The Lord is near

I was woken up at 130am by a snow-blower the other night.  Initially annoyed, I inserted earplugs and tried to get back to sleep.  But I couldn’t.  Time to pray 🙂  After a while I started thinking about Yehovah’s omniscience and omnipresence.  Do I believe that’s true?  Of course!  But why don’t I always conduct myself accordingly?  Elohim is the creator of the universe, the great conductor, the artisan of life, meticulously weaving His design for history with divine meaning.  He has purposes “sending the evil and the good” (Isa 45:7) in order to accomplish the goals of His celestial understanding.  I related with the main character from the movie Ushpizim who stated, “You are nothing.  I am nothing. Elohim is everything.”  Yet He clothes the lilies of the field, numbers the hairs on my head, and would leave the flock of ninety-nine to search for the one which was lost.  He is well aware of my thoughts and words.  He sees my life.  He is יְהֹוָה יִרְאֶה (Yehovah Yireh), Yehovah Who Will See, and by implication, will provide.  So why do we live life like He, the director of existence, isn’t right there beside us?  There are those who hate Him and so their life reflects rebellion.  There are those who believe the lie of evolution, negating the need for acknowledging His existence.  But what about the rest of us?  What about those who “believe”?   

Don’t we know He is present?  Don’t we know that He sees the struggles of our lives, and even knows our thoughts?  How then do we sometimes walk and talk so casually like He’s not standing right next to us?  Don’t we know He made man for relationship with Him and that creation was founded and sustained by His Word?  Why then do we think we don’t hear Him?  It’s because our experience tells us something otherwise.  We experience His absence rather than His presence and His silence rather than His voice.  But why is this so?  Doesn’t David describe in Psalm 23 that Yehovah is our shepherd, our instructor, our leader, our restorer, our guide, our protector, our sustainer, and He who gives us purpose? Elohim must surely be present in our lives to influence us in all these ways.  And doesn’t Yeshua say, “My sheep hear My voice and I know them” in John 10:27?  So why is there a discrepancy between our experience and Elohim’s Word?  I encourage you to ask yourself two questions: Is Yeshua truly your shepherd, and if He is, how much do you want to hear what He has to say?

1) Who is your shepherd?

While the manuscript evidence points towards the gospel of John being written in Koine Greek, Yeshua of Nazareth, a Jewish Rabbi and the Messiah of Israel surely spoke in His native Hebrew/Aramaic tongue to His countrymen when he said, “My sheep hear My voice and I know them” (John 10:27).  The Hebrew equivalent for the Greek word, akouo (ἀκούω), which is translated as “hear/listen”, is sh’ma (שְׁמַע), a word that is so closely linked with obedience in the Hebraic mindset that scholars often simply translate it as the English, “obey”.  The infamous rebuke of Samuel the prophet to King Saul demonstrates this point, “Obeying (sh’moa) is better than sacrifice” (1 Sam 15:22).  If we were a 1st century Hebrew audience, we would understand the flavor of that word and Yeshua’s statement in John 10:27 would ring in our ears more like, “My sheep obey My voice and I know them.”  To truly hear means to obey.

So before we ask why we don’t hear the Good Shepherd’s voice, we must first ask if we even belong to His flock.  To be of Messiah’s flock means we listen to and summarily obey His voice.  It doesn’t matter whose flock we think we belong to.  The fact of the matter is, the one to whom we listen and obey is the one that we in our own free will have selected to shepherd us.  If we choose to ignore the Word of Elohim in shaping our lives and instead define righteousness and our morality based on our own desires (which is actually just self-godship, the foundational doctrine of Atheistic Satanism), or if we base it on popular culture, then which master are we really serving, the Elohim of Heaven or the ruler of this world?  Heartbreakingly, many who think with their mind that they belong to Yehovah will at the end of time hear Him say, “I never knew you.  Away from Me, you workers without law.” (Matt 7:23).  These words from Yeshua sound harsh but they are consistent with the rest of the Scriptures, as Solomon wrote, “One who turns his ear away from Torah (teaching, instruction, law), even his prayer is an abomination.” (Proverbs 29:8).  We must first be workers of Yehovah laws to familiarize ourselves with His ways.  Then through practice, we will become sensitive enough to recognize His voice when He answers our prayers.

2) How much do you want to hear?

I don’t think we realize how vital communication with our Shepherd is to our relationship with Him.  It is by words that Yehovah created the heavens and the earth.  By His words He communicated the knowledge of His righteousness to us.  And it is by His Word Made Flesh that He repaired the communion between Elohim and man damaged by our sin.  Communing with Him in prayer is involved in worship, forgiveness, salvation, healing, temptation, wisdom, and marriage to name a few.  And speaking of marriage, most counselors will agree that healthy communication between parties is absolutely key to a strong and lasting marriage.  So if we examine our lives (2 Cor 13:5) and find that we truly do belong to Yeshua’s flock, maybe the problem is with our communication.

The author of Hebrews relates that it takes training to discern between good and evil (Heb 5:13-14).  I would suggest that communion with Yehovah is the same way.  A lamb who craves his Shepherd’s voice places Himself regularly at His feet and remains in close proximity.  Ambivalent sheep at the outskirts of the flock inhibit their capacity to hear by their distance away and time apart from the Shepherd, becoming desensitized to His voice and more likely sensitized to the voices of the surrounding strangers.  Which sheep are we?  Do we acknowledge Him in all our ways and so receive His direction on our path (Prov 3:5-6), or do we live like we walk this path alone?   Do we consult Him in all the engagements of our daily life, rejoicing with Him, describing our struggles to Him, submitting our conversations, our thoughts, and our feelings to Him, and inviting Him into all the mundane events and situations in which we find ourselves, or do we forget to remember that He truly is present even if we don’t see Him?  Do we nurture our relationship by setting aside a quantity of time each day to pray and come close to Him or have we resigned to the half-sedated conversation with Him directly before or after bed?  In our leisure time do we fill our heads with the voices of this fallen world, crowding out the voice of His Word?  To which are we more conditioned to hear?  And what about our busy calendars, even that in ministry?  Do we prioritize the business of Elohim over relationship with Him?  When will we learn how important it is to stop, be still, and know that He is Elohim?

It’s by conviction of the Spirit even as I lay awake that night that I received this epiphany and recognized my own neglect in communion with Him was contributing to my struggle in hearing His voice.  So pray for me and I will pray for you that we would obediently follow His Word and His Word alone, that we would be disciplined to live our daily lives in communion with the Good Shepherd, and that we would be still before Him regularly to hear His life-giving voice.

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One comment

  1. Realizing this Truth about hearing and obeying becomes a pivotal point in our relationship with the Creator. Moving from what the mind knows to actually putting it into practice changes everything. “You don’t have because you don’t ask” implies that there is an answer. Not getting an answer, not hearing, is dealt with in the next part of the verse, “You don’t get because you ask with wrong motives.” Maybe there is a key here as to why many don’t hear (includes obedience), but only know. It’s not rocket science, but surrendering on that level is, sadly, something that is really hard because is requires me to get out of the way.

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