Thursday, May 7, 2009

When God Judges with the Roar of a Lion...

“When the LORD roars from Jerusalem, pasturelands and Mount Carmel dry up and turn brown”
–Amos 1:2 (CEV).

Some years back when I was all alone praying to God, dictating my prayers and Scriptural passages onto a tape player for use later the following day, something remarkable happened.

It was the following day when I was playing some of the prayers back when I noticed a distinctly audible voice behind mine--it was imprinted on the tape. As I detected it, I re-wound the tape and played it over. I did this again and again, trying to find some human attribution for it, until I suddenly realised what I had attributed it to be; it was the roar of the LORD.

I’d been lamenting in quite grim anguish this particular night, and that, to the point of wanting quite dire things to happen. I was praying in tears... desperate, confused, grossly disappointed, and totally without hope. Immediately after that point in the tape when I’d said something that might’ve obviously pressed God’s button, I heard a pronounced and echoed, “HGUMM.” It was quite a supernatural sound, not of this world--and it had ‘layers’ to it. (The previous night when I made the recording was very quiet. I certainly did not detect or notice any noises like this.)

I was in a season of deep anguish, yet this season was shrouded in such deep spiritual growth and a burgeoning strength[1] was taking hold of me... I would later see that this was the strength of God, the Almighty--the Beginning and the End of all things.

When I realised what I’d heard, based on my attribution, I froze and realised that I had heard God’s audible voice, and not only that, I’d recorded it. I played it to some others and they attested to the strangeness of it, not discounting my claim. The effect it had on me was the essence of heart-rending fear, yet I knew very specially God’s intent for me and that is was all good. He simply wanted to warn me, getting me to turn from this way.

The verse out of Amos represents the awesome power of the LORD to punish transgressors of his (believer’s) covenant. It is a covenant warning.[2] I was certainly transgressing this particular night, like we all do from time to time, yet the LORD’s roar came in a marked way that it wouldn’t usually.

The roar of the LORD, like a lion or thunder, levels the land both cataclysmically and latently, for example, in the form of destruction or drought. “The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth (Psalm 97:5 NIV).” God can do this. The roar of the LORD may simply “precede judgment or blessing.”[3] This roar is like a final warning before he executes his finalised judgment. And God can act both cataclysmically and latently in our personal lives too--and he often does.

God rarely makes himself heard like this, and I could’ve been forgiven for feeling a little loony. Yet, this sort of thing has happened to others, and to many I’d esteem, so I’m not alone and not categorically out-of-my-mind for having the experience.

The main point is God does speak, and he speaks in many different ways, including through contemporary ‘minor prophets.’

It beckons us, finally, to be watchful and aware of whenever God will choose to speak (especially in rebuke or commendation) with us very personally, and through our circumstances. May we react quickly and decisively, turning from paths he curses and continuing on paths he blesses.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
[1] I look back fondly on this season of life. God is so faithful; he gave me so much spiritual strength. There were times when I would fast for days and still easily walk 30 kilometres (without tiredness or hunger) as I sojourned.
[2] Jeffrey Niehaus, “Amos” in The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical & Expository Commentary, Volume: 1 (Ed. Thomas Edward McComiskey) (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1992), p. 338.
[3] Niehaus, Ibid, p. 338.

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