They knew Him not, nor the voices of the prophets which they read every sabbath. (Acts 13:27 ASV)
We would remind our readers that these messages are constituted by a principle which governs so much of the Bible. It is that, deeper than the words of Scripture, there is a voice; that it was – and is – possible to hear the words and miss the voice. The words are the statements; the voice is the meaning. We have proved this to be the case by such a statement as that in Isaiah 6:9: “Hear ye indeed, but understand not, and see ye indeed (margin: ‘continually’) but perceive not.” This is the condition lying behind our basic quotation in Acts 13:27.
It is sometimes positively amazing and staggering what even Christians – and Christian leaders – can do and say because of this deaf ear to the Spirit. They can take up and pass on most pernicious reports which are sheer lies and do untold harm to others and the Lord's interests because they do not so walk in the Spirit as to have Him say within: "That is not true." It is one thing to include belief in the Holy Spirit as a tenet of Christian doctrine, and it may be quite another thing to know when "the Spirit of truth" witnesses within the heart to the truth or the falsehood. It is significant that both the Remnant and the Overcomer are marked by this "hearing the voice." Jesus placed the ultimate issue of Life or death upon this "hearing the voice (not just the words) of the Son of Man."
"Every sabbath" they heard the words, but not the voice.... Let us pray for the ear of Samuel –
Oh, give me Samuel's ear – An open ear, O Lord! Alive and quick to hear Each whisper of Thy word!"
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