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Bible verses about Itching Ears
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Jeremiah 14:1-16   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Notice what is happening. The land is suffering from a drought. Did the people connect drought with obedience to the message of a false minister? Probably not.

The spirit that was speaking to them was not divine, but it was supernatural. The people submitted to it because they did not put the prophet to the test to see whether or not his teaching was in harmony with what had already been revealed through God's messenger, Moses.

God blames the plight of the nation on the false prophets to whom the people listened. What did the prophets do? They lulled the people into complacency, which led them to believe that all was well when it was not. They preached to them smooth things because the people had itching ears. They liked the things that were taught to them, but it was not the Word of God. God says they preached lies in His name. If one listens to them, then it is the same thing as the blind leading the blind and both falling in the ditch.

The land was in drought. How many carnal people would connect a drought with obedience to a false minister? Not very many because they would be thinking carnally and say, "It's just part of the cycle of things. It happens every so many years." They are not thinking that there might be a spiritual cause for it: that God is concerned about the well being of His people, and that He had brought the drought to make them think about why it is happening. The cause for concern is spiritual in nature.

Would any U.S. President or presidential candidate make an appeal to American citizens that the cause of our problems are spiritual in nature? If a national figure said before a group of people that the reason we are having troubles in the United States is that we need to repent and get back to our God, they would be laughed into shame and contempt. The reason we are seeing the immorality in the United States is the effect of listening to false ministers!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 2)


 

Ezekiel 33:30-33   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

What Ezekiel describes happens frequently. People love to hear a good sermon and to be entertained. They enjoy the oratory or perhaps the speaker himself and his style of speaking. Some preachers use a good deal of humor and have the audience laughing throughout their sermons, as if they are stand-up comedians. One could have a great time at church.

The prophet describes it like going to a concert. Everyone enjoys good music, but after the music stops and the audience leaves the concert hall, what lasting effect does it have? God says that is how His people treat Him. They have a desire to hear what God has to say, but they want to be entertained more than instructed.

In Ezekiel's day, they wanted to see the prophet lie down on his side for 390 days. They wanted to know what kind of strange stunt God would have Ezekiel do next. Who knows? Maybe he would string himself up by his toes for a week or two until God spoke to him again. Undoubtedly, there were some who approached his ministry that way, as a kind of carnival act. Perhaps they said to one another, "I wonder what God will have Ezekiel do next? I bet He'll have him hopping around his tent on one foot." They did not make the connection that what Ezekiel did portrayed what God would do to Israel. The people, by and large, merely came around for the spectacle of it.

Maybe Ezekiel was a good speaker too. Perhaps he could really "give it to 'em." Some people love hell-fire and brimstone sermons. They feel totally wrung out at the end, and it is satisfying, as if they have just been beaten up and set straight—or the other guy who really needed it has. But do hell-fire and brimstone sermons really need to be preached very often?

Indeed, people love to hear the song, but they do not want to dance the dance.

It all comes back to these questions: Why are we in God's church? What are our fundamental reasons for being here? Are we seeking satisfaction for ourselves? Are we having an itch scratched? What are our motivations? Do we think the sermons at one particular place are better than at another particular place just because the speakers happen to be more polished?

Of course, the best motivations are that we are seeking the truth and seeking to please God.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Itching Ears


 

John 1:17   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

What did Jesus Christ establish to be taught in the churches? What He brought - in what we consider to be the New Testament era - is not at all contradictory or fundamentally different from what the Old Testament teaches. His message is complementary, completing the teaching of the Old Testament, rounding out and finishing God's revelation to mankind.

The word "but" in verse 17 has been inserted by the translators. In those Bibles that use the convention, it is in italics, which shows that it is a word added by the translators to clarify what they believe is the sense. Why did they choose "but"? The translators' fundamental belief is that Jesus came to change what was taught by Moses. However, if they had put together what the rest of the New Testament says, Jesus came and added to and completed what Moses and the other prophets preached. There is a better word to insert there: "and." Thus, "For the law was given through Moses and grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." They are complementary, not contradictory. Perhaps the word "supplementary" would better explain it, thought what Jesus brought is both complementary and supplementary.

"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill" (Matthew 5:17). Consider a candy jar, which is filled only an inch. That represents what Moses taught, the law. But Jesus filled the rest of the candy jar full! Jesus brought the spirit of the law. He filled to the full the revelation of God.

What Moses taught in the law is the law of the Kingdom of God. It cannot be separated from the gospel of the Kingdom of God that Jesus brought because the Kingdom of God needs law to function. God's Kingdom is a real entity. It is designed to function, and it will only function through law and, of course, grace, as they work together.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Itching Ears


 

2 Timothy 4:2-5   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Paul gives Timothy a great deal to think about and to do. Notice, though, that he ends with a warning that false teachers and false gospels are inevitable. As time goes on, as he said earlier, things will get worse and worse.

We must be especially careful of this these days because Jesus tells us that, as the end approaches, it will get really bad! Those things will wax, not wane, as the end comes. And in our information society, not only have there been more bad things, but they are coming at us faster and faster. It is hard to keep up with all the false teachings, heresies, and strange ideas. And those are just what are in the church, and not what comes from Protestantism, Catholicism, New Age, or whatever!

The Internet has been a blessing and curse, just for that reason. It is wonderful for transmitting information—especially if it is the truth, but it is damnable for transmitting error. All "media" are. Any kind of media can be used wrongly. The two biggest users on the Internet are, on the one hand, pornographers, and on the other, churches. Is that not crazy? It shows how bad the times are, and how we have to be prepared to face these things, show the error of falsehood, and explain the truth. It is not easy in these times to be a true minister of God, because things are coming at us from right and left at 190 mph.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Itching Ears


 

2 Timothy 4:3-4   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Paul's description of people having "itching ears" is picturesque. The Greek word, knethomai, literally means "to itch, rub, scratch, or tickle." This figure of speech implies that they have an itch that must be scratched, or as William Barclay puts it, "they have ears which have to be continually titillated with novelties" (The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 202). Such people open their ears to any teacher who will relieve their particular "itch" regardless of how it measures against the truth.

The solution to this resides in proper discernment based on God's infallible Word. This judgment must be based on His whole counsel. John writes, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (I John 4:1). Christ commends the Ephesian church for this:

I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars. (Revelation 2:2)

Paul says it most simply, "Test all things; hold fast what is good" (I Thessalonians 5:21).

It is our Christian duty to evaluate the "causes" we endorse. Are they truly of God, or are they itches we want scratched? Have we allowed the world to influence our thinking, or are we on solid biblical footing? Have we held our ground against Satan, or have we given in to his relentless onslaught?

Our effort now should be presenting ourselves "blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (verse 23), for God is not concerned with scratching our itches but transforming us into the image of His Son. That is our only cause!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Scratching Our Itches


 

 




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