“As it is said: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (Hebrews 3:15 HCSB).
Those who read this passage and its reference to “hearing His voice” may wonder why God does not choose to communicate with us in a more obvious fashion. In response, we might say that God has already tried that approach with humanity with ineffective results.
For instance, Adam and Eve enjoyed God’s direct presence in a perfect environment. Yet they still rebelled against Him. We can also look to the period of Israel’s history that the author of Hebrews referenced earlier this chapter- the wilderness journey that took place after the Israelites departed from Egypt.
The Scriptures tell us that God led the people of Israel during that era in the following manner: “…the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light… He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people” (Exodus 13:21-22).
Those pillars served as an unmistakable confirmation of God’s existence for the people of Old Testament Israel. Yet, how effective were these visible methods of communication? Well, Exodus chapter 32 provides us with the answer in the form of God’s command to Moses…
“Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt'” (Exodus 32:7-8).
So even though the people of Israel possessed these definitive evidences for God’s existence, they deliberately rejected them in their pursuit of idolatry. It also explains why 1 Corinthians 10:5 tells us, “God was not pleased with most of them.” Unfortunately, this same type of rejection also occurs today (albeit in a more indirect manner)…
“…since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Romans 1:20 NIV).
Taken together, these unfortunate realities may help explain why God has chosen to communicate with us primarily through His Word today.