“For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.”—Ezra 7:10
“For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law”—Nehemiah 8:9
Ezra was a scribe who set himself to study the Law of the Lord and to obey it. Later, we read that he instructed Israel, and thankfully, the people had ears to listen to what God was saying. This stands in contrast to a past generation of Israelites who refused to hear the words of the Lord through the prophets. They might have heard the words but they dismissed them out of hand. As the old saying goes, no one is as deaf as the person who does not want to hear.
What are the characteristics of those who are ready to hear God’s Word? They listen to His word with anticipation, wanting to be instructed. In fact, they love hearing the Word of God even when it rebukes them. They have an appetite for spiritual things and “like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk” so that they might grow in their walk with God. In other words, they’re eager to be both comforted and confronted by the Word. Second, they are willing to hear the Word despite the competition from other voices. Above the noise of this world, they pick out the voice of the True Shepherd and follow wherever He leads.
When the pentagon was severely damaged during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the building was filled with dense smoke. A man near the door called out to his fellow employees, directing them to safety. They could see nothing, but groped their way toward the direction of his voice, saving their lives. Just so, we are in a world that is very lost, confused and without direction. The Word of God calls out to us giving us hope and direction amid the chaos, but if we insist on listening to another voice, we will do so to our peril.
Let Us Pray
Father, I pray that I might be open to hear Your voice. May I be eager to hear what You have to say to me through Your written Word, and by the Word as it is preached and sung at church. Lord, there are some things in Your Word that are difficult to hear—warnings about the need for purity and the need for deep repentance from sin. Let me be willing to hear those words and obey them.
I pray for ______ that they might not turn away from the truth, but would listen intently to what You are saying to them. Lord, it appears that at times the voices of this world are louder than Your still small voice; help them to discern that the loudest voice is not always the wisest voice. Open their spiritual ears I pray; help them to hear You calling them by name to be Yours both now and forever.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.