They did not recognise him nor understand the utterances of the prophets. (Ac 13:27)
It is striking to note how many times Jesus was not recognised. First John tells us that though he made the world, the world did not know him; he came to his own people but they did not receive him.
Even during his earthly ministry when he performed outstanding miracles, there were those who dismissed him as a fraud or as demon-possessed. It's incredible to think that God-in-the-flesh walked amongst them and they didn't realise it!
But here's what makes it even more astonishing, this lack of recognition wasn't limited just to the Pharisees, Scribes and other cynics - it extended to his own believers as well. His own disciples who had shared their lives with him for three years also failed to recognise him on occasion: The disciples on the road to Emmaus did not realise that they walked with the risen Lord. Mary at the tomb, when all she wanted to do was to see Jesus, still thought he was the gardener. And even Peter himself when he was fishing with the other disciples did not recognise the Lord when he called out to him from the shore.
It's astonishing and sobering to realise that God himself can speak and act among even his own people, and they do not recognise him. As Jacob declared:
"Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it!" (Ge 28:16)
One of the accusations that is levelled by some against prophecy today is that it does not come with the same level of authority or recognition as that in Biblical times. Anyone who thinks this should take a closer look at the texts. All through the history of God's people there has been the same problem - an elevation of all God has said in the past, yet an inability to recognise and accept what God was saying now. Even prophets like Samuel had to learn to recognise the voice of the Lord.
Modern church history also contains sobering accounts of those who devoted their lives to praying for revival, yet failed to recognise it when it came.
When God comes it is rarely in the way we expected. When he speaks it is often through a means we might despise. When he walks amongst us there is no guarantee, no matter how long we have been walking with him, that we will be looking in the right direction.
The real question for God's people in this day is not "Do you believe God still speaks?" but "When he speaks, will you recognise him?"