Privileged listening ∙
Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! – Deuteronomy 6:4
28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD.’”
30 “‘And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’”
31 “The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.’”
32 The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other.”
33 “And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”
34 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.
“La, la, la, la, I am not listening!” How often have you seen and heard it on media or in casual conversation? For one reason or another people have just stopped listening.
When listening stops, communication is blocked and relationships are stymied. Connections between people are often determined by how well they listen.
Some suggest that there is a difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is considered a mainly physical thing and is processed merely by the ear. We hear thunder, we hear the roar of the ocean or the sounds of animals. We hear noise and music. But listening is considered a bit more. Listening is hearing with understanding. Listening involves more than sounds, it engages the mind to comprehend what is heard. Hearing is nothing more than one of the five senses, but listening is a skill that can be developed.
Good relationships and consequent appropriate actions are based upon communication, comprehension, and wise decision-making. Listening is also a key to leadership. “Leaders who refuse to listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing helpful to say” (Andy Stanley).
The Scriptures take hearing and listening to a whole different level. The word of God assumes that proper hearing is more than taking in sounds. It is listening!
Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!
People of the Jewish faith refer to this verse as the Shema. It is properly pronounced, “Sha-MAH.” The Shema lies at the heart of the Jewish faith. It is the credo by which they live and tragically have died at the hands of their persecutors. It is part of their daily prayers.
The original Hebrew translated, “The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!” contains only four words. It could be literally translated, “YHWH our-God YHWH one”
This verse has many nuances. At minimum, it is a clear and definite expression of monotheism. YHWH, the Lord God of Israel is unique. He is the only true God. There is only one God. The only true God is the God of Israel. Moses is saying that “our God, is God.” All other gods are false gods. Pantheism, belief in multiple gods” is rejected outright.
The Hebrew word translated hear, listen is Shema, which means to listen and pay attention. And when the Father is talking, it often has an added nuance of obedience. It could well be rendered, “listen, pay attention, and take action.”
REFLECT & PRAY
The Father requires that we listen, pay attention, take action, and remember.
Father thank You for the privilege and opportunity of being able to listen to You. Encourage my heart to continuously do that throughout all the days of my life.
When the Lord Jesus Christ was asked “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” He quoted Deuteronomy 6:4-5.
Why is this so important? Because it speaks to the bedrock of our faith as children of the King. Our faith is all about relationship, a personal love relationship with the living God. When we truly love the Father, we want to know Him, follow Him, and serve Him. Our actions emanate from a loving desire to please and obey. It is all based upon our bond with Him.
Such love is not a mere feeling. It is not a spontaneous burst of emotion. It is a commitment. It is love in action.
The word Shema, hear, is an imperative, that is, a command. The Shema is a call to action. The Father is the sole object of our devotion and allegiance. He requires the loyal love of His children. The details are filled in in the words that follow.
4 Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.
5 And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.
6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.
7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.
Having the opportunity to listen to the Father is a great privilege. It was granted first to the Nation of Israel. The Father first made Himself known to them. Now, all who enter into a personal relationship with Him through the Lord Jesus Christ, have the same prerogative.
35 He showed you these things so you would know that the LORD is God and there is no other.
36 He let you hear his voice from heaven so he could instruct you. He let you see his great fire here on earth so he could speak to you from it.
37 Because he loved your ancestors, he chose to bless their descendants, and he personally brought you out of Egypt with a great display of power.
38 He drove out nations far greater than you, so he could bring you in and give you their land as your special possession, as it is today.
39 So remember this and keep it firmly in mind: The LORD is God both in heaven and on earth, and there is no other.
Listen, pay attention, take action, and remember!