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Week Three | Cultivate Ears that Hear

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Wealth of the Wilderness Online Biblical Study
Reading Assignment – Ch. 5 & 6
Hebrew Word of the Week – shema שָׁמַע
🎙️ Listen to the Audio version 🎧 | Read time 8.25-minutes

In a large crowded auditorium, a speaker steps to the podium and waits a few seconds. The background music is turned off, the lights dim, and a spotlight focuses on the stage. The speaker waits several more seconds for the audience to quiet down before she speaks. “May I have your attention, please?”

It’s a little funny to think about how difficult it can be to get a large group of people to quiet down. But it’s interesting to consider why the crowd being quiet is so important.

With all the crowd noise it can be very difficult to distinguish the voice of a single individual. But it’s also important for us to not be talking if we want to hear what someone else is saying, not just when we’re in a large crowd.

Our ears not only hear sound better when we’re not speaking but our minds can also better process and listen to what we’re being told. Once our ears have heard and our minds have understood, then we have the opportunity to act on what we’re being instructed with, and obey.

The Hebrew word shema means “to hear” or “to listen”, as well as meaning “to obey.”

“To shema is to hear the word of the Lord and live it out. To listen, understand, and respond as needed.”

Rebekah Joy, Pg. 64 of “Wealth of the Wilderness”


Then Moses and the Levitical priests said to all Israel, “Be silent, Israel, and listen! You have now become the people of the Lord your God.”
Deuteronomy 27:9, NIV

I’m not a big fan of public speaking. It took a good bit of direction from the Lord,  convincing from Bree, and the wonders of technology that allow us to edit mistakes before I agreed to record a podcast.

I feel bad for Moses who struggled with a speech impediment for having to do so much public speaking when God gave him direction. And he didn’t have the help of the technology we do today.

Therefore, it was that much more important for the Israelites to be silent, to hear the message.

It’s not always easy to shema, it’s a choice. Being physically silent to hear is the easy part. Listening to obey is much harder, especially when it involves quieting our thoughts and emotions.

In the wilderness, Moses had to set aside any insecurities and doubts when he chose to shema

Express Authentic Emotions

In chapter 6 of Wealth of the Wilderness, Rebekah Joy talks a lot about how Elijah was actively choosing to shema while going through his wilderness journey.

I can relate to Elijah’s experience on a very personal level.

While Elijah “went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it, and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life.”
1 Kings 19:4, NIV“Christians today have an unprecedented opportunity to understand the historical and religious context in which Jesus lived and ministered.  Let’s take full advantage of these discoveries, deepening our discipleship by exploring what life and faith were like in the first century.”

There’s a part of me that is hesitant to admit that I’ve prayed this same prayer so many times that I’ve lost count.

I remember the first time I laid in bed crying out to God about how completely overwhelmed I felt.

I felt so broken and helpless. I wanted God to just take me home.

Now 21-years later, I still find myself often praying in a similar posture crying out to God that I’ve had enough, as I try to make some sort of sense of the wilderness I’m going through dealing with constant physical pain, and also the difficulty of enduring it mentally.

It’s so important to express authentic emotions, especially while praying. God gave us these emotions for a reason and He sees our brokenness.  He hears our cries and understands how we’re feeling.

Over and over again God tells me He’s not finished with me by showing me what work He still has planned for me, by doing something special for someone, or by providing a blessing through my hands.

“…at Elijah’s lowest point, God heard his authentic emotional expression and responded in a way that communicated, “I’m not finished with you. There’s still work for you to do.”

rebekah joy, pg. 80 of “wealth of the wilderness”

Sweet friend, if you are also in a wilderness feeling completely done and ready for God to just take you home, you’re not alone.

Our God is a God who sees you and hears your cries. 

Find comfort knowing how God brought Moses, Elijah, and many others through their lowest moments, and taught them to shema, so hold onto the Truth that God’s not finished with you!

1. We hear better with our mouths closed.
2. Shema means “to hear”, “to listen”, and “to obey”.
3. Moses and Elijah modeled how it is a choice to shema.
4. We’re not alone in the wilderness; God hears our cries.
5. God’s not finished with us.

Do you have any tried and true suggestions for how to quiet our bodies and minds to help others better shema?

Shop this study

Wealth of the Wilderness | Rebekah Joy

A 6-week study to develop halakha—Hebrew for “a way of walking and living”—that positions us to inherit the unique riches available in and through wilderness seasons. Ten postures form the framework of Wealth of the Wilderness, each with a relevant Hebrew word as its foundation.

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