Did you know that within the week pandemic restrictions hit in 2020, most countries around the world saw an average of a 40 per cent increase in live streaming?
Since March 2020, the noise from the 24/7 news cycles and social media updates has not only provided information, but gone far beyond and become a deafening noise saturating our media diet with a daily consumption of topics that induce panic, fear, hysteria and, as the crisis persists, hopelessness. As it stands today, little has changed.
Many people have tried to distract themselves, whether it be with a sudden uptake in home fitness, a spike in online shopping or perhaps unnecessary batch baking or flirting with their home version of Master Chef. Sadly, many Australians could be seen attempting to drown out the noise and deal with the stress and anxiety with an increased frequency of alcohol consumption.
Because of social distancing and r restrictions, other people began to amplify their dissatisfaction with the impact on their personal freedom.
Whether any of these describe your default setting currently, the evidence is clear: many people don’t know how to process what is happening to them and around them. Many people don’t know where the truth is among all the noise.
But as His Kingdom Ambassadors – we are called to live another way…
What are you influenced by - the World’s Noise or His Voice?
God is awake. None of our current global situation is a surprise to God!
God’s voice is active. You might not be able to hear Him, but He is always speaking to us.
God wants His people alert, to be ready, and to stay ready despite what circumstances come; to declare and demonstrate a Kingdom sound that will cut through the world’s noise.
We can see this throughout the Bible. God needed His people to first listen to His voice, consume His word, to take His message to heart, before they were released to declare and demonstrate it to others. We see this clearly in the life of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:25-28; 2:1-10; 3:1-11).
God wanted to ensure that Ezekiel would deliver His message to the people, not simply a message that the people wanted to hear. But even more than that, God wanted to ensure Ezekiel understood what he was being asked to do: simply and obediently declare God’s goodness, His faithfulness, His message and His invitation to the ‘rebellious people’.
I love this because, over and over, God seems to remind Ezekiel, “Son of man, whether they listen or fail to listen, do not be afraid of them or their words. All I am asking you to do is to speak my words to them and give them the message I give you.”
This is as powerful now for each of us today as it was for Ezekiel then. The measure of obedience God holds us to is not found in the response of the people. Rather, the measure of obedience is found in the faithfulness and timeliness around how we deliver His message to those He gives us on our frontline.
God was calling Ezekiel to deliver His message at a time when the people were distracted by the noise of their captivity, when everything else was competing for their attention. God had Ezekiel relay to the people that there was a way for them to live at peace with themselves and God even during their exile, if they would only listen to God, pay attention to His voice, repent of their sin and compromise and obey!
God wanted holiness in His people then just as much as He wants to cleanse our lives today with His righteousness. We find this by coming to Him and repenting of our sin and ceasing to find delight and comfort in things apart from Him during challenging circumstances.
Ezekiel was fearless and unwavering in his role as the ambassador of the Almighty God, at a time when there was much fear-fuelled panic, numbness, hopelessness and even indifference and dismissive reactions to declaring God’s word.
Have you noticed that noise can drown out clarity?
The key to understanding our circumstances is to focus on God rather than the experience, confusion or suffering of the moment. Why? Because we want His perspective on our situation. We want God to inform us about our circumstances, not allow confusing times or our own pain to define God!
For thousands of years, Jewish people meditated on the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-5, a passage of scripture known as the Shema (which is the Hebrew word for ‘hear’):
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God. The Lord is One. Love the Lord your God – with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."
Now, in our time of the COVID pandemic and economic instability, just as in Ezekiel’s time in captivity, is the time for God’s people to Shema.
As I reflected on the life of Ezekiel and the journey of the Israelites in exile, as captured in the book of Ezekiel, I wondered if the Israelites in captivity in Babylon continued to practice reciting the Shema?
Did they continue simply out of duty or ritual or obligation? Or did they lean back into Father God’s arms, experiencing His Shalom peace that passes understanding despite the appearance of circumstances, and Shema with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their strength?
You see, the Shema is all about being in right relationship with God; to listen and to do what He commands not out of duty or obligation but out of our love for Him.
For us today, when we hear God’s voice, whether through His scriptures and written word, through His audible voice or through dreams and visions, through His creation or even via other people; are we listening? Are we paying attention? Are we allowing the Almighty God to redefine and refine our lives?
When we hear God’s voice cutting through the world’s noise, does it cause us to act differently? If it does, that is our testimony!
Does our life declare and demonstrate a Kingdom sound?
The sound of your testimony, of how Jesus has transformed your life, is your Kingdom sound! Jesus living in your life, empowered by the Holy Spirit who emboldens and equips you, can create a spiritual climate change. His Kingdom sound has the power to change the climate in your home, your relationships, your neighbourhood, in your every-day frontline encounters.
The enemy cannot withstand the voice of God, coupled by the power of our testimony (Romans 8:34-39; Revelation 12:10-11).
Now is our time to Shema; to love our God, as Jesus said, as our first and greatest commandment.
So that we, as His body, as His hands and His feet, will be true ambassadors influencing the world’s noise with His Kingdom sound.
Jesus says to each of us, “Now that I have set you free from the hopelessness of the world’s noise, don’t be silent! Go! Go out, amplify and release my Kingdom sound wherever you go!”
What will you be known by: your noise or His Kingdom Sound?