“stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears…
they stopped their ears”
Ears are a funny thing, aren’t they? Sort of a part of the face, but not really, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Sometimes long, maybe with “detached” earlobes… other times smaller and rounder and seemingly closer to the head.
When it comes to political cartoons, the ears are fair game, and if that’s the most unusual or noticeable feature on a man’s head, then that’s what’s going to be accentuated.
Their job in the body is crucial. One of the five main senses, they are part of how we learn; how we take in information. And frankly, they are probably the hardest sense to stop from working. You can close your eyes, keep your mouth closed and your hands to yourself, and pretty much stop those senses from performing. Your nose is a little harder, but you can pretty successfully stop it from doing its job with one hand.
But closing your ears? That’s harder. You can stick your fingers in there, or fold that little flap of skin there into that cavity.
Is that what that flap is for, by the way? To block our ears? Or did God design that just to protect our ears a little, and maybe “catch” sounds a little better? Or maybe all of the above?
But plugging your ears, either with your fingers or earplugs, does not do the whole job. You need special equipment to really, thoroughly stop your ears from doing what they were designed to do.
In chapter 7 of Acts, the ears of the Jews are at issue. Stephen calls them stiff-necked ~ meaning that they refuse to bow to the truth of Jesus Christ’s resurrection and deity. Then he calls them uncircumcised in heart ~ meaning they refuse to humble their prideful hearts to acknowledge the truth.
And then he calls them uncircumcised in ears ~ meaning that they will not listen. “You resist the Holy Spirit, as your fathers did.”
Our ears are a large part of how the Holy Spirit communicates with us. As Romans 10:14 says, “How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” But they refused to take to heart ~ they refused to listen to what they were hearing. Uncircumcised ears. Futile hearing.
And six verses later, they can’t stand it any more. Stephen “cut their hearts” with the truth of the murder of their Messiah, and they were furious. And then something glorious happened. Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at His right hand (verse 56). His proclaiming that vision to them sealed his death. They cried out, ran at him, and stoned him to death.
But they did something else, too, in verse 59. They stopped their ears. So violently offended were they at Stephen’s words, that they refused to listen. Knowledge? No. Communication? Refused. Truth? No thank you.
How can they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how will they believe in Him of whom they refuse to hear?
Let we who have ears, hear.