“Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it, and let the Lord GOD be a witness against you, the Lord from His holy temple.” (Micah 1:1)
What’s my warning today, Lord? How can I keep myself where I should be with You and with others? And if I am not where I should be, how can I come back? I listen. Yes, I hear, but not like we think about hearing. The words and the sounds don’t go in and then out the other side with no effect. This is shama and we are to hear and to know and to experience because we act upon what we hear from You. Hearing is listening and doing, listening and following through. Hearing doesn’t become faith until one acts upon the hearing. “So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)
So, it goes to reason, that if I stop really hearing and following through, I’m going to fall, and fall big time. I need to pay attention to my heart and to my hearing. Paying attention in Hebrew is qashab which means to prick up the ears, attend, give heed, incline, mark, regard. I think of a horse and how attentive it is with its ears. That’s because they are guided by fight or flight instincts. They worry about being attacked as prey. Even as domesticated animals, they are always listening. That’s why a rider must be constantly aware, because if those ears sense “danger” you may be in for a wild ride because when that horse hears, it will act.
The truth is that the Lord has given us ears that are capable of hearing more keenly and more realistically than a horse. He’s given us deeper intuition and true understanding if we stop to really listen and pay attention. A horse naturally acts by running, not by thinking things through. But You give us everything we need to know to handle every situation in the right way.
Why should I take the time to listen and hear and act upon what I hear of You, Lord? Because You hear us. Back in Exodus You shared, “If ever you take your neighbor’s cloak in pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down, for that is his only covering and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.” Did you know that God cares about things like that and wants us to act accordingly?
And what’s the problem with listening to other sources than You and heeding their direction? When we serve “gods of wood and stone, the work of human hands” they don’t see, or hear, or eat, or smell. Nothing else and no one else can hear and do for us what You desire to do. God let the people of Israel hear his voice out of heaven, that he might discipline, instruct, and teach them. They heard His words. Are they the only ones? You are still letting us hear Your voice out of heaven today. And we don’t have to see You in the midst of the fire or the cloud and hear Your words there. You gave us Your word through Jesus Christ and we got to see it lived out. We got to hear and see it in action. And that’s what we’re called to do in our lives.
Listen, it may be up to us to decide whether we will hear or not. It may be up to us whether we will hear and obey or hear and ignore and go our own way. But one thing is not up to us, and that is the consequences of not hearing what has been given to each of us for our benefit. We may think that by not hearing, we become the judge, but we don’t. Look at everyday life. I can ignore the laws, and make my own rules, but when I get caught, I’m going before the judge, and it’s not going to matter what I thought or what I believed. Only what the judge believes will matter and he will declare my guilt or innocence according to how my actions lined up with the law. I can ignore Your words. I can declare my own way. I can totally not pay attention. But that doesn’t negate Your words, Your way, Your right and position as Supreme Judge. You alone will stand as witness against us or for us, no matter what we believe. So who’s side do I want to be on?
Israel as a nation had lost her way. Why? Because she wouldn’t listen and obey. God had spoken these words to them and speaks them to us as we read and hear His words today. “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) Will we love God’s word so much that it flows out of every part of our life? Or will we ignore it and choose our own way?
“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 4:7, Psalm 95:8) Read it. Listen to it. Take time to read it aloud to yourself so the words and truths sink in. Don’t just hear it from someone else’s mouth. Hear it come out your own. Listen to what the Spirit says through His word. In Revelation there is a promise for doing that, and I don’t think it just applies to reading the book of Revelation out loud and hearing and obeying. “Blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” (Revelation 1:3) The last book in the Bible and seven times it reminds us “If anyone has an ear, let him hear…”
The truth is, it is not God’s desire to be against us. His heart has always been for us. How unnatural to choose to be against the One who is so much for us. The truth is that God wants to intercede for us through Jesus Christ, despite what we have chosen. He’s willing to take us back as full children! Listen and hear. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) May we hear and realize the measure to which God is for us and may we respond in like measure to Him.