When God Speaks, Do You Listen?
WHEN a political chief speaks, the entire nation listens. When scientists comment on the latest scientific achievements, the world sits up and takes notice. When foremost figures in the entertainment field talk, their every word is treasured. But when God speaks, do the people listen to him? Does the entire world sit up and take notice and treasure his every word? When God speaks, do you listen?
Relatively few people personally see the political chief, scientist or entertainer speak, but they listen to what he says through the media of radio, television, cinema or the newspaper. Likewise no human has ever seen God, yet one can hear him speak through his written Word, which he has preserved and had translated in over one thousand languages, so that today more than 90 percent of earth’s population can hear God speak in their own language. God also speaks today through his visible organization that he uses to carry the message of his written Word.
According to Zechariah’s prophecy, Jehovah God by means of his enthroned Son, Christ Jesus, “will actually speak peace to the nations.” (Zech. 9:10) Micah’s prophecy foretold that Jehovah’s word would go forth, and the nations would respond by beating “their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. They will not lift up sword, nation against nation, neither will they learn war any more.” (Mic. 4:2, 3) Has any worldly nation listened to and obeyed God’s speech by completely disarming itself of destructive weapons and by walking in God’s paths of peace, unity and brotherly love? Not one! Their activity shows that they have not listened to God. Therefore they cannot expect God to listen to them, for the proverb says: “He that is turning his ear away from hearing the law-even his prayer is something detestable.”—Prov. 28:9.
For failure to listen to God’s peace talk the nations face destruction. Soon God “will speak to them in his anger and in his hot displeasure he will disturb them.” However, from among all these worldly nations there is being gathered a society of people responding to God’s speech concerning peace. In these the above prophecies find their fulfillment. To them the words of the psalmist also apply: “I will hear what the true God Jehovah will speak, for he will speak peace to his people.” Do you listen to God’s speech regarding peace? Do your thoughts, words and actions conform to God’s speech, identifying you as being among God’s people to whom he speaks peace?—Ps. 2:5; 85:8.
One must be careful that he does not allow personal feelings to cause him to turn away his ear when God speaks. The Bible records an example of how this can happen. Cain, Adam’s first-born son, had become jealous because of God’s favor upon his brother Abel. Resentment smoldered within Cain, causing hatred to well up in him. God spoke peace to Cain, encouraging him to correct his way and do good. “Jehovah said to Cain: ‘Why are you hot with anger and why has your countenance fallen? If you turn to doing good, will there not be an exaltation? But if you do not turn to doing good, there is sin crouching at the entrance, and for you is its craving; and will you, for your part, get the mastery over it?’” It was because of personal feelings that Cain became hardened and refused to listen to God. He had lost prestige in the family, and, since he reasoned it was all Abel’s fault, he rebelled at God’s talk about changing his way and following the example of his younger brother. As a result of failing to listen when God spoke, Cain committed the first murder and was cast out as an exile.—Gen. 4:6, 7.
Never do we want to allow ourselves to become hardened, like Cain, and turn our ear away when God speaks. We do not want to be like Israel of old that “did not listen, neither did they incline their ear, but they went walking in the counsels in the stubbornness of their bad heart.” Yet it can happen so easily, almost without our realizing it. Do you find yourself harboring resentment against some Christian brother or sister because you feel that one wronged you or because he receives privileges or commendations that you feel you should receive? Does such jealousy cause you to turn your ear from God’s instruction to “seek peace and pursue it”?—Jer. 7:24; 1 Pet. 3:11.
Perhaps one of God’s servants pointed out to you by the use of God’s Word that you held an improper view or that you were following a wayward course. Did you listen when God spoke through his servant? Were you happy to be corrected by what God said? Or, like Cain, did you harbor resentment and turn your ear away? It is not always easy to listen and obey when God speaks, but it is a wise course, making Jehovah’s heart rejoice. It preserves the peace of God’s organization.
Some persons are selective listeners. When God speaks some things they listen, but when he speaks others they do not. However, the apostle pointed out that “all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial . . . that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” Does not this indicate that one should read the entire Bible, from Genesis clear through to Revelation? Yes, God speaks in every book, chapter and verse of his written Word. We should want to listen to “all the counsel of God.” When receiving a letter from a loved one or sweetheart, do we not find time to read it, listening with keen interest to every word that one has to say? Develop such a love for Jehovah by making the reading of his Word a habit. Soon you will look forward with eagerness to the time when you sit down and listen to your heavenly Father speak to you.—2 Tim. 3:16, 17; Acts 20:27.
God is now speaking peace to his people, who are composed of persons out of all nations. In response they have beaten their swords into plowshares, clothing themselves with a mild and peaceable disposition. Identify yourself with God’s people by listening to God when he speaks. Then obey, yes, obey his command to share the good news of peace with others.