Hearing and Obeying God

As a believer in Christ, do you have a passionate urgency to hear and obey God’s Word? You may not know this, but the book of Deuteronomy actually consists of three sermons that Moses preached to the Israelites as they were on the brink of crossing the Jordan River to take the Promised Land. Moses is a dying man who has shepherded this flock of over 2 million people for the past forty years. The first generation rebelled when they heard the bad report of the ten spies who scouted out the Land. Only Joshua and Caleb believed that God was on their side. As a result, that generation died in the wilderness and never got to enter the Promised Land. Their children, on the other hand, were poised to cross over and Moses preaches to them with an urgency to obey God’s Word so that they will have success when they enter the Promised Land.

Four times he exhorts them to “Hear!” (4:1, 5:1, 6:4 and 9:1) The Hebrew word for “hear” is “shema” which means more than just casually having information go in one ear and out the other. Instead, the word means to actively listen with the determined intention to obey. In Deuteronomy 4:1, Moses challenges the people: “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you.” They must listen with the intention of obeying the law of God so that they will have success.

In Deuteronomy 5:1 Moses preaches, “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the rules that I speak in your hearing today, and you shall learn them and be careful to do them.” Notice how in both Chapter 4 and 5, Moses challenges the Israelites to not only listen and learn God’s Word, but to do it. James echoes this sentiment in 1:22 where he writes, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

Moses again admonishes the people to “Hear” in Deuteronomy 6:4 so that they can truly understand who God is and how they are to love Him. He preaches, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” This passage teaches that there is only one True and Living God and that we owe Him our total allegiance and love.

In Deuteronomy 9:1, Moses again challenges the people to “Hear” so that they will be know that God is not giving them the Promised Land because of their righteousness, but because of His faithfulness to His covenant promise.

You may ask, “What does Moses preaching to the ancient Israelites have anything to do with me today?” As Christians, we worship the same God as Moses and our Lord still expects us to have the same urgency to listen to His Words with the firm intent to obey. Are you sitting under sound teaching where your pastor challenges you to “hear” and “obey” the Word of God? Do you have a desire to passionately follow Jesus in whatever He teaches? Do you have an appetite to submit yourselves under the authority of His Word?

The primary way Jesus tells us that we love Him is by obeying His commandments. Jesus says this in John 14:15: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” We can pay lip service to Jesus and admire Him as a great teacher. We can even say over and over again that we truly love Him. But the true proof that you love Jesus is through your consistent, passionate obedience to the totality of His Word. Are you “hearing” Him today?

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