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October 3, 2004

590 W. Carlisle Rd., Westlake Village, CA 91361

"And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me" (Isaiah 6:8).

The Spirit began putting this message on my heart before we left Missouri, but I knew it was not yet the time to write it. A subtitle to this writing, which is also the title of a poem He gave me, would be "The Voice of the Lord." Lenny and I live our lives by the Voice of the Lord. This gives rise to comments and questions by those who haven't experienced it and thus, don't understand it. A man wrote recently and asked, "How do you know it is the Voice of God and not the voice of Satan you're hearing?" Astonished as I was by this, the Lord gave me a simple answer for him: "By their fruits shall you Know them." Christ was teaching His disciples on this very subject, specifically, on how to identify false prophets when He made these comments about fruit, asking, "Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits" (Matt. 7:16-20). The other verse which always comes to mind is the one where Jesus used the familiar metaphor of Himself as the Shepherd and His disciples as the sheep: "but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice" (John 10:2-4).

As an aside here, I often speak about metaphors. It's a device writers and speakers use to communicate a meaning by comparing one thing to another. Sometimes, it is used in poetry. My 14 year old grandson Harrison was given an assignment to write a poem for his English class. He was to use at least one metaphor and at least one simile ("like" or "as") to create an image. His first line is a perfect metaphor: "My grandmother's house is a sugar cookie." How precious is the love of a grandson for his grandmother that even her house is sweet. In this case, he's using excellent visual imagery as well, because the guest house where we're staying in California is perfectly round, in the shape of a sugar cookie.

Jesus used metaphors often to make His points clear. A shepherd's relationship to his sheep was as familiar to the first century Jews as cars and highways are to us. Many Christians resonate to the idea that they are sheep, and that's fine for youngsters in the Lord, but as we mature, the imagery of sheep is unable to convey our relationship to our Father. We are Sons now, rather than sheep or servants. How we refer to ourselves says a great deal about our where we are on the path back home to the Father of Life and Light.

"The Voice of the Lord," says the Psalmist, "is powerful, the voice of the Lord is full of majesty" (Ps. 29:4). Listening to the Voice of the Lord was the norm under the Old Covenant. During that time, they heard the Voice by the mouth of the prophets, or from the priests who read God's word, and consulted the Urim and Thummim to seek God's will (See Ex. 28:30; I Sam. 14:41 and the link at the end to a study I did in 2001 called "The Urim and the What?"). Moses gave them these instructions from God: "You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall write them upon the door posts of your house and upon your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth" (Deut. 11:18-21). For the most part, the people heard from God by the mouth of their prophets, priests, and kings. Because they did NOT have the indwelling Spirit to write the words on their hearts as we do, they were to write them down and put them in a box which they wore on their foreheads, their arms, and they were to attach them to the door posts of their houses.

Jesus came to usher in the new age, the dawn of a new day, and to introduce the kingdom of heaven to dwellers upon the earth. Under the Old Covenant, which was a bilateral (two party) agreement between God and man, the people of Israel were to make a conscious choice, an exercise of their will, to serve God. In the words of Joshua, "choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Josh. 24:15). This verse is often used by Christians exercising more zeal than knowledge, to show that man's will and his works is what counts for salvation. They are failing to "rightly divide the Word of truth" (II Tim. 2:15, KJV). The New Covenant is based on God's unilateral (one party) promise to Abraham that in his seed (Christ), would all nations be blessed (Gal. 3:8,16). God would write His laws not on tablets of stone, but upon the living hearts of men and women. Ezekiel spoke of it centuries before Christ fulfilled the prophecy: "A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. You shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God" (Ezek. 36:26-28). The Hebrew writer brings it home for us: "This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Heb. 8:10). In both prophecies, the promise is that God will write His words on our hearts. Inherent in the prophecy is a personal, intimate relationship with our Father. This is something that God's people did not have before Christ, who was the first one to reveal God as Abba (daddy in Hebrew).

What can be more natural than conversing with our Dad? He speaks to us in so many ways, in the beauty of a glorious sunset, in a baby's smile, in a mother's tender touch, in the soul stirring music of a great symphony, even in the joy and fellowship we have with our pets. He also speaks in words. Sometimes they are spoken by others, and it takes a while to realize that they came from God. Other times, there is no mistake. The still, small voice floats past our ears and we've heard from God.

This happened to me in the winter of 1997, almost a year before The Glory Road ministry began. He said to me in the middle of the night, "You will write, write, write, and your words will flow out over the earth, the mountains, the seas." At the time, I was too sleepy to do more than acknowledge the words. The next day, I told Lenny and we both supposed He meant the Internet, which we'd just gotten into. We both understood, however, that when God speaks, we are to wait until He performs His word. To run ahead of Him is usually to crash and burn; to delay is not the right course of action either. By divine appointment, we met Gary Sigler for the first time in the summer of 1997. I felt led to send him my journals, not really knowing why. Gary e-mailed me the following January (1998) and said he wanted to build a website for us. His generosity began the ministry. Later, when God called us to Missouri, again the result of His Voice to Lenny, we learned how to create websites for ourselves.

This year, toward the last of July, He said, "Take the rest of the summer off." I supposed He meant to just relax a bit about the writing schedule I have kept for the past couple of years. Accordingly, I went to Medicalodge without anything prepared and He supplied a lesson on the spot. That was a valuable experience for me, showing the truth of Jesus' admonition, to take no thought of what you will say, for in that hour it will be supplied to you (Matt. 10:19; Mr. 13:11). But He meant much more than that. A real estate contract of sale which I had written about 15 months before this, unexpectedly closed, giving us enough money to buy a used mini-van and come to California to visit our daughter and her family whom we have sorely missed, and our other dear friends here. Lenny's brother and his wife graciously invited us to stay in their beautiful guest house, where we lived for 10 months before coming to Missouri.

We're here, enjoying the hugs and kisses of our grandchildren, and fellowship with our family and friends. He has supplied the funds for us to remain through October. After that, we await His further instructions. One of the faithful staff members at Medicalodge and her husband come out each Sunday morning to play and sing hymns with those in the Alzheimer's Ward. They generously agreed to include the handful of people who attended our little service. God had called at least six of our flock home since last December, leaving only a few who participate each week. I pray for them that they will be fed in Spirit even as their bodies are nurtured by the Christian staff there.

There's a story found in II Samuel, chapter 15, which perfectly illustrates the importance of listening to the Voice of the Lord. After Samuel had anointed Saul as Israel's first King, he gave him God's instructions: "Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'I will punish what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way, when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass'" (I Sam. 15:2-3). The reason God was wreaking vengeance on Amalek was that when the children of Israel were fleeing Egypt, the Amalekites fought with them at Rephidim (Ex 17:8), attacking them when they were faint and weary, showing they did not fear God (Deut. 25:18). For those of you who like me want to source these things, Amalek was a grandson of Esau, a great grandson of Isaac. Thus, they were cousins, if you will, albeit feuding cousins, of the Israelites.

Saul had clear marching orders to take no captives, but was told to destroy King Agag of the Amalekites and every living thing under his control. Instead of obeying the order, Saul had his own ideas: "But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them; all that was despised and worthless they utterly destroyed" (Vs. 9). The word (voice) of the Lord came to Samuel saying, "I repent that I have made Saul king; for he has turned back from following me, and has not performed my commandments." And Samuel was angry; and he cried to the LORD all night" (Vs. 10-11).

If nothing else, Saul was the perfect example of the human condition, the free will of man run amok. He went to Carmel and set up a monument to himself. Whether it said, "Mission accomplished," we don't know, but it honored himself, not God. When he met up with Samuel, he boasted, "Blessed be you to the LORD; I have performed the commandment of the LORD" (Vs. 13). Samuel replied sarcastically, "What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" (Vs. 14). Saul defended himself by blaming the people, who he claimed had, "spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the LORD your God" (Vs. 15). Interestingly, he says, "Your God," rather than "my God." This tells me that he was clueless about who the Lord of Hosts really was. He talked the talk but could not walk the walk.

Samuel repeated again what the orders were and that Saul had disobeyed them, adding an oft quoted passage, "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king" (Vs. 22-23). Though Saul repented, nevertheless, the throne was taken from him and given to David, who loved the Lord with all his heart, and who despite his many flaws and sins, nevertheless, did listen to the Voice of the Lord.

Jesus told His disciples that it was necessary for Him to go away in order that the counselor would come, and the promise there was that, "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you" (John 16:13-15). The litmus test about whether someone is actually hearing from the Lord is does it glorify God or the person speaking? Oh, the glory and awesomeness of God's word in our lives, always pointing us to the Christ. Each time I shared the gospel message of God's reconciliation of all men to the Saints at Medicalodge, I would say, "Don't run and ask your pastor, priest or elders in your church. Ask God!" This, I believe, is what the Apostle John meant when He said, "I had to write to you about these men who try to lead you astray. Yet I know that the touch of his Spirit never leaves you, and you don't really need a human teacher. You know that his Spirit teaches you about all things, always telling you the truth and never telling you a lie. So, as he has taught you, live continually in him" (I John 2:26-27, Phillips). Babes in Christ need mothers and fathers of the faith to nurture and instruct them, but grown men and women need only the Voice of the Lord to lead them. Fellowship in Christ means sharing what we hear, but never binding it upon another as law.

Father, we thank You for Your Voice which leads and guides us into all righteousness. Make us a trumpet to announce the gospel message to a war weary world, and enable us to freely share with them what you've freely given to us. Amen. Jan Antonsson

Jan and Lenny Antonsson

17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO (Snail Mail)

(Currently at 590 W. Carlisle Rd., Westlake Village, CA 91361)

The Voice of the Lord

"The Urim and the What?"

The Glory Road

We always enjoy hearing from you!

jantonsson@aol.com

This page was uploaded to the web on 10/3/04

by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,

and last edited on 10/19/08.