Closed Ears

Closed Ears
Zephaniah 3:1,2
Pastor Aaron Robinson

As a child my mother would say to me when it seemed like I wasn't listening or I had done something she had told me not to do, “boy you need to listen”. She was also very big on conduct in school, if I brought home all A’s in school work but D's and F’s in conduct there was a problem. There was a problem because obviously if my grades in conduct were bad, I wasn't listening to the authoritative figure in the room.

My mother taught me the importance of listening and how listening is connected to learning.  Listening is also important to my spiritual life. Over the years those lessons have stuck with me, and I have carried them into my professional life.

The text in Zephaniah has outlined how other nations have failed and are being punished by God for not listening to what thus says the Lord. In this third chapter the prophet addresses the nation of Israel and how the people have failed to listen to what God is saying. Zephaniah is simply saying that the people have closed ears which is allowing wickedness to run rampant and push them away from God. The prophet is outlining how the people have failed to hear what God is saying and how they're failure to listen is causing them to lose favor with God.
I'm sure that the people have prayed and talk to God, but have they listened to what God is saying in their private moments and through the prophets.  Are they too distracted to hear God speaking or too captivated by their own selfish gain to hear the voice of God?

In the words of Run DMC, I believe many of us “talk too much … we never shut up”. I believe this text is trying to teach us something about listening. Closed ears can cause confusion, create carelessness and cultivate chaos.  When we listen, it brings about a different result. Listening cultivates learning, it promotes humility, and it produces obedience.

When we listen, we learn from what we hear. A baby learns the language by listening to what others are saying around them. We carry those lessons as we grow by listening, we learn from our experiences. God just wants us to listen to God's word so we might learn what God wants us to do. If we are not listening to what God is saying we are not learning the lessons God is trying to teach.

Attentive listening is an act of humility. When we listen to others, we are indicating that what they have to say is important to us. When we stop trying to get our point across or stop trying to be heard and listen to others, we are saying their voice matters.  Even in our spiritual lives when we listen to what God is saying we are humbling ourselves and saying that there is much to learn. When we listen to what God is saying we are accepting the authority of our Creator.

Listening is an act of obedience. When we listen, we are saying to all of those things that interfere with our hearing to stop it is time for me to listen. It is also a moment of obedience toward the person whom we are listening to. We are pausing to hear what they have to say. When we listen to God we are acting in obedience because we are saying that God's word is important to us, and we are therefore obedient to it. The other end of that is we can't be obedient to something that we haven't heard. To be obedient to God's word we must listen to God's word.

When Jesus journeyed into the wilderness, he journeyed so that he could better listen to what God was saying to him. During our Lenten journey, our own individual journeys to Jerusalem, we must open our ears and hear what God is saying, listen to the needs of others, and hear our purpose and  calling.

Do you have closed ears? I hope not because we can only hear God's call if our ears are open.

Most gracious and merciful God, we thank you for being patient with us even when we haven't always listened to the. We thank you for forgiving hour moments of ignoring you. God, we thank you for speaking to us daily and giving us direction over and over again. We thank you for speaking to us when the noise of the world seems unbearable but also speaking to us and the silent of the night. Thank you for listening to us even when we did not listen to you. God, we come asking that you open our ears so that we might hear what you are saying, and do what you are requesting. Amen and Asé.
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1 Comment

Zenovia Palmer - March 17th, 2023 at 7:09pm

Excellent. I will practice listening more. Thank You Pastor!