Hearing Isn’t Just Hearing (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. ⁵You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." —Deuteronomy 6:4-5
The Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) is considered one of the most important passages in the Hebrew Bible. It has been referred to as the John 3:16 of the Hebrew Scriptures. Orthodox Jews today still hold The Shema in high esteem, reciting it twice daily. It is one of the most theologically dense passages in Scripture, encapsulating the essence of Yahweh as well as instructing us in our response to him.
This passage takes on even greater significance in light of Jesus’s coming as Yahweh incarnate. In Mark 12:28-30, when asked by a scribe what the greatest commandment is, Jesus replies, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:29b-30)—a near word-for-word quotation of Deuteronomy 6.
Many will rightly point out that this passage calls us to love God fervently with all our being. But don’t forget the first word in verse 4: Hear.
This is the first imperative in the passage that governs the rest of the commands in vv. 5-9. This concept of hearing is crucial, especially in light of Deuteronomy 29:4, “But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.” God is sovereign in granting the ability to hear God!
How do we know if we are hearing rightly? What kind of hearing does God grant? Here are four indicators:
Hearing that accepts Jesus—“But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold” (Mark 4:20).
Hearing that comes to Jesus—“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:38–40).
Hearing that does the words of Jesus—“Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built” (Luke 6:47–48).
Hearing that believes Jesus—“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24).
1. Do you take for granted that you hear the Lord’s word?
2. Does your hearing affect more worship of Jesus?