Spiritual Hearing

by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 3 - The Consecrated Ear

Reading: Lev. 8:22-24,30; 14:25-28.

The Blood Touched Ear

In the former of these two passages we read of the consecration of Aaron and his sons, and the placing of the blood upon the tip of their right ears - the ear consecrated by means of the blood. The blood, as you know, was always the means of discrimination and separation; all that upon which the blood was sprinkled was separated unto the Lord, consecrated to Him. The blood - speaking of an end made to a whole regime, and provision made for an entirely new order of things - the blood stood between. You hardly need me to illustrate that from Scripture, for there is so much. Perhaps the outstanding Old Testament illustration would be the blood of the Lamb sprinkled on the door posts and the lintel of the homes of the Hebrews in Egypt. By that sprinkled blood they were marked out as separate from the Egyptians, and as a people with an entirely new future, a new history. The blood separated and the blood laid the foundation for something altogether new - that from that passover they were constituted God's people in a new way. That is the principle of the blood, that it separates from one system and makes a way for another.

Now here, in the priesthood, we have that very strongly emphasised. There was the blood of the ram of consecration, and placed upon the ear, it meant quite simply that the blood was going to challenge, test and judge every presentation to the mind through the ear. The blood would interrogate everything coming to the inner life through the ear, as to where it came from, as to the nature of it. The blood would judge it and say, 'That is not of God; that is not according to the mind of the Lord; that belongs to the old creation which is in alliance with sin; that springs from the original source where Satan spoke into the ear.' The blood thus would judge everything, condemning what was not of God, and keeping the way open for the Lord - a very simple lesson, but a very powerful one. The Lord Jesus said, "Take heed what ye hear" (Mark 4:24). Priesthood here means the spiritual man, the man who is wholly unto the Lord, completely at the Lord's disposal; and the spiritual man is going to be very careful what he allows himself to hear, what he allows to enter into his mind, into his inner life, and become a part of him inwardly through his ear. He is not going to listen to everything. He is going to judge what he hears and to refuse quite a lot.

Now that may apply to a large number of things which it would be unwise to try to catalogue. We can do unspeakable damage to our own spiritual life, and make it impossible for the Lord to speak to us, if we allow ourselves to listen to that which is not of the Lord, that which is contrary to Him. The enemy has gained great power for his kingdom through the ear of the world; he has a great hold on men along the line of hearing. He uses many things - it may be certain types of music, or ways of speaking. The consecrated servant of the Lord does not allow that sort of thing voluntarily. We are in this world, and we cannot avoid hearing many things that we should not wish to hear; but the important matter is not the sounds around us that strike upon our outward ear, but our reaction thereto, whether we consent to what we hear. Do we judge it and inwardly revolt against it and refuse it, or do we lend an ear to it?

I think this may specially apply to what we allow ourselves to hear about people. Untold damage is done by gossip and by criticism. Now, there is no point in having lips to talk if there are no ears to hear, and sometimes the sealing of unwise and uncontrolled lips may come by a refusal to listen. The priest is called upon to refuse to listen to a whole realm of things, to judge it and say, 'I do not want to hear that; I am not listening to it, I am not accepting it.' You can, I am sure, see what a terrible lot of mischief exists today even amongst real children of God, caused by rumours, by talk, by passing on reports, by interpretations given to things; and how susceptible we are to that sort of thing! Well, this blood-touched ear, the consecrated ear, conveys a fundamental lesson. On the one side, it refuses to accept and to allow to pass into the inner life a whole world of things.

The Spirit-Anointed Ear

Then there is the other side - the oil-anointed ear. Both sides are seen in the case of the cleansed leper in Lev. 14. In type he is the man who is freed from the defiling life of the flesh and is walking by the Spirit, in newness of life. He has the blood-touched ear - the token of his refusal to listen to what is not of God; and he has the oil-touched ear - the token of his readiness to hearken to the Lord. What a lot is lost because so many of the Lord's people have not an ear to listen to Him - the open, sensitive, alive ear quickened by the Holy Spirit, the quiet ear. The enemy has made many of the Lord's servants too busy to stop to listen to the Lord. Things are all unsatisfactory, they are all going wrong and missing the mark; and the enemy is just carrying the workers on by the sheer momentum of the work. He is seeing to it that they have no time to hear what the Lord would say about things. Those churches at the beginning of the book of the Revelation had many commendable things, and perhaps the greatest surprise that ever came to anybody came to some of them when it was said to them, in effect, 'You have all this work, labour, patience and all these other quite commendable things, but you have not an ear to hear the Lord. These other things are not wrong, but there are very much more important things, and you are not hearing what the Spirit is saying. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith...' The need was for an ear open to the Lord for correction, for adjustment, for knowing yet more fully His mind about things.

There is the ear sealed against one world, and there is the ear open to the other world. There is one world closed by the Blood, another world opened by the Spirit; and it all centres in the inner ear, the ear of the heart. It is a very important thing. The Lord give us grace to be very obedient and watchful over this matter, taking heed what we hear, what we allow ourselves to receive, and keeping in that place where, if the Lord is wanting to say something, He has our ear not pre-occupied but alive to listen to His voice.

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