Why An Old Testament Message Still Rings True Today

Listen To Me

Listen may be one of the most important words in the English language. Think about how often you have either said or heard the words “listen to me” before some important words were shared. To ask someone to listen is to stress to them that what you are about to say is important and that they must pay attention.

We tell our children “listen to me”

  • You must hold mommy’s hand when we’re crossing the busy street.
  • You must not touch the stove, it is hot and it will burn you.
  • Don’t throw that basketball near the fire.
  • You need to get your homework done before you can go out to play.
  • Choose your friends wisely, you don’t want to get caught up in the wrong crowd.
  • That red flag means the water is rough. Don’t go out too far.
  • Don’t drink and drive or get in the car with someone who has. Call me.
  • Leave the house on time so you don’t have to rush.

We have all heard teachers say “listen to me”

  • Your papers are due tomorrow. Late work is not accepted.
  • The money for the field trip is due by Friday.
  • If your permission slip is not signed, you cannot participate. 
  • Don’t forget to turn in those college essays.

A boss may say “listen up”

  • Your report is due by the end of the day.
  • If you don’t meet your sales quota, you will be penalized.
  • If you act disrespectfully, I will have to report you to HR

There is always a specified or implied consequence that goes along with the “listen to me ” statement.

A Key Message From The Bible

I have been doing Precepts Bible Studies off and on for around twenty-five years. My Bible study group just finished the study on the book of Jeremiah. He is considered to be one of the major prophets of Israel and is also known as the weeping prophet.

During our study, one particular phrase appeared over and over — “they did not listen.” I skimmed through Jeremiah and noted that the phrase was used thirty-two times, four in chapter thirty-five alone.

Jeremiah’s prophetic message to the Israelites was that the Lord said, because they did not listen, they would be going into captivity in Babylon for seventy years. They forsook God and ignored his instructions so they were going to have to suffer the consequences of their actions.

That’s what happens when you don’t listen.

In addition to participating in a Bible study, I also try to read through the Bible every year. I’ve done it a few times but some years I don’t make it all the way through. As I was reading Exodus, that same phrase popped up in the story of Moses leading the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. This time it was Pharaoh who did not listen. Moses told him ten times that if he did not let the Israelites go God would send a plague. Ten times Pharaoh did not listen. A couple of times he seemed to listen but then changed his mind.

In my journey through the Bible, I have read of other people who did not listen. For example, Eve did not listen when God told her and Adam not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And, the people of the earth did not listen to Noah when he warned them to repent before God sent the flood.

The book of Leviticus is full of laws for the children of Israel. If you do this or don’t do that, this is what will happen. Listen.

It’s kind of sobering to realize that after thousands of years, humanity hasn’t changed much at all. As King Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). We still don’t listen.

Why Don’t We Listen?

Why don’t we listen? That’s the million-dollar question. From the time we are toddlers pulling our hands away from our mama’s declaring “I do it myself” to teens who think we can dabble in dangerous behaviors without consequences to adults who don’t need anyone’s advice, we are stubborn people. We know what’s best for us and no one can tell us what to do. Not even anyone who has our well-being at heart.

What would happen if we did listen? Can you imagine a world where everyone did the right thing? (I’ll give you a hint, that day is coming.) What if no child ever ran out into traffic or burned their hand on a hot stove? What if no teen ever died from a drug overdose? What if no woman was treated poorly because she married the wrong abusive man? What if not one single person experienced an eternity in hell because they listened to the message of God’s love for them?

Just like a child needs to listen to his parents or a student to his teachers or a patient to her doctor, we also need to listen to God.

How Do We Listen?

You may ask, how do we hear from God? There are no prophets like Jeremiah walking around telling us what God declares. We do not usually hear His voice audibly. There are three things we can do to listen.

  • We can read the Bible, God’s word. The scriptures tell us what God expects from His children.
  • We can Pray. Talking to God is important and He wants to hear from us. He will impress upon us what he wants us to do.
  • We can pay attention to the Holy Spirit. That nudging you feel in your spirit that you should not do something or maybe that you should do something is more than just your conscience. It’s the Holy Spirit.

If you do these things; study God’s word, pray, and pay attention to the Holy Spirit, you can discern what the Lord is trying to tell you. 

As I look back on my life, I can clearly identify times when I did not listen and there were consequences. Oh, how I wish I had listened. Perhaps you feel the same. It’s too late to go back and change the times we did not listen to God or to people who had our best interests at heart but we can start fresh today. We can focus the rest of our lives on truly listening so that we can finish well.

How about you? Does it surprise you that we as human beings haven’t changed that much in thousands of years? Is there a time when you did not listen to God and experienced consequences? If you’re like me, you probably don’t want to share those times with anyone. It’s good to reflect on those times and ask God’s forgiveness if you haven’t already.

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