I wonder whether we hear anything these days. When I was growing up my father taught me that ignoring people is bad manners. I had to look someone in the eye while that person was talking to me. It was almost like rejection or at least grave insult when you did not greet properly on arrival and departure. When we give our attention we give value and acceptance to the people around us. Today people might easily continue on their phone or tablet without looking up, or concentrate on the TV while their kids and family are around. Where is our attention? What do we hear?
Jesus often talked about ears and hearing. His regular warning statement: let him who have ears, hear, is repeated in every message to the churches in Revelation, in other words the church today. Jesus also quoted the prophet Isaiah (6:9,10) in Matthew (13:14,15).
‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’
These words of Jesus bug me. He links healing to hearing. Is this not a very good time to fine-tune our hearing? In the humming and drumming, the clamour and confusion of Christmas shopping and songs, the true message – the healing of your life by the baby in the crib – gets lost.
Christmas is important. It is “our” feast, we Christians, even within the secular hijacking of the elements of this birthday of all times. We are never victims of this world. We give Christmas content and we are in control. We celebrate with the voice of the Holy Spirit in our ears.
My excitement every Christmas and Easter is compounded by my decision some years ago to trust God to learn something brand new about Him and the Feast I am busy with. I wait for a “new” word from His mouth. We cannot be satisfied with what we know. We press on for new things.
God is faithful. He never disappoints! I am writing the word that burns in my heart.
A few weeks ago I switched on the television on Daystar Canada, a spiritual channel. Coincidentally I hit the beginning of a programme of somebody I knew from long ago. He is not one of my favourites, but before I flipped the channel, I thought it would be interesting to see where his ministry is now. It is always very encouraging for me to see ministries develop and grow over many years. One day I will stand before the Throne with all of them and say the precious words of Paul:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)
So many of my friends have rejected the faith of their upbringing. They have fallen into the trap of post-modernism and rejected the truth of the Gospel and everything of value. It is such a privilege to say: I have kept the faith.
Back to my television programme. The preacher opens his Bible and reads from one of my very favourite chapters about Elijah and the slaying of the Baal priests. I often think on my unbelieving friends and the false gods they worship. Priests of false gods spread the lies that keep people in bondage even today.
As he reads the chapter in 1 Kings, the words of the Word wash over me and I truly “hear” the Lord speak to me. It is indeed a spiritual tingling of the ears! God’s word is mighty to penetrate between body and soul and joint and marrow. (Hebrews 4:12)
The story needs background to know the impact of the miraculous words of Elijah. In a nutshell it goes like this:
Ahab is king in Israel, one of the two kingdoms, which is formed after the death of Solomon. Judah in the south with the two tribes, Judah and Benjamin had twenty kings; only eight of them did good in the eyes of the Lord before they were taken in exile by the Babylonians in 598 BC. Israel in the north had nineteen kings – all bad before they were taken in exile by the Assyrians in 722 BC.
Throughout the years of decline and backsliding, there were prophets active in both kingdoms. God always made sure that the remnant of people who stayed true to Him and His precepts was cared for. The call of the prophets went out to the backslidden and sinful people to repent and turn back to God. (2 Kings 19:30,31)
Ahab is described as: Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him. (1 Kings 16:30)
Ahab’s wife was Jezebel, a Phoenician princess from the splendour of the palace built on the peninsula in Tyre, which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. She was a Baal worshipper and to satisfy her needs, Ahab built a Baal temple in Samaria, much to the dismay of his people and the utter vexation of the prophet Elijah who was called to bring God’s word to the regressive religion of Israel. Elijah was not quiet and therefore a most hated man in the palace.
As a result of the sinfulness of the people and their king, Elijah announced a drought over the land. God provided for Elijah…
So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. 7 And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. (1 Kings 17)
After the brook dried up, Elijah resided with a widow in Sidon in ancient Phoenicia, modern day Lebanon. Her son died and Elijah prayed him back to life, blessing the whole household with enough through the dry years.
After three years, Elijah announced himself at Ahab’s palace, since God said that He would break the drought and send rain to the land. Elijah invites the king and all the Baal priests to Mount Carmel for a showdown. God’s power had to be demonstrated to the people in such a way that there would be no doubt about the superiority of God above all other gods.
Elijah conducts the events like a maestro. Two altars are built with the sacrificial animals upon each, but no fire is made. Fire had to come from God and Baal. The Baal priests go along with this whole show, which is amazing in itself, as they were not used to miracles. Maybe they also wanted to find out about the supernatural power of their god. They pray and beg and cut themselves as was the customs of worship. They crawl in the dust and do everything that they ever practised in the worship of their god for most of the day. Elijah stands by and mocks them in the process. Read it – it is an amazing account of that day in Israel.
When his turn comes he commands the altar to be soaked with water so that even the trough around it is drenched. There could be no doubt as to a spark of fire somewhere. Elijah kneels and asks God to light the altar. Let us pray with him:
And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said,
“Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this daythat You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. 37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.”
Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench.
Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!” (1 Kings 18:36-39)
Elijah and the people killed 450 Baal priests that day to rid the land of the lie they represented.
After the slaying of the priests, Elijah says to Ahab:
“Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.”
The words cut into my heart.
It is Christmas. There are all sorts of sounds: the bells, the tills, the carols, the excitement of children, the shuffle and shoving in shops, the voices around us asking about plans and menus and gifts.
What do you hear?
In the aftermath of the miraculous events of that day, Elijah hears something nobody else hears. He hears the unfolding of the Word of God, which he received in a prophetic word, of which there is NO proof or sign.
The king goes to eat and drink, but Elijah and his servant climb the mountain to pray. There is NO sign of rain. He prays seven times and sends his servant seven times up the mountain to see if there is anything remotely indicating the coming of rain. Only the seventh time his servant reports a cloud as big as a man’s hand. That is enough for Elijah. He starts running. He acts because his faith senses are sharp and he knows rain is coming to Israel – big time!
Let us pray for God to anoint our ears. I want to hear what God is doing and I do not want to miss His word in this very special time of the year.
Then the Lord said to Samuel: “Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.(1 Samuel 3:11)
Are your ears tingling with the sound of abundance? Abundance is immeasurable and uncountable. Can you count the raindrops? Can you count and measure the abundance of God’s creation? That is exactly what our scientists are doing over centuries and centuries!
Think on God’s abundance. Believe His abundance is for you. Give away the abundance that He has already blessed you with.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
God’s abundance does not sound like anything you have heard before.
When the Lion had first begun singing, long ago when it was still quite dark, [Uncle Andrew] had realized that the noise was a song. And he had disliked the song very much. It made him think and feel things he did not want to think and feel. Then, when the sun rose and he saw that the singer was a lion (“only a lion,” as he said to himself) he tried his hardest to make believe that it wasn’t singing and never had been singing—only roaring as any lion might in a zoo in our own world. “Of course it can’t really have been singing,” he thought, “I must have imagined it. I’ve been letting my nerves get out of order. Who ever heard of a lion singing?” And the longer and more beautifully the Lion sang, the harder Uncle Andrew tried to make himself believe that he could hear nothing but roaring. Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed. Uncle Andrew did. He soon did hear nothing but roaring in Aslan’s song. Soon he couldn’t have heard anything else even if he had wanted to. And when at last the Lion spoke and said, “Narnia, awake,” he didn’t hear any words: he heard only a snarl. And when the Beasts spoke in answer, he heard only barkings, growlings, baying, and howlings.
Compiled in A Year with Aslan
The Magician’s Nephew. Copyright © 1955 by C. S. Lewis Pte., Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1983 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With Aslan: Daily Reflections from The Chronicles of Narnia. Copyright © 2010 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Extracts taken from The Chronicles of Narnia. Copyright © C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. 1950-1956. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.