This is a section from a sermon I preached at my home church, Grace Evangelical Free Church in La Mirada, as we work our way through the book of Hebrews. I got to do chapter 7, on Melchizedek, and I presented it as an opportunity to learn how to heard God’s word. I think that’s one of the key concerns of Hebrews overall, and I take its teaching on Melchizedek to be an especially vivid instance of it.
I’ll turn most of the sub-points into their own blog posts in the next few days, but if you want to hear the w hole thing, the full Vimeo is embedded (audio and outline also available at our church resources website).
Hearing God’s word is a skill. It’s a skill that we can learn, with God as our teacher. God is in the business of making us good listeners, good hearers of his word. Hebrews is all about this: learning to hear God’s word. Practice makes perfect, until we become mature, (5:14) “those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” God is an excellent speaker, and is in the business of making us good listeners.
The playwright Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) once gave this advice to authors: “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” With a good writer, there is nothing extra just hanging around, to be ignored. Well, God is the kind of careful composer who doesn’t just leave extraneous stuff strewn about in the early chapters. He said Melchizedek and he is going to fire that Melchizedek gun pretty soon. We just need to do some ear calisthenics to make sure we hear it when it goes off.
So before we get to Melchizedek, we’ll go through some ear exercises. Here are some baby steps into hearing God’s Word.
First of all, we don’t have to start by hearing what God says to us. He actually starts us out with an even easier step before that: he lets us OVERhear him. He lets us overhear him talking to somebody else about us. I think that before God even speaks to us, he speaks to his Son in our presence, so we can overhear them talking to each other.