Jeremiah 25:1-7: Hearing problems.(please click here for todays passage)

When I was an assistant pastor in my first church it was my delight to be sent to visit an elderly couple who were just a joy to be with. I remember the lovely old man (who I can see in my mind’s eye still, but whose name I have sadly forgotten) telling me that he went to ‘the hard of hearing club!’ He had problems with deafness; but he did not choose his condition.

It was different with Judah. They put themselves in ‘the hard of hearing club’ by wilful, stubborn rebellion. They were like the little boy who sticks his fingers in his ears because he does not want to listen to his ‘ticking off’. This prophecy was given by Jeremiah nineteen years before the fall of Jerusalem – about half way through his ministry. He, and other prophets, had warned the people of Judah over and over again, but they had not listened (3, 4).

Here are three questions for us to consider:

What is God saying ‘’persistently’’? (3, 4): What is the thing God keeps bringing up with you, and you don’t want to talk about it? You don’t want to hear.

Where, and how, are you tuning Him out? (3, 7): ‘’…but you have not listened…Yet you have not listened…’’ If you don’t like a particular radio programme; if, for some reason, the presenter is annoying you, you can just turn the off switch. He’s still speaking, but you’re not listening. It’s a deliberate choice. Click. He’s gone as far as you’re concerned. You don’t have to be bothered by him anymore. People try and do something similar with God. A friend of mine was disturbed by burglars one night. For a long time afterwards he couldn’t sleep. He heard the slightest noise. Eventually he found a workable solution. Ear plugs. He put them in every night and made friends with sleep once more. This was a good thing for my acquaintance, but it’s a bad thing when we put in the plugs to avoid hearing the sounds from heaven.

Do you realise where such deliberate deafness leads? To ‘’harm’’ (6, 7). You hurt yourself when you don’t listen to God; when you turn a deaf ear to His voice. If you keep on walking down the road with your ear plugs in it will take you to judgment. It also leads to misery, poverty, famine, darkness, waste and ruin (10,11). ‘’And I’ll banish every sound of joy – singing, laughter, marriage festivities, genial workmen, candlelit suppers. The whole landscape will be one vast wasteland.’’ The Message. If you fancy living in such a barren environment, keep sticking your fingers in your ears. That will get you there.

One final thought for today:

‘’One could say that Jeremiah had failed…But fortunately for Jeremiah (and for us) God does not measure the value of one’s ministry by its ‘’success’’ or ‘’failure’’ but rather by the faithfulness of the minister. This should be an encouragement to those Christian workers who labour in difficult circumstances, whose churches don’t grow, whose preaching falls on deaf ears. The truth is that spiritual success in ministry is brought about by the Lord (John 21:1-6). Our role is to trust the Lord and follow His directions.’’ Tom Hale: ‘The Applied Old Testament Commentary, pp.1110, 1111.