Deuteronomy 6 – The World of the Text (part one)

rootedchristThis week we are going deeper into Deuteronomy 6.  Yesterday we spent time looking at the world behind the text of this passage, what can we learn from the original context and the other things happening within the context of the Old Testament, you can click here to read yesterday’s post.

Today, we are looking at the world of the text of Deuteronomy 6.  This means we’ll be looking at what the text actually says.  We’ll look a few of the key points of this text today:

1.  If you follow these commands, it will go well for you in the Promised Land (1-4).  We are told that the people should follow the commands that are given so that it will go well for them in this new Promised Land. But what you need to know is this.  This statement is not “transactional.”  It is an observation.  What does that mean?  A transaction is this – if you do (x) then God will do (y).  In other words, if you behave, God will bless. Well, in that equation, who is in charge?  We are.  We are telling God what to do.  That is not the case. God is God, we are not. We do not command or order God, God is God. What this statement is saying is this – if the people will follow God’s commands it will go well for them because following God is always the path to life and peace.  Always.  This is observing reality, not telling God what He must do.  We do not command God. But if we follow God’s will, then we will know His peace, because His path is always His peace.

2.  What are they to know – The Shema (5-6).  Verses 5 and 6 are some of the most important passages in all the Old Testament.  It is called The Shema (or Shema Yisrael) and means what is says, Hea, Oh Israel.  This one of the most important prayers of the Jewish people, of utmost importance for them to understand.  Of all the things for the Jewish people (and for all of us) to understand, it is this. God is God alone and we are to love Him with that we are.  Hear that today.  If we don’t get this part right, nothing else matters.

God is God.  Not circumstance. Not culture.  Not career.  Not wealth.  No power.  Not fame.  Not sports.  God is God.  Love Him with all that you are.  Every fiber of your being.  Love Him, be committed to Him above all else.  Nothing else can or should measure up to our commitment and loyalty and love of God.  Nothing.  God is God.  Love Him above all else.

This prayer is at the foundation of the Jewish religious and cultural life. It shapes all that comes after it.  And in the same way, it should and must shape us.

3.  Teach the children (7-8).  This truth of God, it must be taught to the children.  Religious life is not passed down through osmosis.  It is taught. It is modeled.  Teaching the truth of God to our children must be among the most important things that any of us do. We teach our children our views of politics, on sports, on music. We must teach our children, not just with our words, but with our lives, our belief in God.  In our rising and in our sitting, in all that we are. Teach it to the children.

4.  Bind it upon you (8-9).  If you are ever so blessed to make a trip to the Holy Land, you will see that there are many that take this command quite literally.  You will find people that will wear this passage on their person, or upon their head.  There are holders upon each door that are blessed and have this passage with them.  These are visual reminders of a great truth.  This truth that God is God alone is not something that is just believed, but something that must be deep with us.  It should make us, it should be part of who we are.  It should be a deep mark upon our very soul.  God is God.  Nothing else, no one else. God is God.   Make that truth known deep in your very soul.

We’ll look at the rest of the world of the text of this passage tomorrow.

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