By DANNY MINTON
Sitting in the corner of our main room resides a grandfather clock. The clock was a gift from my mother-in-law for helping her during her last days in a battle with cancer. It stands tall and sounds off loud and clear every fifteen minutes. The clock plays a part of a tune at the quarter hour and then adds more at the thirty-minute and forty-five-minute marks. At the top of the hour, one hears the complete song followed by loud “gongs,” striking once for each hour of the day or night.
When we first set it up, we would hear the sounds each time the clock went through its rotation of time. If we had to sleep on the couch, we would move the switch to silent so that our sleep would not be disturbed. That’s the way life with the grandfather clock proceeded eighteen years ago. However, as the days, months, and years moved on, we began not to notice the sounds so often from the clock. I could fall asleep in my rocker or on the couch and never hear the song and gongs that struck every fifteen minutes during the night. The sounds of the clock still ring through the room, although I rarely hear it unless it disturbs a phone call or hearing someone speaking softly. Sometimes I intentionally listen for it to ensure everything works correctly, but I have mostly learned to ignore it unconsciously.
Unfortunately, this is how people often treat God’s words to us. Centuries ago, the Israelites received the commandment of God and at first followed them carefully and to the letter. However, when things became more difficult in their lives, they began to drift away from what He said and paid little attention to what He had told them. Their disobedience caused them to lose the land that God had lovingly given them. The book of Judges shows the constant cycle of the people rejecting God’s ways, facing punishment, and returning to His ways, only to start the same cycle again. Most of the kings who followed would repeat the process until taken into captivity.
Then there’s a beautiful story in the book of Nehemiah. The people had been in captivity and allowed to return to rebuild Jerusalem. The people had been separated from God and His Word and, on one particular day, waited for Ezra to come out and share God’s words with them once again. Ezra stood at the podium and opened the book of the Law. When he opened it, Nehemiah records, “Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.” Nehemiah 8:5-6 (NASB) For a brief time, once again, the people would follow God’s Word, only to again turn to the ways of the world around them.
As I think about the world today, we treat God’s Word much like my experience with the grandfather clock in my home. The sounds of the song and gongs happen, to use a pun, “like clockwork,” fulfilling its function every fifteen minutes whether I hear it or not. People know how God expects us to live our lives. We have his Word in our homes; however, for many, the book lies collecting dust or tucked safely away on a bookshelf. We know it exists in our home and even carry one to church services on Sunday. We have a good knowledge of what He is telling us and can even quote His words. Unfortunately, even though His words find a place in our lives, people often forget to follow them. The world gives a different message or a twisted form of the Word, and we, like the Israelites, pay more attention to the voice of men instead of the voice of God. The world tells us that God’s Word has become irrelevant today. The world has evolved and is different from the times past. God’s Word has become archaic and should be changed to fit today’s society and values. God’s Word sounds in the background, but people have learned to block Him.
The Hebrew writer encourages us to pay attention to God’s Word. He writes, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the Word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever. Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.” Hebrews 13:7-9 (NASB)
God’s Word is everywhere around us. We have copies of it in our homes, sometimes many copies in various translations and versions. We even find it in our hearts when we take the time to listen. We can block it out much like I block out my grandfather clock, but that doesn’t silence it. The only way to become closer to Him is always to pay attention and not block Him out of our lives. The world’s pull will try to silence Him, and it will if we let it happen.
“Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.” Hebrews 3:12 (NASB)
Danny Minton is an Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ