By Irvin Himmel
Hearing Ears and Seeing Eyes
The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them (Prov. 20:12).
Physically, the ear is the organ of hearing and the eye is the organ of sight. Through the sense of hearing and the sense of seeing impressions are received in the mind. To fully appreciate this proverb we need to go beyond the physical senses to the spiritual listening and looking which God requires.
The Hearing Ear
Jesus said in Mk. 4:23, “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” The hearing ear is the “obedient ear” (Prov. 25:12). It is the ear that hearkens and heeds (1 Sam. 15:22).
(1) It hears God’s word. Many people who have excellent physical hearing never hearken to the voice of God. Through Isaiah, Jehovah threatened judgment against the Israelites “because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear” (Isa. 65:12). God approached His people through works, i.e. by revelation, but they declined to hearken. They turned a deaf ear to His will. They were like a child who ignores his parents when they speak.
The salvation of the soul depends on our willingness to hear. Jesus said, “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (John 6:45). In the examples of conversion in the book of Acts, each case began with the hearing of the gospel. For instance, it is said of Lydia that she “heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul” (Acts 16:14). “. . . And many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:8). It is through hearing that faith is produced: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).
It is not mere physical hearing of the gospel that brings a blessing. The hearing which results in submission to the Lord is that which blesses. Jesus compared the one who hears His sayings and does them to a wise man who builds his house on a rock. The hearer who does not obey is compared to a foolish man who builds his house on the sand (Matt. 7:24-27).
(2) It hears when challenges call. The Bible tells of the progress of the gospel in Antioch of Syria, and how “the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned to the Lord.” When “tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was at Jerusalem,” they sent Barnabas to Antioch (Acts 11:21,22). The Jerusalem brethren heard the challenge to broaden the influence of the gospel by sending a qualified teacher to a field that needed such a man. Today, our ears should listen when such challenges come.
(3) It hears the cries of the poor. “Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble” (Psa. 41:1). Paul and Barnabas were admonished by James, Cephas, and John to “remember the poor” as they preached among the Gentiles (Gal. 2: 10). Paul did in fact hearken to the cries of the poor, urging help for needy saints (1 Cor. 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 8; 9; Rom. 15:25,26). Dorcas’ ear was open to the cries of the poor. When she died all the widows gathered around weeping and showing the coats and garments which she had made (Acts 9:39).
The Seeing Eye
The eye which sees in the profitable and spiritual sense is the eye which perceives, understands, regards, and ascertains.
(1) It sees opportunities for helping others. In relation to helping the poor, it is a “bountiful eye.” “He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor” (Prov. 22:9). It is the eye of compassion. When the Samaritan came to the man who had been robbed and wounded, “he saw him” and “had compassion on him” (Lk. 10:33). The priest and the Levite had seen the man, but they lacked eyes of compassion. Jesus said to the disciples, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white unto harvest” (John 4:35). All around us today there are opportunities for harvesting souls for the Lord. Too often our eyes are dim and we do not see those opportunities until it is too late.
(2) It sees Him who is invisible. The physical eye cannot see God (John 1:18), for He is spirit (John 4:24). Moses saw only a manifestation of the glory of God, described figuratively as His “back parts” (Ex. 33:17-23). But notice Hebrews 11:27 which says, speaking of Moses at an earlier period, “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” Robert Milligan puts it this way: “By the eye of faith he saw the King eternal, immortal, and invisible, standing by him, ready to fulfill at the proper time all the promises that he had made to his chosen people.”
(3) It sees light through God’s word. Paul referred to the ‘eyes of your understanding being enlightened” (Eph. 1:18). It is said in Psalm 119:130, “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” God provides the light to lead us out of darkness. The eye that sees is enlightened by His word.
God Made Both of Them
God is the designer of the human body and has equipped it with its component parts. When Moses complained of being slow of speech and of a slow tongue, God answered, “Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or blind? have not I the Lord” (Ex. 4:10,11).
It is God who has given us faculties for learning and doing His will. He has provided us ears for hearing and eyes for seeing. But too many people are like those to whom Jesus spoke and applied the words of Isaiah the prophet: “By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart. . . ” (Matt. 13:14,15).
Guardian of Truth XXX: 19, pp. 585, 598
October 2, 1986