Pure water is an odorless, tasteless liquid. It has a bluish tint, which may be detected, however, only in layers of considerable depth1. This means that, to the ordinary eyes, it also a colorlessly transparent liquid. So, having this basic knowledge, when I drink any liquid labeled “Pure Water”, and I notice that it has a taste, it’s a suspect. Pure water is tasteless. That liquid may be good for drinking, but basic science knowledge says that it is not pure water. Same thing if it has an odor. I don’t know what it is, but that just tells me it’s not pure water. And if it’s yellow in the cup, it may be orange juice, good for drinking, but it’s not pure water. The government agencies for foods and drug administration may take stricter measures, but this is the most basic test and my thesis is this: when you know the characteristics of the original form of something, it’s easier to detect the fake, especially when there are many fakes. All it needs to do is fall short in one of these characteristics and it’s not it. It’s fake. Or strange. And this didn’t originate from me, it’s an old practice. Men and women who specialize in identifying fake currency notes don’t spend their time studying every fake note they find, instead, they spend months studying the genuine, so that when they see any note, if it’s not it, then it’s fake. No questions.
And voices too. In order for me to tag a voice “strange”, it means it’s not registered in my memory. I don’t know it, it’s strange. I presently live in a house with three other people, and when I hear a voice in the house that doesn’t belong to any of them, I want to find out whose it is, because I don’t know that voice. It’s strange to me. I don’t need to know the voice of everyone in that town, I just need to know three, and when one doesn’t match any of them, I know a stranger just walked in.
It is interesting to find out that the God of the Bible also employs the same method. God identifies anything that runs contrary to His plans, instructions and will for humanity as strange. He freely employs such terms as strange gods, strange wives, strange incense, strange fire, strange land, strange apparel, and strange doctrines. If it didn’t originate from Him, then it’s strange. His people cannot make use of them in worshipping Him; neither can they live their lives by them. For example, He said to Jacob “Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments” (Gen. 35:4). He calls them strange because, they are not Him. He’s the only true God. And in this same manner does He recognize any voice that runs contrary to His voice. God said to Adam, “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life” (Gen. 3:17). Adam listened to the voice of His wife. A strange voice. Strange because it is contrary to God’s voice. And this is because the woman had earlier listened to a strange voice, the voice of Satan. And here lies a vital truth that we should not miss. Adam heard it from Eve, Eve heard it from the serpent but the serpent did not say it heard it from anyone, it accepts the blame. Every strange voice originates from one source, and that is Satan, the adversary. He will definitely not show up as Satan, but sometimes as a spouse, at other times a friend or a pastor, maybe a celebrity, tradition or even your desires. He is responsible for every voice that is contrary to God’s voice. Concerning this did God speak through Isaiah saying “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20).
Jesus uses the shepherd and sheep imagery to explain this in John chapter ten. He says “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (v 27). There are many sheep, but the shepherd is not calling out to all of them, he is calling out His own sheep. (v 3) and they follow because they know his voice and will not follow a strange voice. (v 4, 5). Jesus has to live with the harsh reality that some souls for whom He died belong to the devil because they follow his voice. Therefore, he calls out to those who will follow His own voice. His sheep.
Do you know the voice of Jesus? The Apostle Peter says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Tim. 3:16). Jesus has no voice that contradicts scripture. Any voice that contradicts scripture, he regards as a strange voice. And He cries out to His sheep, don’t follow the strange voice. Don’t follow the hireling. “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees: and the wolf catches them, and scatters the sheep. The hireling flees, because he is an hireling, and cares not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” (John 10:11-14). His sheep know Him because they know the scriptures which testify of Him. (John 5:39). His sheep don’t read the Bible at their spare time. It’s on their daily and weekly schedule because they never get enough of the living water. “He who tastes of the love of Christ will continually long for more…The constant cry of his heart is, More of Thee.”2 God has spoken through the pages of the Bible. Is anyone listening? We sometimes think that when the majority does something for a long time, it then receives a stamp of God’s approval. The Psalmist says: “The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations; he frustrates the plans of the people. The counsel of the LORD stands for ever, the plans of his heart from generation to generation.” (Psalm 33:10, 11). The voice of the majority; no matter how loud or noisy it is, no matter how long it persists, if it contradicts the word of God, it is a strange voice. The voice of the people is the voice of the people, because there is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. (Prov. 14:12).
God is not the most influential person in the world today and sadly so. Politicians, philosophers, church leaders, celebrities, TV personalities and even comedians, who are creatures, are more influential than the Creator. An example which readily comes to mind is Oprah Winfrey, in what was tagged “The Oprah effect on animal agriculture”, “she proclaimed that she’d never eat a hamburger again, a defamation lawsuit was issued by Texas cattlemen. They said the show caused a cattle market plunge that caused them to lose $11 million”3. While though for ages, God has called swine’s flesh an abomination (Isa. 66:17, Lev 11) pig farmers never suffered loss for that reason. The omnipotent, omniscient God is not as influential in the world today as some finite creatures, backed, of course, by the adversary. That bothers me. But these personal questions bother me more: What about me? How influential is He over my life’s smallest decisions? Because “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). I’m more concerned about whether, I, who calls Jesus LORD and claims to be His servant, follow His voice. Even when the strange voice of the majority is so loud and persistent, do I find the courage to follow His voice for the sake of Love? Do I desire to follow His voice even when my desires, career, education or ambitions struggle with it? These questions are important to me because Jesus says stop flattering me. Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not what I say? (Luke 6:46). Don’t flatter me because I will not flatter you when I return, I’d say to you “I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matt. 7:23). Some wish that these texts are not in the Bible, but they are. He says “Every one that is of the truth hears my voice” (John 18:37). No matter what interpretation we give to God’s word in order to suit our lifestyle, God knows what he said and He’s not confused about it.
He says, Why do you call me Lord and endorse marriage between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman? That’s a strange voice. I called that an abomination (Rom. 1:26, 27). Why do you say alcoholic red wine is good for the heart? That’s a strange voice. I said “Do not look on the wine when it is red..in the end, it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper” (Prov. 23:31, 32). Why do you say the first day is my Sabbath? That’s a strange voice. I said it’s the seventh day (Exo. 20:8-11). Why do you say my second coming will be secret? That’s a strange voice. I said I am coming with a shout. (1 Thess. 4:16) and Why do you say the dead is looking down on you and smiling? I said He does not know anything. (Ecc. 9:5). Strange voices are many and the sad thing is that many of them are followed by professed worshippers of the true God. That is why Jesus calls out to His sheep which are not of His fold because they have followed strange voices. He says “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.” (John 10:16). This same call comes through Revelation 18:1-4. For God’s people, who love God’s voice to come out of Babylon. Babylon is a cacophony of religious confusion; confusing God’s people with strange doctrines in the name of God. And Babylon’s new slogan is, why all these separation? We are all the same, we worship the same God. Jesus warned that many will be shocked to find out that that God never knew them because they did not follow His voice. Even the golden calf of Aaron was dedicated to the same God who condemned the act.(Exo. 32:5-8) The ‘Who’ may appear to be the same, but the ‘how’ differs and God cares about the ‘how’. God says listen to my voice and follow me, come out of Babylon. Babylon has many strange doctrines, thus the safe thing to do is to learn God’s true voice as revealed in his holy Word and follow it even if the world thinks you’re crazy like they thought Jesus was; they said He has a devil and is mad, why do you hear him? (John 10:20). If God has been merciful enough to show you the truth, speak up and call out God’s people from Babylon. The roof is on fire; this is no time to be unsure of your faith. No matter what name you’re called, rest assured that, even if the world claims to be confused, God knows what he said and He’s not confused about it.
God never has and never will have respect for numbers. An old Preacher, Charles D. Brooks, once said, “When God says something, he gets it right the first time. He doesn’t need to edit”. God does not change (Mal. 3:6). He had no respect for the decision of the 99.99% of the world population who followed a strange voice in the time of Noah (see Gen. 6-9), neither did He change His mind for the 100% of the world population at Eden (see Gen. 3). And He says He will not have respect for numbers even now. “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:13, 14). The counsel of the Lord sure stands forever. And I take solace in the assurance that “God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines, and the basis of all reforms. The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority,— not one or all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain “Thus saith the Lord” in its support. Satan is constantly endeavoring to attract attention to man in the place of God. He leads the people to look to bishops, to pastors, to professors of theology, as their guides, instead of searching the Scriptures to learn their duty for themselves. Then, by controlling the minds of these leaders, he can influence the multitudes according to his will.”4 The Bible was written by ordinary men, for ordinary men. Ordinary men were moved by the Holy Spirit to write great things (2 Pet. 1:20) so that ordinary men, through the help of the Holy Spirit may understand these great things. That is why the Psalmist pleads saying “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Psalm 119:18). Don’t get used to the strange voices, God knows what he said and He’s not confused about it.
“‘The voice of a stranger’ is the voice of one who neither respects nor obeys God’s holy, just, and good law. Many make great pretensions to holiness, and boast of the wonders they perform in healing the sick, when they do not regard this great standard of righteousness.”5 And there is no middle ground, says Jesus “He that is not with me is against me” (Matt. 12:30) one is either following God’s voice or satan’s voice; as we discovered in the Eden story, satan accepts the blame, he knows he’s been deceiving the world and he’s not confused about it. He is the thief of whom Christ speaks in John chapter ten verse ten, who comes to steal, to kill and to destroy God’s image in you through disobedience. “Those who do not follow in Christ’s footsteps will find themselves following another leader. They have listened to strange voices until they cannot distinguish the voice of the True Shepherd. Little by little they ceased to heed the warnings, the reproofs, the instructions. Human wisdom came in, human imaginations were followed. Much reliance is placed upon human exertion and devices, and they imperceptibly go on until they are fully satisfied with their own wisdom, their own inventions, and are filled with their own doings.”6 God speaks of this about Israel of old, He says “Though I wrote for him ten thousand precepts of my law, they are regarded as a strange thing” (Hosea 8:12). One needs not go this far. When you see your nakedness like they did in Eden, don’t hide from God. Don’t cover yourself with fake coverings of excuses and justifications of disobedience. Show God your nakedness and let Him cover you with genuine covering—Christ’s righteousness which grants victory over disobedience.
God knows what He said, and He wants you to know it too and not be confused about it, that is why He gave you the Bible and the Holy Spirit. God wants to speak to you through the pages of scripture. He desires that you search it like your life depended on it that through the help of His Holy Spirit and His true messengers, you may find the voice of the True Shepherd.
See to it that no one takes you captive, through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8). Today, if you would hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. (Psalms 95:7, 8).
- Microsoft Encarta, 2009
- Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, pg 187
- Ellen White, The Great Controversy, pg 595
- Ellen White, Selected Messages Book 2, pg 50
- Ellen White, That I May Know Him, pg 212