Thursday, March 7, 2013

Shema - Deuteronomy 6:4-5 Hear Listen Do


Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד
Sh'ma Yisra'el YHWH Eloheinu YHWH Eḥad

The  Shemà (shuh MAH) was originally referred only to Deuteronomy 6:4 .  It gets the name shema from the first word in verse 4. The word שָׁמַע sama means to hear intelligently.  It frequently implies: attention, obedience, witness, tell, proclaim, and understand. Over the years the shema now includes verse 5, and sometimes verses 4-9.  In the Jewish faith the Shemà now also includes Deuteronomy 4:4-9 ; Deuteronomy 11:13-21 ; Numbers 15:37-41.

Moses has just completed reiterating the law to the nation of Israel. Moses was the instrument of God in giving His law to Israel. It was not the lao of Moses, but the Law of God. Deuteronomy 6:4 starts with a command for the people to respond properly to God. They are to listen and obey. The God of Israel was The God. The Lord is one means “the Lord alone.” There is only one God. This was to give a clear statement of the truth of monotheism, that there is only one God. This was the clearest possible statement against idolatry and polytheism, the worship of many gods.  J. MacArthur writes: The word used for “one” in this passage does not mean “singleness,” but “unity.” The same word is used in Gen. 2:24, where the husband and wife were said to be “one flesh.” Thus, while this verse was intended as a clear and concise statement of monotheism, it does not exclude the concept of the Trinity.  John 10:29-30  My father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can seize them from the Father's hand.  The Father and I  are one. 

Deuteronomy 6:5  They were to love God. God had chosen Israel as His people. He had revealed Himself to them, protected them, blessed them and given them His instructions. Because God had chosen them, God commanded His people to choose Him with all their being. Doing that they  were to deny all other supposed deities. God had come into the lives of His people; it was not that they had ascended to Him.

They were to love God with all their heart (levab) and soul (naphsh) and might (m od).  The first two words – heart and soul: do not refer to separate parts of the human person, but they overlap in meaning.  Heart = inner man, will, mind, knowledge. Soul =  a breathing creature, body, the person himself, dubious activity of the will.  Might would mean: wholly, speedily, abundance, force and exceedingly.  So they were to love God with all that was within them, with all of themselves.  They were to love God totally. God is undivided unity and He alone is worthy of worship, so the Israelites must have undivided loyalty and love for Him.

While Jesus was here on earth, the established Jewish church feared and hated Him. They were out to get Him.  They followed Him to entrap Him with his own words. In the verses below, the answer of Jesus was so sound, that they did not attempt a rebuttal. This occasion was also reported in Matthew 22:34-40 and Luke 10:27

And one of the scribes came up and heard them debating. When he saw that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God from your whole heart and from your whole soul and from your whole mind and from your whole strength.’  The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  And the scribe said to him, “That is true, Teacher. You have said ⌊correctly⌋ that he is one and there is no other except him.  And to love him from your whole heart and from your whole understanding and from your whole strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  And Jesus, when he saw that he had answered thoughtfully, said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to put a question to him any longer.

What purpose does this have for us today?  It is abundantly clear –– we are to love God in the same way. We are to worship and love the one God. The only God. The God in three Persons.  We are to glorify God.  We are to love Him with all our being.   We are to Hear, Listen and Do.  Love God first. Love others as ourselves.

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