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What the Bible says about Listening
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Numbers 27:1-11

Numbers 27 is the appeal of Zelophehad's five daughters to Moses in regard to their inheritance. Their father had died without any sons, and under the law of the time, his daughters were left without an inheritance. The commentators who go into this say that such an appeal was virtually unheard of because at that time a woman's station in society was only slightly higher than a child's. The child was always on the lowest social level, which is one reason why Jesus said we have to become as a child. All of society revolved around men.

Moses does three remarkable things. He not only hears the appeal of these ladies, he humbly admits that he did not know the answer. He takes it to God, and God not only hears it, He gives the ladies more than what they asked for, as all they had asked for was the land. God says, in effect, "Not only can you have the land, but you have the right to pass it on just as if you were Zelophehad's sons." It came under their power completely.

The point is that no leader under God can afford not to listen with fullest attention to the appeals of the lowly or to their counsel. He cannot afford to be in an attitude in which he will not listen to the people that he is supposed to be leading. It is a very important lesson and principle of law that comes out of Moses' humility, meekness, and willingness to hear, whereas other leaders of his day would likely have not even allowed those women to come into their presence.

There are only two cases in the life of Moses in which a woman came before him for either a judgment or in accusation. This was one of them, and the other one was his sister, Miriam. We know what happened to Miriam. It makes for an interesting contrast.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)

Proverbs 8:32-36

Three times in this short passage, God commands us to listen to Him! This divine emphasis tells us that many of us have a serious problem with listening. If we are not listening, we are not learning'and as Hosea 4 and Leviticus 26 say, this will lead to our destruction.

In the Cowboy's Code of Conduct, one maxim states, "Never miss an opportunity to stop talking!" When we are talking, we are not listening'and thus not learning!

In Proverbs 8:34-35, God commands us to watch, wait, and search for Him. These are all action words, and He instructs us to do this daily! He wants to teach us every day, and our job is to be watching daily for those teachable moments from God. "Watching daily at my gates" is not about keeping a lookout for Christ's return but about looking for opportunities to learn from God. He then promises, ". . . whoever finds me finds life," implying that we need to search for it. Amos later reiterates, "Seek Me and live!" (Amos 5:4).

Staff
Are You Teachable?

Related Topics: Listening


 

Isaiah 55:1-3

Remember who is saying this and to whom. Jesus Christ, the God of the Old Testament and our Savior is speaking, not to the world in general as some may think, but to all those who have made the covenant with God.

Under the Old Covenant, this includes Israel and Judah, and under the New Covenant, the church. Verse 1 essentially invites us to come and eat freely, that is, without restriction, because all that He offers is good to eat. However, the English translation hides a tone of pity. In Hebrew, it pleads for us to take advantage of what God has made readily available. It bears a pleading tone because suffering and discouraged people seem to be doing all but the right things to help them overcome their difficulties. These people are "spinning their wheels" in their preoccupation with Babylon, a type of the world.

By contrast, the tone of verse 2 is mildly chiding as well as urgently warning. It admonishes against spiritual foods that indeed may make one feel "full" but really do not nourish the spiritual life's genuine needs. Eventually, one feels that something is missing. Our Savior does not argue but asks, "Does all this really satisfy you? Is this the end to which you are called? Is this what life is all about?" He implies that those He has invited will have to choose to change their spiritual diet. Then He urges us to listen carefully. It is almost as if He says, "Listen! Listen!"

He then exhorts us to eat what is good, that is, what He has specifically made for this purpose. In verse 3, His admonishment becomes abundantly clear when He says, "Come to Me [and] hear." What comes from Christ truly nourishes, satisfies, and produces spiritual strength and richness, fortifying the spiritual wall that protects us from falling away.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Seven)

Jeremiah 25:3-4

This passage, along with verses 8-9, gives a simple, clear, and graphic example of why hearing God's Word, believing it, and understanding God's sovereignty is important to practical applications in our life. This is why Jesus admonishes us to listen. The Jews certainly heard Jeremiah's voice proclaim God's warning, but it did not motivate them to act. They did not fear God's sovereignty over their lives. The direct result was disruption in society, the pain of warfare, and the captivity that followed. As almost any parent would say to his child in a similar situation, God is saying, "I told you not to do that. If you had listened to me, this would not have happened."

Why did they not listen? The words spoken by God's prophets carried no authority in their minds because they had no faith in God's sovereignty. If asked, these people would have asserted they believed in God. In reality, they had no faith that God was even anywhere around, that He had the power to do what He said, or that He cared enough for them to do it. They lacked living faith.

Why is it so important to listen to God's message? Because God's summons comes to those who listen to and believe the message, and through them His work is done. Notice John 6:29: "Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.'" God is working salvation in all the earth (Psalm 74:12), and He is doing it in and through those who believe the Son. Only those who believe the Son will willingly submit to God's sovereignty because they look to Him as their Ruler.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God: Introduction

Jeremiah 25:3-5

Jeremiah was God's prophet at this time, when Judah was just about to suffer captivity. He was God's last major prophet—the last one He sent to appeal to the Judeans before their society, their civilization, came to an end. What was Jeremiah's complaint? "For twenty-three years I've been speaking to you, and you're not listening." And because they did not listen, by the time of Jeremiah 25, the nation had already been defeated, and a small group of refugees was on the run trying to save their lives. So Jeremiah made it very plain: "You didn't listen."

This is typical of why Jesus admonishes us to listen. They heard, but they did not listen. The direct result was ultimately the pain of warfare, but also all of the disruptions in society before the war actually broke out—the kind of things that our culture is struggling with now—things similar to the drug scene, rampant murder, all kinds of disease, and so forth. God said if they would only repent, He would heal them.

They did not listen. They did not repent. They did not get healed. Instead, they went through war and into captivity, and these few had to flee for their lives. God is saying what almost any parent would say to a child in a similar situation: "I told you not to do that, but you wouldn't listen." How many times have we said that to our children?

Why did Judah not listen? The answer is not difficult. They did not listen because, to them, the word spoken by God's prophets carried no authority. They dismissed it as a little thing, of having no consequence. It carried no authority with them because the people had no faith in God's sovereignty.

Because these people had made the covenant with God and had been taught by one of God's prophets, if asked if they believed in God, these Judeans would have replied, "Yes, I believe in God." But the practical reality is that they had no faith in God; they lived as if He were nowhere around. They did not have faith that He had the power to do what He said or that He cared enough about them to do it. In a word, they did not have living faith.

Why is it so important to listen to God's message? Because it is to those who listen and believe the message that God's summons comes and through whom God's work is done.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God (Part 1)

Acts 9:5

Before conversion, the apostle Paul was certainly well-schooled in the Scriptures, as far as the Jews could teach him. The Bible says he studied at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). He was very intelligent and incisive of mind, a man of conviction and determination. Yet, this same man God had to physically blind and thoroughly humble before he could see Him. Even though Paul had a command of the Scriptures that few people have ever had at their calling, he could not see God working in the infant Christian church.

Christ, in a mild rebuke, says to Paul on the way to Damascus, "It is hard for you to kick against the goads." We should take this reproach to heart as well because it teaches us that the carnal mind will reject the evidence that God gives, even though it is suffering and in pain. Thus, God's calling and His predisposing us to see spiritually and to identify with His Son are of no avail unless His Word becomes integrated within us.

How are we hearing God's Word? Disinterestedly? Skeptically? Cynically? Critically? Indifferently? Eagerly? Remember, "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Hearing starts the processing of the revelation of God, and we must consciously work at it. It includes what we are "hearing" this moment, as well as what we have heard over the last six months, the past year, the past decade, and the whole time of our conversion! How are we listening? Do we follow through on the things that we hear? Unless we do, we are not hearing - and we will not truly see God!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Do You See God? (Part One)

Hebrews 12:25-29

Listen! Hear Him! Believe what He says!

The author of Hebrews has presented us with the facts that Christ is greater than angels, greater than Moses and greater than Aaron; that the New Covenant is superior in every way to the Old Covenant. He addresses this presentation to Christians who stand, not before a physical mountain in the Sinai, but a spiritual Mount Zion in heaven. Nevertheless, we still have the potential to refuse to hear, even as the Israelites who had just come out of Egypt did not hear. Now, they knew—they knew—that it was the voice of God that they heard, and they refused to hear because they believed they could not endure what He commanded!

Do we see the parallel?

It is possible for Christians to cherish their own will—which they know to be diametrically opposed to the will and purpose of God—and to stick to their own desires, thus stifling the voice of the Almighty God Himself! And thus, we can wrench ourselves away from the voice because we feel uncomfortable going against our resolve.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 4)


 




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