“THE GOD WHO HEARS”
“I have called upon thee, for thou wilt
hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto
me, and hear my speech.” – Psalm 17:6
In my last article I wrote about El Roi, the God who sees, who is also “the God who hears” – El Shamah. Not only is it true that “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight, but all things are naked and open unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” Hebrews 4:13, but “neither is his ear heavy, that it cannot hear” Isaiah 59:1b. Therefore, His children have this assurance that “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry” Psalm 34:15. What a wonderful Heavenly Father we have!
When it comes to earthly fathers, however, even the most dedicated and attentive of men can’t always keep his eyes and ears open to the actions and cries of his own children. When I was a little kid, I was sure my dad could hear me a mile off because whenever I expressed my frustration at something my mother would tell me to do, which was either by sassing her or stamping my feet (or both), he would stop whatever he was doing, emerge from wherever he was, and put a swift end to my “expressions” by applying “correction” to my tail-end. So much for “free speech!”
When it comes to our physical hearing we may take it for granted (as we tend to do with our eyesight) until we start having problems. Then the race is on to try and find a remedy for the situation. These are not fun battles, and it can be very frightening. But such trials serve to cause us to learn new things (so we can hopefully help others), work compassion in us, and bring us to the place where all we can do is look up to the only One who can heal us. Let’s face it; it’s only “human” and natural for people to initially look to themselves or to the “experts” to solve their problems; that is, until we learn that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” Psalm 46:1. The Lord says, “And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” Psalm 50:15. The key is, do we really believe He hears us?
Oswald Chambers said, “We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all. Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours.” How true that is.
We have no problem believing He hears us when words we wish we had never uttered fly out of our mouths; then, too, there those times when we pray and make intercession and wonder if God hears us at all. It helps to remember that no matter how we may feel, Psalm 94:9 assures us that “He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see?” In 1 John 5:14,15 Jesus said, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” [Emphasis added.]
In Psalm 66:19 we read, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” This doesn’t mean that God can’t literally hear, for Jesus said, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” Matthew 12:36. What it means is that He will not answer or respond to prayer if iniquity is in the heart. The Adam Clarke Commentary explains: “If I have seen (ראיתי raithi ) iniquity in my heart,” if I have known it was there, and encouraged it; if I pretended to be what I was not; if I loved iniquity, while I professed to pray and be sorry for my sin; the Lord, אדני Adonai, my Prop, Stay, and Supporter, would not have heard, and I should have been left without help or support.” From Barnes notes on the Bible we read: “The Lord will not hear me – That is, He will not regard and answer my prayer. The idea is, that in order that prayer may be heard, there must be a purpose to forsake all forms of sin. This is a great and most important principle in regard to prayer. The same principle is affirmed or implied in Psalm 18:41; Psalm 34:15; Proverbs 1:28; Proverbs 15:29; Proverbs 28:9; Isaiah 15:1-9; Jeremiah 11:11; Jeremiah 14:12; Zechariah 7:13; John 9:31. It is also especially stated in Isaiah 58:3-7.” In 1 Peter 3:12 we read, For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.”
It comforts those of us who love the LORD to know that El Shamah hears the cries of our hearts as He did Hanna when “she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard” 1 Samuel 1:13; How comforting that is to know, especially if you have ever lost your voice, even for a day. If so you have no doubt experienced the frustration of trying to communicate, to not only those around you, but to God in audible prayer! El Shamah hears us before we even speak, for “there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD thou knowest it altogether” Psalm 139:4. In Matthew 9:4 and 12:25 we read that “Jesus knew their thoughts.” Whether our inward thoughts are good or evil, El Shamah knows them. Psalm 94:11 tells us, “The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.”
We receive encouragement from such Scriptures as “In the day when I cried thou answered me, and strengthened me with strength in my soul” Psalm 138:3, and “But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him” Psalm 4:3.
The truth is God hears us: the question is, do we hear God, or are our ears tuned to “another channel?” Six times Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Adam and Eve were the first humans to literally hear the voice of the LORD God prior to the fall when Adam received specific instructions from Him. After the fall, the guilty pair “heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden” Genesis 3:8. Ever since that time the LORD God has been calling to the fallen human race through His Word, by His Spirit, and through creation itself. He has never stopped calling out to us, but while we may have physical ears, through unbelief, rebellion, and sin we will be “dull of hearing” until we find ourselves broken at the foot of the cross. Sometimes people have to come to a place of total desperation, utter despair, complete brokenness, and thorough helplessness before they will cry out to God from their innermost being. And Jesus promised, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” John 6:37.
Are we listening for His voice as He speaks to us deep within our hearts? Do we hear His voice when we read, hear, study and meditate on His Word? Can we discern when He speaks to us through the wisdom, and/or the words of knowledge of others? Are we established in the Lord enough to be able to understand if He chooses to speak to us in night visions (dreams) or in visions in the daytime? Do we know His voice when we pray? Jesus told us in John 10 that His sheep know His voice, and they follow Him, and that they will not follow another. In these end times there are false voices and lying spirits everywhere, thus it is vital that we learn to know the voice of the Good Shepherd!
Oswald Chambers, commenting on Isaiah 6:8,”I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? ‘Then I said, Here am I! Send me,’” wrote: “God did not direct His call to Isaiah— Isaiah overheard God saying, ‘…who will go for Us?’ The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude. ‘Many are called, but few are chosen’ (Matthew 22:14). That is, few prove that they are the chosen ones. The chosen ones are those who have come into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and have had their spiritual condition changed and their ears opened. Then they hear ‘the voice of the Lord’ continually asking, ‘…who will go for Us?’ However, God doesn’t single out someone and say, ‘Now, you go.’ He did not force His will on Isaiah. Isaiah was in the presence of God, and he overheard the call. His response, performed in complete freedom, could only be to say, ‘Here am I! Send me.’
“Remove the thought from your mind of expecting God to come to force you or to plead with you. When our Lord called His disciples, He did it without irresistible pressure from the outside. The quiet, yet passionate, insistence of His ‘Follow Me’ was spoken to men whose every sense was receptive (Matthew 4:19). If we will allow the Holy Spirit to bring us face to face with God, we too will hear what Isaiah heard— ‘the voice of the Lord.’ In perfect freedom we too will say, ‘Here am I! Send me.’”
As Oswald Chambers said, Jesus spoke “to men whose every sense was receptive.” To be receptive we must guard our hearts, be of a ready mind, and prepared to listen. In our day and age our hearing is constantly being bombarded with the noisy clamor of the world, the incessant demands of life, and the many voices of others, including the enemy who works tirelessly trying to undermine our faith with lies and half-truths. Even our own wandering thoughts can cause us to put our hearing on “auto pilot” as our minds take “time out” to make plans, formulate ideas, or entertain imaginations. Jesus said, “And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, [deal out] it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be give” Mark 4:24.
Dullness of hearing is a miserable affliction to endure; but, how much worse is it for our eternal souls when our spiritual ears are dull of hearing? Jesus said in Matthew 13:15, “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” A woman I knew many years ago had a vision of a congregation sitting in their pews of a certain large church. She said she saw thick wax covering their heads so that they could not hear or perceive anything. So there they sat, Sunday after Sunday, dull of hearing, lacking understanding and unconverted.
Another condition that occurs both physically and spiritually are “itching ears.” 2 Timothy 4:1-4 warns, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” There is no doubt that discerning Christians know we are living in such a time as Paul described on a scale never before seen. While “itching ears” were among the people in Paul’s day, and have been for two-thousand years, nevertheless, we know that on a worldwide scale it has never been as prevalent as it is today. Pockets of apostasy, rebellion, and unbelief have always been; but, today we live in a world that is technologically connected in ways that the world has never seen before. It is the return of Babylon, a one-world “interfaith” religious system whose leader is Satan. These are dark and evil times of great deception, blasphemy, and apostasy that the early church could never have conceived of. Just one heretic or false prophet (and there are many) can preach a so-called “sermon” or write a “Christian” book and thanks to satellite television, Internet, Youtube, and social media it can, in an instant, reach billions of unwary souls, who in turn propagate and spread those lies to others with itching ears.
The organized church needs to wake up. On second thought, maybe it’s time for God’s people to “come out and be separate.” “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” 2 Corinthians 6:17. How can light have fellowship with darkness? How can those who “hear” the voice of the Shepherd commune with those who turn away their ears, or those who are dull of hearing, or those who have itching ears? After all, if a person, who isn’t hungering and thirsting after righteousness, or who lusts after the latest so-called “Christian” fad be it “contemplative prayer,” or the “prosperity doctrine,” or Universalism, or the “feel good” blather of “cheap grace” and so forth, how can Jesus’ sheep keep company with a person? Are they not of “another Jesus, another gospel and another spirit?” (See 2 Corinthians 11:1-4.)
- W. Tozer said, “In the church many are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. If you do not like what I am saying, I want to ask you something. Think about the company you run with. What do they talk about most, God and the love of God, or other things? You decide that. Many Christians today will not endure sound doctrine. Paul described these people as having “itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:3). They did not like sound doctrine, but they were Christians. They called themselves Christians, but their ears were itchy. A commentator I read some years back explained this. In Paul’s day the pigs had a disease called “itching ears.” The symptom was that their ears got inflamed and itched terribly. The only way they could get relief from these inflamed ears was to go to a pile of rocks and rub their ears earnestly and vigorously. The stones scratched their ears for the time being. Paul saw that, smiled a sad smile and said, “I am running into Christians here and there who are just like that. They love pleasure more than God and will not endure sound doctrine. They have itching ears so they will be eager for something else beside the sound doctrine and holy ways. They will pile up teachers everywhere and rub their ears for dear life.” That is a most dramatic and colorful illustration. A lot of so-called Christians have to have piles of rocks to rub their ears. They will not endure sound doctrine. I think that is a description of the churches, Protestant and evangelical. In the light of New Testament predictions, teachings and standards, is what I just said about the prevailing religious mood untrue? Is what I have said about the prevailing religious mood uncharitable? Is it extreme? I do not think it is, but I only ask you to do one thing: Look around you and look in your own heart. See which of these pictures describes the churches you know.” Keep in mind that Tozer, in 1919, without formal education was called to pastor a small storefront church in Nutter Fort, West Virginia. His ministry spanned forty-four years, and was prophetical as to the state of the Church in these end times. We sometimes wonder what he would say now if he could see the state of the compromising, worldly church!
We know that El Shamah hears us, but the question is our ears open to Him? Do we approach the Bible to hear His Voice, believe what He is saying to us, hide it in our hearts, walk in the light of it, and obey Him from the heart? May God help us all to be diligent “doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving [our] own selves” James 1:22.