The Letter to the Hebrews begins off reminding us of a stunning and remarkable fact - God spoke. And not only has God spoken, but he has done so "at many times, and in many ways." And in these last days, he has spoken by a new and infinitely greater way of speaking. He has spoken by His Son.
Have you heard this Word from God? Now, you might have read this Word, but how often - if at all - have you heard it?
Ever since I was a new believer, the printed Bible has rightly been emphasized as God's Word. The immeasurable value of reading a physical, paper copy will always be there - as it rightly should. There are obvious benefits to a physical copy (such as, the fact that you can read as fast or as slow as you want), but have we devalued the intake of Scripture via auditory means?
I think it goes without saying, the majority of believers interact with their Bibles through the reading of a physical, paper copy. However, my question is this - how many Christians even own an audio Bible? Imagine if the equation was flipped. What if the church primarily listened to the reading of Scripture? Would the church's spiritual vitality be any less diminished?
I believe we should value the reading of God's Word, but we should also value the listening of Scripture being read aloud. I think this is a highly neglected and yet an equally valid means of valuing God's Word in your life.
Consider that for the majority of church history (and today, in fact), people simply didn't have nice, leather-bound copies of the entirety of Scripture to go, take home, and read at their own leisure. They listened to it in the midst of congregational worship. One person would have a copy and read it aloud to multiple people. This is certainly a legitimate means of "reading" the Word.
As I was recently surfing through some of my regular websites, I saw a great deal on an audio Bible of my favorite translation. I decided to go ahead and get it. Little did I know that this simple decision would revolutionize my walk with the Lord. An audio Bible can be used in ways that I never really imagined. I am able to hear a Word from God almost whenever I want. It redeems daily mundane activities like washing the dishes, folding laundry, and commuting to work. I was shocked when I found how impacting it could be simply by listening.
For example, the longest chapter in the Bible (Psalm 119) takes only about sixteen-and-a-half minutes to listen to. If your commute is anything like the national average (according to the US Census Bureau it is about 25 minutes one-way), you could easily listen to the entire psalm in a single, one-way commute. If you listen with a humble and open heart, I assure you that your appreciation and love for God's Word will dramatically increase if you simply listen.
Also for another example, one could easily listen to the Book of Hebrews in a day's commute to and from work (about 44 minutes to listen to). And it only takes about 1 hour to listen to the Book of Romans. One could complete the entire Pentateuch in slightly over 3 weeks (assuming a 5-day work week commute). That would put you almost 2 months ahead of most normal yearly reading plans that finish the Pentateuch in early March!
Throughout this process, I have been able to think about things in a fresh way that I had never before considered simply by hearing it spoken. New truths - that were there all along - were able to hit me in a way like never before because I simply wasn't listening.
For an added encouragement to appreciate the value of listening to God's Word, think about this - some people are only capable of listening. Some people are visually impaired and some elderly are no longer capable of reading a printed version for long periods of time (there are large print and Braille bibles, but it is far easier to listen to the spoken word for such persons). And finally, there are many adults around the world that simply cannot read.
But for most of us reading this post, there may be a tendency to devalue the Word spoken to us. It requires dependency on the part of the listener. Also, there are likely many people in the church who best learn through auditory means that have completely neglected this style as a legitimate means.
The point is this: Romans 10:17 reads, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." My encouragement to everyone is to not neglect reading God's Word (in a physical, paper copy), but in addition, actively listen to Scripture. It will bless your life in countless ways - just like reading God's Word can.