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Diligently Listen


2 Chron 34 records King Josiah’s response to the discovery of the long-neglected Book of the Law of the Lord by Hilkiah the priest. When he hears the words of the law and realizes that Israel had forsaken God and made offerings to other gods, he sends a contingent to inquire of the Lord: given their fathers’ disregard of the word of the Lord and disobedience to his precepts, what is going to happen to himself and the people?

Through his prophetess Hildah, God responds, “I have heard you.” These words stop me in my tracks. We are often told God always hears us, but here is my question: our country is in no less sorry a state of affairs than was Israel – of whom among us can it be said, “I have heard you.” What I love about this record is that God tells Josiah why he has heard:

Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this place and its inhabitants, and you have humbled yourself before me, and have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. (2 Chron 34:26-27 ESV)

Two things characterize Josiah’s response 1) it was to God’s word he was responding, and 2) his response shows he was receptive. I recently heard that more than 70% of American households own a Bible. But as we all know with some foreboding, far, far fewer households read the Bible. We are swimming in Bibles but drowning in our ignorance. One minister I heard recently said that despite all the attention to issues stemming from the Bible (homosexuality, abortion, etc), the Church’s dirty little secret is that we are not reading it. Ignorance concerning what the Bible says is a dangerous place to live. Josiah was able to understand and deal with the events of his own time only because he had become knowledgeable concerning what the Bible says.

Now I know most of the audience which will read this blog is quite Bible-literate. In fact, many Christians I know are very disciplined. They read the Bible every day, and know it well. They even talk the Bible. They know the answers because they know him who is The Answer. And yet sometimes, without even realizing it, one’s posture when we read the Word can move from one of listening – receptivity – to knowing. And if we already know, what can God teach us?

Adam Kahane writes: “The root of not listening is knowing. If I already know the truth, why do I need to listen to you? Perhaps out of politeness or guile, I should pretend to listen, but what I really need to do is tell you what I know, and if you don’t listen, tell you again more forcefully.”

Before our Maker what do we know? Please notice what Josiah did. Scripture tells us Josiah heard the voice of the Lord. He was receptive. His heart was tender. He humbled himself. He wept and tore his clothes.

One Response to “Diligently Listen”

  1. on 11 Feb 2007 at 12:05 pmKen

    What a great reminder of the continual need to humble ouselves to God. We honestly know so very little before Him. When we put an “expiration date” on meek receptivity, we stop growing in that which really matters. God’s love grows in tender “soil”, not in hardened hearts that pharisaically rest on the pride of assumed knowledge.


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