SHEMA is one of my favorite Hebrew words. It means to hear by design. It means more than just to listen with one’s ears, but to take the message internally. It means this is important, this is deep. Hear this and remember. Take it into your mind and into your heart. Then do something with it.
Virtually every tribal or patriarchal culture has a word like shema. It is used when the leader wants to emphasize the importance of what he or she is about to say. “Listen up, folks. This is important. You must hear and obey.”
God uses the word SHEMA when He delivers commands. Perhaps the best known instance is actually known as The Shema (Deut 6:4-10). Here, God instructs His people to remember His commands, to follow them constantly and to pass them on to future generations.
But note that I used the present tense, uses, in the first sentence of the paragraph above. At least He uses the concept if not the word. He calls to us, wants to deliver messages to us, direct us and comfort us.
Problem with us humans is we often don’t listen! “Let those who have ears hear.” Sound familiar? Jesus was calling us to hear in the sense of shema when He used these words. We all, or nearly all, have ears that supposedly can hear. So, what was He telling us? He was telling us to pay attention, to take to heart what He was about to say or had just said. (The same applies to seeing.)
Think about it. How often do you tune out someone who is talking to you? It could be a friend, your pastor, your boss or even your spouse. You hear the drone of words, nod appropriately, but actually listen? Often, not so much.
It’s so easy to tune out God like this. It’s not that He’s not delivering His messages to us. It’s that we aren’t listening, watching for what He has to say. We have to make a focused, concerted effort to watch and listen for God’s messages.
Let me give an example:
I had an idea of where I wanted to take this blog. I wanted to look up a single Bible passage to support the intended theme of this blog, so I did a quick search on that passage. My eye was led to a link way down in the list of references on this passage. I clicked… and immediately saw that my entire premise would have been wrong… or at least misleading.
Coincidence? Had this been an isolated incidence, I might have thought so. But this sort of thing happens to me constantly. These are what are called “God-incidences.” This is clearly God guiding and directing me to what He wants me to know and write about. It’s God speaking directly to me. And it’s humbling and inspiring. And it’s AWESOME!
My friends, the fact is that God “speaks” to us often and in many different ways. Sometimes its loud and obvious. More often, like my clicking on that page, it is much less obvious. Often He speaks in that “small still voice.”
Either way, He is saying “Shema! Hear!“
The question is: Are we listening?
Alive in The Word