Deuteronomy 6 These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life… 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. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land… The LORD commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the LORD our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.”
There are some challenging statements made in today's chapter that we might wonder about specially because it could put our faith in Christ in jeopardy. Why does God throw us this curve ball?
After recalling all ten of the commandments God gave the Israelites in the last chapter, all the commandments are now summed up into one, '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'. Clearly loving God with all that is within us is key to the other 9 commandments because if we don't love God, we will never obey Him and there ends our faith in God. This commandment alone is the perfect summation of the rest because it identifies our faith as being based exclusively on love.
John 3:16 is a verse that is so often quoted that it seems to represent the Christian faith itself and it reads:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV)
God's love is what brought us into being, brought Christ as a hope in our midst to save us from ourselves and is what sustains us. John the Evangelist reminds us:
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)
For a God filled with such love for us, why would He confuse us with the Trinitarian concept we might wonder. The confusion stems from verse 4 which reads, 'The LORD our God, the LORD is one'. This is often quoted by non-Christians as the reason Jesus is not God and that the Holy Spirit is not the 3rd person of God. Language has its challenges when translating and I know this best because I speak a few myself and know what a challenge it is to convey everything perfectly. In my mother-tongue, there are 2 words for church (that I know of) and one means the physical structure or building while the other means the body or congregation. When translated to English, Church would be the simple translation but in reality, there is quite a difference.
The Hebrew word used here for one is echad, which most literally translates to a compounded unity. This was used instead of the Hebrew word yacheed which is singular one. Refer to Genesis 22:2 and Psalm 25:16 for an understanding of yacheed versus Genesis 1:5, Genesis 2:24 and Ezekiel 37:17. In Genesis 1:5, God describes the first day as a summation of morning and evening. In Genesis 2:24, God describes unity in marriage as a man and woman together as one flesh and in Ezekiel 37:17, the LORD tells Ezekiel to join two sticks (prophetically representing Ephraim and Judah) into one (echad), speaking again of a unity (one stick) made up of a plurality (the two sticks).
Having said this, we as Christians must not confuse the fact that the LORD truly is one and the apostle Paul explains:
For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. 1 Corinthians 8:6 (NIV)
We worship one God, existing in three persons, not three separate gods. If nothing else from today's chapter, we learn the importance of studying God's word, understanding it, applying it in our lives, sharing it with those around us especially our loved ones and keeping it as a reminder for who we are in Christ. Let us never fall into the deadly sin of loving our blessings more than the one who blesses us with everything and love Him with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength.
In His Loving Service,