Hear and Listen.
So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.
Welcome and thank you for joining us this day in our worship of, and dedication to, the Lord.
I’m sure that at one time or another we have all heard the comparison between hearing and listening. We hear parents tell their children: ‘You’re hearing me, but you’re not listening.’ Or ‘I’m making sounds, but nothing is happening.’ It is a frustration employers, workers, parents and children, friends, and nations all have.
Merriam-Webster defines hearing as the “process, function, or power of perceiving sound; specifically: the special sense by which noises and tones are received as stimuli.” Listening, on the other hand, means “to pay attention to sound; to hear something with thoughtful attention; and to give consideration.”
Today, God speaks to us about hearing and listening
God confronts the people of Israel in Isaiah 66, who having returned from exile and having rebuilt the Temple are being warned against a materialistic view of worship. We know the system of sacrifices and offering at the Temple. In the past, Israel had profaned their own sacrifices by doing evil, making a sacrifice to allegedly clear the evil, and then going right back to doing evil. God rather wants a people with true hearts. God knows the people’s works and thoughts and they must listen and be clean. So, to prove His goodness, God says He will gather in the nations, the Gentiles, us – and He will even make some of us priests. He will raise up our dignity, for we will listen, astounded by God’s great mercy toward us.
God asks all He calls to stay on message, to truly hear what He says and to follow it. Jesus shows the leaders of Israel that they will end up as outsiders if they do not listen and stay true to God’s Word, if they would not recognize Who was before them and among them.
The writer to the Hebrews, specifically addressing Jewish believers, once again reminds them that they must stay true to the salvation they received in Jesus, that they should not backslide – that what they heard and received, i.e., listened to, is the way to go. Do not forget or you will be counted as only hearers, not doers, the doers James 1:22 reminds us we must all be.
It comes down to us whom God has included. We are called to listen – to hear with thoughtful attention; and to give consideration.
We have already been called into the Kingdom. We have that privilege. Listening and walking the gospel way is the work Jesus speaks of – entering through the narrow gate. It takes strength and endurance. If we indeed listen and do, we shall recline at table in the kingdom of God.