Summary: Are we progressing in the faith or are we, like many of those Hebrew Christians: • dull of hearing • still need to be taught elementary truth • babies wanting milk, not solid food?

In the earlier chapters we have studied some wonderful passages about the Saviour’s divinity and humanity and His wonderful fitness to be our merciful and faithful High-priest. Now we are going to move on to some rather difficult or unpalatable passages. It is tempting to skip these, but they are very important. We can’t live in a fantasy world, can we? The Bible certainly does not encourage us to do so; strangely enough it is very down to earth!

This book helps us to take stock of our lives to see where we are going through five warnings that challenge any complacency. The first was against indifference and neglect (2:3); the second against unbelief and disobedience (3:8-4:13). The third deals with something so dangerous that it can prevent progress in our Christian life, make us incapable of enjoying and sharing gospel truth and its blessing, in other words – make us completely useless!

The author has dealt with what he considers were elementary truths and, as he moves on to higher teaching on the heavenly priesthood of Christ, he clearly worries that many of his readers are incapable of following or appreciating such truth. What about us? How have we developed since we were saved, or in the last year? Are we progressing or are we, like many of those Hebrew Christians:

• dull of hearing – v11

• needing to be taught elementary truth again – v12

• wanting milk, not solid food, like spiritual babies – v13?

Why were they like this? Why is it so often true of us today?

Spiritual deafness

Few people become deaf overnight, it happens gradually so we don’t notice it. Increasingly people raise their voice when talking to us and we get upset because they are shouting. We don’t realise that they have asked us the same question 2 or 3 times already! This makes deafness hard to live with. Sandra often complains that I have the TV on too loud; this may be old age, but I think it is just that the adverts are so much louder than the programs! We would do anything to turn the clock back – apart from actually wearing a hearing aid – even if we already have one!

Of course deafness is not just a problem of old age. Children can be quite deaf – particularly when you want them to do something like washing up or tidying their bedrooms. Strangely they tend to make a miraculous recovery when the conversation moves on to chocolate or ice cream!

Noise is another cause of deafness. HSE spends a lot of time and effort getting machinery made quieter or persuading people to wear ear muffs when there is no other solution. People don’t like to wear ear muffs because they are uncomfortable and they don’t understand the damaging effect that noise (including from loud music) has on their hearing, because it involves such a gradual deterioration.

Teenage girls rarely hear bills and tax forms that drop through the letter box, then one day she strains to hear the postman and keeps going to check if the post has come. Finally a nauseating love letter arrives from some freckle-faced boy. Can you imagine her putting it with the pile of junk mail to read in a month or so – when she has time?

I don’t think so! She’ll take that letter and run off to her room – slamming the door behind her. Then she’ll tear it open and read it. If you have bugged her room effectively you’ll hear her say things like: "That’s sweet, did he really mean that? Oh, how wonderful." Then she’ll read it again and again until she has almost memorized the letter and you’ll get even less sense out of her than normal because she keeps thinking about it. Why? Because it’s a love letter.

What about us Christians? How is our spiritual hearing? Has exposure to noise from the World made us deaf to God’s voice? Turning off the TV is often the best solution

In Greek mythology, the Sirens lived on an island and lured mariners to their destruction on the rocks by their beautiful singing. To avoid this danger Odysseus had his sailors stuff their ears with wax. On an earlier occasion Orpheus heard the singing and immediately realized their peril. He took out his lyre and sang a song so clear and ringing that it drowned the sound of those beguiling voices.

The same options apply to Christians today. Sometimes we can’t silence the noise of the World and just have to stick our fingers in our ears and press on! Perhaps Orpheus provides a better example. If we are taken up with the beauty of the Lord’s voice then all the Sirens of this world will not cause us to be distracted from His service.

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