Friday, March 8, 2013

Shema - Remembering and teaching

mass of yellow tulips

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

Previously we discussed the Shema as ancient Israel’s creed. It underscores the fundamental Jewish belief in one God. This God is special and distinct from all other conceptions of deity, especially those prevalent in the ancient Near Eastern world. It also identifies the Hebrews as God’s special people who have a covenant relationship with their personal Lord and God. Once Moses had presented the Hebrews with the Decalog, the laws that God Had given to His people, He reinforced that God was the one and only God - no one or nothing else could be worshiped. They were to love God and serve Him alone. This love was to be total, involving one’s entire being.

Many try to say that the Shema expresses a belief that is contrary to Christianity.  They contend that it makes the idea of the Trinity impossible. The Trinity is the teaching that in the one God there are three distinct, simultaneous, co-eternal, and co-powerful persons known as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is one God, and the Shema states there is one God.  Deuteronomy 6:4 is not about God being the Trinity, though in fact He is.  Deuteronomy 6:4 is about only being one God.  The Shema is a statement about monotheism and the Trinity monotheistic.  The word for "one" is ˒echad (eh-chahd) which often used for describing a composite unity such as one cluster of grapes.  The word is used as “to bring together, to unify; to collect one’s thoughts.” It is also used in Genesis 2:24 where a man and his wife “shall become one flesh".

The Shema is possibly the most important text in the Old Testament. Jesus called it the greatest commandment of Scripture, and it remains the central confession of Judaism to this day. Deuteronomy 6:5  There is only one God who creates and redeems, and the New Testament shows that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There are many attempts to explain the Trinity in an easy way, but no single one is all that effective. It is a difficult, yet simple concept.  One can grasp it in concept, but not really put it in words.  1 Thessalonians 5:23  A single person is not three “beings” but “one being” with physical, emotional, and spiritual elements.

Moses then told the Israelites the most important law, the law that all other laws were based on. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. To love God is to be His loyal and be His obedient slave.

Then Moses then instructed God's people that they should keep those laws on their hearts and teach them diligently to their children. Deuteronomy 6:6-9   The passover observance was be like a sign on the hand or forehead. This is a figure of speech—much like we would say, “the word is on the tip of my tongue.” The Passover would visually symbolize God’s mighty power on behalf of his people.  In the time of Jesus and even now for the Orthodox Jewish people,  they literally obey this command by using phylacteries, little boxes containing portions of Scripture and strapped to the left arm or forehead. Matthew 23:5  They also attach mezuzahs (small wooden or metal containers in which passages of Scripture are placed) to the doorframes of their houses.

Knowing Christ as you Savior should make one want to please Him.  This great love is something we will talk about to others. We will instruct our children about Him and His great deeds.  To love Him is also to want to know Him better. You will study His word and and remember scripture verses. His word will be on the tip of your tongue.  You will talk of Him when you sit in your house, when you walk, when you go to bed and when you rise.

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