Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad.
I have just exhausted pretty much everything that I can say in Hebrew. “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one”
These are the first six words of the most famous part of the Shema which is Deuteronomy 6:4-9…
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. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Because of your Jewish heritage (you are each one fourth Jewish) there are some things you should know about the Shema, given it’s importance to the Jewish faith.
- It is considered the Jewish pledge of allegiance and is recited twice daily by observant Jews.
- The word shema is translated “hear” but it’s connotation is really listen AND obey in Hebrew.
- While Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is the most famous part of the Shema, there are two other parts: Deuteronomy 11:13-21 and Numbers 15:37-41. Tradition states these three parts cover all aspects of the Ten Commandments.
- The two Deuteronomy passages are the Scriptures that are rolled up inside a mezuzah. (Have you ever noticed the mezuzah that is on our front doorpost?)
- The Shema prayer was so influential and important that Jesus used it as the beginning of His answer to the “greatest commandment” question in Mark 12:28–30.
One of the reasons that this Deuteronomy 6 passage is so influential is because it says SO MUCH in so few verses. Here are a few succinct takeaways:
- The Lord is our God (v.4) – You will have a lot of different things vie to be god of your life in the years to come. Refuse to give in no matter how alluring they may seem. They will all turn out to be fool’s gold.
- Love the Lord with all that is within you (v.5) – If the Lord is your first love then everything else will fall into place. It is when you start loving people or things more than God that life starts to get out of whack.
- Make God’s Word a frequent topic of conversation (v.6-7) – It will become easy to relegate talking about God’s Word to when you are at church or when you are having a Bible Study. But make it a point to bring God’s Word into every conversation that you have. It’s pretty easy to do if you are intentional about it.
- Make God’s Word a matter of memory and meditation (v.8-9) – Memorizing Scripture gets God’s Word into your head where it can battle all the other thoughts that will seek to control you. Meditating on Scripture (aka pondering) gets God’s Word into your heart where it can bring about genuine life change and conform you into the likeness of Christ.
So I like I mentioned in my last epistle, don’t let the Shema go in one ear and out the other. And like your Jewish ancestors it would not be a bad passage to adopt as your spiritual pledge of allegiance. Just sayin’.
Never forget that you are very loved!