Always Hearing but Not Listening

Isaiah 6:8-10 ESV

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people:

“‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
Make the heart of this people dull,
and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

Called of God

Isaiah was a man called of God to be a prophet to the people, to speak God’s exact words to them. And the life of a prophet was not a glorious life in the eyes of the world. For, it meant sacrificing one’s life and reputation, being willing to be despised and rejected by other humans in order to give out God’s messages to the people.

And it isn’t really any different for those of us who are holding to the truths of Scripture today, who are imparting those words to others. For, if we are teaching the words of Jesus, and those of his New Testament apostles, and those of the prophets of old, as applied to our lives today, we are also going to be despised and rejected.

And the culture we live in today, including within the gatherings of the church, though not all church fellowships, is not much different from the culture of Isaiah’s day. For, many who are professing the name of Jesus today, although they have the word of God, they are not listening. It isn’t that they don’t know, but that they are ignoring what they know.

Make Their Hearts Dull

Now, God was not telling Isaiah to command the people to ignore his commandments to them, but he was telling him to tell the people, perhaps more in a sarcastic way, to go on as they are, to keep on doing what they are doing, but there would be punishment for it.

For, the people’s hearts were hardened, and they were following their own stubborn wills. They were doing things that ought not to be done, and they were willfully living in rebellion against the Lord. They knew God’s messages. They had heard them numerous times. But they would not heed them. So, like in Romans 1, God gave them over to their own sinful ways.

So, how was Isaiah to make the hearts of the people dull, and their ears heavy, and their eyes blind? Aren’t we supposed to open the eyes of the blind, turning them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they can receive forgiveness of sins? (Acts 26:18)

Why would God not want to heal them? Why would he not want their eyes and ears to be attentive to his words and for them to listen to him and to obey him so that he would heal them? Isn’t that the purpose of the preaching of the gospel?

They are Responsible

The people indeed were responsible for their own hardness of hearts and for their refusal to heed God’s words to them. So, the Lord’s punishment to them was to allow them to continue on in their dullness of mind and their stubborn hearts until the time he would choose to restore them.

And it was the preaching of the Word of God and their response to that preaching that led to their continued stubbornness of heart and mind, because they found the truth offensive, and they didn’t want to hear it, much like is the situation today with many who profess faith in Jesus.

But the Word of God was to be proclaimed despite the response of the people’s hearts. The prophets of old were to proclaim God’s words to the people whether they listened or they failed to listen. And many times the people did not listen and they faced the consequences for it, too.

And, again, this is happening today among those who profess faith in Jesus Christ but who stop up their ears to anything that does not allow them to continue on living just like those who make no profession of faith in Jesus Christ. In today’s church, mostly they don’t want to hear the truth of the gospel, because it would mean they would have to change.

They want to go on living in their sin, living worldly lives which are not much different from the ungodly who make no profession of faith in Jesus. For they talk about the same stuff, watch all the same movies, play the same games, listen to the same music, watch the same videos, and statistics have it that well over half of them are regulars with pornography.

Isaiah 6:11-13 ESV

Then I said, “How long, O Lord?”
And he said:
“Until cities lie waste
without inhabitant,
and houses without people,
and the land is a desolate waste,
and the Lord removes people far away,
and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
And though a tenth remain in it,
it will be burned again,
like a terebinth or an oak,
whose stump remains
when it is felled.”
The holy seed is its stump.

Application to Today?

This prophecy is not directly written to us today, but all Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. So, we can still learn from this and apply its truths where they fit today.

So, following here will be more my observations and what I believe God is doing in his church today, and you will have to let the Lord lead you regarding what he wants to teach you through this passage of Scripture today, for I can’t proclaim it as I would a gospel passage in the N.T.

So, this is what I am seeing. I am definitely seeing many parallels between the spiritual condition of the people of God (or who proclaimed to be of God) of Isaiah’s day to the spiritual condition of much of today’s church here in America in 2021.

I know that the Lord has been sending out his messengers for many years now, letting his church know that they are straying from his word and from his will for their lives. And he has been calling them to repentance and to renewed faith, but it appears most are not heeding his words, but they are going on in their worldliness.

So, I believe the church in America is presently reaping some of the fruit of their stubborn hearts and their stopped-up ears and of their worldliness and their straying from the Lord and his will for their lives to follow after the desires of their flesh.

And this will continue until things get so bad that the people will finally relent of their stubbornness and they will repent of their sins of rebellion, and they will surrender their hearts and lives to the Lord, in truth.

But in the meanwhile, the Lord will continue to pour out his truths through his servants who are willing to stand on the word of God and to proclaim it to the people, even knowing that most will not listen to it but that they will continue on as they are until things get so bad that they will finally yield.

So, I don’t expect things to get better, but to get much worse. It doesn’t mean we won’t have some reprieves here or there, or that we may not have an appearance of things going in a more positive direction. But the Lord wants to save his people, so his goals are going to be much different from those of the people.

The main thing we have to keep in mind here is that God’s ultimate purpose in all that he does is to bring people to repentance and to faith (or renewed faith) in him, in obedience to his commands, and in submission to him as Lord (owner-master) of our lives (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24).

Only Hope

By Jonathan Foreman

I give you my destiny
I’m giving you all of me
I want your symphony
Singing in all that I am
At the top of my lungs
I’m giving it my all

So, I lay my head back down
And I lift my hands and pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours
I know now you’re my only hope

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