"The sheep follow Him: for they know His voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers." John 10:4,5
Most of you have probably had the experience of having your voice mistaken for someone else's or not being recognized, especially on the phone. When I was still living at home with my parents, and my next oldest sister was engaged to be married, occasionally her fiance would mistake my voice for hers when he called and I answered. Yes, that could have given me license to do some serious leg-pulling, but I'm not the type of person to lead someone on that way. Then it was my youngest sister who used to get mistaken for me when someone called to talk to me, much to her annoyance. Finally, when my daughter entered her teens and her voice matured, she would occasionally have callers think she was me. Voices can be funny that way, but if you saw any of us together, or all of us, while you might see a family resemblance, you could definitely tell us apart. And in character, we're all different as well. Certainly, again. there would be similarities, but we are all individuals, personality-wise.
And that brings me to the actual definition of the word voice. There are two definitions. The first, of course, is the most commonly recognized one:
the sound produced in a person's larynx and uttered through the mouth, as speech or song
The second one we don't use as familiarly:
a particular opinion or attitude expressed (definitions courtesy of google).
In this respect, we might say "the dissenting voice". And along this line, there is a writer's "voice", the individual writing style of an author. This second definition is more an expression of the person's character. And I think the Bible text that I opened with is using voice more in this second aspect. I believe it is using the literal voice as symbolic of the character. We need to get to know Jesus in order to recognize His "voice."
There was a time when I was the home care nurse responsible for a certain seniors housing facility. While I was there, I got to know both the staff and the residents quite well and developed a strong positive working relationship with the staff, mostly Health Care Aides. Then the level of care for that facility changed and hence the staffing structure changed as well. LPNs were added that neither the staff nor I knew, and a new manager was introduced. This manager was responsible for a number of facilities spread over a fairly large geographic area, so was not consistently in any one facility. It was, therefore, difficult for her to get to know the residents or the staff well. This ended up creating a lot of resentment and animosity when this unknown and mostly absentee manager tried to change things and tell the staff what to do. They were much more prepared to cooperate with me, than her. Why? Because they knew my "voice," my character. They knew that I cared about them as well as the residents and that I would listen to their concerns. And stand up for them if need be. To them, she was just a stranger, like in the Bible verse above. And there was no trust there. Just as the staff knew and trusted me, we need to know and develop this kind of trusting relationship with Jesus.
On the other hand, if we don't learn to know Jesus' voice, we could be deceived by the voice of a stranger. Followers of Jim Jones and David Koresh were very sincere in thinking they had found the right "voice." "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." Proverbs 14:12.
Relatively few people in this world's history have ever actually heard Jesus' literal speaking voice, but we can get to know His character. Through His word, through our daily walk with Him and His dealings with us, we can hear His voice and learn to trust Him. But we really need to spend the time getting to know Him in order to recognize His "voice." We need to spend time studying His word, the Bible, and in prayer. Otherwise, we could be led astray by the voice of a stranger.