Hearing Ears

After Jesus had spoken the parable of the sower, he said “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 13:9)  Barring something like a birth defect or accident, all men have ears.  But all do not have ears to hear.  Jesus tells us the problem is not in one’s physical ear but in his own heart over which he has power:  “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:  ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull.  Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, do that I should heal them’”  (Matthew 13:14-15).

The occasion of Ezra reading the book of the Law of Moses to the Israelites in Nehemiah 8 gives us several qualities of ears to hear – receptive hearts, characteristics that we should be sure to have if we will profit from the word of God.

Attentive Ears

“And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law” (vs. 3).  To listen with attention is to hear with care and concern.  They listened then with great interest, with minds and understanding engaged.    When we hear the word of God taught or preached, we need to gird up the loins of our minds to be attentive.  When we read the Bible at home, we must put our focus into what God is saying to us, examining ourselves.

Reverent ears

“And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up.  And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God.  Then all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen!’ while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground” (vss. 5-6).  The words of the Bible are from the mind of God, God-breathed, delivered by the Holy Spirit.  They are that which bring life when followed and that which bring death when rejected (2 Corinthians 2:15-16).  Being from God, the inspired word ought to be read and heard reverently, with great respect.

Obedient ears

The people answered “Amen, Amen!” to the words spoken from the law.  Amen means “so be it”; that’s an attitude of submission and obedience to it.  Several men read to the Israelites from the book “distinctly” and “gave the sense” and “helped them to understand the reading” (vss.7-8).  The people “wept when they heard the words of the Law” (vs. 9).  The law of God moves ears that hear to godly sorrow when shortcomings are identified.  And receptive hearts respond in obedience.  When the people learned regarding the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles), they “went out and brought them and made themselves booths” (vss.14, 16).  Ears that hear are hearts that respond in obedience to the will of God.

Some give little or no attention to the Bible.  Others give attention but without personal inspection.  Some show little reverence or respect for the Word by their neglect of it.  And still other ears hear the Word, but it does “not profit them, not being mixed with faith” (Hebrews 4:2), a faith that obeys.  How are your ears?

                            -Larry Jones