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The Shema

Hey Relentless Students! How are you doing today? I hope you are doing well and not going too crazy in quarantine. Today we end our journey in what is typically labeled the "Torah" or the books of the law. We have traveled through creation, fall, the flood, the chosen, slavery, desert wandering, the 10 commandments, more laws, and now we receive...more laws and the greatest commandment.

Deuteronomy can feel like a reminder when reading in conjunction with the previous 3 books we have looked at. There are several repeating stories and laws. The reason for this is simple, Moses wanted to set the people up for success as they came to the end of their 40-year desert trek. The people of Israel are reminded of their time in Egypt, the desert, and the trails that awaited them during the 40-years of wandering. He then reminded them what obedience looks like verses and rebellion. From there Moses shares with them the blessings associated with following God and curses that will come with disobedience. We see the beginning of a new era as Moses sets Joshua up as the leader of the Israelites as they enter the promised land, without Moses.

Reading through what Moses outlines for the people in chapter 4-30 can be interesting since we think of ourselves as so removed from the law, but in all reality, it is still relevant for us today. To showcase this let's look at Deuteronomy 6:4-9 which says,

"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."

First, does this look familiar? It should, Jesus said that verse 5 is the greatest commandment from the Old Testament for us as believers to follow. What is interesting is what follows is this intense calling to hold onto the words with such determination. To truly follow what Moses is instructing we have to devote our lives intentionally to God. The Israelites were told to have the law on their hearts, in conversation with their children constantly, bound to themselves, and written on their homes. Constant daily reminders in so many fields of their lives. Now, when we read this we see it as Moses is saying to keep verse 5 specifically with them at all times, but the people of Israel held tightly to verse 4 as well. You see, for them, loving God with everything meant also keeping themselves reminded He is the only God. During their time, the worship of other God was so common that they would often adopt other gods to worship, just to cover their bases. The issue was that God did not approve of this and in fact, spoke against it.

To follow the command of love God with everything is central to our faith because of Jesus calling it the greatest commandment. Yet, in comparison to the Israelites, we follow it so laid back. For the Israelites, it was about pure, intentional devotion to God. For us, we have grace and can tend to look at it as an extra step. In reality, God asks us to devote ourselves in the same way, but we use grace as an excuse to be laid back. What would it look like if we took on the devotion of loving God with everything as it is stated above, keeping Him consistently in our minds? I think we would see people look more and more like Jesus. During His time on earth, Jesus was 100% oriented toward God. It was still an intentional devotion that kept His humanness pure. For us, we can't be perfect, but instead can try our best. Without intentional devote like what is described in Deut 6:6-9 are we truly trying our best?

For more info on the book of Deuteronomy check out this video:

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