In Deuteronomy 6:4-5 we have a passage that is known to Jews as the “Great Shema.” Shema is the Hebrew word for hear and, thus, this passage is called the Great Shema because it begins with the words “Hear, O Israel…” Jesus, when asked what is the greatest commandment, listed the Great Shema as the first and greatest commandment: “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” (Matt 22:37). What is interesting about the Great Shema is that it comes right on the heels of Deuteronomy 5 where God just finished reminding the Israelites of how he had entered into a covenant relationship with them and that that covenant relationship was sealed with the giving the Law—the Ten Commandments. And then all of the Ten Commandments are recounted in chapter 5. And then in chapter 6 God says to them, “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,” and then the Great Shema. Thus, what God was communicating to the people of Israel is that all the commandments can be summed up in this—love. Love for God. God wants his people to live in obedience to his commandments but not out of obligation or duty, but out of love. And what does it mean to love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. God explains in vv.6-9, “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.” Notice: you shall tech them diligently to your children; you shall talk of them when you sit and when you walk and when you lie down and when you rise up; they shall be on your hand and between your eyes and on your door posts. Thus, loving God with all your heart, soul, and might means your entire world revolves around God. It means the whole of your life is committed to pleasing God, honoring God, glorifying God. What God desires most from us is love.
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