In Matthew, James, Peter, and John, were taken to a mountaintop with Jesus.
Mathew 17, “And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
Don’t miss that the overshadowing is God appearing to Peter, James, and John. God does not just randomly appear and speak in the Bible. When He speaks it is something to be obeyed and, to be taken straight to the heart. He didn’t say follow, study more, he said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” We do studies and gain so much knowledge but skip over the part where we have to listen! I use to give a special test once a year in my biology class. I would say, “make sure you read all the directions before you begin this test.” In their eagerness to share all they had learned, they failed the test because they didn’t listen. The directions simply stated, “please put your name on your test and turn in for an A.” In the years I taught I only had a handful of kids receive a 100 for simply listening. We can go to hundreds of conferences, be in Bible study every week, but if we are not listening it will all be in vain.
This leads us to the next point of being able to recognize His voice.
In John 10:1-5 Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
Back in Jesus’ day the shepherds at night would sometimes take their sheep to a sheepfold. This was an area that had a stone wall all the way around with only one opening. All the flocks would come in and one shepherd would stand guard at the gate through the night, while the others slept. When the shepherds returned, the sheep would be all mingled together. In some of these sheepfolds there might be a thousand sheep. The shepherds would come to the gate and call their sheep at the entrance. The herd one by one, would come to him. The only reason they began to move toward him was because it was a voice they recognized and knew intimately. It was a voice they knew would protect them and care for them. It was a voice they knew would take them to greener pastures and cleaner water. They stepped out of the gate with the shepherd not only because they knew him, but because they also trusted him to provide the best!
Do you know who stands at your gate calling? Have you spent enough time with the Lord to recognize His voice? When you hear it do you trust it? Satan is eager to stand at the gate and call. The Bible says he is the father of lies and the master deceiver. Sometimes Satan stands at the gate of our heart and tries to mimic our Heavenly Father. In 2 Corinthians 11:14 we read, “for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” So we must make sure we know who is calling us out? Is it our flesh being tempted by Satan, or is it our spirit being led by the Lord. The Lord will never go against His Word. Therefore, when we are making choices and listening for God’s voice it will always match up with scripture.
Another good point to this scripture is that there were lots of sheep in the sheepfold but not all were His sheep. The shepherd would have watched the sheep come out one by one knowing if one was an imposter. Have you ever known identical twins? Sometimes they are able to play tricks on teachers, friends, and family members, but there is one that they cannot fool, their mother. You see she is not just anyone. She has spent an absorbent amount of time knowing every detail of her children. One day we will stand before the Lord and He will call us out as His sheep, but not all will come. Some will have been in the fold their whole life, but did not have a personal relationship. Church was just something they participated in on Sunday’s.
I was listening to someone recently talk about how herding sheep had changed drastically. Quadcopters could replace dogs as herders, as farmers in England are already turning to drones to monitor their livestock. These drones aid farmers with big farms in finding sick, distressed, injured or escaped animals. Their use could be expanded to large farms in Australia, some as large as Israel, where cattle number in the hundreds of thousands. Electric fences along with tags help keep the sheep from wandering off reducing the load of the shepherd. The art of the shepherd knowing their sheep is a lost art to most. Technology, trying to produce more, and overall business has made it unprofitable for shepherds to take the time to know their sheep. I heard Priscilla Shirer say one time, “Aren’t you glad God hasn’t allowed business to keep Him from seeking to know you?”
I want to leave you with these questions. With all our grand technology, our busy life styles, our pursuit of gaining more, do we think it is unprofitable to seek the Shepherd’s voice? Do we have too many things distracting us, which leaves us unable to identify who is calling us at our gate? Is it our Heavenly Father who wants what is best for us, or Satan disguised to tempt us with mediocrity. Do you know when the Great Shepherd calls if you will be His sheep?
“That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart man believes resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. “For whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-10, 13.)
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as in rebellion…. (Hebrews 3:7)
Partial Obedience = complete disobedience to God – Joil Marbut