According to Deuteronomy 18:16, the Israelites said “Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.” God says in Deut. 18:17, “What they say is good.". Yet in Matthew 17:6, the disciples heard God's voice and lived. How was this so?

15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; 16 According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. 17 And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. 18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.

[Deuteronomy 18: 15-18 KJV]

  • I have added the contextual verses which I think need to be considered in regard to this question.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 10, 2021 at 21:23
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    – agarza
    Commented Jul 10, 2021 at 23:41
  • In the same manner as (many) other prophets and patriarchs before them; not sure why you brought up Matthew specifically.
    – user46876
    Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 18:30

4 Answers 4


Notice the word "again" in Deuteronomy 18:16. The people heard the voice of the Lord the first time and did not die. They were just a bunch of faithless chickens who couldn't stand to be in the awesome presence of the Lord. These people were always complaining, grumbling, and exaggerating.

Exodus 14:11 (ESV) 11 They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?

Exodus 16:3 (ESV) 3 and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Numbers 13:33 - 14:2 (ESV) 33 And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them....” 2 ...“Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?”

Don't pay these people no mind -always belly aching.

When God said... "They have well spoken that which they have spoken." He was basically expressing that he's fed up with their nonsense. Maybe it's best they weren't in his presence.


What do "the disciples" have to do with it?

For a counter example to your suggestion that one can't "hear God's voice and live", you need to look no further than the part of Deuteronomy 18:17 that you omitted: "And the LORD said unto me …".

Obviously he heard the LORD's voice, but even more obviously he didn't die as a result of the experience.

"We will die" is a figure of speech, indicating great fear, as today one might say "I'll die of embarrassment".

  • Figure of speech, or possibly something they genuinely believed but which was nevertheless in error. (C.f. Austin's answer.)
    – Matthew
    Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 13:11

I have thought this is possibly talking about hearing the voice of God and our old man of flesh dying

Romans 6: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

Anyone who 'hears' the voice of God...really hears His voice, is coming to the knowledge of the truth and repentance from dead works of the flesh. 'Crucified'. The old man dies so the new man can live.

And tho with an unlearned reading of those scriptures it sounds like a bad thing -- that anyone who hears the voice of God will die -- and that's a bad thing.

But reading it spiritually -- it is life 🥰

  • I am not sure if I agree with you or not, to be honest. But you raise an interesting point and I have up-voted (+1). Welcome to SE-C. Please take the Tour and see the Help (below, bottom, left) as to the purpose and the functioning of the site. I look forward to your further contributions.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 2:35

There are two covenants. The Old Covenant for Jews was a covenant of death, written on stone tablets (Paul’s exact wording). Under the law, no man’s works were ever going to be good enough for a Holy God.

The second is one of grace and truth, life, and peace by believing in Jesus Christ as the messiah. Christ was our reconciliation. He is our bridge to the Father. And, Jesus even said the He represents what His Father does. Jesus healed, loved, and taught. Under grace, what Jesus did for us is good enough and well pleasing to the Father.

  • 1
    But nothing in the Old Covenant meant that hearing God's voice would kill you. God spoke freely to the whole nation at Mt Sinai. The people were just afraid.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 2:44
  • Welcome to Christianity SE and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others.
    – agarza
    Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 3:38

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