Sunday, May 8, 2011

Deuteronomy 5 & 6 - Wholehearted Love for the LORD

LINK: Deuteronomy 5 & 6


Deuteronomy 4:44 begins the second of Moses' addresses which will continue through Deuteronomy 26. The opening began with a reiteration of the Ten Commandments, which is an old law for a new generation. Here is our previous discussion on the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20. In Deuteronomy 6, he exhorted them to obey the Lord from a heart of love, to teach their children to obey, and to be careful to not forget the LORD when they prosper. 

Deuteronomy 6:4-9, is known in Judaism as the Shema. It contains the central theme of the whole book of Deuteronomy. Learn it well!
Hear, O Israel! The Lord is 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. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

God had brought the Israelites out of Egypt. He had provided faithfully for them throughout the wilderness wanderings. Now, He was promising them victory over the pagan occupants of Canaan as long as they obeyed His commands. How were the Israelites to respond to this unique God of love and faithfulness who was so different from the pagan gods?

First, they were to acknowledge that He was ONE God. This is expressed beautifully in 6:4. This has been called the Shema, from the Hebrew word translated hear. The statement in this verse is the basic confession of faith in Judaism, "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, 
The LORD is one!"

The LORD is totally unique. He alone is God. The Israelites could be totally secure in God's uniqueness. This was totally impossible for the pagan, polytheistic cultures around them. Polytheistic means the worship of many gods. Typically, those gods were never working in harmony with one another. They were fickle and morally capricious! So, a pagan worshiper could not be secure because giving his devotion to one god might anger another one and cause him to be an object of that god's wrath. Polytheistic cultures are not secure ones! I got a taste of that when I read The Iliad and The Odyssey this year. It is a slightly different time period (Deuteronomy is believed to cover incidents around 1406 BC whereas the sacking of Troy is believed to be about 1200 BC with the writing of the poems about the events about 800 BC), but these books made me GLAD that I have just ONE God to please because, in polytheistic cultures, humans were merely pawns in the "spats" between all the gods. Not fun!

So, with the polytheistic Egyptian religion behind them and the polytheistic Canaanite religions ahead of them, Israel could be secure in one thing: Their God was ONE! The monotheistic doctrines of the Israelites were totally unique. They could be secure because they dealt with ONE God who was loving, consistent in His commands, and righteous!

Yesterday, we talked about the deep love of God for His covenant people. This deep love should evoke a response of loving obedience. Israel was to fear God in love and devotion because of the mighty acts that God had performed on their behalf. This obedience was not to be expressed in legalistic ritual but as an expression of heartfelt praise in love for the one true God. So Moses exhorted them accordingly:
And you shall love the LORD your God
with all your heart and
with all your soul and
with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:5)
The command to love God is given over and over in the book of Deuteronomy (7:9, 10:12; 11:1, 13, 22; 13:3; 19:9; 30:6, 16, 20). Israel was to love Him with their whole heart. Every part of their being was to be totally sold out in love for the LORD. They were to choose to be in intimate relationship with Him on a moment by moment basis. Part of loving Him was to obey Him.

Jesus tied love and obedience beautifully in this verse in John 14:21: 
He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me shall be loved by my Father, and I will love him and disclose myself to him.
And part of that overflow of obedience is teaching and telling others about this great God. Love and obedience go hand in hand. You cannot have love for God and not obey Him.


This may sound like a dumb question: Do you love the LORD with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength? Do you want an intimate relationship with Him? Are you pursuing Him?

After I wrote the paragraph above, I went to meet with a women I am discipling. We are reading the book I mentioned yesterday, Many Aspire, Few Attain. Walt Henrichson was intentional about attaining in the Christian life. He has several points, and I encourage you to read the whole booklet, but the first and eighth points compliment today's reading and reflection so well:
1. Have a heart for God
“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4).

David writes, “One thing I ... seek,” not, “These forty things I dabble at.” God commands, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deut. 6:5).
This means with everything you’ve got. Stop now and evaluate your own life. Do you have a real heart for God? Do you love Him with everything you have in you? Do you find that your life is consumed with the desire to follow Him? I’m not referring to emotionalism or sentimentality. I’m talking about a resolute spirit. Have you committed to following God with all your
heart, soul and mind?

The world is filled with many Christians, but very few godly people. There is a big difference between the two. Long before I was married, I prayed, “Lord, if you ever want me to marry, I don’t want a Christian girl. Give me a godly woman. ‘Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised’ (Prov. 31:30). Lord, that’s what I want. A woman who fears You.”
8. Be wholehearted  
“And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a perfect heart” (2 Chr. 25:2). 
He did what was right, but one thing was lacking - his heart wasn’t right, so God couldn’t use him. Within a short time Amaziah, the man this verse refers to, was dead. 
Some Christians create the impression that they are doing God and their Christian organization a favor by being around - that God Almighty is about the luckiest of the lucky to have them on His team. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Perhaps you have this attitude. God is delighted beyond words over the fact that you are His. He loves you with an everlasting love. But never deceive yourself into believing that you are doing either God or anyone else a favor by being faithful. 
It is easy to be wholehearted in the things you like doing, but it’s hard to be wholehearted in the things you don’t like doing. When I moved into a Navigator home, one of my responsibilities every Saturday morning was to clean the bathroom in the master bedroom. I can remember being on my hands and knees over the toilet bowl with the cleanser and wondering to myself, “Henrichsen, what in the world are you doing here? There are millions of places you could be rather than sitting here looking inside a toilet.” 
It’s hard enough to clean your own dirt, but it's even harder to clean other people’s dirt. How do you rate yourself in terms of your wholeheartedness in being a sergeant of God? I don’t mind being a servant of Jesus Christ. In fact, I delight in it. I also don't mind you calling me a servant. You know what I do mind, though? I hate being treated like a servant.
Can you be wholehearted when people treat you like a servant of the Most High God? How about when you're treated like the servant of others? “As you do unto the least of these, you do unto me” (Matt. 25:40). 
I see having a whole heart for God as the center of EVERYTHING in the Christian life. So, how's your heart???????


LORD, We worship You as the ONE true God! We desire to give our whole heart to You! Amen. 
With my whole heart
Lord let me love You

With my whole heart
None above You
Praise and love you
With my whole heart  
(words to a children's song, but I can't find who wrote it to give them credit!)
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