Jesus said of His fellow Jews, “[T]hey seeing see not; and hearing they hear not” (Matthew 13:13). One could translate this, “While they see, they do not see; and while they hear, they do not hear.” How can this be? One either sees or does not see; one either hears or does not hear. But so many people with good perceptive abilities fail to use those abilities as God has given them. Thus, it can truly be said of such people that “hearing they hear not.”
Many hear there is a God, but they do not hear. There are those who hear the word of God, or at least hear enough portions of the word to have testimony to God’s existence. They have heard “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), which remains the best and only viable explanation. They have seen with their eyes evidence of God’s existence:
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world . . . (Psalm 19:1-4).
People have the ability to hear and see these things, they surely do see and hear these things—yet it as if they never do. They pay no attention, as a deaf man will pay no attention to the sounding horn of an automobile rapidly approaching him. They do not live as though they are aware that there is a God who is aware of their every move and every thought.
Many hear there will be a Judgment Day, but they do not hear. There are those who claim to believe in God, but continue to stroll leisurely down the pernicious paths of immorality, selfishness, and manmade religion. They see that all accounts are not settled on earth. Job asked, “Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power?” (Job 21:7). The wicked often remain unpunished throughout their lives, and are certainly not punished to the degree they deserve (compare with Romans 6:23). But will a just God allow all such wrongs to go unpunished? He most certainly will not. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). He most certainly will. And the Lord has revealed that He will and how He will: “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds” (Romans 2:5-6). Revelation’s depiction of the Judgment Day should serve as a sobering reminder to forsake the paths of wickedness:
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire (20:11-15).
Who can hear such things and not turn from their wicked ways?
Many hear there is salvation, but they do not hear. Some wallow in self-loathing, believing they could never be saved. Others assault what they believe to be a tyrannical God. But do they not hear what God says? God has offered salvation to all: “And [Jesus Christ] is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1). To receive a Presidential pardon, one must usually be a personal friend of the President. However, God offers salvation to His worst human enemies:
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life (Romans 5:8-10).
Tyrannical? Not remotely. “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34-35). Anyone can be saved from his sins and become an heir of eternal life, if one will hear what God calls him to do.
The Lord has blessed mankind with the capability to see and hear (compare with Psalm 94:9). He has blessed mankind with faculties capable of discerning and acting upon the greatest spiritual truths. Yet too often, “hearing they hear not.” When God has revealed to us crucial spiritual truths, yet we fail to discern and act upon them, the failure lies with the hearers themselves: “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” (Matthew 13:15). Let us not close our ears to the most important things we will ever hear.
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