Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.Deuteronomy 6:4,5
Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.Psalm 27:7
When the people of God entered the Desert of Zin, they couldn’t find water to drink and cried out to Moses and Aaron. The two leaders entered the tent of meeting, prostrated themselves before God and prayed.
God told them to gather the people together and speak to a rock, promising that water would come out of it.
But instead, when Moses gathered the people together, he shouted, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” He struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed and the people drank.
For this one act of disobedience, Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land.
In his farewell speech to the people of God, Moses commanded them to “hear” God. (Deuteronomy 6:4,5)
These words from Moses are still recited by the Jewish people today – morning and evening. They are called the Shema (pronounced shmah). Shema is also the first word of this prayer. It’s translated “hear”, but it means much more.
When we shema we aren’t just hearing – letting words into our ears – but we’re obeying – letting those words into our lives.
In ancient Hebrew, there was no separate word for obey. To shema God was to hear and do what God said.
Moses, who did not shema God, commanded his people to hear and do better than he had. “Shema, O Israel.”
The prayer of Psalm 27:7 is scandalously bold then! “Shema my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.”
God says “speak” and we strike instead, but God still quenches our thirst. Despite our disobedience, water still pours from the rock in our desert. We who are often hearing and not responding can still trust that God will shema our cries.
•What have I heard but not yet obeyed?
Patient God, we are sometimes listening and often disobeying. You are always hearing, always responding.
Thank you for quenching the thirst of the disobedient.
Move your words from our ears to our hearts and out into our lives today – to announce your love and kindness and truth and peace to all who are crying out. Answer them through us.