When we reach Hebrews 5, we will notice a shift in tone from what we have seen in our recent studies in this series. The writer is still trying to convince his people to heed the word of God. The writer is writing from a standpoint of knowing what awaits those that aren’t listening to God. So, our study this week will cover the writer’s warning about not listening to God.
The Excellence of Christ
Our third study of this series will cover scripture from Hebrews 5. If we take a look at Hebrews 5:1-10, we will see that Christ is still at the center of focus for the writer of this epistle.
In our previous studies, we have seen the writer speak about the excellence of Christ. At first, the writer compared Christ to the angels. The writer spoke about Christ being the express image of God who sits at the right hand of Majesty (Heb. 1:3-4).
In Hebrews 5:1-4, we will see the writer compare Christ to the role that Aaron served in as High Priest. This comparison is after the writer showed that Christ is “counted worthy of more glory than Moses” (Heb. 3:1-6). Again, the goal was to get the people to have a high regard for the only begotten Son of God.
Frustration With Dull Hearing
In this chapter, the writer’s frustration and disappointment begins to show.
In Hebrews 5:11, the writer stated that there was a desire to go further in depth about Christ but it could not be done. Why couldn’t it be done? Because Christ was hard to explain to the people because they had become dull of hearing. In other words, they could not teach in depth to people that were not listening to God.
Difficulty ministering to those that don’t listen
The writer speaks to an issue many ministers face today. Let us consider, what makes one become dull of hearing? To be dull: lacking sharpness of edge or point; mentally slow. To be dull can also mean that one is slow in perception or sensibility.
In general, it’s not difficult to talk to those who are interested in what is being said. However, it is very difficult to have a conversation with someone whose mind is elsewhere. The issue we see today is that people are interested in other things and not God. Spiritual living is not on the list of concerns for many people.
For those of us who love to study and minister the gospel, we have a hunger and thirst to learn. When one lacks understanding, there should be a desire to learn, right?
Ministers often run into a problem with sharing the more complex aspects of the gospel. This happens because the more complex thoughts turn off those that lack understanding. In today’s time, many want the simple and they want the shortest version of simple. Does this mean we should change the messaging of the gospel? No.
This thought reminds me of my geometry teacher in the tenth grade. Math, along with science, were my favorite school subjects. However, I struggled with geometry. I struggled with geometry because the teacher could put the best of students to sleep. The teacher taught in an unenthusiastic manner that made the subject boring to me.
When we minister the gospel, the onus does fall on us to share it in an uplifting manner. That said, it can be tough to minister to the unenthused. Something we have to understand is that not everyone is targeting the kingdom of heaven. Jesus even had many to stop following Him because His teaching were hard to understand (John 6:53-66).
There are many not listening to God and putting the fault at the feet of ministers. They will say that ministers should minister to what people like to hear. This was something that the people said to Micah when he shared with them a prophesy from God (Mic. 2:6-11).
If you aren’t listening to God’s word because it is difficult to understand, ask questions! The mature thing to do when you don’t understand is ask questions so that you can learn. If one does not ask questions when something is difficult to understand, how can they learn? Let’s not be immature when it comes to listening to God.
When You Aren’t Listening to God
In Hebrews 5:12, the writer stated, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” The writer’s frustration has turned into disappointment.
Because they were not listening to God, the people had failed themselves and others as well. Let us notice the tense that the writer speaks with here: “by this time”. By that time, had the Jews lived in obedience, they would have been the example of holiness.
In Exodus 19:6, we see God’s desire for the children of Israel to become a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” For that to have happened, they would have needed to heed God’s instructions. As we know, the children of Israel broke the covenant by worshiping the calf of God. to keep the law.
Over time God sent prophet after prophet to Israel who ministered His word to the people. The prophets called on Israel to repent, and live by God’s word but they did not listen to the words of the prophets. God then gave His only begotten Son who called on repentance, and again, the did not listen to Him.
So, the writer was disappointed in what they were compared to what they should have been. This thought leads to the disappointment of when on choose not to listen to God. The Jews never reached their full potential because they did not heed the law nor did they heed Christ.
The danger of not listening to God, the writer revealed that not listening to God leads to:
1. One not fully receiving the word (or wisdom) of God.
2. One not reaching their full potential.
3. A lack of growth; Immaturity.
4. The furthering of ignorance (lacking understanding).
5. Utter foolishness; living in total disregard of God.
Now, if you are of sincere faith, the end result of not listening to God shouldn’t be of much concern to you. I say this because sincere believers should know better than disregarding God, right? Right?
Now, if I’m being truthful, even the most sincere believer may have moments of turning off God. In those moments, we must remember to be lowly and humble. Sincere believers should always be open to receiving wise counsel.
It’s Time to Start Listening to God
Now, if you are one that does not listen to God, this warning is for you. Scripture encourages all people to turn away from any way that is not the way of God. As the proverb says, the fool despises wisdom (Prov. 1:7; 23:9).
If you’re on the foolish pathway and can recognize that you are, turn away immediately. I want to share a chart with you below:
There is a pathway you should desire to be on and that is the pathway to righteousness. There is a pathway that you should not desire to be on and that is the pathway to condemnation. How does one going down the path of a fool get off that path? By humbling themselves.
Those not listening to God need to, once gain, learn the “first principles of the oracles of God.” So, one must start with the basics in order to understand the gospel in further depth.
Jesus taught the basics through parables. The disciples once asked Jesus, “Why do you speak to the peoplein parables?” Jesus responded to the disciples that it was because the hearts of the people had grown dull (Matt. 15:10-17). Jesus didn’t teach in parables because they were easier to understand. Jesus taught in parables because they forced those that wanted to understand His message to ask questions.
As I said earlier, when one does not understand something, they should ask questions. This step requires one to admit ignorance, right? Admission of ignorance is not to say that you are dumb or stupid. No, that shows that you are wise because those that are wise can admit what they don’t understand
One of the biggest problems in today’s world is the growth of proud immaturity. There are so many people that speak with authority on subjects they know nothing of. The spiritually immature do the same and in no way can they produce the righteousness of God.
In Hebrews 5:13, the writer stated, “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.” Babies do not start out knowing everything nor teaching their parents, do they? There are many who are at the level of a baby in the faith. What I mean by this is that they are still only able to learn the basic principles of the faith.
Now, over time, a baby grows beyond milk to being sustained by solid food. The writer stated in Hebrews 5:14, “solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” I am of the belief that all believers must continue to grow day by day in their understanding of God’s word. Peter said that one should desire the pure milk of the word and grow from it (1 Pet. 2:2).
When we grow in our knowledge of the word, we will be able to discern both good and evil. In a time where so many are easily led astray, you need to be able to discern between the two. So, if you’re not listening to God today, I encourage you to start listening. Listening to God will do nothing but profit you unto holiness and righteousness.