In the breeding season of the flock I lifted up my eyes and saw in a dream that the goats that mated with the flock were striped, spotted, and mottled.” Genesis 31:10
Skeptics say God doesn’t speak anymore. Even some Christians claim God only speaks through the Bible.
Really? Did He get laryngitis and lose His voice? Did He change? Did He cease being God? Malachi 3:6 (NKJV) affirms, “For I am the Lord, I do not change.” That means if God saved in Bible times, He still saves today. If He healed then, He still heals now. If He spoke to people in the past, He still does. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
The question is not, is God still speaking? The question is, are we listening? Jesus implored all seven churches of Asia, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2:7). Consider 12 ways God still speaks today:
• Audible Voice: Though seemingly rare, God has and still can speak audibly. Adam and Eve heard God’s voice in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:8). God spoke audibly to Moses from the burning bush (Ex. 3:4-6) and to all Israel from Mount Sinai (Ex. 20:1-22). In the New Testament, the Father endorsed Jesus at His baptism and His transfiguration with a literal voice. Saul and his posse saw Christ in a blinding light and heard His voice (Ac. 9:3-7). God is sovereign, and He can speak however and whenever He wants.
• Angelic Visitation: Angels are agents on assignment—God’s messengers sent to minister to heirs of salvation. There are numerous instances in Scripture where angels informed, warned or conveyed divine messages to individuals. They are still on the job.
• Visions and Dreams: “I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh . . . your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams” (Ac. 2:17). A vision is an inspired appearance (something you see literally with your eyes or in your mind or spirit). A dream is something seen in your sleep or something you imagine doing—a goal or an aspiration. God can insert images and ideas into our minds whether we are conscious or not.
• Signs: Is it wrong to ask God for a sign? It depends on our motive. People who asked Jesus for a miracle just for show or to prove His divinity were denied, but those who asked God for a sign to ascertain or confirm His will were often rewarded. Gideon put a fleece out sincerely seeking confirmation of God’s will and was obliged (Jdgs 6:36-40). We serve a supernatural God of signs and wonders.
• Coincidences: Albert Einstein noted, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” When I was praying about printing my first book, the estimated cost was $3,000 in the late 1980’s. I was in a meeting when a woman I had never met before nor seen since gave me an envelope and said, “God told me to give this to you.” It contained a diamond ring which appraised for . . . you guessed it, $3,000. You can call that a coincidence; I call it providence—God confirming and providing for His will.
• The Written Word: The logos (the Bible) is a main way God speaks today but it is not the only way. The logos is God’s general Word for everyone. God speaks to us when we read the Bible on nearly every issue that applies to modern living. Jesus, the Bread of Life, taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Mt. 6:11). God has fresh spiritual manna to share with us every day if we’ll take the time to read His Word.
• The Living Word: Jesus said, “The words [Greek: rhema] that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (Jn. 6:63). The rhema Word is a specific message the Holy Spirit inspires to you personally. It’s a specific word for a specific time and for a specific need. It occurs when the written or spoken Word comes alive with special meaning in your situation.
• Through People: “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pt. 4:11). An “oracle” is an “utterance, a spokesman or mouthpiece.” God speaks through preachers and teachers, but He can also speak through our spouse, kids, friends and even enemies. God uses human channels to speak words of prophecy, tongues and interpretation and words of wisdom and knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8-10). God also expresses Himself through human vessels to distribute His message in anointed sermons, songs and writings.
• Mass Media: “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations” (Mt. 24:14). Due to technology, this Scripture is literally being fulfilled as the Gospel proliferates the globe. While Satan manipulates the media to spread his vile message like a virus, God also utilizes the media to disseminate His truth via satellite TV, radio, internet, websites, social media, books, podcasts, movies and music.
• Through Creation and Nature: Psalms 19:1 proclaims, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” The vastness of space and the complexity of nature testify to God’s intelligent design. You can hear the Creator’s voice in a bubbling brook, in the song of a bird, in the wind whistling through the trees and in a baby’s cry.
• Through Our Conscience: God hardwired us with an inner awareness of what is right and wrong with an inclination to do right. George Washington said, “Labor to keep alive within your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.”
• His Still Small Voice: Elijah was camping in a cave on Mount Sinai when God manifested Himself. Elijah saw a powerful wind, a mighty earthquake and a fierce fire, but God wasn’t in any of them. Instead, God spoke to him in a “still small voice,” also translated “a gentle whisper” (1 Kgs. 19:9-12). God often speaks to us by the inner witness of the Holy Spirit to our spirit (Rom. 8:14-16).
God will speak to us more often as we learn to recognize His voice. We expect to hear from Him at church, but God doesn’t just speak on Sundays. He wants to speak to us all through the week. Jesus indicated, “My sheep hear My voice” (Jn. 10:27). God is still speaking; are we listening?
Jacob is in the process of explaining to his wives, Leah and Rachel, why he feels it is time to abandon their father, Laban, and head back to Jacob’s family in Canaan. This mostly revolves around Laban’s persistent dishonesty and cheating at Jacob’s expense. Now, he backs up to explain to his wives how it came to be that he made the arrangement with Laban in the first place to claim the spotted, striped, and mottled goats as his wages from the flock. After all, the normal course of things was that most of the flock would have been made up of black goats and white sheep.
Here, Jacob resolves a seemingly odd passage from the prior chapter. Jacob appeared to have used striped sticks to cause the flocks to breed in certain colors (Genesis 30:37–43). Verses 10 through 12 explain that he made this arrangement, and utilized the sticks, only after being told by God in a dream, what the outcome would be. In short, the Lord gave Jacob a dream in which male goats mating with the flock were not solidly colored. They were striped, spotted, and mottled.
Jacob continues to insist to his wives that the Lord is trustworthy. God is the reason for their great wealth and protection, not their father. He is building up to telling his wives it is time to leave their homeland.Context Summary
Genesis 31:1–21 describes the events that propel Jacob to sneak away from Laban and head toward his homeland of Canaan. First, he learns that Laban and his sons are dangerously unhappy with him for taking so many of Laban’s profits. Then God commands Jacob to go, promising to be with him. After securing the support of his wives, Jacob packs up his large family and property and sneaks away toward Gilead and then home.