The First Four Commands

the first four commands

Listen carefully, Israel. Hear the decrees and regulations I am giving you today, so you may learn them and obey them! (Deuteronomy 5:1)

Read: Deuteronomy 5:1-6:25, Luke 7:11-35, Psalm 68:19-35, Proverbs 11:29-31

Relate: Each week I teach seventeen different classes of students. I have four classes each of first second and third graders and five classes of fourth. That means each week I am given an hour (3rd and 4th) or two (1st and 2nd) to teach English to three hundred forty Turkish students. I love it. I may not be a husband or a father but I do have over three hundred kids that I love to death and pray for daily.

That said, teaching English is incredibly challenging and the hardest part is to manage to keep their attention so they can continue to listen. Think about it. You Americans, have you ever tried watching a Spanish or French movie without subtitles? How quickly do you give up trying to keep up with your limited vocabulary? How quickly do your eyes glaze over as your mind tunes out? Even though the sounds are still reaching your ears, you are no longer listening carefully, hearing, and learning.

As I am teaching, without fail I will spot someone writing a note, or coloring, or even doing their math homework or something. I can call their name and ask them to put it away but they are no longer hearing me. The sound is reaching their ears but their mind is not registering and interpreting it for them. No matter how focused a six, or eight, or ten year old is, there will be moments when they tune out. At that point I will usually do one of two things: I will stop talking and look at that student until I have their attention. When I stop talking it changes the environment in the room and even though they aren’t truly listening, their mind notices the change and wants to know what is happening. The second thing I might do is ask a neighbor to get their attention. They will then call that student’s name and repeat my instructions in Turkish.

React: How often have I cried out to God, “Why aren’t you speaking to me?” How often does it seem as though heaven has become silent? How often do I blame those moments on God? Why don’t You see me? Why don’t You care? Could it possibly be that God has become silent because my mind has begun to wander? Could it be that my spiritual eyes and ears have glazed over and His commands have become background noise in my life as I go about doing whatever I want to do?

How often am I getting offended because someone has told me something I don’t like to hear? How often am I receiving correction from someone else and my knee jerk reaction is something along the lines of “You have no right to…” Could it be that God has tapped them on the shoulder because I am not listening myself? Is it possible that He has already called my name but I am too busy focused on the doodles of my life? Before God through Moses repeats the Ten Commandments to the people of Israel He gives these first four commands: 1) Listen carefully, 2)Hear, 3)Learn, 4)Obey. Am I incapable of doing the first three because I refuse to do the fourth?


Dear God,
I don’t mean to, but sometimes I admit that my spiritual eyes have glazed over. For that I am sorry. Though my intentions are there, sometimes my ears have stopped listening carefully to You. Again, I am sorry. I am sorry that I have allowed the distractions of my world, ultimately as meaningless as a bunch of doodles, to drown out Your voice. Whatever it takes, please grab my attention. Please become once again my focus. Give me the humility to be teachable and receive correction. I want to listen carefully, to hear, and to learn from You so that I might obey all Your commands.

4 thoughts on “The First Four Commands

  1. A great post. We often blame it on God to be ignorant to our prayers. None of us realize how often we actually think about the almighty in our busy lives apart from the moments of our downfalls.
    Good work. Good thoughts. 🙂

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