Why do people young and old flock to hear their favorite musicians perform on stage? Is it not because those musicians are artists who play instruments and sing masterfully? These professionals play and sing so well that the music and lyrics move the listeners and they go home flying higher than a kite. But what does this have to do with the scriptures? Ezekiel 33:30-33.
The start of the paragraph (in Ezekiel 33:30) sounds tremendously encouraging as God speaks to the man Ezekiel, saying, “As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.” How great does that sound? The people all throughout the city are talking about Ezekiel, and they are encouraging and inviting their neighbors to come hear Ezekiel declare God’s Word! Certainly this is what every sound preacher of the word desires out of his hearers. In fact, this is what every false preacher wants as well.
As we read on, the true desires of Ezekiel’s eager listeners are manifested: “So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them.”
God identifies a grave problem with the hearts of many people. They come to hear the word of God proclaimed and for them, the effect of the preaching is the same effect one might have to hearing “a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument.” That is, they came to hear him in order to be entertained. They enjoyed coming and feeling religious. They enjoyed hearing Ezekiel declare God’s commandments and warnings, but they did not take it to heart. They did not take it personally. They did not allow it to affect their conscience. The word of God, that was to convict them of sin and bring them deep remorse leading to repentance, was heard by them as if they were listening to a lovely song; something that brings joy, good feelings, and comfort. They act as if hearing the word is good enough, therefore there is no need to be a doer of the word. In James 1:23-24, we find a similar idea but with a new illustration: “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” One who only hears the word is like one who looks in the mirror and see their blemishes but walks away doing nothing about it. Just like one who only hears the word and does not abide within it is like a person listening to a song, and when the song is over life goes on. The song is not lived each day in the life of the listener. Likewise, the word of God does not continue within the life of one who is a hearer only and not a doer. Let’s never treat the words of salvation like listening to a lovely song.
-By Tanner Campbell