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Hear O Israel

written by Asher Intrater
January 03, 2005

The greatest commandment of all time starts with the word “Hear”- in Hebrew, “Shema”. Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul and all your might – Deuteronomy 6:4-5. This verse has been the rallying cry of the Jewish people for three thousand years. Eye witness reports of the Holocaust told of Jewish families holding their little children in their arms, whispering to them, then pointing to the sky, chanting out loud, “Shema Yisrael,” as the Nazis machine gunned them into mass graves.

In this article I want to concentrate on that first word – “Hear.” Unfortunately, the meaning has been clouded by religious controversy (as if the verse was primarily a Jewish theological defense against the Christian “pagan” belief in three gods) and by religious ritual (some Jews recite the verse with the three middle fingers pointing upward on the forehead with the thumb and little finger in the corners of the right and left eye, spelling out the letters of “Shaddai”; while other Jews wrap their tallit – prayer shawl – around their head like Moses covering his face before the glory fire of God).

Listen and Obey
The word Shema, much like the word Hear in other languages, has two meanings: listen and obey. So God is telling us to listen – to pay attention to hear and understand what He is saying; and then when we get it, we are to obey – to put into action what the word has said. This is similar to how Pastor Cho of Korea summarized his secret to ministry success as simply, “I pray and I obey.”

So God is telling us first of all to develop a listening heart and to try to understand His will. You can’t hear a radio station unless you turn into the right wavelength. Before we can “hear” God’s voice, we have to “listen” for it. Romans 10:17 tells us “faith comes by hearing.” That also has a dual meaning. Our faith is developed as we hear the voice of God in our inner ear, but it is also developed as we “obey all things that I (Yeshua) have commanded you” – Matthew 28:20.

Hearing by faith is just as much moral as it is mystical. Faith without obedience is a false faith, like sinking sand, a cloud without water, a body without a spirit. A famous verse in Jewish tradition, which puts the commitment to obey even before the ability to hear is Exodus 24:7 – “We will obey and we will hear.”

Prophetic Anointing
There was a time in Israel when almost no one was receiving a prophetic word from God. People were neither listening nor obeying. Then God found one little boy whose heart was sensitive to Him. This little boy was Samuel. But he didn’t know how to receive a prophecy. He had to learn. Eli the old priest told him that the next time he sensed the Lord might be talking to him to respond, “Speak LORD for your servant hears” – I Samuel 3:9.

There is a position, a posture of the heart, a willingness of spirit that makes us ready and able to hear a word from God. We have to listen on the inside, and be committed to obeying. We cannot make God speak to us, but we can train ourselves to be sensitive and focused on listening. And God certainly wants to speak to us. There is nothing wrong with His transmitter; it is our receiver that needs tuning.

Our staff and students take two hours together in the morning for prophetic praise and prayer. It is a time for listening to the voice of God and developing the prophetic gifts of the Holy Spirit. We believe God wants to raise up a new generation of local Hebrew speaking prophets here in Israel, just as He wants in every other tribe, nation and tongue. We see this as a kind of “school of the prophets” (I Samuel 10:5).

Kingly Authority
Another example is found in the famous dream of King Solomon, in which he was asked what he would like to receive from God. Above all the material blessings of this world, he requested, “a hearing heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil” – I Kings 3:9. The word here for a hearing or listening or obedient heart is lev shomea, from the same root as shema in both the passages above.

Note again the moral dimensions of hearing, so that we can discern between right and wrong. It was the listening heart that made Solomon worthy to be king. That same listening heart gives us the wisdom to exercise spiritual authority. Yet that authority also requires integrity. A king’s throne is established in righteousness (Proverbs 16:12, 25:5).

Don’t think you are going to have all kinds of spiritual authority without the corresponding responsibility of integrity and righteousness. We learn to reign by the qualities of righteousness (Romans 5:17), and it is the Spirit of Holiness that gives us the wisdom to rule as kings (Proverbs 8:15).

So whether it is to 1.) love the Lord with all our might, 2.) receive prophetic gifts and anointing, or 3.) develop leadership and kingly authority, everything starts with a listening and obedient heart. Like a leaf that flutters at the slight touch of the wind (John 3:8), so are we to be sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit on the inside.

Asher serves as president of Tikkun Global family of ministries and congregations, dedicated to the dual restoration of Israel and the Church. He is founder of the Revive Israel five-fold ministry team, and oversees both Ahavat Yeshua and Tiferet Yeshua congregations in Israel.

He and his wife Betty share a passion for personal prayer and devotion, local evangelism and discipleship in Hebrew, and unity of the Body of believers worldwide.

Asher was raised in a conservative Jewish home and holds degrees from Harvard University, Baltimore Hebrew College and Messiah Biblical Institute. He has authored numerous books, tracts and articles.

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