Hear, Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. And you shall repeat them diligently to your sons and speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk on the road, when you lie down, and when you get up. You shall also tie them as a sign to your hand, and they shall be as frontlets on your forehead. You shall also write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (NASB)
Today’s passage is commonly referred to as “the Shema,” which comes from the Hebrew “shama” meaning to “hear.” It was familiar to the Jews in Jesus’ time because it was recited daily by devout Jews and regularly in synagogue services. The Shema is the classic declaration of God’s monotheistic character and it is followed by a two-fold injunction, which is a simply a command that must be done, to the Israelites and more importantly to us: (1) to love God with all our heart, soul and strength and (2) to teach our faith diligently to our children.
Hear, Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!—Deuteronomy 6:4 (NASB)
This verse—along with the next five verse (vv.5-9)—teaches monotheism. This doctrine proclaims that God is the one true God, not a group of different gods. God is all powerful among the “gods” and “spirits” of the world, and he (God) must be the single object of Israel’s love and obedience just as he must be the single object of our love and obedience. This aspect of “oneness” serves as the basis for keeping Israel from worshipping other gods, just as it should serve as the basis for keeping us from worshipping the false “gods” we create. And most importantly it does not contradict the New Testament revelation of God as a triune (three-in-One) being who, though one in essence (nature or basic quality), is revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.—Deuteronomy 6:5 (NASB)
God seeks fellowship with his people and gives them this one absolutely necessary command that will attach them to him. And by responding to God’s love with love, gratitude and loyalty, we will come to know and enjoy him in a covenant relationship. Also, it is on this, the “first and greatest commandment,” along with the second commandment to love one’s neighbor, that all the Law and the Prophets hang. And finally true obedience to God and his commandments is possible only when it springs from faith in and love for God.
These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.—Deuteronomy 6:7 (NASB)
It is God’s firm desire that his Word be in the hearts of his people. The apostle Paul states clearly, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16) and this can only be accomplished by daily and continual searching of the Scriptures. One approach for filling your heart with God’s Word is to read the New Testament through twice every year and the Old Testament once. Or if you have a smart phone you can download the YouVersion Bible app, which has Bible reading plans that will walk you through reading the Bible one day at a time. And if you don’t have access to a smart phone but you do have access to computer with internet access, then you can go to www.bible.com (YouVersions website), which offers everything that the smart phone app offers. But what really matters is not the method that you chose to use, but is in the fact that you are spending time in God’s Word on a daily basis because that is the only way that it will ever “dwell in you richly.”
And you shall repeat them diligently to your sons and speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk on the road, when you lie down, and when you get up. You shall also tie them as a sign to your hand, and they shall be as frontlets on your forehead. You shall also write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.—Deuteronomy 6:7-9 (NASB)
One key to express love for God is to be concerned with the spiritual welfare of your children and to watch for opportunities to bring them into a faithful relationship with God. The Godly training of children should be a foremost concern for parents. This spiritual instruction must be centered in the home, with both the father and mother taking part. Devotion to the Lord in the home is not an option, it is a direct command from the Lord. The purpose of this parental instruction is to teach children to fear the Lord, to walk in all his ways, to love and appreciate him and to serve him with all their heart and soul. And finally the believer must put forth the effort to give his or her children a God-centered upbringing where everything is related to God and his ways.
And now to answer the question that I’m sure all of you are dying to ask: Why this obscure verse? And the answer is very simply because we, as the people of God, have in many ways forgotten the most basic principle upon which Christianity is built and we have unfortunately passed this forgetfulness down to the next generation. Which brings us to the all important question: What can we do about this problem? And the most important thing we can do about this problem is too in essence go back to the basics. But how do we go back to the basics? Very simply we, as the people of God, must go back to declaring for all the world to hear this most basic statement upon which Christianity is built. We must go back to declaring for all the world hear, “The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!” But more than that we must make it personal, which means that instead of saying “Hear Israel” we should be saying “hear (whatever place you live)”. Because by making this most basic of statements for all the world to hear we are introducing them to the One True God who can bring people “living in great darkness” into the light of having a true and lasting relationship with God. But the only way that can happen is when we are willing to declare openly, “Hear _____! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!”
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
Deuteronomy 7-8, Luke 7:36-8:3, Psalm 69:1-18 and Proverbs 12:1