Often Jesus would finish His teaching of the moment with these words, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Obviously he wasn’t referring to the appendages on the sides of the listeners heads.
A very important prayer in the Old Testament is “Hear Oh Israel. The Lord our God is One.”
We normally think of “hearing” as being able to discern the sounds of words, or music.
But the Hebrew word Shema (shma) translated to English as “hear” means a great deal more than that.
To Understand Or Perceive
Genesis 11:7 says, “Let us go down and confuse their language so that they will not be able to (Shema/hear) each other.” There are times will the context of the story will dictate that shema means “to understand.” Actually, many contemporary translations have already translated shema as understand.
To Agree With And Act Upon
When Sarah came to Abraham with a plan to give him a child since it didn’t seem like the promise of God was going to happen for them, it says that “Abraham heard the voice of Sarah. Although this is similar to understanding, it takes on a different shade of meaning. In this case shema or heard means that Abraham agreed with his wife and decided to go along with it.
To Not Agree Refusing To Act Upon
Similarly to Abraham, Joseph’s story with Potiphar’s wife includes the word shema in how he responded to her. In this case he heard her, but he did not agree with her words and refused to act upon them.
To Acknowledge With A Positive Response
Many times you’ll see the phrase, “The Lord has heard your prayer.” That doesn’t mean that He’s heard your words and is considering them. Instead, He is favorably answering them.
Almost always when you read the word obey in the Scriptures, the Hebrew word behind it is shema. To the Hebrew mind, “to hear” included what was going on in the mind as well as the resulting actions.
Having ears to hear is dealing as much with our response to the Word of the Lord as it is to listening and simply agreeing that His words are important.
Our Own Children
Actually, what we’ve explained here is not that foreign to our ears. When you give direction to your child such as, “Clean your room,” – and they don’t – what is the next thing you say?
“Didn’t you hear me?!”
You’re saying the same thing as the Hebrew meaning. You are not asking if the sound of your voice registered on their ear drums. You are expecting Bobby or Sally to do what you just said.
May we respond to the Lord’s words. They are life and they are health!
(To be continued…)