“And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.” Isaiah 29:18
It was truly an amazing thing when Jesus opened the ears of one who was deaf, or opened the eyes of one who was blind. We see an example of this in today’s Gospel lesson (Mark 7:31-37). But even more amazing is when Jesus opens the eyes and ears of those spiritually blind and deaf to see and hear with understanding His life-giving word.
Consider Jesus’ words in John 5:25-27: “Truly, truly, I say to you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father has life in himself; so has he given to the Son to have life in himself; and has given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.”
Though it often happens yet today that people close their eyes and ears to the Word of God and God hardens them in their foolish unbelief and takes away all understanding (cf. Isa. 29:9-12), it is also God who, through the preaching of His Word, opens the eyes of those who are spiritually blind and the ears of those who are spiritually deaf. It is as St. Paul writes: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).
In Isaiah 29:13-14, we read: “For as much as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.”
And how true this is in our time as well! Because our religion became an outward observance only, because the Word of God was neglected and our people just observed the precepts of men, the wisdom of our wise men has perished and the understanding of the prudent is hidden from our eyes.
But God also promised (in Isaiah 29:17-19, 22-24): “Is it not yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest? And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness. The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. … Therefore thus said the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. But when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in the middle of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. They also that erred in spirit shall come to under- standing, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.”
Through the preaching of the Word of God, our Lord Jesus opened the eyes of the spiritually blind and the ears of the spiritually deaf. He raised the spiritually dead to life. He created faith in men’s hearts and unloosed tongues to sing His praise (cf. John 6:63; Luke 19:37-40).
And so also today, Jesus, through the preaching of His Word, still calls people to repent of their sins and place their faith in Him as the Messiah and Savior of the world for pardon and forgiveness. He calls people to come to Him in faith and receive life everlasting, and the Holy Spirit, working through the Word opens blind eyes and deaf ears to see and hear (cf. John 3:3-6, 14-15; John 4:10, 13-14; Matt. 11:28-30).
Think of Luther’s explanation of the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith: in which Christian Church He daily and richly forgives all sins to me and all believers, and will at the last day raise up me and all the dead, and give unto me and all believers in Christ eternal life. This is most certainly true.”
To most, the Bible remains a closed book — they may have read it and studied it but do not understand its message. But, by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel, Jesus still opens eyes, unstops ears and gives understanding that people might see their sinfulness and repent, looking to Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice for pardon, forgiveness and life eternal.
God grant you eyes that see, ears that hear, hearts that understand and believe the message of His Word that you might have pardon and eternal peace through faith in Jesus’ name. “He that has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15). Amen.
[Scripture quotations are from the American King James Version.]