Have you ever had the experience of talking to your children and after you finish your detailed statement or request, they look up and say, “What?” Or, they might sit quietly while you are speaking to them. You ask them, “Did you hear what I said?” They respond, “Uh…yeah, sure.” When you ask them to repeat it back to you, they have no idea what you said. In our reading from Jeremiah, God, the Father, speaks to the Children of Israel about listening to His voice and following His commands. They have not listened!
Similarly, Luke records a narrative of selective hearing. The people claim that Jesus is casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons. Apparently, they have not heard the message Jesus has been preaching.
In a day that is filled with noise and multiple and mixed messages, we must ask ourselves, “Are we listening? What is God saying to us?” Read on…
Read Jeremiah 7:23-28 – Can You Hear Me?
Have you heard the expression, “It all went downhill from there!”? When Israel came out of Egypt, God made them His Covenant people at Mount Sinai. He said to them, “Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people. Walk in all the ways that I command you, so that you may prosper.” The people were quick to respond, “We will do everything You have spoken.” Essentially, it was one of those, “Uh, yeah, sure…we’ll do whatever it was you said,” responses. God said to Jeremiah, “They did not obey, nor did they pay heed. They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to Me.” Is it easier to hear someone speaking to you when you face them or when your back is turned? Israel had turned their back.
After the covenant with God was established, Moses returned up the mountain to receive God’s instructions. In the meantime, the people built a golden calf out of their jewelry and worshiped a god of Egypt. Their unfaithfulness over the generations seemed to accelerate as the “snowball” of sinfulness rolled downhill. The sons had done even worse than their fathers!
God sent His servants and they were ignored. God sent his prophets and their message was dismissed. Now, in Jeremiah’s day, God is addressing the unfaithfulness of the current generation. They have worshiped false gods, adopted pagan practices – they worshiped the “queen of heaven” (Astarte/Ishtar) and made child sacrifices, shed innocent blood, took advantage of foreigners, neglected widows and orphans, were involved in adultery, thievery, insincere worship of Yahweh and more. Despite God’s warnings, they were the nation that, “does not listen to the voice of the Lord, its God, or take correction.”
Can you hear Me, God asks? The unfaithful children say, “What?”
Read Luke 11:14-23 – Can You Hear Me, Now?
Jesus was driving out a demon that had rendered a man unable to speak. After the demon was cast out, the mute man spoke and everyone was “amazed”! What a glorious demonstration of God’s power over the forces of darkness. Surely, the people would see that the “Light of the World” was standing before them, overcoming the darkness. Surely they will respond with affirmation and worship of One who has the power of God.
Instead, they accuse Jesus of casting out the demon by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons. They believe that Jesus is aligned with the kingdom of darkness. Their response reminds me of Israel’s response at Meribah and Massah (Exodus 17:1-7). They accused Moses of bringing them into the wilderness to kill them. In striking similarity to Luke 11, they ascribe to Moses and God the motives of Satan. Can God be an instrument of Satan? Never!! The response of the people to Jesus’ reveals that they have closed their ears to His message and ministry. John 1:5 states, “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (NASB).
Jesus demonstrates the clear contradiction of their position. He says, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. If Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?” Why would Satan use Jesus to destroy his own evil kingdom? Jesus goes on to question them about their own exorcists. Do they cast out demons by the power of Satan? Surely the people don’t believe that. Why, then, would they make this illogical claim about Jesus?
Their logical fallacy laid bare, now they must come to grips with the truth. If Jesus drives out demons by the “finger of God,” then God’s Kingdom has arrived. Jesus is the stronger man who is breaking down the strongholds of Satan. They must listen carefully to the claims being made. Jesus represents the coming of the Kingdom of God. Either they will hear him and choose to follow Him, or they will stand against Him.
It is the same message that God spoke on the Mountain. We know the reception of the Children of Israel. Now, Jesus calls to them again. “Can you hear me, now?” Sadly, Jesus ministry and message will fall on many deaf ears. A majority will continue to claim that Jesus is doing the work of the devil.
Many in our world make the same claims today. Jesus and His followers are extremists, immoral bigots and every “phobe” you can name. The question for us is simple. Will we listen to the world and turn our back on the Lord. Or, will we turn our face to Him, fixing our eyes on Jesus, and listen to His voice! Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Are you listening?