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The Servant's Opened Ears

Daniel Barta

Dec 6, 2023

While Israel lay in captivity, far from God and without hope in the world, the LORD made His Servant ready to come on a rescue mission. Men and women lived in darkness, but God would make the Servant a light to the nations. He would send the Servant equipped with a “word” able to save, strengthen, and restore.

The delivery of the message would stir up great opposition. The Servant would come as a prophet of the LORD, and as many of the prophets, the people would reject both the Servant and the Servant’s message. But, the Servant would be faithful.

6 I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting. (Isaiah 50:6 ESV)

The Servant attributes His faithful delivery of the word to a work of the LORD God.

5 The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward. (Isaiah 50:5 ESV)

For the LORD to “open [His] ear” sounds strange to our ears. What could that mean? Does “opening the Servant’s ear mean that His ear canals were packed with thick, orangish red wax keeping Him from hearing? Did God fix some malfunction of the tiny bones in the Servants head?

Our first clue comes from the effect attributed to the act of the LORD to open up the Servant’s ear. The Servant

5 ...was not rebellious; [He] turned not backward. (Isaiah 50:5 ESV)‌

Whatever it means for His ear to be opened, we know that the result comes in the form of obedience - obedience that perseveres even when opponents strike with fists to bruise and yank with violence the beard from hair follicles. With an opened ear, He remained steady even as those He would serve disgraced Him with saliva spewed from their mouths and aimed with contempt and disgust at His exposed cheek bones.

In Psalm 40:6-8, the psalmist reveals the connection between the cause - the Lord opening the ear - and the effect - the Servant’s obedience even in the face of great opposition and pain.

6 In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. 7 Then I said, “Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: 8 I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” (Ps 40:6-8)

In this text, God teaches that when He opens one’s ear He does more than produce mere obedience. To open’s one ear produces a heart that delights to do the will of God (Ps 40:8). Those who have opened ears possess hearts which find pleasure in hearing and doing the will of God.

Those with an open ear stand ready to listen. They say in their hearts, “speak LORD, tell us your will so that we might run off and do it!” The command and instruction given by the will of God to them is not burdensome. They do not obey with grumbling. They whistle with joy while they serve, for they delight to do all that the LORD commands. They know a zeal for good works; they run off with eagerness to complete all their assignments, for to them, the commands of God taste sweeter than honey.

The Servant recieved from the LORD a high and difficult call. He would come with a message, and the delivery of that message would stir up great opposition. With gladness and joy He would endure, for God the LORD opened His ears and so affected His heart, that in obedience He found great pleasure!

God’s Servant, Jesus, obeyed from love and for joy.

In John 15:10-11, Jesus, the Servant, encouraged His disciples to obey. They should obey in the same way that He obeys, and in His instruction we get a glimpse into the heart of Jesus.

10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:10-11 ESV)

First, Jesus makes clear the connection between obedience and the experience of the Father’s love. Jesus knew the sweet, joy-filled, loving fellowship of the Father. This made doing His will a delight. Through obedience to the Father’s commands Jesus remained in His love. He experienced the Father’s tenderness, gentleness, wisdom, goodness, graciousness, holiness, glory, not because He obeyed, but as He obeyed. Jesus experienced the fullness of God as He listened attentively to the desires and wishes of the Father and then obeyed them.

Second, Jesus’ joy grew full as He abided in the Father’s love through obedience. Jesus’ found delight in obedience because He found delight in the Father. Through obedience He experienced the Father and the Father pleased His soul. This obedience is less like a disgruntled employee half heartedly completing all the tasks assigned to him and more akin to a lover turning to the object of his desire and pleading, “Tell me what to do and I’ll do it! Your wish is my command. I want you. I long to be in your presence, to experience with you all your wants and desires. Give me the great privilege of fulfilling all your heart’s wishes.”

Jesus’ ear and heart belonged to the LORD. Love and affection for the Father made Jesus a joy-filled servant ready and willing to obey - even when obedience took Him into the grave.

Pray for opened ears and affectionate hearts.

The will of God runs contrary to our own wills so often. He desires that we seek Him while our flesh desires to remain in bed. He desires purity while we desire to indulge our sexual desires in activities outside His will and order. He commands that we take care of the poor, the widow, and the marginalized while our feet run off to build bigger houses, enlarge our savings accounts, and invest in our 401k. He desires that we say only that which builds up while we desire the gratification of wounding our rival with witty jabs and pointed retorts. He desires truth in the public square while we prefer the security of darkness aided by a cloud of obfuscation, half-truths, and falsehoods. He desires justice while we desire the treasures of bribery. He leads us to get on our knees and serve with humility while we desire to have our feet washed by servants.

Only those with opened ears and heart affectionate towards the Father will obey with gladness. Only those who obey will abide in His love and know the full joy of experiencing His friendship.

We cannot change our own hearts. We need God the Father to take action. We need Him to alter our wills. We Him to renew our hearts. We depend on Him to awaken in us an appetite for His goodness and to increase our capacity to enjoy His beauty. Only with renewed hearts will our ears become attentive to His voice and our hands and feet obedient to His will. To know and enjoy God you must listen and obey.

Therefore, pray to God and ask Him to do what you cannot. Ask Him to let your heart see and know and love and enjoy Him. Ask Him to affect your heart, change your heart, and strengthen your heart. Ask Him to create in you such a passion for His glory, such a joy in His presence, and such a love in your heart that your ears are left ready and eager to hear His will and then with gladness perform it.

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