February 16, 2021

Feb 16, 2021    Jim Osmond
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:” Amos 8:11

In Exodus 20 we find listed ten commandments that God wrote on two tablets of stone. Unfortunately, due to the Israelites’ disobedience for not entering the Promised Land, the people wandered the wilderness for 40 years. Therefore, beginning in Deuteronomy 5, Moses calls for the next generation set to enter the Promised Land to listen, “Hear, O Israel”, before once again reminding them of these ten commandments of God.

Continuing on, we find this same expression, “Hear, O Israel”, in Deuteronomy 6:4. It is a command to listen (“Shema!” in Hebrew; שְׁמַ֖ע) used in the imperative. It was not a suggestion or stated in such a way as to promote passive acquiescence, but rather a command – “Listen up!” Interestingly, this verse holds great significance to the Jewish people and is literally known as the “Shema”. It’s also important to point out that what follows would be what Jesus called the greatest commandment in the New Testament; “the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” And to “love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.” (see Dt 6:4-5, Mt 22:36-38, Mk 12:28-30)

Today, my children are learning these very same commandments in Blast on Wednesday nights at church. You may ask yourself if you can recall them. Have you obeyed the command to “Listen!”? Let’s expand the scope to Biblical literacy in general. According to the “State of the Bible 2020” report released by the Barna Group and the American Bible Society, adults in the United States that claim to read the Bible daily dropped from 14% to 9% from 2019 to 2020. The question arises, how can we obey the command to hear (“shema”) the Word of God if we do not open it? And how can we pass on to the next generation a passion for devoted Bible instruction if we are ignorant of the truths of God to begin with? Will we be a people “destroyed for lack of knowledge”? (Hosea 4:6) Consequently, obedience to the imperative command to “Hear!” has great significance.

A. W. Tozer writes in “Man: The Dwelling Place of God”, “If my love for the Scriptures has cooled even a little, if my eagerness to eat and drink of the inspired Word has abated by as much as one degree, I should humbly admit that I have missed God’s signal somewhere and frankly backtrack until I find the true way once more.”

May we be as the psalmist who wrote in Psalm 42:2, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”

Let us be encouraged to find time daily in committed study of His Word with surrendered hearts and inclined ears.