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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Awaken: You Have Given Me An Open Ear

"Sacrifice and burnt offerings you have not required, but you have given me an open ear."
Psalm 40:6
Have you ever wondered why certain people respond to the Gospel at times and others don't? In a pew one can be moved and stirred to repentance because of the message and the person right beside them could be snoozing away. Why is that?
In that text above, some translations put it "but my ears you have pierced." In the Hebrew, the idiom is "ears you have dug for me", symbolizing the hole produced through the piercing of a slave by their master. There is something about hearing that is a gift from God. And I submit to you that the reason why some are awakened to salvation and new life in Christ is because they have had their ears open (pierced) by their Lord (master) when he purchased them on the cross.
Proverbs 20:12 says, "The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both." It is not just the ear or the eye, but the hearing ear and the seeing eye the Lord has made. There are many ears that are deaf and many eyes that are blind, but the gracious gift of God is that, in his sovereignty, he opens ears and eyes to behold him, to hear him, to obey him.
In Old Testament times, there was no such thing as silent reading of Scripture. To them that was ludicrous. Therefore, that is why you read the commands repeated, "Hear the word of the Lord", and the negative version, "they did not respond to My voice" and other various phrases. There is a direct line between hearing and obeying and worshipping the Lord. Samuel spoke plainly to Saul, saying, "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams" (1 Samuel 15:22). Clearly, the LORD puts a premium on listening and obeying, to the point that Scripture shows us his delight in this far exceeds any sacrifice or religious duty Saul could have done.
Jesus refers to the opening of the ears of many in his illustration as a shepherd. Hear him saying, "I am the good shepherd. I known my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice" (John 10:14-16). Did you catch that last phrase? They will listen to my voice. How do we know that? Because God makes them willing and opens their ears to hear. There is great comfort and assurance (because of election) in evangelism that wherever you preach/share the gospel, you will always have a listening ear, not because of the dynamics of your preaching, but because of the divine piercing of human ears.
It is a prayer of mine that I will hear, truly hear with a listening ear, what the Lord is saying to me. Often times, I am tuned into the wrong frequency and all I get is that scratchy noise, and through repentance and brokenness, I find myself coming back to hear the Lord in the "gentle whisper" rather than the fire and earthquakes.
Finally, the great parable of the soils speaks to this listening as well. Hear the commentary of the good soil. "As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty" (Matthew 13:23). All four soils represent people who "heard" the word, but only one understood it. Where do you think this understanding comes from? Is there some secret knowledge they have (Gnosticism) that others don't? Nope. That understanding comes from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit to allow them to appreciate and value what otherwise beforehand was rubbish. The understanding comes from a clear understanding of the gospel which partly is due to the adequate presentation of the message, and the application thereof by the Holy Spirit to a sinner's heart such that they embrace it.
So when you preach or teach or find yourself in a pew whether others seem unresponsive and "asleep", pray that the Lord would "awaken" them to new life. Pray that the Lord would give them a listening ear and a receptivity birthed from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. And as we live our lives, may what Isaiah said of himself be true of us:
"Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.
The Lord has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward."
Isaiah 50:4-5

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