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D'varim/Deuteronomy 7:12 And it will be because of your listening to these ordinances, and your observing and performing them (Artscroll)
Here are three verbs concentrated in one phrase, connected to ordinances or judgements: , hear or listen; , keep or guard; , make or do. Here, Chazal teach, are the three steps that are necessary in obeying G-d. The text goes on to echo the second verb, keep or guard, as the result of obedience: if we hear, keep and obey His commandments, then He will keep for us His covenant and grace.
First of all, we have to be prepared to listen - to actually hear from G-d. If we do not listen, we shall not hear, and if we do not hear then we shall not know either what is expected of us nor how to carry it out, so it is impossible to please G-d.Rashi comments to this: if the light commands that a person tramples with his heels, you shall listen to; that is, if we are prepared to listen to what others consider valueless and will not even hear, but allow to fall to the ground, then this is the first step in obeying G-d.
Secondly, having heard G-d's commands, there is the importance that we place upon them. For them to stay with us, we have to keep or guard them, recognising as Yeshua said to certain Jewish leaders, "You keep examining the Tanakh because you think that in it you have eternal life. Those very scriptures bear witness to Me" (John 5:39, CJB). Every time we read from the Torah we bless G-d for "planting eternal life in our midst". It is not enough just to hear G-d speak to us, we have to recognise the value of what He says, keep it fresh in our minds and guard it from being lost or corrupted.
Lastly, however well we hear and then study G-d's word, it will still come to nothing unless we put it into practice and do what G-d says. As Ya'akov points out, "Don't deceive yourselves by only hearing what the Word says, but do it!" (Ya'akov 1:22, CJB). It is by not only hearing and guarding G-d's word but also by doing it, obeying Him, that we can move forward in obedience to and relationship with G-d. No relationship can be based upon either ignoring or failing to act upon the wishes of the other person, as we hear Yeshua telling the disciples, "If you keep My commandments, you will stay in My love - just as I have kept My Father's commandments and stay in His love" (John 15:10, CJB). The way to improve our relationship with G-d is to listen carefully to His voice, carefully guard what He says to us and then to make sure that we do everything He tells us to.
Further Study: Romans 2:11-13; 2 Timothy 2:14-15
Application: If you're not sure what G-d wants you to do at this time, go back and ask Him. Go back to the last time you heard Him tell you to do something and make sure that you have done it before asking for more instructions.
© Jonathan Allen, 2004
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