May 10, 2011

Deuteronomy 6:5

Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the rules that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. 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. And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you – with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant – and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (Deuteronomy 6:1-12)

The book of Deuteronomy is an interesting book. It begins with Moses recounting the wilderness journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, and ends with someone else completing the story as we watch Moses pass away before our very eyes. In the meantime, Moses reminds the Israelites of all that God has done from the beginning of their journey through where they have come to this point, and then admonishes them to "be careful and do" all that he is reminding them of.

In chapter one Moses recounts the Israelite’s rebellion and refusal to enter the land that God had promised to them. Chapter two tells of the subsequent wilderness that Israel was forced to wander for a generation. However, chapter two and three also talk about God preparing his people for entry in to the Promised Land and God’s provision. This is summed up in 3:18 And I commanded you at that time, saying “The LORD your God has given you this land to possess.” God had already provided the land. He defeated the inhabitants. All Israel had to do was obey and go in.

Chapters four and five describe the standard of holiness God requires. Moses warns to them to “diligently keep their souls” and then in chapter five brings to mind the Ten Commandments. So that brings us to chapter six. Verses one through three Moses again commands them to obey and be careful to do so, but then comes 4-5. I wonder if Moses felt like he was losing the crowd. I wonder if he looked out and saw the bewilderment/defeat on their faces. “Moses, come on dude! We can’t do all this!” So he sums it up for them. “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.”

This verse is basically the hinge verse in Deuteronomy. It is the verse that connects everything that precedes it with everything that follows. We looked at an overview of the chapters that preceded it, and the only correct response to the God who brought them out of Egypt, as Moses reminded them repeatedly, is love him with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

What do you love?

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart. That means that you will not love anything more than you love God. This is a reinforcement of the first commandment “You shall have no other gods before me.” We love a lot of things. I love football. I love hockey. I love baseball. I love my wife and my son. But above all else, I am to love the LORD my God. The truth that God’s glory and our joy in God are one radically undermines modern views of self-centered love. God-centered grace nullifies the gospel of self-esteem.

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