Do You Have Hearing Ears?
TODAY, in 121 lands and isle of the sea, the good news of God’s kingdom is being preached. This good news tells that the one true God is Jehovah, that he is from everlasting to everlasting, the fountain of life, and that he is a God of wisdom, justice, love and power. (Ps. 36:9; 62:11; 83:18; 89:14; 90:2; Prov. 2:6, 7; 1 John 4:8) It further tells that God’s kingdom is now established, and that it soon will end all unrighteousness and usher in a new system of things; a world wherein man will learn war no more, a world wherein every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree with none to molest him or make him afraid; a world without sorrow, pain or crying; a world where, instead of people dying, the dead will be coming back to life. (Mic. 4:3, 4; John 5:28, 29; Rev. 11:17, 18; 21:4) One would think that such good news would set atingling the ears of everyone who hears it. But does it? Far from it! Only a few give ear. Why?
Why do men turn a deaf ear to the good news God is having brought to them? First of all, because of lack of faith. Men refuse to accept the evidence presented by the Bible, and God’s other book, the book of nature, showing that God does indeed exist. They are unwilling to accept the vast amount of proof, both circumstantial and direct, that the Bible is inspired, that it is indeed the Word of God. So they fail to benefit from the good news because of their lack of faith.—John 17:17; Rom. 1:20; Heb. 4:2.
Others turn a deaf ear to the truth because of not being open-minded, not being willing to take the time to hear the proof that this good news is indeed true. They are unwilling to investigate, to prove all things by God’s inspired Word, and so show themselves to be fools by answering a matter before they hear it. They ignore God’s invitation to come and reason together. (Prov. 18:13; Isa. 1:18; Acts 17:11) Prejudice, religious or of another form, keeps their ears closed.
The truth also falls upon deaf ears if their owners do not have a love for righteousness. Above all else, the truth of God’s Word magnifies the righteousness of God. It tells of a God who is the Preserver of all that is good and right and the Destroyer of all that is wicked. This very ring of justice and righteousness, which so attracts the lovers of righteousness, repels many because, whether they realize it or not, they prefer that which is selfish, unjust and sinful to that which is just and righteous.
Not only does it require faith, a willingness to reason and a love of righteousness to have a hearing ear for the good news of the Kingdom, but it also requires humility. Many reject the good news because of pride. They do not want to be set straight, to be corrected. Even the most ignorant men can be proud, and persons that are proud depend upon themselves for salvation, or else cling to the religious ideas they were previously taught. Putting their trust in human leaders, they do not feel lowly enough to confess that these are wrong, and themselves as well. They are too proud to accept the truth, because it is unpopular, because it is not in harmony with popular science and popular religions. Like Nathaniel, they say, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” but unlike him, they are not willing to “come and see” whether or not these lowly witnesses of Jehovah do have something “good”, the truth. Such ignore Jehovah’s counsel: “Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud; for Jehovah hath spoken.”—Jer. 13:15, AS; John 1:46-50.
TICKLING THE ITCHING EARS
Instead of hearing ears, today the vast majority of mankind, inside of Christendom as well as outside of it, have itching ears. Speaking of these the apostle Paul wrote: “For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled, and they will turn their ears away from the truth, whereas they will be turned aside to false stories.”—2 Tim. 4:3, 4, NW.
Among the false stories that the false shepherds tell their flocks, the financiers, the politicians and the common people, are the following: that the political rulers are the “higher powers” of Romans 13:1-4; that the United Nations organization is man’s only hope; that it is up to the people to bring in the kingdom of God by means of moral-uplift schemes; that man has an immortal soul; that all good church members will go to heaven at death; that their deity is a mysterious trinity. All of which tickles the ears of the listeners.
On the other hand big business gives financial support to its religious leaders, the politicians give them adulation and prominent seats in their assemblies, and the common people grovel before their shepherds with “Ah, Father!” “Reverend!” and “Rabbi!” and other flattering titles on their lips. Thus priest and people tickle each other’s ears in one great mutual-admiration society.—Jer. 5:31.
THE HEARING EARS
Men who love righteousness, are humble and have faith are not satisfied with the “false stories” of such shepherds. Their ears will try what they hear to determine whether or not it has the ring of genuine truth from the reliable Source. (Job 34:3) They listen for the voices of the true Shepherds and will respond only to them. Speaking for these sheeplike ones the psalmist says: “Jehovah is a great God, and a great King above all gods. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” When they hear his voice they do not close their ears or harden their hearts.—Ps. 95:3, 7, 8, AS.
These also recognize Christ Jesus as their Shepherd. “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has got all his own out, he travels before them, and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice. A stranger they will by no means follow but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”—John 10:3-5, NW.
After having learned to distinguish between the voices of the false shepherds and the voices of the true Shepherds, if we are wise, we will continue to show humility and submissiveness to the true Shepherds. We will not rebel just because what they tell us shows us where we are wrong and reproves us. Rather we will appreciate that all this is necessary to guide us in the pathway of life. We sincerely want to live forever, and that to the glory of God, do we not? Then why despise our life interests by manifesting stubbornness? Let us rather accept with meekness what they tell us and stay wise. “The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise. He that refuseth instruction [or, correction] despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.”—Prov. 15:31, 32.
These wise and loving Shepherds may at times use a human agency to administer a reproof to us. If we have understanding we will not take offense at such a one and avoid him with ill feeling. Not at all! Instead, we will view such a one as an adornment to us. “As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.”—Prov. 25:12.
To accept instruction and reproof includes more than merely giving mental assent to its wisdom. If we fully understand and appreciate the importance of what is brought to our attention we will act upon it, bringing our lives into harmony with it, for hearing also means obeying. Only then can we be considered wise. “Therefore everyone that hears these sayings of mine and does them will be likened to a discreet man, who built his house upon the rock-mass. And the rain poured down and the floods came and the winds blew and lashed against that house, but it did not cave in, for it had been founded upon the rock-mass.”—Matt. 7:24, 25, NW.
Whether or not our ears remain open to the reproof and instruction that leads to life depends upon our hearts. “Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.” (Prov. 23:12; 18:15) Unless the good and honest condition of our hearts keeps our powers of audition open and keenly sensitive to the divine Word, our ears will be as if heavy, dull of hearing. Then there will be no ready, interested reception of the divine message, and so no fruit from our hearts.
HEARING MEANS SALVATION FOR US AND OTHERS
To those to whom he sends his message Jehovah says: “Hear, and your soul shall live.” (Isa. 55:3) Here again, more is meant than merely hearing the sound of God’s message with our physical ears. It means entertaining the message, accepting it, believing it and obediently acting upon it. If we want God to hear, help and deliver us in times of need and reward us with eventual salvation, we must listen to him now. Those who turn a deaf ear to what God now has to say to them will find him turning a deaf ear to them when they call upon him in adversity. (Prov. 1:20-33) “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.”—Prov. 28:9, AS.
The good and honest heart that receives the message must bring forth fruit, and that fruitage can be attained only by preaching. The message of salvation that encounters a hearer must go from the ear to the heart and then to the lips, even as the proverb shows: “Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge. For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.” (Prov. 22:17, 18) Yes, the truth must make a circuit in us, from ears to heart to lips.
Preach, preach, preach, says God’s Word to us hearers. Yes, to gain life not only must we ourselves obediently hear but we must let others hear the truth that leads to life. In all cases obedient hearing precedes salvation. “For ‘anyone that calls upon the name of Jehovah will be saved’. However, how will they call upon him in whom they have not put faith? How, in turn, will they put faith in him of whom they have not heard? How, in turn, will they hear without someone to preach?”—Rom. 10:13, 14, NW.
So it becomes plain to us how important the work of preaching is. Preaching leads to hearing, and hearing to salvation. For this reason no other activity on earth is more important to humankind than preaching, regardless of how the worldlywise view the matter. “God saw good through the foolishness of what is preached to save those believing.”—1 Cor. 1:21, NW.
The situation in the world today invites us to preach, and happy are we if we accept and act upon the invitation. When Paul heard the Macedonian cry for help he promptly responded to the invitation as being from the Lord, and the book of Acts tells of the many privileges and blessings he enjoyed because of his thus responding. Likewise shall we enjoy many privileges if we respond to the invitations coming from countries, lands, states, counties, provinces and territories where there is a need for Kingdom publishers. But we not only have an invitation from these, but God himself commands us: “Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears. . . . let them hear, and say, It is truth.”—Isa. 43:8, 9, AS.
And as we respond to the invitation and obey the command to preach let us make sure that we give the message in the language that the people understand, not only in their tongue, but also on their level of intelligence. “For truly, if the bugle sounds an indistinct call, who will get ready for battle? In the same way also, unless you through the tongue utter speech easily understood, how will it be known what is being spoken? You will, in fact, be speaking into the air.” (1 Cor. 14:8, 9, NW) If we do not want to be speaking into the blank space, we must give the witness to the people in their understood language and in terms they can grasp.
True, in spite of our earnestness, in spite of our efforts to make the truth simple and easily understood, many will turn deaf ears to our message. But what of that? Many also refused to listen to Christ Jesus, the greatest Preacher of all time; and the slave is not better than his Master, is he? (John 6:60; 15:20) Shall the general indifference and unresponsiveness of the people, or shall the divine command, determine what we will do? Jehovah’s word to Ezekiel answers: “Thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.”—Ezek. 2:7.
While many will refuse to hear and thus show themselves to be worthy of destruction, the Lord’s Word assures us that some will hear: “In that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book.” “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. . . . and the tongue of the dumb sing.” (Isa. 29:18; 35:5, 6) The physical facts show that an ever-increasing number are hearing with understanding, are letting the truth go from their ears into their hearts and come upon their lips. Like the sound of many waters and as the sound of heavy thunders, the voices of this great crowd are saying: “Praise Jah, you people, because Jehovah our God, the Almighty, has begun to rule as king.” (Rev. 19:5, 6, NW) Do you have ears that hear? Then let that which has entered your heart also be upon your lips that others also may hear.