The Shema

Krista Williams

Day: 6 | Plan: Deuteronomy

Today's Reading: Deuteronomy 6

Deuteronomy 6:4 (NIV)Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”

Have you ever watched a person put a child on their shoulders and navigate through a crowd? When my husband puts one of our grandchildren on his shoulders, I think, “He’s got a lot resting on his shoulders.”

As the children of Israel were getting ready to cross the Jordan, they had a lot resting on their shoulders too. In Deuteronomy 6:4-9 Moses gives Israel some timeless, critical truths to fortify their faith and help establish their families and homes in the Promised Land.

These truths make up the oldest and most important prayer in Judaism. Even today these ancient words are still the centerpiece of the Jewish morning and evening prayers. These words are known as the Jewish confession of faith, or the Shema. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Shema in Hebrew means, “to hear.” Moses begins this important passage with the phrase, “Hear, O Israel.” Moses wants the people to listen intently and pay close attention to what he is about to tell them.

Moses knows if they don’t heed his words, take these truths deep into their being and impart them to the next generation, all will be lost. And it all starts right here with this statement, “The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4).

Moses’ passionate plea is for the people of God to know with absolute certainty that there is truly only one God and there is none like Him.

Our faith in God is meant to be a living relationship that involves all of life. Our entire lives must be organized around His sovereign lordship and a deep, abiding love for Him.

And it is our belief and trust in Him that is the key to loving Him rightly with our hearts, souls and strength.

So how do we love?

We love by holding a high view of who God is.

We love by obeying God.

We love by sharing God’s love and His truth with others.

What we love and value is what we will talk about. Our words reveal what is in our hearts. (Matthew 12:34b; Luke 6:45) We should express our love for God by talking about Him in everyday conversations—around the table, at the ball field, in the carpool, while we push the grocery cart or when we go for a walk in the park. We “impress” the truth about God and the truth of His Word on the hearts of those we love by helping them be impressed with God—to see and celebrate His handiwork, His goodness or wisdom. We don’t want to miss an opportunity to help the next generation see and understand the glory of our God.

We have a lot on our shoulders too. The faithfulness of future Christian generations is just as critical now as it was for Israel. Whether we are biological parents or not, as Christ’s followers we have a command and privilege to help one another treasure God greatly.

It could be easy for us to hear this command and feel overwhelmed by the weight we carry. But Moses is really summarizing all of the Law in this one, basic charge: Love God and love others with His love. When we start to feel overwhelmed by our assignment, let’s remember that love happens one person at a time and one conversation at a time. 

Prayer: Father, in Your great love and mercy You have revealed Yourself and the truth of who You are to us through Your Word. I confess, I don’t always express my love for You and share Your love with others as I should. Rescue me from my self-centered self. Be my focus. Help me fix my eyes on You and keep a God-centered perspective. As I reflect on the majesty of who You are, enable me and prompt me to be intentional about sharing You with those around me today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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