Hard of hearing?

What is the important thing to hear?

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automatically translated


In the last few days I have often thought about whether I have become hard of hearing, hard of hearing in the sense of whether I still notice the important things or whether the unimportant things dominate in my life.

You will feel the same as I do, I have so many issues to deal with.

There is the war in Ukraine, which I think about a lot. I also think a lot about the professional future of my children, who all still live with us. Then, what about the economy? Will we as a family be able to make ends meet with 5% inflation? I didn't get a 5% pay rise. Will driving a car still be affordable?

What is the next step for the community? How will this revitalisation programme start?

Then sometimes I take problems from work into the evening. I try to avoid that and keep work and private life quite clearly separate, but you still sometimes take some problems with you and think about them further.

Then I have a few building sites on the house, some of which are very lengthy and where I'm not really making much progress.

Many issues that often overwhelm you and I think most of us feel that way. Some may also have health issues that even scare them.

On the one hand, these topics all somehow remain, on the other hand, you also put some things aside at some point.

There is a message of judgement to the people of Israel in Isaiah 6:9,10; ELB, which I had to think of when I was dealing with these many issues. I deliberately use an older translation because there are such beautiful figurative expressions in it.

Go and say to this people: Hear, yes, hear and do not understand! See, yea, see, and not know! 10 Make the heart of this people fat, make their ears heavy⟨hearing⟩ and make their eyes blind, so that they may not see with their eyes and hear with their ears ⟨not⟩ and their heart ⟨not⟩ become understanding and they ⟨not⟩ turn back and find healing for themselves.

I do not want to interpret this text today, but I would like to look at this metaphor.

Let's take the Ukraine war as an example. When it started, I was sick on the sofa and watched the special programmes about it every day in the media libraries. In the meantime, my ears have become a bit more deaf. I still follow news on the internet, but my attention is waning. I've never been that interested in the Yemen war, which is further away, although people there are probably even worse off than in Ukraine.

The biblical text from Isaiah refers of course to the relationship of the Israel of that time to God, but nevertheless I find these expressions like "fat heart", "hard of hearing" and "glued eyes" also in my life, not only towards God but also towards issues concerning my fellow human beings.

What should it be like?

The basic mission

I believe that we as Christians have a basic mission here on earth. I find this very well described in Jeremiah 29:4-7; NL. The text is actually about exiled Israel, but it is a good image for us, because our home as Christians is actually heaven, but we live on earth.

4 "Yahweh, the Almighty God of Israel, has this to say to all those whom he sent away as captives from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build your houses and dwell in them. Plant gardens and enjoy their fruit. 6 Marry and have children. Marry your sons and daughters, so that they too may have children. Your numbers there shall increase and not decrease. 7 Make every effort for the welfare of the city where I have exiled you, and pray to Yahweh for her. For when it is well with her, it will be well with you.'

Older translations write here "seek the best of the city", or "seek the peace of the city".

In the end, this text can be summarised as follows: Live here, enjoy life and try to improve the situation here where you live. Pray for your place of residence. For us as Christians, this includes telling others about Jesus Christ, because Jesus is the best thing that can happen to a person.

This normal order to live naturally includes many of the issues I listed at the beginning. Perhaps, for example, there was also inflation in Babylon at that time, in which case the Israelites also had to deal with this issue. Can I get by on my income?

The rich grain farmer

I would like to look at another example (Luke 12:16-20; NL):

And he gave them the following parable: "A wealthy man owned a large farm with fields that yielded abundant crops, 17 so much so that his barns could not hold the yield. 18 Then he said to himself, `I know what I'm doing! I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones. That way I will have enough space to store everything. 19 And then I will sit back and say to myself, `My friend, you have stored enough for years. Enjoy life. Eat, drink and be merry!' 20 But God said to him, `How stupid of you! You will die this very night. And then who will get all this?' 21 You see how foolish it is to accumulate riches on earth while not asking for riches from God."

OK, the grain farmer did not have a problem with inflation now. But he had a business that was very successful and he had to deal with it. He probably tithed and maybe gave to charity in addition.

And he had to make a business decision. What does he do with the profits? Increasing storage capacity is not wrong in such a case.

But he blanked out the most important thing in all the issues in his life. The goal of his life was apparently a material, carefree life. Many people still dream of that today.

If I understand the text correctly, it is not even wrong to accumulate riches on earth, but it is wrong if one does not ask for riches from God.

What is it like with all our issues that occupy us? What role does our riches with God play in this? I believe that one can only ask oneself these questions personally.

Riches with God

What is wealth with God?

I once scanned the whole Bible for the word "wealth", over several translations. Using bibleserver.com worked quite well. Of course, I looked for passages that did not deal with earthly wealth.

Insight, understanding, wisdom

The first thing that struck me was King Solomon. In 1 Kings 3:9, Solomon asks for an understanding heart so that he can do right. He gets that and he also gets wealth and I think that God wants to express that understanding and wisdom are as good or even better than wealth.

Knowledge in itself is also a treasure, but understanding and insight, that is real wealth.

Then there is the

Fear of God

Isaiah 33:6b; GN describes a prophecy for Israel and there the value of the fear of God or reverence for God is described:

All the fullness of salvation, wisdom, knowledge you will have, and reverence for the Lord will be your greatest wealth.

Why is reverence for the Lord, or fear of God, a wealth?

This is not about fear, it is about realising that there is someone else above me.

I don't know everything, I make mistakes and therefore want to remain humble and also deal humbly with the mistakes of others. And I have also received many things undeservedly and would like to be grateful for them.

If I always think I know exactly what's going on, if I keep quiet about my mistakes and suppress them, if I think I have everything under control and that I have only worked for everything myself, then I lead a very poor life, because the mistakes will be noticed at some point, because I will then become difficult and because failure can really throw me off course.

With the treasure of the fear of God, I can come to God with my failure. I know that he is above everything and will help me.

This is the true wealth of godliness.

God's grace

Then I found the term "riches" in connection with "grace" (Ephesians 1:7,8; ELB):

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he has abundantly given us in all wisdom and understanding.

Through Jesus Christ our guilt is forgiven. We can start afresh before God and this also gives us the strength to ask forgiveness from those with whom we have been guilty in some way.

That too is true wealth.

God's word

The Bible, God's Word, is a wealth for us. Besides countless verses in Psalm 119 about how valuable God's Word is, there is an exciting explanation about the value of God's Word in Matthew 13:10-16; NL:

His disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Why do you always tell parables when you speak to people?" 11 Then he explained to them, "You were allowed to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but others cannot. 12 Whoever opens himself to my teachings will understand even more, and he will have a wealth of knowledge. But whoever does not listen will be deprived even of what he has. 13 I tell these parables because although people see what I do, they still do not understand it properly. They hear what I say, but they do not understand it properly. 14 This fulfils Isaiah's prophecy: `You will hear my words, but you will not understand them; you will see what I do, but you will not understand what it means. 15 For the hearts of these people are hardened, their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes. Their eyes do not see, their ears do not hear, and their hearts do not understand, and they do not turn back to me so that I may make them whole.' 16 But how good it is that your eyes see and your ears hear!

It is a gift from God to understand and recognise the richness of the Bible. One will always remain a learner, but we have the open ears and eyes needed for this. And that should be our prayer, that our eyes will remain seeing and our ears hearing.

God's blessing

Another wealth is God's blessing. In Romans 15:29; NL it is in one sentence:

29 And I am sure that I will come to you with all the riches of Christ's blessing.

God wants us to be well, to experience his help and closeness, even in difficult times.

In doing so, we naturally hope to experience and receive much of this richness here in this house.

Psalm 36:9; NEÜ says

They enjoy the riches of your house. From the brook of your joy you make them drink.

Of course, this is not about a building, but this is the place where we worship together, share, sing together and listen together to what someone is sharing here from the Bible.

I believe that this is also an important prayer for us, that we receive again and again from God's riches.

Correct prioritisation

And how do we make sure that we prioritise our issues properly, that in all our issues we do not forget to ask for riches with God?

The most important thing is probably to turn to God again and again. Perhaps we have become a little deaf to some important issues, perhaps our hearts have become a little fat.

I found a few phrases that I thought were classy.

In Psalm 40:7; ELB, the Elberfelder says "ears you have dug for me". In other translations it says, "You have given me ears", "You have opened my ears", but this "dug" actually expresses that it is already an effort for God to overcome our hearing loss. I want to hear again and again what is important for God in my life.

Another rather impressive formulation is from Isaiah 42:23; ELB:

Who among you will give ear to this, will take heed and hear for the future?

"To hear", who is even willing to hear?

Are we prepared to let our hearts be degreased every now and then?

Only with the right attitude can we deal with all our issues and problems properly.

For this we can ask for God's help (1 Peter 5:7; NEÜ):

And so cast all your cares upon him, for he cares for all that concerns you.

or (Philippians 4:6, NL):

Do not worry about anything, but pray for everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him.

And here we are again with the fear of God. Everything somehow hangs on it. And only in this way do we deal with our issues and problems properly.


I summarise.