The Man Who Would Not Listen
INTRODUCTION: When it comes to spiritual truths from the Word of God, one of the major problems that I see is “God is speaking but who is listening.” Seriously, are you hearing what God is saying to do and not to do?
Proverbs 8:33-34, “Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. (34) Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.”
Proverbs 19:20, “Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.”
James 1:22-25, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (23) For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: (24) For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. (25) But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”
From beginning to end, the Word of God greatly emphasizes the need to listen. We all make mistakes, fail to do God's will perfectly, and even rebel against his commands. But when we refuse to listen to his voice of correction and direction, things can quickly reach a critical mass.
Every instructor knows the dilemma of having a student who won't listen or follow directions.
Every coach knows the results of a “hot dog know it all talented player” who is uncoachable.
Every parent knows the pain of having a prodigal who must have his or her way.
Where we see failure, wasted opportunities, and heartache, this fatal flaw is invariably present.
It's not always easy to listen. Sadly, I have seen this all too often even in this church family as well as in other ministries. You counsel, you counsel some more, you preach, but sadly they walk away still determined to listen to their own mind set. Consequently, things happen adversely and they wonder why. Again, the problem was, “God was speaking but nobody was listening.”
King Amaziah is one of God's poster people for this kind of problem found in II Chronicles 25:1-16. He is the man who wouldn't listen.
The strange thing is that Amaziah did listen at first. He listened very closely and obediently to the Word of the Lord when he began his reign as king of Judah.
“Amaziah was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem. (2) And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, but not with a perfect heart. (3) Now it came to pass, when the kingdom was established to him, that he slew his servants that had killed the king his father. (4) But he slew not their children, but did as it is written in the law in the book of Moses, where the LORD commanded, saying, The fathers shall not die for the children, neither shall the children die for the fathers, but every man shall die for his own sin. (5) Moreover Amaziah gathered Judah together, and made them captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, according to the houses of their fathers, throughout all Judah and Benjamin: and he numbered them from twenty years old and above, and found them three hundred thousand choice men, able to go forth to war, that could handle spear and shield. (6) He hired also an hundred thousand mighty men of valour out of Israel for an hundred talents of silver. (7) But there came a man of God to him, saying, O king, let not the army of Israel go with thee; for the LORD is not with Israel, to wit, with all the children of Ephraim. (8) But if thou wilt go, do it, be strong for the battle: God shall make thee fall before the enemy: for God hath power to help, and to cast down. (9) And Amaziah said to the man of God, But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel? And the man of God answered, The LORD is able to give thee much more than this. (10) Then Amaziah separated them, to wit, the army that was come to him out of Ephraim, to go home again: wherefore their anger was greatly kindled against Judah, and they returned home in great anger. (11) And Amaziah strengthened himself, and led forth his people, and went to the valley of salt, and smote of the children of Seir ten thousand. (12) And other ten thousand left alive did the children of Judah carry away captive, and brought them unto the top of the rock, and cast them down from the top of the rock, that they all were broken in pieces.(13) But the soldiers of the army which Amaziah sent back, that they should not go with him to battle, fell upon the cities of Judah, from Samaria even unto Beth-horon, and smote three thousand of them, and took much spoil. (14) Now it came to pass, after that Amaziah was come from the slaughter of the Edomites, that he brought the gods of the children of Seir, and set them up to be his gods, and bowed down himself before them, and burned incense unto them. (15) Wherefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against Amaziah, and he sent unto him a prophet, which said unto him, Why hast thou sought after the gods of the people, which could not deliver their own people out of thine hand? (16) And it came to pass, as he talked with him, that the king said unto him, Art thou made of the king's counsel? forbear; why shouldest thou be smitten? Then the prophet forbare, and said, I know that God hath determined to destroy thee, because thou hast done this, and hast not hearkened unto my counsel.”
After Amaziah was established on the throne, he had to take care of some unfinished business. His father, the late King Joash, had been assassinated, and it was Amaziah's duty to punish the men responsible for this vicious crime.
Although he now had absolute power, Amaziah did not give in to the desire for unbridled vengeance by executing the assassins and their families.
This was a common practice during those rough-and-tumble days when royal power wreaked havoc among the peoples of the world.
Rather, King Amaziah heeded the commandment of God found in Deuteronomy 24:16 that limited punishment, no matter how grievous the crime, to only the guilty parties, not their innocent children. So Amaziah listened well to the Word of the Lord.
Another challenge also lay before the king. After organizing and enlarging his army for a major campaign against the Edomites, in verse 6 Amaziah "hired a hundred thousand fighting men from Israel" at the cost of almost four tons of silver!
He believed that the three hundred thousand troops from Judah could only be strengthened by adding one hundred thousand mercenaries from the northern kingdom of Israel. Everyone knows that in war, more is better, right? Well, Amaziah found out that God's math was different from his.
A man of God came to him and boldly declared in verse 7,
“…let not the army of Israel go with thee; for the LORD is not with Israel, to wit, with all the children of Ephraim.”
The northern ten tribes of Israel had given themselves over to gross idolatry, and the anger of Jehovah hung over them. Because of this, Amaziah was forbidden to deploy their forces.
If he used them, he was told in verse 8,
“But if thou wilt go, do it, be strong for the battle: God shall make thee fall before the enemy: for God hath power to help, and to cast down.
In other words, more is less if God doesn't bless!
Amaziah was still troubled, though, by the almost four tons of silver that would be wasted if he dismissed the Israelite troops.
In verse 9 we read, “But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel? And the man of God answered, The LORD is able to give thee much more than this.”
So the king obediently dismissed the mercenaries. He then led his smaller army—one that had God's blessing—to the Valley of Salt and routed the Edomites.
What joy there was among the troops of Judah that night as they celebrated their impressive victory!
What wonderful lessons Amaziah teaches us as we watch him obeying not only the express commands of the Law of God but also the prophetic voice of the Spirit of God.
The king's obedience to God's leading in a specific situation, even at great monetary loss, is a powerful example for us to follow. As the king listened and obeyed, God was faithful to fulfill his promise of victory and blessing.
But a very odd thing happened to King Amaziah as he concluded his campaign against the Edomites. His attention was drawn to the idols that his defeated foes worshiped. What he did seems too unbelievable to be true as we again read in verse 14-15,
“Now it came to pass, after that Amaziah was come from the slaughter of the Edomites, that he brought the gods of the children of Seir, and set them up to be his gods, and bowed down himself before them, and burned incense unto them. (15) Wherefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against Amaziah, and he sent unto him a prophet, which said unto him, Why hast thou sought after the gods of the people, which could not deliver their own people out of thine hand?”
How could this happen to a man who was so blessed by God? The Law of God clearly forbids bowing down to any heathen idol.
Remember the Lord had repeatedly commanded his people in Exodus 20:3 and Deuteronomy 5:7 to have no other gods before him. These were the ABCs of religious instruction among the Israelites!
But somehow Amaziah's sick fascination with Edomite idols closed his ears to the Word of the Lord.
Maybe it was his successful reign thus far.
Maybe it was his great victory over the Edomites.
We don't know why, but for some reason the king of Judah stopped measuring his actions against the precepts of God's Word. Things went from bad to worse, which is what usually happens when men and women turn their backs on God.
While Amaziah burned sacrifices to these abominable idols, God's anger burned against the king's sin.
A prophet of the Lord immediately confronted Amaziah with a logical question straight from the throne of God in verse 15,
“Why hast thou sought after the gods of the people, which could not deliver their own people out of thine hand?
In other words, God said, "Wake up, Amaziah! These are not only dumb idols, they are the 'loser gods' that did nothing for the Edomites whom I helped you defeat so decisively!"
It is incredible how sinful disobedience blinds us to truth, even when it is staring us right in the face. Let me say that again lest it went right on by you, “It is incredible how sinful disobedience blinds us to truth, even when it is staring us right in the face.”
Amaziah then escalated his stubbornness by rejecting a prophetic message that was sent to save him from his own devices. While the prophet was still speaking, the king said to him, in verse 16
"Art thou made of the king's counsel? forbear; why shouldest thou be smitten?”
The man who once listened, to God's voice now arrogantly cut off the prophet's message and threatened to kill him if he went any further. Before he left, the unnamed prophet said something that I pray the Holy Spirit will help us all to remember:
“I know that God hath determined to destroy thee, because thou hast done this, and hast not hearkened unto my counsel.”
That was the solemn verdict. Once Amaziah closed his ears to the voice of God, nothing in heaven or on earth could help him. He was doomed because he wouldn't listen.
In summary, from verses 22-25, Amaziah soon unwisely attacked the northern kingdom of Israel. But God's blessing was no longer on him, so his army was routed.
Amaziah's victorious enemies broke down about six hundred feet of Jerusalem's walls, seized the gold and silver and sacred articles in the temple, and raided the palace treasury.
Hostages were taken from among the people. In the end, the nation of Judah was bankrupt, the temple had been violated, and countless families mourned the loss of husbands and fathers they would never see again.
This was the sad legacy of the king who wouldn't listen. Did you catch that, this was the sad legacy of the king who wouldn't listen.
Perhaps you are asking, “Why did this happen?”
Perhaps you are asking, “Where did this begin?”
I believe the answer is found in verse 2 where we read,
“And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, but not with a perfect heart.”
Outwardly Amaziah put on a show by walking the talk. But there was something wrong inwardly. Let me put it to you in terms you might understand.
Outwardly you put on a show of Christianity, but in your heart you are far from the Lord.
Outwardly you mouth the words of the Bible, but in your heart you are far from the Lord.
Outwardly you come to church out of habit or for show, you mouth the words of the hymns, you listen to the sermon, but in your heart you are far from the Lord.
Outwardly you believe the truths of scripture, you read your Bible perhaps regularly, you say your prayers, but in your heart you are far from the Lord.
This was Amaziah he walked the talk for a time, but his heart was not perfect. No wonder he began to worship the Idols until God finally had enough and Amaziah lost it all.
The truth is, no matter how deep our sin is, no matter how far we have fallen, there is still hope, if we will just listen to what God is saying.
It is when we get so full of ourselves and too busy to stop and listen that we cut ourselves off from the one true Friend who can help us.
Our shallowness and self-centeredness make us deaf to words that would bring healing and spiritual life.
Even when God sends family members and friends even the pastor to warn or correct us, our pride often makes us incapable of receiving help. "I thought you were my friend—how could you say that?" is our immature reaction that shows we have completely missed what God was trying to do.
The divine message that Isaiah spoke in Isaiah 55:2-3 thousands of years ago applies at all times to all people:. “…hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. (3) Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live;…”
The key to a blessed life is to have a listening heart that longs to know what the Lord is saying.
Think for a moment about the lack of blessing and the increasing hardness of heart in the lives of so many Christians across the country. This emptiness comes primarily from not listening to God.
Consider, too, the countless, discouraged pastors who are engrossed in every new fad and formula that comes from men but who spend little time waiting on God, waiting to hear the Holy Spirit's directives for their ministries.
God is a speaking, communicating God, but someone has to be listening on the other end.
Jesus wrote letters to seven different churches in the book of Revelation. The spiritual condition of each assembly was different, and therefore Christ's words were never the same as he addressed their unique situations.
But it is noteworthy that he used the same phrase to close all seven letters in Revelation 2-3: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;…”
The Holy Spirit still speaks vital messages to God's people today, but we must have tender, attentive hearts to hear what he is saying. Now let’s return to an open passage found in James 2:22-25 where we again read,
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (23) For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: (24) For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. (25) But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”
When James tells us to be doers of the word, he doesn't do it in a mild, matter-of-fact way. He doesn't request, rather, he commands,
You who have believed the Word of Truth, and
You who have received the Word of Truth, and
You who have heard the Word of Truth,
GET UP AND PUT IT INTO PRACTICE! Listen, if what you hear on Sunday does not equip you to live on Monday, you have missed the point of coming to worship and you have fallen victim to this gross sin of hearing without doing.
Christianity is not performing a set of rituals; it is putting into practice God's Truth. The message might conclude at 12:00 or 7:00 but the sermon begins as you, before the Lord in the invitation, determine to DO what the Word in the message has taught you.
Christianity is not just WORDS, its ACTION! As one missionary well said, "It is my conclusion that the greatest missionary problem is just the failure of Christian people to LIVE what they say they BELIEVE."
Remember this, "Salvation is a free gift offered by God to the sinner who receives it by faith. But once you have become a Christian, your Christianity isn’t worth very much if it isn’t practiced.”
Listen, you may read your Bible, and you may come to church Sunday morning and Sunday evening and Wednesday evening and even go to some Bible study and be blessed by the teaching and preaching of the Word. On occasion, you may even say “Amen” or say to the preacher, “Thank you, I needed that.”
But hold it! You are deceiving yourself if you think you have matured as a Christian just because you have heard a message. You are deceiving yourself unless you determine in your heart to PRACTICE WHAT HAS BEEN PREACHED.
When was the last time you and I could say that we heard from God? This is not some far-out, fanatical mysticism; it is a life-and-death issue that will affect our lives here on earth and determine our eternal destiny.
God's eyes still roam over the earth looking for attentive, submissive hearts so he can show himself strong and mighty on our behalf.
Let's ask God for the blessings of a childlike heart such as young Samuel had, so that when the Lord calls our name we, too, can answer as he did in I Samuel 3:10, "Speak; for thy servant heareth.”
Our prayer ought to be,
“Lord, help us to have a listening heart that is soft and teachable. Save us from being so filled with ourselves that we can't hear you. Give us the grace to both listen and obey when you speak to us. Amen”
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon "The Man Who Would Not Listen" right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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