Summary: The Bible talks about three types of listeners: active, passive, and forgetful. Only one leads to blessing and life, so it is imperative it is the type of listening we do.
There is a Peanuts comic strip where Peppermint Patty and her friend are walking to school. Peppermint Patty says, “I think I’m going to ask to be Mary in the Christmas pageant.” Her friend replies, “The teacher already asked me.” Patty says, “I think I’m going to ask today.” “She asked me yesterday,” says the friend. Peppermint Patty continues, “My favorite part is when the angel Gabriel talks to me.” Exasperated, her friend exclaims, “Why would anyone want to talk to you? You don’t listen.”
Listening is a valuable skill, yet actually listening is a hard skill to master. Most everyone struggles with listening at some time or another. In fact, most husbands are accused of not listening all the time. One husband remarked, “My wife says I don’t listen, or something like that. I’m not really sure what she said.” Listening is an important skill and it is an essential part of our relationship with the Lord.
• “Let the wise listen and add to their learning…” (Proverbs 1:5).
• “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise” (Proverbs 19:20).
• “Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the ways of knowledge” (Proverbs 19:27).
As you can see, listening is essential to our relationship with the Lord. In the passage of Scripture we are about to read, we see three ways a person can listen. It is imperative we listen the right way.
READ EXODUS 9:13-39
The forecast Moses offered to Pharaoh was anything but good. This region rarely sees a rain shower, let alone a forecast like this. Devastating hail; a storm of such fierceness it had never been seen in the land. It was going to hail so severely everything outside was going to be destroyed including livestock not moved to shelter. It is worth mentioning this was the second time livestock was threatened as the fifth plague killed all of Egypt’s livestock. This is certainly a headline grabbing forecast. One that would lead the evening news.
“Pay attention. The storm is coming.” Some heeded the warning, but others ignored it. Some listened to God’s Word and acted upon it, but others chose merely to listen or to listen and quickly forget.
LISTENER 1: ACTIVE LISTENER
Exodus 9:20 says Pharaoh’s officials who respected the Word of the Lord hurried to bring their workers and livestock inside. These are the individuals James describes as listeners and doers. They do not merely listen, but they do.
They hear God’s Word and they put it into practice in their lives. The officials in verse 20 hurried off to bring everything inside. They took quick action to prepare for the storm. They were active listeners.
The Lord makes some promises to active listeners. Leviticus 26 promises peace, prosperity, and freedom. Deuteronomy 28 promises the active listener will have a blessed life. Read the first 14 verses and see how many times the word “blessed” is mentioned. God’s Word is clear; actively listen to receive his favor.
The officials who heeded the storm warning went through the storm the same as the rest of Egypt. The difference is they were prepared. Listening to God’s Word does not mean there will be no turbulence in life; listening just means we will be prepared for the turbulence and it will help us make it through those times. Why wouldn’t we want to be an active listener?
Scripture is filled with examples of active listeners who were blessed. One such example is the Miraculus Catch of Fish in Luke 5. The disciples had been fishing all night, but had nothing to show for their efforts. The sun was rising as the tired fishermen went to shore where Jesus sees their boats and climbs in one. He addresses the crowd then tells Peter to put out to deeper water. Next come instructions to cast the nets. Peter and his companions listened. They cast out the nets which were filled with fish. Because they were obedient, they caught fish. Because they were active listeners, they were blessed. God’s Word is clear the active listener is blessed.
LISTENER 2: PASSIVE LISTENER
On the other hand, Exodus 9:21 says Pharoah’s officials who ignored the Word of the Lord left their workers and livestock in the fields. These are the individuals James describes as hearing the Word and quickly forgetting what it says. They listen and do nothing.
You can kind of see how these officials missed the first warning with the fifth plague. Maybe they just didn’t take the Lord as seriously as they should have, but this is the second time. They have the results of the first time. Their livestock was destroyed. Even knowing this, they chose to ignore the warning. There is that old saying, “You fool me once shame on you. You fool me twice shame on me.” They just would not do anything. These officials were passive listeners.