Are You Listening?

The prophet, Joel, begins his book with these words, Hear this, you elders, and give ear, all you inhabitants of the land!”  In Hebrew, the verb translated as hear is “Shema.” It describes the mental activity of hearing as well as its effects. The expectation for the person who hears is to obey.

The verb translated as“to give ear,” is, to give due consideration to someone or something (Deuteronomy 32:1). This double call to listen implies that the subject is critically important.

In the West, we understand listening as a mental activity. But in Hebrew, Shema is often translated into English as obedience. “Then [Moses] took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient (Shema)!” (Exodus 24:7)  

Today, the call comes to us to listen to the Word of the Lord too. Not just to hear it with our ears, but to obey what is commanded. We too need to listen to the words of the elders, those among us who have more experience. Unfortunately, older people are often scorned, pushed aside, and accused of being out of touch with new ways of thinking and living. It happens even in the church. We are suffering the results of that ill-advised behavior.

We need to pass on the faith to our children, grandchildren, and beyond. Current research tells us that nearly two-thirds of 18–29-year-olds in the United States who grew up in church have withdrawn from church involvement as an adult. Could some of that rejection be a result of the failure of us older Believers to truly live out our faith in daily obedience? That might make us uncomfortable, but it’s something to think about.

Are you truly listening to God?

– J. Mark Horst

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