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The Sixth Sunday After Epiphany A, February 12, 2023

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The Sixth Sunday After Epiphany A, February 12, 2023

The greatest impediment to our life and our good is our inability to hear properly. Poor hearing is a death sentence for us. God makes it clear in his announcement to the Israelites gathered on the verge of entering the land their Lord had promised to them. Their God delivers the consequence of poor hearing, “You shall surely perish!” (vs. 17) Our first human parents, Adam and Eve, received this admonition as well, “In the day you eat of it, you shall surely die!” (Ge. 2:17). All it took for them to evidence poor hearing was the sound of the serpent’s voice in their ears.

Poor hearing afflicted God’s people as they entered the Promised Land. Even though the Lord had spoken to Joshua concerning the fate of all the practitioners of foreign gods, Joshua didn’t hear properly and allowed some of them to survive. Consequently, God’s people didn’t enjoy life and goodness in the Promised Land but endured many repetitive cycles of falling away to worship other gods, punishment, repentance, and restoration—all chronicled in the book of Judges. Many places in the Old Testament relate the poor hearing of God’s people (cf. Dt. 29:4; Is. 6:9-10; Is. 29:10). Some of those passages even lay responsibility for the people’s poor hearing on God himself (Is. 29:10).

Jesus prays many, many times for those that have ears so that they will hear (“He who has ears to hear, let him hear” Mt. 11:15). The book of Revelation also contains numerous such references, e.g., Rev. 13:9. The Apostle Paul establishes the connection between hearing and believing as he writes so eloquently “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Ro. 10:17). The Lutheran Augsburg Confession, Art. V makes clear that hearing is the chief aspect of the instruments used by the Holy Spirit to work faith.

The chief word for “obey” in both Greek and Hebrew is a derivative of their word for “hear.” To hear properly—that is, to hear God’s Word and receive the faith worked by the Holy Spirit—overcomes your poor hearing and delivers you into being the new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). As the new creature, you hear and obedience springs forth spontaneously. In that spontaneity, you enjoy both life and goodness.

Table Talk: Discuss why faith must be the first result of proper hearing rather than obedience.
Pray: Heavenly Father, let me hear your Word aright that I might believe in my Lord Jesus and enjoy life in him. Amen

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 English Standard Version

15 See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.