Why Don’t/Can’t They Hear?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
14 This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says, ‘When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. 15 For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes— so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’ 16 “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. Matthew 13:14-16 (NLT2)
11 It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. Isaiah 55:11 (NLT2)
I once slipped into a noonday service in New York City and I heard something I will never be able to forget.
A minister speaking that day said: “We assume that if a man has heard the Christian gospel he has been enlightened. But that is a false assumption. Just to have heard a man preach truth from the Bible does not necessarily mean that you have been enlightened.”
God’s voice must speak from within to bring enlightenment. It must be the Spirit of God speaking soundlessly within.…
[W]hen we fail to hear His voice, it is not because He is not speaking so much as that we are not listening.
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and preserves it in union with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He daily and richly forgives me and all believers all our sins, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will grant me and all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.
The parent asks the pastor, “why won’t my kids come to church?”
The pastor or priest hears the same person state the same religious sounding slogan again, even thought thy have talked a dozen times that it is not Biblical, and in fact contradicts scripture.
A church devours a book together, about how they are on the mission field. A year later, only one person is invited…. and the church grows smaller.
The younger pastor, on fire to change the world, struggles with more experienced veterans of the church, and they struggle with him. They want the same end, but are not seeing they have the same means.
The brilliant scholar, who once had many scripture passages memorized, who could explain scripture clearly, becomes a functional agnostic, and is highly critical of those in the church.
These realities fly in the face of the promise that word of God going forth, will not come back void. It can make a pastor wonder if his preaching is dead as the chuch seems to be.
Isaiah’s prophecy seems to have been fulfilled again,
And maybe Tozer is correct in his assertion, that people can hear the gospel preached, and not respond, not be enlightened. As if God isn’t willing that no one should perish, but has already determined to move in this person’s heart and that person’s.
So what hope lies in our work then, in the time spent in prayer for people, and for our work in preparing to speak for God, calling to people, trying to be a tool by which the Holy Spirit draws them to Jesus.
Or do we just keep plodding along in the seemingly barren desert?
There are days we wonder, and we want to question God about this unfulfilled promise. Unfulfilled, at least, based on our experience, on what we observe.
Here too then is a moment for trusting, for having faith, for being confident in the Holy Spirit’s work in us and through us. To realize that there is a timeline we are unaware of, but that we have a definite role in being the people that communicate that God wants all to be transformed.
To praise Him for what He is doing that is happening, even when we cannot see, to cry out for that as the church does in a Kyrie (Lord have mercy!), or the Sanctus (Hosanna – help us!)
When we do see those cries answered! O the glory! When we see someone hear and realize that God is interested in them, loves them, and will heal them of their sin (see James 5) there is such joy.
Look for those moments, cherish them, expect them from the least likely of places, and you will see God at work,
Not in the way you want, not always from the person you think,
But God is at work – have confidence in that, for He has promised…. keep looking to Him, keep dwelling in His love… and see that revival isn’t tarrying, and God isn’t slow…
Lord, help us to see You at work in our lives, in the lives of those we love and serve. Lord, help us to hear them cry to You, and see You answer those cries thorugh us. Amen.
A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).
Erick Pontoppidan, H. U. Sverdrup, and Martin Luther, Explanation of Luther’s Small Catechism, trans. E. G. Lund, Abridged Edition. (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1900), 11.