Churches as God’s Flock, Following the Shepherd’s Voice (Part 2)

By Peter Thompson B.Theo Grad Dip Theology

565798In Part 1, we observed Yahweh Himself as the Shepherd of Israel, His flock, and how His sheep should respond to Him.  One critical aspect of this was obedience to the voice of Yahweh as their Shepherd.  In this Part, we will look more closely at Yahweh’s tendency to shepherd His flock through using His voice, not just the Scriptures.

The Living God Who Speaks Audibly

Yahweh is the living God who spoke in an audible voice to:

  • Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, noting how they heard Him speaking before they saw Him (Genesis 3:8-13);
  • Job out of a whirlwind in the presence of his four companions (Job 38:1; 40:1, 6; 42:7-9);
  • Moses out of the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-6, 11-15; 4:2-6, 11-14; Acts 7:31-33; Mark 12:26-27);
  • Moses and then to all Israel assembled before Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:3, 9, 17-20; 20:1, 18-19, 22; Deuteronomy 4:9-12, 33; 5:22-27; Acts 7:38; compare Hebrews 3:14-18; 12:18-20, 26);
  • Moses when he appeared in front of the mercy seat in the Tent of Meeting (Numbers 7:89; Exodus 33:10-11; Numbers 12:1-10; Deuteronomy 34:10; Romans 9:15; Acts 7:44; John 9:29);
  • the people of Israel through the angel He sent to go before them (Exodus 23:20-22; compare Judges 2:1-5; Psalm 99:6-7);
  • Samuel while lying down as a boy in the tabernacle, who mistook the voice for Eli (1 Samuel 3:4-11);
  • Elijah in the cave on Mount Sinai/Horeb (1 Kings 19:12-15; Romans 11:2-4);
  • Isaiah while before Yahweh’s throne (Isaiah 6:4, 8-9);
  • Ezekiel while before Yahweh’s throne (Ezekiel 1:24-25, 28);
  • Jesus in front of John the Baptist and their disciples by the Jordan River (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22);
  • Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-6; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36; 2 Peter 1:16-18);
  • Jesus in front of the crowd at Jerusalem just before the Feast of Passover (John 12:27-30); and
  • John during his vision on the Isle of Patmos (Revelation 21:5-7).

Yahweh’s Thundering Audible Voice

In battle and judgment, Yahweh scattered the Philistines in the days of Samuel with such a powerful, thundering, mighty noise audible to all that it threw the whole army into confusion, something He does figuratively to all His/Israel’s enemies (1 Samuel 7:10; Isaiah 29:5-6; 30:27, 30-33; compare Hosea 6:4-5; 2 Samuel 22:14; Psalm 18:13; 29:3-9; 46:6; 68:32-34; Job 40:9-14; Jeremiah 25:30-31; Joel 2:11; 3:11-16; Amos 1:2).  Through His voice He controls the forces of nature (Psalm 19:1-6; Job 37:1-6; 38:34; Jeremiah 10:11-13; 51:15-16).  When Yahweh speaks and thunders, it is very audible to all who are present (compare Ezekiel 10:4-5).

Therefore, it is very clear that obeying the voice of Yahweh means more than just figuratively hearing God speak through the Scriptures, for very different expressions are used to convey obedience just to the written word (e.g., Deuteronomy 5:1; 6:4-9, 20-25; 11:1, 8-9, 13-14, 18-23; 17:18-20; 30:11-14; 31:9-13; 32:44-47; Joshua 1:6-8; 8:34-35; 21:2-3; 23:14-16; 2 Samuel 12:9; 1 Kings 6:11-13; 2 Kings 17:12-14; 22:11-13, 16-18; 23:3; 2 Chronicles 34:14-31; 35:6).  Seeking guidance from Yahweh involves more than just consulting the written word (compare 1 Chronicles 10:13-14).

Note 1 Samuel 15:22-23, where obeying Yahweh’s voice is so much better than offering sacrifices prescribed under the written Law.  Note also Job 22:22; 23:12, statements most likely made long before the written Law came into being.

The Living God Who Speaks to/through His Prophets

Furthermore, Yahweh frequently spoke to or instructed His prophets (e.g., 1 Samuel 8:7, 22; 9:17; 16:1-2, 7, 12; 1 Kings 14:5; 19:11, 15; 1 Chronicles 21:9; Isaiah 7:3; 8:1-5, 11; 22:15; Jeremiah 3:6, 11; 11:6, 9; 13:1, 6; 14:11, 14; 15:1; 17:19; 24:3; 25:15, 30; 27:2; Ezekiel 2:1-3; 3:1-4, 22-25; 4:13-16; 8:5-17; 11:2; 23:36; Jonah 4:4, 9-10; Hosea 1:2-9; 3:1; Amos 7:8, 15; 8:2; 9:1; Zechariah 11:13, 15).  The prophets became Yahweh’s mouthpiece as they were carried along by the Spirit (2 Peter 1:19-21; Hebrews 1:1; 4:3-7; 5:5-6; Luke 1:68-70; Matthew 1:22; 2:15; 22:43-44; Mark 12:36; Romans 9:22-25; 2 Corinthians 6:1-2, 16-17; Acts 1:16; 4:25-26; 13:32-35; compare Haggai 1:1, 12-13; 2:1; Jeremiah 1:9-10; 37:2; 38:19-20; 42:4-6, 10-13; 43:4, 7; Isaiah 7:3-4, 10; 20:2; 37:21; 38:1; Ezekiel 2:7; 3:4-11; 20:27; Exodus 4:10-12; Micah 6:1, 9; Numbers 23:5, 16; 1 Samuel 10:18; 15:1-2; 2 Samuel 12:7; 24:12; 1 Kings 11:31; 12:15, 24; 13:2; 14:7, 18; 15:29; 16:12; 17:14; 20:13-14, 28; 22:38; 2 Kings 1:16-17; 2:21; 3:16-17; 4:43; 7:1; 9:3, 6; 10:17; 14:25; 19:6, 20-21; 20:1-2, 16; 21:10; 22:14-15; 23:16, 27; 24:2; 2 Chronicles 10:15; 34:22-23; 36:21-22; Psalm 89:34-36), such as:

  • the word of Yahweh to Moses and Aaron (1 Chronicles 15:15; Numbers 4:1-16);
  • the word of Yahweh being revealed to Samuel (1 Samuel 3:1, 7; 3:21; 15:10);
  • the word of Yahweh coming to Abraham (Genesis 15:1; 20:7), Nathan (2 Samuel 7:4; 1 Chronicles 17:3; 22:8), Gad (2 Samuel 24:11), Shemaiah (1 Kings 12:22; 2 Chronicles 11:2; 12:7), an unnamed old prophet (1 Kings 13:20), Jehu (1 Kings 16:1, 7), Elijah (1 Kings 17:2, 8; 18:1; 19:9; 21:17, 28), Jonah (Jonah 1:1; 3:1), Isaiah (2 Kings 20:4; Isaiah 38:4), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:2-4, 11-14; 2:1; 7:1 11:1; 13:3, 8; 16:1; 18:1, 5; etc.), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 3:16; 6:1; 7:1; 11:14; 12:1, 8, 17, 21, 26; etc.); Hosea (Hosea 1;1), Joel (Joel 1:1), Amos (Amos 3:1; 5:1), Micah (Micah 1;1), Zephaniah (Zephaniah 1:1), Haggai (Haggai 1:1-3; 2:1, 10, 20), and Zechariah (Zechariah 1:1, 7; 4:8; 6:9; 7:1, 8; 8:1, 18; 9:1; 12:1);
  • the word of Yahweh directing an unnamed man of God to the altar at Bethel to perform a sign (1 Kings 13:1-5, 17);
  • a command given to an unnamed son of the prophets (1 Kings 20:35-36);
  • the word of Yahweh being with Elisha (2 Kings 3:12);
  • an oracle, the book of Nahum’s vision (Nahum 1:1; compare Isaiah 1:1; Obadiah 1:1; Amos 7:1, 8:1);
  • the oracle Habakkuk saw (Habakkuk 1:1; compare Isaiah 2:1); and
  • an oracle, the word of Yahweh by the hand of Malachi (Malachi 1:1).

Occasionally, the word of Yahweh came to non-prophets, like Enoch (Jude 1:14), Jacob (1 Kings 18:31; Genesis 35:10), Joshua (Joshua 6:26; 1 Kings 16:34), David (Acts 2:30), Solomon (1 Kings 6:11) and Zerubbabel (Zechariah 4:5-6), or the Spirit came upon others like Saul (1 Samuel 10:5-7, 10-13), Jahaziel a Levite (2 Chronicles 20:13-15), Zechariah the son of a priest (2 Chronicles 24:20), Zechariah, a priest, the father of John the Baptist (Luke 1:67), and Caiaphas, the High Priest (John 11:49-52), causing them to prophesy  Compare also Psalm 60:6-8; 108:7-9. Also, in an interesting change of expression, Yahweh put a message in the mouth of the pagan prophet, Balaam (Numbers 23:5, 16, 18; 24:2-4, 15-16).

Note Deuteronomy 13:1-5 where false prophets, even when their signs come to pass, are not to be heeded (compare 1 Kings 22:13-28; 2 Chronicles 18:4-27).  God’s people are only to walk after Yahweh (as His sheep) and obey His voice, whether it comes directly, through His prophets, through the Scriptures by the Spirit, or by some other means like dreams, visions or angels (compare Job 33:13-18).

The Living God Who Speaks Directly to Key People in Key Momentscommunity

After Noah’s flood, Yahweh also spoke directly to:

  • Abraham (Genesis 12:1, 7; 13:14; 17:1-2, 9, 15, 22; 18:1-2, 10-33; 21:12; 22:1-2; Acts 3:25; 7:2-7);
  • Abimelech, king of Gerar, in a dream (Genesis 20:6);
  • Rebekah (Genesis 25:21-23);
  • Isaac (Genesis 26:2, 24);
  • Jacob (Genesis 31:3; 32:9; 35:1, 9-15; 46:2-3);
  • Laban the Aramean, Jacob’s father-in-law, in a dream (Genesis 31:21-24, 29);
  • Moses (Exodus 4:19, 21; 6:1-3, 10, 28-29; 7:1-2, 8, 19; 8:1, 5, 16, 20; 9:1, 8, 13, 22; 10:3, 12, 21; 11:1, 9; 12:1, 43; 13:1, 17-18; 14:1, 15-16, 26; 16:4, 11, 28; 17:5, 14; 19:9-10, 21, 24; 20:22; 24:1, 12; 25:1; 30:1, 12; 32:7-9, 33; 33:1, 14-21; 34:1, 10, 27; 40:1; Leviticus 1:1; 4:1; 5:14; 6:1, 8, 19, 24; 7:22, 28; 8:1; 11:1; 12:1; 13:1; 14:1, 33; 15:1; 16:1-2; 17:1; 18:1; 19:1; 20:1; 21:1, 16; 22:1, 17, 26; 23:1, 9, 23, 26, 33; 24:1, 13; 25:1; 27:1; Numbers 1:1; 2:1; 3:5, 11, 14, 40, 44; 4:1, 17, 21:5:1, 5, 11; 6:1, 22; 7:4; 8:1, 5, 23; 9:1, 9; 10:1; 11:16, 23; 12:4, 14; 13:1; 14:11, 20, 26; 15:1, 17, 35, 37; 16:20, 23, 36, 44; 17:1, 10; 18:25; 19:1; 20:7, 12, 23; 21:8, 34; 25:4, 10, 16; 26:1, 52; 27:6, 12, 18; 28:1; 31:1, 25; 34:1, 16; 35:1, 9; Deuteronomy 31:14-16; 32:48; 34:4);
  • Aaron (Exodus 4:27; 7:8; 9:8; 12:1, 43; Leviticus 10:8; 11:1; 13:1; 14:33; 15:1; Numbers 2:1; 4:1, 17; 12:4; 14:26; 18:1, 20; 19:1; 20:12, 23);
  • Miriam (Numbers 12:4);
  • Balaam, the pagan prophet (Numbers 22:9, 12, 20);
  • Eleazar, Aaron’s son (Numbers 26:1);
  • Joshua (Joshua 1:1-3; 3:7-8; 4:1, 15; 5:2, 9; 6:2; 7:10; 8:1, 18; 10:8; 11:6; 13:1; 20:1; Hebrews 13:5);
  • Gideon (Judges 6:25; 7:2-9);
  • David (1 Samuel 23:2-4, 11-12; 30:7-8; 2 Samuel 2:1; 5:19, 23; 21:1; 1 Chronicles 14:10, 14; 28:3; compare 2 Samuel 23:1-3);
  • Solomon (1 Kings 3:5, 11; 9:2-3; 11:11; 2 Chronicles 1:7, 11; 7:12);
  • Jehu (2 Kings 10:30); and
  • the whole assembled people of Israel (Judges 1:1-2; 10:10-11; 20:18, 23, 28; 1 Samuel 10:22).

Each time Yahweh spoke, it was a key moment where He needed to intervene and either guide, direct, instruct, encourage, reassure, warn, or promise a key person themselves, or someone else concerning a key person, in His plans and purposes for His people and humanity.  Notice in particular those occasions where Yahweh actually appeared to someone before speaking, and even departed from them after speaking.

By Yahweh being the living God who speaks, He was set apart from all the various idols and false gods of the pagan nations who couldn’t speak (e.g., Psalm 115:4-8; 135:15-18; Isaiah 40:18-23; 41:21-29; 44:14-20; 45:18-21; 46:5-7; Jeremiah 10:1-16; Habakkuk 2:18-20; compare 1 Corinthians 12:2).

The Need for Obedience

The sheep of God’s pasture must obey both His written commandments as general guidelines and His voice, the words of His lips spoken in specific situations whether audibly, in dreams/visions, or through His prophets (Deuteronomy 13:4, 18; 26:16-17; 28:1; 30:16-20; Exodus 15:26; 1 Samuel 12:14; compare Psalm 17:3-5; 85:8; 89:19).

On two unforgettable occasions, I myself have personally heard God speak to me at very key moments in my life (concerning whom I was to marry, and the need to go to Bible College) with a voice as real as an audible voice, so much so that I actually turned around to see who was talking to me.  On both occasions, the voice was unexpected, and it completely took me by surprise.  God is still the living God who speaks!

In Part 3, we will look at Jesus, the Good Shepherd raised up by Yahweh in fulfilment of the Old Testament messianic promises.


To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available for download here.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.


Peter “Thommo” Thompson was born in 1958 in the bulldust of south-western Queensland in the region around the township of Mitchell.  He was converted outside of the church through a supernatural encounter with the living God in Mackay, North Queensland, in February 1979, and embarked upon a long and arduous journey of God dealing with the figurative bulldust in his life.  In 2012, he completed a Bachelor of Ministry & Theology double degree, and in 2013, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Theology, all at Tabor Adelaide.  He currently lives with his two adult daughters in Ipswich, Queensland, and is writing a series of academic novels with the intent of hopefully helping to facilitate a church unifying movement through an unbranded form of Christianity in Australia.


Copyright 2015 Peter Thompson. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact us.

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