“He [Moses] then took the covenant scroll and read it aloud to the people. They responded, ‘We will do and obey everything that the LORD has commanded’” (Exodus 24:7 HCSB).
This event occurs after Moses has been on top of Sinai and received the covenant from the Lord. When he comes down to the people and reads the covenant to them, they respond “We will do and obey everything that the LORD has commanded.”
The words “listen” and “obey” appear frequently within the Bible: “Now, Israel, listen to the statutes and ordinances I am teaching you to follow, so that you may live, enter, and take possession of the land Yahweh, the God of your fathers, is giving you” (Deuteronomy 4:1). Elsewhere we read, “If only you obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow every one of these commands I am giving you today” (Deuteronomy 15:5).
The context of these passages indicate that the biblical authors drew a connection between hearing God’s word and doing it. In fact, that was their definition of obedience: to hear and to do.
Often when we say that we “hear” or “listen” to someone, it does not necessarily translate into action. In fact, the phrase, “I hear you,” can serve as our response meaning a certain level of inaction. Yet, within the Bible, obedience required action, both parts were necessary. To not hear and do meant for the writers of Scripture that judgment was imminent.
The author of Kings identified the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel as due to their disobedience: “Because they did not listen to the voice of the LORD their God but violated His covenant—all He had commanded Moses the servant of the LORD. They did not listen, and they did not obey” (2 Kings 18:12). Failure to listen and obey resulted in Israel transgressing the law of the Lord.
In the New Testament, Jesus also emphasized our hearing and doing. He compared those who hear and do His words as like one who built his house upon a rock; while the one who only hears but does not do, he is like one who built his house on the sand (Matthew 7:24-27). Paul likewise states that it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous, but the doers of the law who will be justified (Romans 2:13).
Do we spend time listening to the word of God? And do we translate what we have heard into action? If we are going to obey as the Bible intended, then we must both hear and do.
Father, as I seek to draw closer to You, may I obey You by hearing Your word and doing it. May Your name be glorified through my obedient action to You and Your word. Amen.