One word that jumps out as you read through the Bible is the word “hear”. It is found throughout the Old and New Testaments in contexts talking about listening to God. In order for God’s people to be successful they need to truly hear what He is saying to them.
Hearing involves the ability to recognize sounds, but that is not really what it means as a command in scripture. Hearing God goes much deeper than that. God wants us to hear him with the mind. The word of God is not designed to make us feel good, or appeal to us on a strictly emotional level. The Bible call’s this ear tickling and this is always condemned (2 Tim 4:3). God’s word contains information that needs to be received and processed on an intellectual level. This is because God wants us to decide to serve Him rationally.
People talk about faith as being a “blind leap in the dark”. But that is not Biblical faith. Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom 10:17). Faith involves hearing what God has said and then making the decision to follow Him based on whether or not you believe Him to be trustworthy. Biblical faith is actually a leap into the light.
Consider an example in Deuteronomy 6:3, “Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as Jehovah, the God of thy fathers, hath promised unto thee, in a land flowing with milk and honey.” The Israelites were to “hear" (use rational thought), and then “observe to do it” (have faith).
It is also important to understand exactly what we are to hear. In Deuteronomy 6:1 we see that they were to hear the “commandments” “statutes” and the “judgements” that God “commanded to teach [them].” These terms are all in reference to the word of God. The Israelites were to hear the words of the Old Testament. They were not to listen to their own hearts (Jer 17:9), and were to be careful against false teachers (Deut 13:1-5). Today, we are commanded to listen to the words of Christ contained in the New Testament (John 8:32, 17:17).
Hearing also involves applying what is learned to ones self. People are quick to apply scripture to everyone else. Over time, the religious leaders in Israel would take this to a grave extreme that became common in the time of Christ. The legalistic mindset in the time of the Lord involved this dishonest hypocritical hearing. They believed the word of God was from God, yet never really applied to self. They listened to apply it to others and so Jesus said, “hearing they hear not” (Matt 13:13).
Reading the word of God with the intention of applying it to self will change everything about your life. For example, when you open up your Bible and read “Not everyone who says unto me Lord Lord will enter into the kingdom” and apply it to yourself first, you are going to be extremely diligent to make sure that you “do the will of the Father” (Matt 7:21). You are going to ask yourself if you have done the will of the Father. You are going to ask what the will of the Father is. Finally, for the first time in your life you will actually hear God.
Today we are to hear the words of Christ contained in the New Testament (Heb 1:1-2). Saving faith comes from hearing these words (Rom 10:17). It involves not just hearing them audibly, but hearing them with our mind and rationally making the decision to obey God (Heb 5:9, James 1:22). Without this faith it is impossible to please Him (Heb 11:6). Let us all hear God!