This is a photo of my precious daughter mimicking me on the phone some 32 years ago. Back then I clicked the image because she was just so cute. Now I'm reminded of how important it is to listen to others, and to listen to God. In fact, everywhere I turn I’m being told to “listen.” Whether on a radio program, a pastor giving a devotional message, or the video series on Revelation I’m enjoying with friends, the message is clear…listen up!
The cacophony of noise in our society makes it difficult to hear God’s voice. Given all our electronics with their ring-tones, beeps, buzzes, and downloadable tunes, it’s difficult to hear our own thoughts, let alone deep spiritual truths our Lord wants to impart. More than ever it takes great discipline to tune our ears to truth and really listen.
Studying the Bible we learn that listening can be different than hearing. For instance, there’s the casual “hearing” of those not really engaged in the process; when words are relegated to background noise because the hearer is distracted by other things. This describes my routine of listening to the nightly news while catching up with Words-With-Friends on my tablet.
But then there’s “intent listening” when the hearer tunes in, concentrating on the words heard and their meanings. This is clearly what God wants us to do as we study the scripture. Remember when He spoke at the transfiguration of Christ, while a bright cloud enveloped the disciples gathered with Jesus on the mountain, saying:
"This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" Matthew 17:5
Listening, studying and obeying God’s Word are of utmost importance. God even gave us multiple warnings of what would happen if we don’t apply ourselves to these disciplines. Despite an explosion of knowledge that is prophesied for the last days, the prophet Isaiah’s words are repeated several times: “Go and tell this people, ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’” Isaiah 6:9.
And the prophet Amos wrote: "The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD, "when I will send a famine through the land - not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.” Amos 8:11
Yet the good news is that Jesus wants us to listen and understand.
His sheep hear his voice and follow His lead. Repeatedly He tells His followers in the first chapters of the Book of Revelation to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. We are called to listen and be transformed by the Word of God. For “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17