Hearing God’s Voice Today
(יט) וַיְהִי֙ ק֣וֹל הַשּׁוֹפָ֔ר הוֹלֵ֖ךְ וְחָזֵ֣ק מְאֹ֑ד מֹשֶׁ֣ה יְדַבֵּ֔ר וְהָאֱלֹקִ֖ים יַעֲנֶ֥נּוּ בְקֽוֹל׃
(19) The blare of the horn grew louder and louder. As Moses spoke, God answered him in thunder.

I. קול = Verbal

A. “How Evangelicals Hear the Voice of God”, https://theweek.com/articles/473060/how-evangelicals-hear-voice-god

“I do think that if God does speak to someone, God speaks through the human mind,” [Dr. Tanya Luhrmann, author of When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship With God] explained. “As an anthropologist, I feel I can say something about the social, cultural, and psychological features of what that person is experiencing. I came into this project wanting to understand the question: How are rational, sensible, educated people able to sustain faith in an invisible being in an environment of skepticism?”

Luhrmann’s provocative theory is that the church teaches those who pray to use their minds differently than they do in everyday life. They begin by holding conversations with God in their heads, modeled on the kind of chummy conversations they'd have with their best friends. As they talk to Him, tell Him about their problems, and imagine His wise counsel and loving response, they are training their thoughts, much as people use weights to train their muscles. The church encourages them to tune in to sounds, images, and feelings that are louder or more intense or more unfamiliar or more powerful — and to interpret these internal cues as the external voice of God.

“I came in with a set of stereotypes of evangelicals — the kind that you’d expect from someone in the academy,” she said. “I came out with more respect for the religious process… how private and precious the experience of God can be for people.”

She read from her book’s final chapter [at the event reported on at Vineyard Church]: “I have said that I do not presume to know ultimate reality. But it is also true that through the process of this journey, in my own way, I have come to know God.”...

In 2007, to better understand if and how spiritual practice impacts the mind, Luhrmann randomly divided Christian volunteers into groups: One listened on iPods for 30 minutes a day to lectures on the Gospels, while another participated in a more interactive, imagination-rich way, similar to the prayer style of Vineyard members. Their recordings invited them to see, hear, and touch God in the mind’s eye, to carry on a dialogue with Jesus.

“I found that after a month of prayer practice, people reported more vivid mental imagery than those who listened to the lectures,” she says. “They used mental imagery more readily and had somewhat better perceptual attention, and they reported more unusual sensory experience. In short, they attended to their inner experience more seriously, and that altered how real that experience became for them.”

B. The Bat Kol

i. An unknown voice heard from afar

...וּמַשִּׂיאִין עַל פִּי בַת קוֹל. מַעֲשֶׂה בְאֶחָד שֶׁעָמַד עַל רֹאשׁ הָהָר וְאָמַר, אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי בֶן פְּלוֹנִי מִמָּקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי מֵת, הָלְכוּ וְלֹא מָצְאוּ שָׁם אָדָם, וְהִשִּׂיאוּ אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ. וְשׁוּב מַעֲשֶׂה בְצַלְמוֹן בְּאֶחָד שֶׁאָמַר, אֲנִי אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי בֶּן אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי, נְשָׁכַנִי נָחָשׁ, וַהֲרֵי אֲנִי מֵת, וְהָלְכוּ וְלֹא הִכִּירוּהוּ, וְהִשִּׂיאוּ אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ:

... we permit a woman to marry based on a bat kol. A case: One who stood on a mountain peak and said, “So-and-so the son of so-and-so from such-and-such a place died.” They went but could find nobody there and they allowed his wife to marry. Another case: One who said in Tzalmon, “I, So-and-so the son of so-and-so, was bitten by a snake and I am dying.” They went but could not recognise him, and they allowed his wife to marry.

ii. Tube conversations

ואמר ר' שפטיה אמר ר' יוחנן: מנין שמשתמשין בבת קול שנאמר "ואזניך תשמענה דבר מאחריך לאמר" (ישעיה ל:כא).

והני מילי דשמע קל גברא במתא וקל איתתא בדבראוהוא דאמר הין הין והוא דאמר לאו לאו.

R. Shefatyah said R. Yohanan said: From where do we know that we do may make use of a bat kol? Because it says, “And your ears shall hear a word behind you saying...” (Isaiah 30:21).

This applies only if one hears the voice of a man in town and of a woman in the field, and only if it says, “yes, yes”, or “no, no”.

iii. Opening a book to a random page

ר' יוחנן ור' שמעון בן לקיש הוי מתחמדין מיחמי אפווי דשמואל. אמרין נלך אחר שמיעת בת קול. עברין קומי סידרא שמעין קליה דטלייא "ושמואל מת" (שמואל א כח:ג).

Rabbi Yohanan and Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish wanted to visit Shmuel. They said, “Let us go after the hearing of a bat kol.” They passed a synagogue and heard the voice of a schoolboy, “And Samuel died” (1 Samuel 28:3).

II. קול = Nonverbal

A. God in the storm

(א) מִזְמ֗וֹר לְדָ֫וִ֥ד הָב֣וּ לַֽ֭יקוק בְּנֵ֣י אֵלִ֑ים הָב֥וּ לַ֝יקוק כָּב֥וֹד וָעֹֽז׃

(ב) הָב֣וּ לַֽ֭יקוק כְּב֣וֹד שְׁמ֑וֹ הִשְׁתַּחֲו֥וּ לַ֝יקוק בְּהַדְרַת־קֹֽדֶשׁ׃

(ג) ק֥וֹל יקוק עַל־הַ֫מָּ֥יִם אֵֽל־הַכָּב֥וֹד הִרְעִ֑ים יקוק עַל־מַ֥יִם רַבִּֽים׃

(ד) קוֹל־יקוק בַּכֹּ֑חַ ק֥וֹל יקוק בֶּהָדָֽר׃

(ה) ק֣וֹל יקוק שֹׁבֵ֣ר אֲרָזִ֑ים וַיְשַׁבֵּ֥ר יקוק אֶת־אַרְזֵ֥י הַלְּבָנֽוֹן׃

(ו) וַיַּרְקִידֵ֥ם כְּמוֹ־עֵ֑גֶל לְבָנ֥וֹן וְ֝שִׂרְיֹ֗ן כְּמ֣וֹ בֶן־רְאֵמִֽים׃

(ז) קוֹל־יקוק חֹצֵ֗ב לַהֲב֥וֹת אֵֽשׁ׃

(ח) ק֣וֹל יקוק יָחִ֣יל מִדְבָּ֑ר יָחִ֥יל יקוק מִדְבַּ֥ר קָדֵֽשׁ׃

(ט) ק֤וֹל יקוק ׀ יְחוֹלֵ֣ל אַיָּלוֹת֮ וַֽיֶּחֱשֹׂ֪ף יְעָ֫ר֥וֹת וּבְהֵיכָל֑וֹ כֻּ֝לּ֗וֹ אֹמֵ֥ר כָּבֽוֹד׃

(י) יקוק לַמַּבּ֣וּל יָשָׁ֑ב וַיֵּ֥שֶׁב יקוק מֶ֣לֶךְ לְעוֹלָֽם׃

(יא) יקוק עֹ֭ז לְעַמּ֣וֹ יִתֵּ֑ן יקוק ׀ יְבָרֵ֖ךְ אֶת־עַמּ֣וֹ בַשָּׁלֽוֹם׃

1Mizmor le-David.

Give to YHVH, oh divine beings!

Give to YHVH honour and strength!

2Give to YHVH the honour of His name!

Bow down to YHVH in the beauty of the Sanctuary!

3The thunder of YHVH Is on the waters,

The God of honour makes noise,

YHVH is on the mighty waters.

4The thunder of YHVH is in strength!

The thunder of YHVH is in beauty!

5The thunder of YHVH breaks cedars!

God breaks the cedars of Lebanon!

6Lebanon leaps like a calf,

Sirion like a goat!

7The thunder of YHVH lights flames of lightning!

8The thunder of YHVH makes the wilderness writhe!

YHVH makes the wilderness of Kadesh writhe!

9The thunder of YHVH causes deers to calve,

Strips forests!

And in His Temple everyone says, “Honour!”

10YHVH enthroned on the Flood,

YHVH enthroned as king forever.

11YHVH gives strength to His people,

YHVH blesses His people with peace.

B. God’s roar

וַיֹּאמַ֓ר ׀ יקוק מִצִיּ֣וֹן יִשְׁאָ֔ג וּמִירוּשָׁלִַ֖ם יִתֵּ֣ן קוֹל֑וֹ...

He said: YHVH roars from Zion and from Jerusalem gives His voice…

(יב) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֲמַצְיָה֙ אֶל־עָמ֔וֹס חֹזֶ֕ה לֵ֥ךְ בְּרַח־לְךָ֖ אֶל־אֶ֣רֶץ יְהוּדָ֑ה וֶאֱכָל־שָׁ֣ם לֶ֔חֶם וְשָׁ֖ם תִּנָּבֵֽא׃ (יג) וּבֵֽית־אֵ֔ל לֹֽא־תוֹסִ֥יף ע֖וֹד לְהִנָּבֵ֑א כִּ֤י מִקְדַּשׁ־מֶ֙לֶךְ֙ ה֔וּא וּבֵ֥ית מַמְלָכָ֖ה הֽוּא׃ (ס)

(יד) וַיַּ֤עַן עָמוֹס֙ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֶל־אֲמַצְיָ֔ה לֹא־נָבִ֣יא אָנֹ֔כִי וְלֹ֥א בֶן־נָבִ֖יא אָנֹ֑כִי כִּֽי־בוֹקֵ֥ר אָנֹ֖כִי וּבוֹלֵ֥ס שִׁקְמִֽים׃ (טו) וַיִּקָּחֵ֣נִי יקוק מֵאַחֲרֵ֖י הַצֹּ֑אן וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֵלַי֙ יקוק לֵ֥ךְ הִנָּבֵ֖א אֶל־עַמִּ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ (טז) וְעַתָּ֖ה שְׁמַ֣ע דְּבַר־יקוק אַתָּ֣ה אֹמֵ֗ר לֹ֤א תִנָּבֵא֙ עַל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְלֹ֥א תַטִּ֖יף עַל־בֵּ֥ית יִשְׂחָֽק׃ (יז) לָכֵ֞ן כֹּה־אָמַ֣ר יקוק אִשְׁתְּךָ֞ בָּעִ֤יר תִּזְנֶה֙ וּבָנֶ֤יךָ וּבְנֹתֶ֙יךָ֙ בַּחֶ֣רֶב יִפֹּ֔לוּ וְאַדְמָתְךָ֖ בַּחֶ֣בֶל תְּחֻלָּ֑ק וְאַתָּ֗ה עַל־אֲדָמָ֤ה טְמֵאָה֙ תָּמ֔וּת וְיִ֨שְׂרָאֵ֔ל גָּלֹ֥ה יִגְלֶ֖ה מֵעַ֥ל אַדְמָתֽוֹ׃ (ס)

12Amatzyah (the High Priest of Bet El) said to Amos: “Seer, go! Flee to the land of Yehudah, eat there bread, and there you should prophesy! 13Bet El no longer [wants you] to prophesy, for it is the king’s sanctuary and it is a royal house!”

14Amos answered and said to Amatzyah: “I’m neither prophet nor a prophet’s disciple! I’m a shepherd and I raise cattle! 15But YHVH took me from my flock and YHVH said to me: ‘Go, prophesy to My people Yisrael.’ 16And now, hear the word of YHVH! You say not to prophesy about Yisrael and not to preach about the house of Yitzhak! 17Therefore, this is what YHVH said: Your wife will play the harlot in the city, your sons and daughters will fall by the sword, your land will be divided by rope, you will die on impure soil, and Yisrael will be exiled from their land.”

C. God’s song

ר' חנניה בן אחי ר' יהושע אומר… (שמות יט) משה ידבר והאלקים יעננו בקול מכאן רמז לשיר מן התורה:

Rabbi Hananya nephew of Rabbi Yehoshua says… “Moshe spoke and God answered him with kol”—From here is a hint of song from the Torah.

III. Combining קול

משה ידבר והאלקים יעננו בקול.

רבי אליעזר אומר: מנין אתה אומר שאין הקב"ה מדבר עד שמשה אמר דבר, שכבר קבלו עליהם בניך? לכך נאמר משה ידבר.

אמר לו ר' עקיבא: בודאי כי הוא הדבר, ומה ת"ל משה ידבר? אלא מלמד שנתן הב"ה כח וגבורה במשה, והיה הקב"ה מסייעו בקולו ובנעימה שהיה משה שומע בו, היה משמיע את ישראל, לכך נאמר משה ידבר והאלקים יעננו בקול:

“Moshe spoke and God answered him with kol.”

Rabbi Eliezer says: From where do you know that the Holy Blessed One didn’t speak until Moshe said a word, “Your children have accepted it upon themselves”? That’s why it is said: “Moshe spoke”.

Rabbi Akiva said to him: Clearly it was He who spoke. So what does the verse mean “Moshe spoke”? Rather, it is to teach that the Holy Blessed One placed strength and power in Moshe and the Holy Blessed One supported him with His voice, and in the manner in which Moshe heard it he could inform Yisrael, that’s why it is said: “Moshe spoke and God answered him with kol.”