In this week’s Bible Study, we’re looking at the Hebrew word “shema,” which means to listen. But it’s more than that. Shema is an urgent call to not only hear Yahweh with our ears but to also respond to him with our whole lives. In the pages of the Bible, we see how Yahweh is the one who hears and responds to the cries of the oppressed.
As we take time to truly listen to him, we observe his empathy and justice towards the afflicted, changing how we think, feel, and act. In light of current events, what does it look like to let God’s response to the voices of the Black community become our own?
What stood out to you about what the word “listen” means in the Hebrew Bible?
How is this different from or similar to how you usually use the word?
The Shema is one of the most important prayers in the Bible. The Shema became something that Jewish people prayed every morning and evening for thousands of years, and it is still relevant to us today. It gets at the heart of all the commands given to the people of Israel. The Shema is a call to listen and respond to the truth that Yahweh is the one true God, and the appropriate response is to love Yahweh with all of our being. Knowing and loving God is how we can experience the fullness of life. And when we align our hearts with God’s, we will naturally care about the things he cares about and fulfill our roles as his partners in bringing about human flourishing on the earth.
How would you describe Yahweh’s character? What do you believe Yahweh cares about? Take a moment now to admire him for who he is and all he loves.
It’s easy to forget about who Yahweh is and what he cares about as we go about daily life. Read Deuteronomy 6:7-9 again. What are some ways you can remind yourself of who Yahweh is on a daily basis?
How do you think Yahweh feels about current events? How do our Black brothers and sisters feel about current events? How can you listen to their stories this week?
One of the most famous passages in the book of James is about being not just a hearer of the word but a doer. The author compares these “hearers” to those who see themselves in the mirror and then immediately forget what they look like. The point is that hearing and doing cannot be separated. We don’t truly see the mirror if we forget the image in it, and we don’t truly listen if the message doesn’t change us. We were made to reflect the image of God, but we forget who we were made to be when we do not let God's character shape our thought patterns, attitudes, affections, and actions. We are not truly listening to God's life-changing words if our lives are not changed.
What stood out to you as you read this passage?
According to this passage, what does a pure reflection of God’s character look like? What gets in the way of that pure reflection?
Where in your life have you heard what God said but forgot to put it into action? Ask him for help and commit to practice what you learn this week.