We’re a small church and summer holds many family activities, so we don’t hold Ladies Meetings in the summer. But, come September we begin again to meet monthly, enjoying the fellowship and lessons from God’s word. Our first meeting this fall was Monday night and the subject was “Songs.” There were multiple verses, with the audience participating by reading them aloud. The one I read was:
And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not. (Ezekiel 33:32 KJV)
What I pictured was a lovely church service, beautiful singing, backed by well-played instruments, spirit-filled words – and an audience that ignored the message. However, I’m not one to create a lasting scene from a single verse, so Tuesday I spent some time in this chapter, placing the verse in context.
Checking a pulpit commentary, I found this note:
They who depend on the exciting impulses that come from the large assembly, the strains of powerful music, or the fervid addresses of the pulpit, for the movements of their soul, are leaning on the reed, are building on the sand. The piety that will be wanted for the long path of duty, for the deep waters of trouble, for the searching fires of temptation, for the hour of heroism, for the day of judgment, must go deeper down into the nature of spiritual reality than the stratum of sensibility. … "They do them not." That was their defect; there was found the fatal omission. They had not the spirit of obedience.Which not only matched what I had gleaned from that verse, but reminded me of another:
But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. (Matthew 13:20-21 KJV)
There are several places in the Bible where the picture drawn is of people receiving God’s word with joy, but when problems arise and their expectations are unfilled, they turn away, offended. Often in our world, those offended by God file lawsuits to keep from hearing about Him in their daily lives. Once again there is an active lawsuit to keep God’s name away from children saying a pledge of allegiance because it offends a child’s parents. For them, hearing certain words is an offense.
What is it for us?
Can we be lifted with beautiful words, an awesome voice surrounded by talented musicians and ignore the message? Can we hear the word of God read and explained yet never discuss the message, only how the preacher delivered it? Is it as Jesus described, choked by the cares of this world?
He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22 KJV)
Or, when we hear the songs or message, do we listen to the words, capture the meaning, discuss their application to our own lives rather than point out faults in others? Do we fit this verse:
But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Matthew 13:23 KJV)
How is my fruit?