GREAT QUESTION! We see in the Scriptures that YHWH occasionally spoke with an audible voice:
Exodus 33:11 tells us that he spoke to Moshe (Moses) "face to face" (see, also, Numbers 12:7-8, Deuteronomy 34:10). He also spoke to Joshua (Joshua 1:1) and Samuel (1 Sam. 3:1-14). A voice from the heavens was heard when Yeshua was baptized by John (Matt. 3:17, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22) and from a cloud that appeared when Yeshua was transfigured on a high mountain (Matt. 17:5, Mark 9:7). And Paul and his traveling companions heard his voice when Paul was struck blind on his way to Damascus to murder Messianic believers (Acts 9:4).
The Bible offers the only written words/messages from YHWH to us today. Unlike in ancient times, no one today (especially in the "Western World") has the excuse of not being able to read, and therefore, not knowing what the Bible says. (Unfortunately, many listen to all kinds of false teachers and teachings and "prophets" whose messages are designed to lead us astray, and they are consequently left in the dark about the real messages in the Bible!) The Bible is our ONLY blueprint for moral, holy living!
People can receive messages through the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) as YHWH speaks to us in various ways:
- Through the Bible: The Bible is YHWH's living word. Sometimes a passage "jumps out at us" which seems to be exactly "what we needed to hear" at a certain point in time. Often, particular verses come to mind while we read and/or pray, and God uses some of them to speak to us. Hebrews 4:12-13 reminds us that "the word of YHWH is alive" and "sharper than any double edged sword!" This suggests we must continually be reading the Bible if we are seeking God's wisdom and Will in our lives.
- Through prayer: YHWH's Voice is similar to the "voice" of our conscience. Over time we learn to recognize His Voice as He places thoughts into our minds. Of course, we must learn to weigh against the Scriptures whatever we feel we are "hearing"....
- Through others: YHWH often uses others either directly (by causing them to "hear" a message for us), or sometimes in more subtle ways such that they themselves are often unaware that they're being used. For instance, during the course of a conversation with someone, we "suddenly" recognize they gave us the answer to something we had been seeking. Again, whatever is said MUST be weighed against the Scriptures! If someone says, "God gave me a word for you: I think you should go ahead with that divorce of yours and not bother to try to reconcile with your spouse" - then you know that did NOT come from God, because YHWH says He HATES divorce (Malachi 2:16)!
- Through visions or dreams. Through the Ruach, God often gives us certain visions or dreams containing, perhaps just some words that "stick with us"; or entire scenarios that we "just know" were meant for us. Again, these visions/dreams MUST line up with the Bible!
It cannot be reiterated enough that, before relying on words, visions or dreams to guide or direct our lives, they should be carefully tested and clearly applicable. If you "hear" or "feel" a message from God, it HAS to line up 100 percent with what the Bible says. If you "hear" or "dream" that you are supposed to murder your neighbor or seduce your neighbor's wife, that is obviously NOT a message from YHWH!
Webmaster's testimony: "I obeyed YHWH's "voice!"
I was 44 years old when I "got saved" in a small town Baptist church in Missouri back in 1995. But right from the start, although I had never read the Bible in my life, I "felt" something was missing in the church. Of course, I didn't know what, nor did I have the words for it, but it seems every time I had a question about God and the Bible, my pastor would give me an unsatisfactory answer that just "didn't feel right."
For instance, when I asked why we Christians weren't keeping the SEVENTH DAY SABBATH as commanded in scriptures such as Exodus 20: 8-11; Isaiah 58: 13-14; Isaiah 66: 23; and Ezekiel 20: 11-12, his answers would always be something like, "Well, today our Sabbath is on Sunday because Jesus rose on Sunday," or "Well, those commands were only for the Jews," or "Well, that was changed after the death of Jesus" - or he would send me to the writings of Paul - which often seemed to negate the Old Testament scriptures and the teachings of Jesus - who had KEPT the Seventh Day and the feasts.
I found that very odd and couldn't still that nagging in the back of my mind that said, "But, if our Savior did those things, why aren't WE?" And so I scoured the Bible to see if I could find the exact passage that suggested the Seventh Day Sabbath had been changed to Sunday and that the feasts were "only for the Jews," etc. - and the bottom line was: I couldn't, because they don't exist! And so I begged God to please show me what seemed to be missing in my church.
Approximately a year after I "got saved", I felt like God wanted me to move to Colorado Springs. Unfortunately, all my childhood rape and mental abuse and physical abuse started at Fort Carson, Colorado, when I was just ten years old - and trust me, I NEVER wanted to see the state of Colorado again - EVER! But the Holy Spirit just kept bugging me about moving there. It's all I thought about day and night.
One day, I read in the workbook, "Experiencing God" something along the lines of: "Whenever God gives you a God-sized task, it always leads you to a crisis of belief. And what you do about it, shows how you really feel about God!"
So, believing that my message was definitely from God, I sold my little house and all my belongings and packed what I could into a U-Haul trailer and moved to Colorado Springs! For the first year, I couldn't find a church I felt comfortable in; I couldn't find a decent job (as a former military journalist with a college degree and lots of experience under my belt, I couldn't find ANYTHING except some piddly receptionist job at a software company); I couldn't make any real friends (I was a middle-aged single lady and most other middle-aged people I ran into at work or church were all married and didn't want to bother with me); and I was basically more lonely and miserable than I had ever been. So, after a year of this, I decided that perhaps I had misheard the Holy Spirit, and decided I needed to return to Missouri.
However, the very next day, I was called by the owner of the Colorado Springs Business Journal, who said I had been selected to be their new associate editor! So, I decided to stay in Colorado for awhile and see what would happen, because I still felt there was a reason why God had wanted me to move here.
In the meantime, I ended up attending an Assemblies of God church which hosted a camp for abused and neglected children every year - and ultimately, I became a counselor for two years in a row, helping children who truly appreciated being helped by someone who understood them from firsthand experiences of my own. (I had been a sexually abused baby, child and teenager, and been rejected [given away at birth, then forcefully retrieved by my natural mother when I was nine years old]....) It turned out that, while helping those poor little kids, God ended up healing ME, as well! Not only that, but I also began volunteering in a prison ministry, visiting inmates in a local women's prison once a month....
A year later, due to some strange circumstances, I left the Business Journal and ended up working as a classified documents custodian/admin at a company that served as a contractor for Space Command. During that time (because I kept on begging God to PLEASE show me why I just couldn't seem to find spiritual satisfaction in ANY of the churches I had attended over the last couple of years) I found myself in a Messianic Torah study in Colorado Springs where I finally got the answers to ALL my questions! And one of the things I discovered was, that Christianity was based NOT upon the teachings of Jesus, but upon the much-misunderstood writings of Paul!
A year after that, I started dating my future husband - who turned out to be everything I had ever dreamed of in a man. (Finally, after a lifetime of doing things MY way, certain things in my life simply "came together" and I felt that I was FINALLY on the "right track."
By that time, there was no mistaking as to why God had sent me to Colorado! If I hadn't listened to that "small still voice" and decided to OBEY, I would probably still be stuck in that little Baptist church in Missouri, wondering what to do with my life....
A year after I married, YHWH "spoke" to me again - this time by using my neck and back problems to force me to quit my job (which required some physical labor). Of course, I feared that my new husband would think I was doing this on purpose and was just wanting to hang out at home to watch TV and eat bon-bons! But, to my surprise, he agreed I should quit my job and stay home because, perhaps, it was God's will for whatever reason! And so I once again trusted YHWH to tell me what to do next.
The bottom line is that in 2002 YHWH caused me to create my website, The Refiner's Fire (which now receives at half a million hits per month) and after that, He "dropped into my lap" the editorship of the Aramaic English New Testament, and caused me to write several books which are all designed to lead people to Torah.
Looking back, it is obvious that NONE of the above could or would have happened if I had decided not to obey!
Often, when YHWH speaks to you, you "just know it." When that happens, don't question it: Just DO IT! Trust Him to lead you, even when you have no clue as to why/what/where/when or how. If you "hear" or "feel" YHWH giving you some instructions and those feelings remain and just won't let go, that is a sure sign it is something HE WANTS you to do. Saying "NO!" is not an option if you are His! I promise you, He will ultimately show you "why"!)