The Voice of God

Audio here.

Video of the Divine Service here.

Bulletin here.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

How will they hear without preachers, St. Paul asks. Have you ever thought about how strange that is? How will they hear without preachers? Why doesn’t God just speak audibly to them? Why doesn’t He thunder from heaven so that they will hear and believe? Well, He does a couple times, and the people think it’s thunder, or an angel, or they are terrified, as at Mount Sinai. So God says to His preachers, Prophesy. Prophesy, son of man, and say to these dry bones, hear the Word of Yahweh.

So Ezekiel does. Hear the Word of the Lord, though all they hear is Ezekiel. He prophesies to the dry bones, and the Word of the Lord causes sinews, flesh, and skin to come upon them. But they are still dead. So prophesy to the wind, to the breath, to the Spirit, and they come alive and stand up on their feet, a huge army, the whole house of Israel. What is born of the flesh is only flesh. But what is born of the Spirit is spirit: spiritual flesh, like the body of Jesus. The voice of Ezekiel, because it is the voice of the Lord, is the voice of the Spirit. You hear the voice of the Spirit, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it goes. But this is how it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

I will put My Spirit within you and you will live. Like Adam, lying on the ground, made from the ground, earth and dust: God breathed the breath of life into him and he became a living spirit. Flesh and spirit. But how will they hear without preachers? So God sends His preachers. It’s not in the rushing wind, or the shaking house, or even in the divided tongues of fire where God’s voice is heard. It is when Peter lifts up his voice: give ear to my words. To an exceedingly great army, gathered in Jerusalem, Peter speaks. Prophesy, son of man, and say to these dry bones, hear the Word of Yahweh. An exceedingly great army: Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, visitors from Rome, Cretans and Arabians. O dry bones, hear the Word of Yahweh! And the Spirit of God speaks, and the Spirit is poured out on all flesh as human babel is undone and reversed. You hear the voice of the Spirit, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it goes. But so it is of everyone born of the Spirit: the preachers preach, the hearers hear, they believe, and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord is saved. It’s not in the wind, or the fire, or the earthquake that Elijah hears God. It’s in the Voice.

We all need our preachers. We all have our preachers. Our first preachers, usually our parents. As Paul writes to Timothy about his faith, which first lived in his mother Lois and his grandmother Eunice. Timothy, you’ve been acquainted from infancy with the Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. How will they hear without preachers? So God gives children parents; He gives congregations pastors; He gives unbelievers Christians. I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and daughters will prophesy.

And what will they prophesy? They will prophesy this Jesus, who has been crucified and resurrected. If they prophesy anything other than this Jesus, it is not the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit will not speak on His own, somehow independent authority. He will hear and speak; He will glorify Jesus; He will take what is Christ’s, which is given from the Father, and He will declare that. The Holy Trinity, with one will and one voice and one Word, speaking it to dry, dead bones.

This is the whole house of Israel, son of man. They say, our bones are dry and dead; our hope is lost; we are cut off. Cut off from the land, from the temple, maybe from God Himself. No hope means nothing to wait for, nothing good to come. We die here in exile, and that’s the end. Christian hope is to wait for something with certainty, and they have no certainty. So prophesy, son of man. Thus saith the Lord, I will open up your graves, and I will raise you from your graves, O My people. I will breathe into your dead, dry bones, and you will live. You will become a living spirit. What is born of the Spirit is spirit.

No hope? Waiting only for death? No. I will open your graves. What will God’s sons and daughters, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesy? That these dead, dry bones belong to the Son of Man who died, but is alive. They have been buried with Christ, and so they will rise. I will lift you up out of your graves, O My people. I will breathe My Spirit into you and you will live. And then you will know that I am Yahweh, your God, when I raise you from your graves. And then I will put you into the eternal land of promise.

The house of Israel had a little taste of that promise when God brought them back to land after being in exile. A little taste of the eternal restoration that was to come. And so we have a little taste this morning, a taste of the resurrection in the spiritual flesh and blood of Jesus, who died and was raised, who gives us the Spirit. I have spoken, says the Lord. I have My preachers, who declare My Word, wrapped up in human flesh. I have spoken, and I will do it. Hear the Word of Yahweh, and live.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, ESV). Amen.

– Pr. Timothy Winterstein, 5/18/18

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