Posted by: missionventureministries | April 2, 2020

HE WHO HAS AN EAR LET HIM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAYS TO THE CHURCHES – Revelation 2 and 3

Hearing and listening are synonyms but have different implications, because, you can hear someone without actually listening to what is being said. 

Listening requires a person to pay attention to the speaker and requires concentration, it means to understand what is being said and providing an adequate response to it, because when we do not listen there really is no communication and no understanding of what was conveyed. 

Jesus talks about “Whoever has ears, let them hear” many times in the Gospels (Matthew 11:15; Mark 4:23; Luke 14:35). “Having ears to hear” was a common expression that referred to those whose hearts were ready to act upon the truth they were given. 

Thousands were impacted by Jesus’ earthly ministry, but only a few people had “ears to hear.” In John 6:66, Jesus had again explained about who He is, but John records that, “After this many of His disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him.” These were people who had heard His message, but their hearts had no desire to obey it. Only those with “ears to hear” stayed because they recognized that Jesus had the “words of eternal life” (John 6:68–69). 

Today, the gospel is more widely available than ever before; yet, most people do not listen. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us ears to hear, but it is our responsibility to act upon that gift. Therefore, if today you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts (Hebrews 3:15), because, greater understanding are the rewards for those who listen. 

Whenever Jesus says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear,” He is calling for people to pay careful attention. It’s another way of saying, “Listen pay attention!” Speaking in parables was one way in which Jesus sought to gain the attention of the crowds. People love stories, and the parables depicted events and characters with which they could readily relate. But unless they were willing to tune out other distractions and come to Jesus to understand the meaning of His preaching, His words would only be stories that would not be understood. 

When His disciples asked why He was speaking to the crowds in parables, Jesus refers to Isaiah 6, who speaks of people who have eyes and do not see and ears but do not hear or understand, because they have hardened their hearts and chosen to ignore the Word of the Lord (Matthew 13:10–15; Isaiah 6:8–10). Part of the judgment on those who refuse to believe is that they will eventually lose their opportunity to believe. 

A similar phrase is found in Revelation in each of the seven letters to the churches: “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). And in Revelation 13:9, immediately following a description of the Antichrist, we read, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” The readers of Revelation are called upon to pay close attention and seek God’s wisdom concerning what’s written. 

The Lord is literally saying, “If you understand, then heed the message.” We must hear God’s Word; because the Spirit is speaking to us through it! Are you listening? Are you making an effort to understand what God is saying through His Word and are you heeding the message? Are you asking questions if you do not understand? Are you eager to comprehend what God is trying to convey to you? 

In the revelation of Jesus Christ, each of these letters given to John by the risen Lord Jesus contains admonishments appropriate to God’s people in every age; and is asking us to listen to what He has spoken to the churches throughout centuries. 

In chapters 2 through 3, Jesus speaking to the seven churches says, seven times, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” 

  • To Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) – the church that had forsaken its first love (2:4).

Like the church in Ephesus, we can easily fall prey to a redundant observance of religion. Jesus says in John 14:21, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” The truth is that whoever truly listens, pays attention and obeys does not forsake its first love; just as the Lord challenged Ephesus not to forsake its first love. 

  • To Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) – the church that would suffer persecution (2:10).

Jesus said in Matthew 10:22, “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” The Lord encourages us to be faithful in the presence of persecution listening to the Holy Spirit’s direction. 

  • To Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17) – the church that needed to repent (2:16).

Our Lord hates religious and moral compromise. He calls His people to live differently. Jesus desires purity among His people; therefore, we have a responsibility to remove false teachers from the church. We need to attentively listen to what He is saying “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” 

  • To Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) – the church that had a false prophetess (2:20).

Jesus has stern words for this church. Apparently, a false prophetess was leading believers into compromise (Revelation 2:20). The church was engaging in sexual immorality and dabbling in idolatry. It is possible that “Jezebel” was her real name, but it is more likely the name was a metaphorical reference to the Jezebel of the Old Testament; who was another idolatrous woman who opposed God’s ways. Rather than rebuke this false teacher and sending her out of the church, the believers in Thyatira were allowing her to continue her deception. They were not hearing or listening to what the Spirit was saying to the church. 

Jesus was challenging Thyatira and is challenging us about our moral standards. This church had forgotten the truth they had heard when they first herd the Gospel, since some that belonged to this church had remained faithful (Revelation 2:24-25). Does this sound familiar in light of what is going on in churches today? 

  • To Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) – the church that had fallen asleep (3:2).

Jesus notes the judgment that would take place if they did not repent: “If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you” (Revelation 3:3). A dead church will be disciplined by Jesus Himself. To “wake up” means to start paying attention to their need of salvation, to stop being careless about their heart’s condition before God. The Lord challenges all of us not to be complacent but to be alert and listen to what He has to say. 

  • To Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) – the church that had endured patiently (3:10).

The church of Philadelphia had remained faithful in the face of trial. Because of this, the Lord promises them an “open door” of blessing as He promises to all who listen, understand and obey. The Lord encourages us like He did the church in Philadelphia to hold fast to the truth that we have been taught in spite of so much error being taught in churches today. 

  • To Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) – the church with the lukewarm faith (3:16).

The church at Laodicea had become apathetic in their love for Christ. They were allowing “the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things to come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). Christ called them to repent and live zealously for Him, to “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). The Lord Jesus issues the same call to those who say they follow Him today but actually have never heard what He has said or at least not put it into practice. The people of Laodicea where not only prideful but they were ignorant and spiritually bankrupt as many are today. 

These letters and warning were written to strengthen those who have genuine faith by reminding them of the grand, glorious salvation they already have through Jesus, and which will be theirs for eternity. The letters were to impress upon those who do not have genuine faith the urgent necessity of overcoming the evil one, by believing Jesus Christ and being cleansed by His blood. Only by repentance and faith can the stated promises of salvation and blessedness be applied. 

Even now, when ‘nominal Christians’ or blatant unbelievers read these letters they are given yet another opportunity to repent and believe while it is still the ‘day of grace’ so that they too will enjoy the salvation and blessedness that is the secure possession of all who ‘overcome’. 

Therefore, ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts’ (Hebrews 3:15). 

Remembering what Jesus said: “… whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).

*******


Responses

  1. Reblogged this on Write Light and commented:
    My friend recommended this post and I read it and wanted to share it with others. Be blessed!

    • Thank you Constance and friend, so happy to share God’s Word with our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Many blessings to both of you.


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