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to guide us on how God's Commandments should be applied in our particular circumstances.

What it means to obey God's commandments (those written down by Moses) is clear, but what is not so clear is what listening to God's voice means. Rabbinical Judaism would say that it is referring to an "Oral Torah" - words allegedly spoken to Moses that were not written down, but rather conveyed verbally (as an oral tradition) from generation-to-generation. I do not believe that, nor do I believe that listening to God's voice is a mere metaphor for understanding what the written words of Torah say, nor does it mean hearing the words of Torah read aloud. Scripture is clear that, in the New Covenant, we are able to hear God speak to us (usually in a still small voice within us) by means of the Holy Spirit. At the time of Elijah, the New Covenant had not yet come in His fullness, yet Elijah was able to hear that still small voice of God because he was gifted with the Holy Spirit; consider 1 Kings 19:11-12:

He [the angel] said, 'Go outside, and stand on the mountain before ADONAI'; and right then and there, ADONAI went past. A mighty blast of wind tore the mountains apart and broke the rocks in pieces before ADONAI, but ADONAI was not in the wind. After the wind came an earthquake, but ADONAI was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, fire broke out; but ADONAI was not in the fire. And after the fire came a quiet, subdued voice.

The Israelites of old heard and were guided by God's voice in primarily three ways - audibly from Mount Sinai (rarely) (e.g. Deuteronomy 4:32-33), from angels (e.g. Exodus 23:20-22) or from prophets (e.g. Numbers 12:6; Deuteronomy 18:17-18) who were specially gifted to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, and repeat it to the inquirer. God's Voice can be heard today at least as clearly as it was in the past, because today we have the great gift of the New Covenant that was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:30-33(31-34), whereby the Torah is written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit who dwells within each and every one of us who will receive Him. Today, each of us we can hear God's voice in the same way as (in fact, more clearly than) the prophets of old heard Him; as Jeremiah prophesied, we no longer have to inquire of our neighbor or brother, for we all can know and hear Him ourselves. It is clear to me that God's voice is and always has been the voice of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, God speaks through His written commandments, but it is the Holy Spirit that gives the commandments voice for application in our individual lives and circumstances.1

Expecting to hear God's Voice with a mind to obey it is very important if we are to have an intimate and loving relationship with God (John 14:15, 21) - so much so that Romans 8:14 says of it:

All who are led by God's Spirit are God's sons.

Because men's hearing of God's voice can be faulty, we are admonished to by 1 Thessalonians 5:21

test everything [and] hold onto what is good

It is the approach used by the men of Berea who "welcomed Paul's message", but engaged in

checking the Tanakh every day to see if the things Sha'ul was saying were true (Acts 17:11).2

1. English translations of Deuteronomy 28:1-2 and 18 generally use the word "obey" when referring to (God's commandments), and "listen to" when referring to (the sound of God's voice). That notwithstanding, the Hebrew word used for both "obey" and "listen to" in these Scriptures is the same - a derivation of the word (sh'ma), and so the two functions of listening and obeying cannot be separated. On the other hand, derivations of Hebrew words (commandments) and (sound of voice) are both used in the Deuteronomy Scriptures and, since these are not the same, God's written Word and God's voice must be thought of and dealt with differently.

2. See also 1 Corinthians 14:29

Classical Commentators

The only mitzvot that touch on listening to God's voice are Maimonides' RP172, and HaChinuch's corresponding mitzvah C516. They interpret Deuteronomy 18:15-19 as our needing to listen to and obey all of God's prophets even if the prophets should instruct us to temporarily do the opposite of what appears to be a commandment in Scripture. I cannot agree with that interpretation; I believe that Deuteronomy 18:15-19 refers to only one prophet - Yeshua the Messiah - who had yet to come at the time the Commandment was given. And whereas Yeshua interpreted and applied the Mosaic commandments, he never nullified them. Meir does not include the subject of this Mitzvah in his compilation.


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