“Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is One.” Deuteronomy 6:4
The opening verse to the Shema is so critical to growing a family and a personal life in the Lord. First, as Israel was being led into the desert out of Egypt and given heart-set commands from God, He addressed the Egyptian and Canaanite mindsets around them. One they were leaving, and the other they were about to walk into.
Before even this though, God opens what He is about to say with a single instruction.
It seems like simple a simple word, one that a reader can gloss over, take for granted. But herein lies a world of trouble for many who would come to Christ.
Hear. To be told or informed of. To be aware of or know the existence of. To listen or pay attention to. To listen to all that someone has to say. To listen and grant.
In our day, many have become ultra-visual receptors. That is that we listen with our eyes. TV, social media, devices, billboards, everything around us grabs our attention and stimulates our understanding through the lens of sight rather than the filter of ears.
But I believe that the Israelites had also become a visually stimulated people, absorbing all of the sights and cultures of their masters in Egypt. That is why God needed to tell them when He uprooted them from the only life they’d ever experienced–because at the exodus, none alive had ever lived outside the bondage of Egypt save Moses–and began to instruct them by telling them to use their ears.
Jesus addressed this deficit as well, saying, “Whoever has ears, let them hear” [Matthew 11:15, 13:9 & 14:43; Mark 4:9 & 4:23; Luke 8:8 & 14:35; Revelation 2:7, 2:11 & 3:6].
Why? Because God speaks. He spoke all that is into existence [Genesis 1:1]. He spoke with His Creation–Adam and Eve [Genesis 3:9]. He spoke to Abraham [Genesis 17:9] and the other patriarchs. He spoke through the prophets at many times and in various ways [Hebrews 1:1]. He sent the Word of Life–His Son, Jesus–to speak and call the world to repentance [Matthew 9:7]. He spoke on the day of Pentecost to people from every language group [Acts 2:4-6]. And He still speaks today.
And because God also hears [1 Samuel 1:20]. He hears our prayers. We wouldn’t petition the throne of God if we didn’t believe with our all hearts, souls and minds that He alone is able to do beyond all that we could ask or imagine–and that He wants to, because He loves us.
We love Him because He first loved us. Shouldn’t we also hear Him, because He hears and listens to and grants petitions to each of us?