Are we listening?
Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. – Hebrews 1:1-2
Hebrews 12:25 Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven!
One of the unintended consequences of our digital, streaming world is that people in the Western world are losing the art of listening. Like any skill, listening can be developed and enhanced through practice. But it is very much like a muscle that atrophies when not used regularly.
Henning Mankell in his article, “The Art of Listening” December 10, 2011, wrote, “In Africa, listening is a guiding principle. It’s a principle that’s been lost in the constant chatter of the Western world, where no one seems to have the time or even the desire to listen to anyone else.” He added, “Many people make the mistake of confusing information with knowledge. They are not the same thing. Knowledge involves the interpretation of information. Knowledge involves listening.”
Good listeners focus on what is being communicated and heard. They ask questions to clarify and better understand what they are hearing. They pause and reflect before responding.
The Father has spoken and continues to speak, are we listening?
What is the Father like? The only way for people can know is if He communicates with us and lets us know. He has disclosed truth regarding Himself and His ways to us in the Word of God. The Old Testament messages, stories, history, and prophecy were written between 2000 B.C and 400 B.C. The New Testament was written between 30 A.D. and 90 A.D. Although the self-revelation of the Father was done over a long period through diverse means, it maintains continuity and unity. It is written by many but sourced by the Father Himself. When the Lord Jesus Christ came, the revelation reached its zenith.
Hebrews 1:3 The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God,
If we want to know the Father, we simply look at the Son. The Lord Jesus Christ is the full and definitive representation, of the Father.
The Greek word translated representation or imprint is charakter. Charakter comes from the Greek verb charasso, to cut, to scratch, to mark. In its early usage, it referred to the tool that was used to mark or cut. Later it denoted the mark or impression made with the tool. Thus it came to mean, the exact reproduction (A.T. Robertson).
The second Greek word which is translated as nature or essence is hypostasis. This term refers to the objective aspect and underlying reality behind anything (Friberg). When this word is used in connection with God, it is more esoteric and philosophical. It is hard to get a grip on it (Moffatt). It is beyond our grasp to completely comprehend what it fully means. In simple terms, the Son is identical in substance to God the Father, being Himself fully God. The Son is exactly like the Father.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the exact representation, the imprint, of the Father’s nature and essence.
REFLECT & PRAY
Conceptually, we understand that the Father knows everything and desires only the best for every child of the King. But when it comes to the individual details of our everyday lives, do we really listen?
Father may I hear, listen, and receive what You are trying to communicate with me. May I respond accordingly.
In the 21st century, copies of the Bible are plentiful throughout much of the world. In the United States, we tend to take them for granted. This is not so for the rest of the world nor has it been throughout history. Imagine for a moment what it would be like to have an unquenchable desire for something that meets the innermost hunger of our souls but find nothing that satisfies them. Then quite unexpectedly, we encounter something new and marvelous that fills the void. It is more delightful and sweeter than the sweetest honey from the honeycomb (Psalms 19:10).
That was exactly what happened to the people of Israel after the Babylonian captivity. For the first time in decades, the people of Israel had the opportunity to hear the word of God, take it in, and take great pleasure in it. Imagine what it would be like to be among them when they hear Ezra read the law of God for the first time. Their innermost being was permeated as they absorbed it. They were overwhelmed with joy. They were filled with awe. They were euphoric and spontaneously praised and worshiped the Father. Would you do any less?
1 all the people assembled with a unified purpose at the square just inside the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had given for Israel to obey.
3 He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the people listened closely to the Book of the Law.
4 Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform that had been made for the occasion. . ..
5 Ezra stood on the platform in full view of all the people. When they saw him open the book, they all rose to their feet.
6 Then Ezra praised the LORD, the great God, and all the people chanted, “Amen! Amen!” as they lifted their hands. Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
7 The Levites . . . then instructed the people in the Law while everyone remained in their places.
8 They read from the Book of the Law of God and clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, helping the people understand each passage.
9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the LORD your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
10 And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate . . ..”
The people responded with eager attentiveness (Nehemiah 8:3), reverence and worship (Nehemiah 8:5-6), understanding (Nehemiah 8:7-8), and repentance Nehemiah 8:9) (Stanley).
The word of God is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12). As it reveals the Father to us, we are enriched yet convicted and experience a kind of inexplicable joyful sorrow.The Father offers a personal, intimate relationship. It is a two-way communication. We speak to Him in honest, heartfelt prayer. We hear his voice as he speaks to our minds, hearts, and spirits.
Hebrews 3:15 Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.
God continues to speak, are we listening?