Shema

Jon Brown

READ : Hosea 4:1-3

Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel. (v. 1)

Hosea 4 marks a significant transition in the prophet’s message from allegory to actuality. God turns from Hosea’s married life to Israel’s idolatrous life, as his prophet now speaks to Israel directly. The first word the Lord uses to address his wandering people is Shema. Shema is a Hebrew word that means “hear, listen, obey.” It is such a significant word in the life of God’s people that it is actually the title of their most important creed, the “Shema“ (see Deuteronomy 6:4).

The word in this case is used as a command: “Hear, Listen, Obey.” It is not an invitation, an idea, or a suggestion, but a demand, an order. “Hear, Listen, Obey.” For the people of God then as well as now, “hearing” must always include “obeying.” Shema makes no distinction between them: to hear is to listen and obey.

Jesus expected the same. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock” (Matthew 7:24).

James also pointed this out when he wrote, “Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves” (James 1:22). The word of the Lord must never merely be “heard”; shema means “hear and obey.”

PRAYER

Gracious God, help us to listen to your voice and obey your word. Amen.