If you spend any time in a Jewish congregation, whether it be Orthodox, Reform, Conservative or Messianic, you will hear the watchword of the Jewish faith, Deuteronomy 6:4, Hear, O Israel, the LORD your God, the LORD is one. For many individuals who only hear this declaration, because the word “Hear” is a homophone for Here. Misunderstanding can arise if one believes that the word is Here, O Israel. The word that God notes is HEAR, שְׁמַע as if He is commanding Israel to listen. God puts a premium on listening. The five senses are sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. I'm so grateful for these five senses! I can't even think of losing one sense.
Spend any time in God's word and you all sense that God is speaking to you. I do not mean that every time you open up the Bible, you will hear the audible word of God. Absolutely not! I wish that were the case. Early in my walk with God, I learned the discipline of having a quiet time. Intimacy with God is one of the greatest gifts given to us, after salvation. In the watchword of the Jewish faith, Deuteronomy 6:4, God is commanding Israel to listen and to know that the LORD your God, is Echad, He is one. Growing up, this was the first Bible verse that I learned in Sunday school and most likely if you asked any Jewish person, it would be the first verse they ever learned as well. My first-grade teacher in Sunday school rewarded every child with a Hershey's chocolate bar if they could recite this verse. Guess who stood up first for the chocolate bar!? Me. The reward was chocolate bar and not reciting the verse.
This word שְׁמַע is used over 1100 times in the Bible. Not only does this beautiful word mean HEAR, it also means obey, understand, hearken and perceive. This word is the Qal imperative; it is a command. God wants us to obey Him and He communicates to us through His word, the Bible. At times, we can be limited when we read the English version of the Bible because there are so many different meanings to certain words.
One of my favorite Bible passages in the Bible is Psalms, the 27th chapter. Within that chapter is verse 7, Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice, And be gracious to me and answer me.” If God can use the imperative word שְׁמַע, I want to be able to use it towards Him! How do we know that God listens to us?
God’s word says “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. (1 John 5:14-15)” God answers all of our prayers. Yet, waiting for God to answer can be discouraging, especially if you have waited for years or decades for a prayer to be answered. This is where I can relate to David in Psalm 27:9 “Do not hide Your face from me, Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation!”
There are moments when it seems as though God is smiling on us, on our situation. But many more are the days when God seems to hide His face. It can be in my own brokenness that I want God to show up, but heaven remains silent. There are some who interpret God’s word through the theological or intellectual lens. Me—I grasp God’s word through my heart. I cry that God will hear me! I need His graciousness and answers! Help me, LORD! Your name Yeshua, is salvation. You save! Save me in this distress, please! This psalm begins as a lament. It is a cry of the heart, yet it ends beautifully.
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13) We see hope and encouragement here. The ending is beautiful as well, “Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.”
Dear saint, let us be strong as we wait. The Bible tells us that God hears our prayers; He hears our cries. We are all in God’s waiting room together (b’yachad in Hebrew). We will wait , we will linger with expectation and look up. He hears and He will answer with “Yes” or “I have a better idea!”