Deuteronomy 6:4-5 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
This is the Shemah, the foundational statement of Jewish faith, that Jesus said was the greatest commandment. (Matthew 22:38) As such, it cannot be overemphasized. It starts with the command to hear, to pay attention. (That’s what shemah means in Hebrew.) We are all too capable of hearing things and, for one reason or another, ignoring them. We must not do that here. The Israelites had come out of Egypt, which was thoroughly polytheistic, and were having to learn that their Creator, who had chosen them as His special people, was absolutely unique and singular. Thousands of years later Mohamed plagiarized this statement, and now Islamists use a raised index finger to signify that theirs is the only true god. It also occurs to me that humanistic “futurists” today use the term “singularity” to talk about the point at which machines will surpass humans, and/or merge with humans. That too is a denial of the Creator. Moses here goes on to specify how we are to respond to our singular Lord, and that is in love. This isn’t a nebulous, peaches-and-cream sort of love, it is a down-to-earth love that requires all that we have and are. Rather than an emotion, it is a decision, an act of the will: we are to choose to love God. The more we know and understand His love for us, the easier that decision becomes. However, at times difficult circumstances can make it hard to recognize His love. That’s where faith comes in. If we make “easy street” a condition for loving God, we really have no part in Him. Our perspective is temporal, and we are called on to trust that He sees and knows better than we do, and His ways are best. As Hebrews 11:39-40 points out, sometimes our reward for loving faithfulness isn’t in this world at all, but that doesn’t make it any less sure. God is absolutely and uniquely worthy of our loving obedience.
This is of course the foundation of the Gospel as well. Jesus certainly wasn’t wrong in calling it the greatest commandment! As a minister of the Gospel I am called to communicate this truth to as many as will receive it. I am forever asking people to hear, just as Moses does here. I know from experience that only the Holy Spirit can give people hearing ears, but they must make the choice to utilize them. I am to pray for people before and after I speak to them, but I must not forget to speak. As Paul said, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14) We sometimes give a negative connotation to “preaching,” but what it means is “proclaiming the Gospel.” I am not to preach at people, but I am to share the Gospel with them as one who has received and delighted in it. The challenges to doing that are limitless, but God is powerful enough to use even me to get the job done, and I am to rest, relax, and rejoice in that reality.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the incredible privilege of addressing You, my Creator, as Father. Help me live as Your child indeed, loving You and delighting in Your love, sharing that love with those around me so that they too may repent and believe, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!