As you read on, you’ll see that I think the answer is “No.”
But, it is easy to read through the Bible and think that spectacular revelations from God are no longer an everyday occurrence. We read of God’s call ofAbraham, Isaac, and Jacob; or the burning bush encounter that Moses had with God; or the angel of Lord appearing to Joshua or to the many judges of Israel. But, we don’t seem to have these experiences very often, if ever, in our lives. After all, these are the stories with action and excitement.
These are the stories that form our understanding of the narrative of Scripture. But, as important as these accounts are to pointing toward the coming of Jesus and the redemption of the world from sin, there are many other smaller, less-action-oriented and less-exciting moments in the bible. These seemingly small stories escape our attention. The beginning of 1 Samuel 3 is one such passage in the Bible. 1 Samuel 3 begins by saying, “…In the [days of Samuel], the word of the Lord, was rare; there were not many visions.” This is just a short line. Yet, after reading a line like this, the world of the Bible does not seem so far away from our everyday lives.
If you are like me, you have moments in your life, where you are very unsure of what God’s will is for your life. We want to know God’s word and will, but it seems like the heavens are shut-up from us. In moments like this, doubt creeps into our lives. If we have any awareness of the Bible, we begin to think that the characters of the Bible were nuts; or if not nuts, they had to have had a far superior relationship to God, or God likes them more than he does us — today. It doesn’t take long for us to be tempted to think that God’s word may have been clear back then, but it is not now. Or, we are tempted to think that God does not reveal himself like he use to; and we think, why doesn’t he reveal himself like he did to Moses, or Joshua, or Abraham.
Today, I hope that this one short line from 1 Samuel 3 is an encouragement to you. I hope it brings your life and the life of the Bible a little closer. I hope it shows you that you are not alone in thinking this way about not hearing God’s voice clearly. For, we see that indeed there were times, even in the Old Testament, where the people of God did not hear from God in exciting and spectacular ways on a daily basis. In fact, the time of of the prophet Samuel was one such time — for it says that the word of God was rare.
Now, catch this one important distinction. It did not say that God’s word was non-existent. It just says that God’s word was rare. Just because God’s word was rare, did not mean that God’s presence in Israel was non-existent. Even this small distinction reveals a God who is constantly engaged with his beloved people.
Now, we on the earthly end, may struggle through the realities that we desire God’s word and will to be made known clearly in our lives on a daily basis, but it doesn’t seem to come. At the least, we can take comfort that we are not in small company. We see in 1 Samuel 3 that most of Israel has dealt with this struggle. And, we can take comfort that it doesn’t mean God’s word is absent. It is just not being revealed as spectacularly as it is at other times in our lives. And, the most encouraging thing that we followers of Jesus can take from this passage is that we do have access to a fuller clarity of God’s will for our everyday life.
Up to this point in Israel’s history, they had been been mostly dependent on hearing God’s word through a prophet — someone like, Moses or Samuel (or through the law given to Moses or through the imagery of the tabernacle and priesthood). But, now that Jesus has been revealed as the Son of God, we who follow him, have been given a clearer picture of who God is and what his word means. Hebrews 10:1a says, “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming — not the realities themselves.” And, Colossians 2:17 says, “These [Old Testament laws and practices] are a shadow of the things to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. And, earlier in Hebrews 1:3 its says, “The Son [speaking of Jesus] is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being….”
Jesus is the fullest revelation of God that has ever been given. And by the presence of his Spirit in our lives, we, who follow him, have been given access to this revelation. So, even though we continue to struggle through the realities that the revelation of God’s will in our lives seems to go be rare during certain period’s of our lives, we can continue to take comfort and be encouraged that we’ve been given the privilege of seeing God in a clearer light than even our Hebrew ancestors experienced in the days of Moses, Joshua, and the prophet Samuel. And, we can also have hope that God’s will will eventually be made known in our lives — for God’s Spirit is always at work. To this, we can continue to thank God for his goodness that has been revealed to us in his Son Jesus.