““Hear, Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4)
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Giving Opportunity Message
Listening is the key to entering the reality of the Kingdom of God. Last chapter we examined the ancient Hebrew letters that make up the word, sh’ma . Reviewing, the letters are “shin”, “mem” and “ayin”. Ayin, in ancient Hebrew, is the picture of an eye, which clues us in that perspective is a key to listening. How we see someone greatly impacts how open we are to listening with an open heart and mind to their input. One could argue that the major purpose of higher education is to empower the degree recipients to be credible in the larger conversation of society.
The recent pandemic has clearly demonstrated how vulnerable we all are to the “experts”. These voices often ran counter to just basic logic, common sense if you will. Their declarations of safe and effective practices were often ludicrous. Even to this day, you can see the impact as people scurry about with masks over the faces trying to protect themselves and others from microscopic entities. The “experts” encourage us to take ineffective vaccines and a continual series of boosters which not only do not protect anyone but seem to be magnets for infection rates.
What does this have to with the sh’ma? Everything. How we see people affects how we listen.
The second part of sh’ma is the part I want to go a little deeper into today, the “shin” and the “mem”. The shin is the word picture of teeth. It is the message of destruction. The teeth are how an animal tears apart its prey.
The “mem” is the symbol for water. Water is the archetypical symbol for chaos. In the creation sequence, water is from the chaos of the void, what is called the deep.
The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. (Gen 1:2)
God speaks light, “or” to the chaos, the waters and day is manifested.
Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness (realm of chaos, waters). God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (Gen 1:3-5)
On the third day there is the pulling of dry land out of the waters, and then there is vegetation which is brought forth from that land, so you can imagine the lower waters as a kind of bottomless chaos, the deep, then later the land itself, as being slightly higher and coming out of that watery chaos and then immediately on top of that comes the vegetation on this land, then on the 4th day there is the creation of the heavenly bodies, the sun and moon which generates time, seasons and order.
The composite combining the “shin” and the “mem” is the word “shem” which means the Name. The Name is that which brings destruction to the chaos and manifests the light.
The light is the system of goodness and order that God spoke as being good! This goodness was manifested in the earth with Yeshua.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (Joh 1:1-5)
The Word that was with God and is God was embodied in Yeshua who carried the shem, the name of God into the world.
"I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. (Joh 17:6)
We can see from this verse that the manifestation of the Name is tied to receiving and keeping or protecting the word. The name, the shem is the character of God. His name is an invitation to listen to Him. This is the greatest commandment, and it contains the rest.
One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, "What commandment is the foremost of all?" Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.' "The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mar 12:28-31)
The word translated here as “foremost” is “protos”, which means first in time. So, before we can love God and love others,we need to sh’ma.
His name is what opens us up to listen because we know that He is faithful even when we are not.
If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. (2Ti 2:13)
Think about that for a selah moment. If we are faithless, lose touch with Him and His word, He never loses touch with us or His word or Himself. He cannot deny Himself. He cannot lose the sh’ma. It is contained in His shem, His name.
You see it is the shem that opens the ears which opens us up to love.
This is His commandment, that we believe in the Shem, the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. (1Jn 3:23-24)
The shem is the name or character of God that demonstrates His love. Throughout the Gospel, Yeshua revealed the love of God. After His death and resurrection, the Apostles revealed through His shem, the love of God.
Let’s look at a few examples:
“But Peter said, “I do not have silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!”” (Acts 3:6)
The shem of Yeshua has the power to heal. We have but to open our ears and heart to that reality and from the name, His character, healing flows.
“Now she continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and he turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment.” (Acts 16:18)
The shem, the name delivers us from demonic oppressions be they addictions or any other manifestation of some power that seems beyond our control.
“Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1 Corinthians 1:10)
The name is our family name as believers, and it calls us to a bond of unity.
“always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father;” (Ephesians 5:20)
The name is the source of our blessings in life and so it empowers us to be grateful. It is through the name that we realize that while we in this world we are truly not of this world.
“This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.” (1 John 3:23)
Finally it is through the name that we learn to love. Believing in His name is the core essence of the sh’ma.
It isn’t that we always can hear what He has to say on a matter or even that He is speaking about a particular situation in our lives. No, it is that he has spoken through His Word and we can rest in knowing that His speaking and our listening must always reflect His character in and through us.
Activation: What are the characteristics of God that you can depend on when you call on His Name? Look up verses that include His Name and meditate on those characteristics.