I can’t believe we’re halfway through the year. That means I’m also halfway through my verse-a-week challenge, and 6 months into blogging. I hope I will keep getting better at this; I’ve needed the weekly routine of posting my verse, and hopefully in 6 more months it will be an actual habit.
I don’t know that I could instantly recall each of the 25 verses I have focused on up to this point, but I do know that through this exercise I’ve noticed Scripture coming to mind faster than in the past. That is worth taking the time to write these posts and create visual reminders for myself. Without the accountability of this blog I would have given up long ago, I’m sure.
This week’s passage is Deuteronomy 6:4-7. The Seeds Family Worship song is called “Teach Them,” and it’s track 6 on the album “Seeds of Character.” Here is the verse in the ESV:
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 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.
There is so much to love about this passage. It is known as the Shema (or part of it), and from my understanding is one of the first passages a Jewish child would learn. God’s people have been committing these words to memory for thousands of years, and I think that is so cool! Thank you, Lord, for adopting us Christians into your family. This is a passage for the entire family, with guidance for every part of our lives.
In this chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses is in the midst of preparing the Hebrew people to enter the promised land under Joshua’s leadership. He is helping them understand God’s covenant with the people, and how they are to live in light of that covenant. The people needed to hear these words: that the Lord alone was their God, they were to be devoted to him only, they were to internalize his message, teach it to their children, and make it a part of their lives- during every activity, from morning to night.
We know from reading the story of the Hebrew people that they really needed these words. They needed to be devoted to the Lord, heart and soul. But they were not. They had a very hard journey out of Egypt, into the promised land, and eventually into captivity because of their disobedience and divided hearts. Their mistakes are well-documented; God himself called his people stubborn and stiff-necked. It is easy to judge this ancient civilization…
Until we realize we are the same way. Rather than the pagan gods of the Ancient Near East, we are bombarded with temptation to worship at the altars of our own time. They aren’t physical altars that require burnt sacrifices as Baal or Chemosh did (scary), but the ideologies and constructs of our culture do demand our time, our thoughts, our strength, even our very heart and soul. They demand that we turn from God’s call on our lives to serve him and others, and follow the call of Self. This pull toward World and Self is sin, and it is as old as time. The result remains the same: death.
God didn’t and doesn’t want any of his people to suffer under the weight of sin, which is why he gave all the instructions he did through Moses, and why he sent the Son to conquer death and offer salvation for all who believe. He knows what the world is going to throw at us and he knows how very weak we are to resist the call of Self. He knows that his strength is greater than the world or ourselves, and will help us if we will only ask, and follow him.
So we need these words as much as Moses’ flock of stubborn Hebrew children. We need to internalize this message of our ONE God. We need to dedicate ourselves to him alone, to teach our children how to walk in his ways, and we need to make his Word a part of our everyday lives. We need to do this so we can stay away from the death that comes with following our own way.
In my life I was greatly blessed by others teaching these things to me as I grew up. My parents were tantamount in this, but there were countless others in the churches we attended over the years who instructed and encouraged me in God’s way. I am forever in their debt, as they showed me what it looks like to live out these words and incorporate them into daily life.
For me right now, I am working on putting God’s command into my heart through personal Bible study, through prayer, and through thinking of God’s Word throughout my day. That may entail posting a verse where I can see it, reading about Christian life, listening to songs, or discussing Scripture with others. I also have the privilege of teaching children and students through church, which I find to be one of the richest blessings in my life. Something happens when I am responsible to teach someone else about God’s Word– there is a sense of accountability, of urgency, of humility and grace, of awe over a young identity being formed, and of appreciation for the things I was taught. I pray that God will keep me from dropping the ball, and that his grace will cover any errors I may make (have made) in my imperfect attempts.
This passage provides life-long aspiration, inspiration, and motivation for the child of God. Thank you, Lord, for making me a part of your family because of your Son, and for sending your Spirit to guide me in obedience to your Word.
What does this command from Deuteronomy look like in your life? I would love to know– it will help me as I “walk by the way.” image from matankids.org