Did you ever attempt to have a conversation with someone who appeared to be hard of hearing? You’d say one word and he’d think you said another one? He’d get mixed up with what you were trying to say and you’d feel a little annoyed trying to get him to understand you.
Here’s a funny story that illustrates such a situation…
One of the most frustrating conversations in theatrical history is recorded by Theatre Arts magazine: A subscriber dialed “Information” for the magazine’s number.
“Sorry,” drawled the lady, “but there is nobody listed by the name of ‘Theodore Arts.'”
The subscriber insisted: “It’s not a person; it’s a publication. I want Theatre Arts.”
The operator’s voice rose a few decibels. She repeated, “I told you, we have no listing for Theodore Arts.”
By now the subscriber was hollering, “Confound it, the word is Theatre: T-H-E-A-T-R-E!”
The operator came back with crushing finality: “That—is not the way to spell Theodore.” (Illustrations Unlimited, James S. Hewett, ed.)
One wonders: Was the operator REALLY hard of hearing? Or, was she just being hardheaded?
We can wonder the same thing when it comes to hearing what God says to us through Christ and his Word. Many times we read where Jesus spoke words like, “But I say to you…”; ” Truly, truly I tell you…”; “I tell you the truth…” Jesus was not only making his instructions known to the people, but he was contrasting them with misconceived ideas especially pertaining to the Law that became their tradition: “You have heard it said but I say…”
Sadly, however, while there were those who clearly heard his words and accepted it, there were others who had perfectly good hearing, but were too stubborn to accept what he had to say. In affect, they were not really hard of hearing but were simply too hardheaded to listen.
The prophets, likewise, attempted to get Israel to listen to God’s instructions but in those instances the people appeared to lose their hearing. It’s not that there was REALLY something wrong with their ability to hear. No doubt, they could pass a hearing test. They had ears alright but they refused to listen and obey God’s Word.
When Israel was being formed as a nation while wandering in the wilderness, God through Moses reminded the people how they witnessed with their own eyes God’s deliverance from their trials back in Egypt at the time they were slaves. But they were still too hardheaded to listen to God’s instructions: “Yet to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear,” (Deuteronomy 29:4, New American Standard Bible, NASB).
The people were not fit to know, see, nor hear the LORD their God because they were not altogether willing to know, see, and hear him. Yet, all they needed to do was obey and then their hearts, eyes, and ears would truly be opened. “So keep the words of this covenant to do them, that you may prosper in all that you do,” (Deut. 29:9).
By the time Jesus came on the scene, he reminded his people of this very same need to hear and heed what he had to say. He usually urged them this way by telling them parables. A parable is told as a story that compare two objects for the purpose of teaching a lesson (Pictorial Bible Dictionary). This was the simplest approach for getting his listeners to understand and believe his teachings, yet many of them still had their ears closed.
Jesus commented to his disciples, “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand,” (Matthew 13:13). Only those who were sincerely following him would, in due time, listen and understand him (Luke 24:8; John 2:22).
Sometimes we might have a hard time hearing and fully understanding what God wants us to know and do. Admit it. It’s in our nature, as humans, to be a little hardheaded at times. It’s not because we’ve lost our hearing. Rather, it’s because we’re inclined to hear only what we want to hear.
Deafness seems to set in when God’s Word tells us something we need to change about ourselves or beliefs that requires us to change our old ways and habits. But we’d rather not hear it. It’s like a kid who puts his hands over his ears when he is told: “You can’t have that candy right now.” Refusing to listen, he holds his hands over his ears and shuts his eyes while repeating out loud, “Na, na, na, na….” to block out his parent’s voice.
Of course, Jesus doesn’t want us to react like this. Rather, he wants us to keep an open ear to what he wants us to know. He’s saying to us, “He who has an ear, let him hear…” (Matthew 11:15; 13:9; Mark 4:9, 23). When John relayed Jesus’ message to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3, each one was told, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Good results were guaranteed, such as the one to the Church of Ephesus: “To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God,” (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22).
Indeed, Jesus’ exhortation is even more fitting for his church today than it was then. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy saying, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine [teaching]; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths,” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). The reality is, we’re living in that time.
One sign that we are getting closer to the return of Christ is that many are closing their ears to the truth. They make up their own ideas (myths) on they want to believe. They’re departing from God’s instructions, not much differently than the way Israel did way back in Bible days.
In fact, The Barna Group has reported that, “Overall, 50% of the adults interviewed agreed that Christianity is no longer the faith that Americans automatically accept as their personal faith, while just 44% disagreed and 6% were not sure.”
“Professing themselves to be wise” they’ve “become fools” (Romans 1:22), because they’ve departed from God’s Word. Christian leaders tickle the ears of their followers by telling them what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. They ignore the moral teachings that society mocks and despises so they won’t be criticized. They desire to please the world rather than God for their own gain. They turn to human philosophy instead of God’s truth which they consider to be too old and out dated. Thus they become hardheaded fools.
On the other hand, those with good hearing—that is, those willing to keep their ears open (eyes and heart, too) and obey God’s Word—choose not to fall into this very grave error of the hardheaded. We cling to the Good News taught by Jesus who bids us to keep our ears open to his truth—and with the promise that when he returns, we will be eternally rewarded with wonderful blessings. (Rev. 2:25-29)
Just as Jesus told his followers, he says to us, “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear,” (Matt. 13:16).
Good News to YOU!
P.S. Here are The Heralds with their rendition of “Open My Eyes That I May See”: http://youtu.be/sfUlCof-aM8