For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’
– Acts 28:27
Repetition is one of God’s ways of getting our attention. When the Lord wants to make sure we don’t miss an important truth, He will say it at least twice (e.g., “Truly, truly”). Since repetition points to importance, Acts 28:27 is a vital verse for us to understand. This verse in Acts 28:27 is reiterated multiple times in the New Testament, though it originally comes from Isaiah 6:9-10 (Matt. 13:14, 15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; Rom. 11:8).
This verse reveals and warns – it reveals how people, even God’s people, slip into disobedience and it warns us of forfeiting God’s blessings when we persist in stubbornness.
Children can easily dismiss their parents’ voices. They tune out the reminders to clean their room or do their homework or finish their chores. This is like Acts 28:27. God’s people see His mighty works, they hear His truth proclaimed, they read His word in Scripture, and yet they can neglect the very truths and commands that were plain to see.
We must guard ourselves diligently against such desensitized hearts because this is what leads to inaction, disobedience, and sin. Waywardness doesn’t come all at once but slowly builds little by little, layering calluses over our once soft hearts.
Sadly, this slow erosion of faithfulness happens among those who hear God’s word often. This verse is originally addressed to the Jewish people of Isaiah’s time and also applied to the Hebrews of Jesus’ time and Paul’s. It can happen to us as well. We can hear sermons, read the Bible, listen to devotionals, and read Christian books, but just because we are exposed to lots of God’s truth does not therefore mean that we will necessarily heed it. We must continually cultivate soft soil in our hearts and pull out the weeds of worldly cares and sinful desires.
If we find ourselves disobeying the Lord, the answer may not be hearing more or learning more. The answer involves repentance – circumcising our hearts by the power of the Spirit. The answer requires pleading with God to open the eyes of heart to see, soften my heart to truly receive, and heal me of my stubbornness. “Change my heart, O God; make it ever new!”
If we persist in hard-heartedness and sin, then there will be consequences according to the Scripture. God earnestly wants us to realize the blessings of His many promises in Christ, but our good Father will not reward a stiff-necked child. We cannot fool God; He knows our hearts and minds, and He will shepherd each one as needed. As Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”
O Father, take away all stubbornness and rebellion in my heart. I do not want to neglect You and Your call on my life, neither do I want to forfeit the blessings of Your presence and power in this life. I want to walk with You, please You, and experience the fullness of Your Spirit bearing fruit in me. Renew me right here and now; wash me again in the blood of Jesus and pour Your Spirit into my heart. I want to listen to and heed every one of Your words. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Chuck Hetzler, PhD
Director, CU Day and Night
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