Series: Thru the Bible
Message – [Recording quality was VERY poor for this recording] Shema Israel – Deut. 5 & 6
Deut. 5:1-33, HCSB “(1) Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, “Israel, listen to the statutes and ordinances I am proclaiming as you hear them today. Learn and follow them carefully. (2) The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. (3) He did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with all of us who are alive here today. (4) The LORD spoke to you face to face from the fire on the mountain. (5) At that time I was standing between the LORD and you to report the word of the LORD to you, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain. And He said: (6) I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. (7) Do not have other gods besides Me. (8) Do not make an idol for yourself in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. (9) You must not bow down to them or worship them, because I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ sin to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, (10) but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commands. (11) Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God, because the LORD will punish anyone who misuses His name. (12) Be careful to dedicate the Sabbath day, as the LORD your God has commanded you. (13) You are to labor six days and do all your work, (14) but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. You must not do any work–you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your ox or donkey, any of your livestock, or the foreigner who lives within your gates, so that your male and female slaves may rest as you do. (15) Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. That is why the LORD your God has commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. (16) Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and so that you may prosper in the land the LORD your God is giving you. (17) Do not murder. (18) Do not commit adultery. (19) Do not steal. (20) Do not give dishonest testimony against your neighbor. (21) Do not desire your neighbor’s wife or covet your neighbor’s house, his field, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. (22) “The LORD spoke these commands in a loud voice to your entire assembly from the fire, cloud, and thick darkness on the mountain; He added nothing more. He wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me. (23) All of you approached me with your tribal leaders and elders when you heard the voice from the darkness and while the mountain was blazing with fire. (24) You said, ‘Look, the LORD our God has shown us His glory and greatness, and we have heard His voice from the fire. Today we have seen that God speaks with a person, yet he still lives. (25) But now, why should we die? This great fire will consume us and we will die if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any longer. (26) For who out of all mankind has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the fire, as we have, and lived? (27) Go near and listen to everything the LORD our God says. Then you can tell us everything the LORD our God tells you; we will listen and obey.’ (28) “The LORD heard your words when you spoke to me. He said to me, ‘I have heard the words that these people have spoken to you. Everything they have said is right. (29) If only they had such a heart to fear Me and keep all My commands, so that they and their children will prosper forever. (30) Go and tell them: Return to your tents. (31) But you stand here with Me, and I will tell you every command–the statutes and ordinances–you are to teach them, so that they may follow them in the land I am giving them to possess.’ (32) “Be careful to do as the LORD your God has commanded you; you are not to turn aside to the right or the left. (33) Follow the whole instruction the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live, prosper, and have a long life in the land you will possess.”
Deut. 6:1-3, HCSB “(1) This is the command–the statutes and ordinances–the LORD your God has instructed me to teach you, so that you may follow them in the land you are about to enter and possess. (2) Do this so that you may fear the LORD your God all the days of your life by keeping all His statutes and commands I am giving you, your son, and your grandson, and so that you may have a long life. (3) Listen, Israel, and be careful to follow them, so that you may prosper and multiply greatly, because the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you a land flowing with milk and honey.”
There are several words used in the bible for divisions of scripture and they all have specific meanings.
- The Testimonies of the Lord
- The Statutes of the Lord
- The Precepts of the Lord
- The Judgments of the Lord
- The Word of the Lord
- The Commandments of the Lord
- The Law of the Lord
Each of these are addressed in the 119th Psalm and they are mentioned in brief in Ps. 19:7-11.
“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.” ~ Psalm 19:7-11
A New Testament example of a Testimony of the Lord is found in 1 John 4:16, “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. GOD IS LOVE, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”
To the Jew, the ten commandments were viewed as God’s special revelation of Himself and in part are thus called ‘the Testimony’ in Exodus 31:8. I think if we realized this fact we’d approach scripture differently and discover revelations of Him more easily.
But in our passage here we have three of these words and there is a fair amount of overlap:
- Commandments – These are NOT limited to the 10 commandments, but reference the entire collection of written words from God given in the form of a command. The fact that God used this word when speaking to Abraham (before the 10 commandments were even given) is proof enough of that [Gen. 26:5].
- Statutes – these are mandates and expectations given in the form of a custom (like a festival or new moons) or a decree like ONLY GATHER ONE OMER OF MANNA PER PERSON until the 6th day when you are to gather twice as much that you might do no work on the Sabbath [Exod. 16:16-25].
- Judgments – These are more legal in nature and refer mostly to legal decisions & claims rendered. An example would be that of the amendment to the law on inheritance of land [Num. 27:8-11; 36:8-13] or the provision for those who cannot participate in Passover due to being on a journey or being ceremonially unclean [Num. 9:6-14].
Moses explains that the reason for teaching is obedience and the reason for obedience is that it may be well with them and their children.
The phrase “land flowing with Milk and Honey” was an idiom…it was clearly not to be taken literally and it did not speak of actual bee’s honey since that was extremely rare and if the law were interpreted in the literally it would have been (at least at the time) forbidden to Israelites since those bees were on the “unclean list”. If interpreted hyper-legalistically this list would include everything made by or with them – thus, excluding honey. Many Jews today hold that honey is un-Kosher, many do not…as to whether God saw it as such seems uncertain since honey consumption by those under the Old Covenant happened without rebuke. The Gemara (which is of course extra-biblical and therefore NOT authoritative) explains that honey is kosher since it is not an actual secretion of the bee; the bee functions only as a carrier and facilitator. Honey is kosher flower nectar, which enters the bee’s honey sac and is transformed into honey.
Nevertheless, the word translated as honey in there day, in most cases referred to a condensed sweet paste made from grapes or dates….very much like a jam or jelly. This latter meaning is most likely what the idiom refers to since it grapes where the proof of the goodness of the land which Moses requests the spies to return with a sample of and on account of they said, “Truly it is a land flowing with milk and honey, and THIS is its fruit.” – Numbers 13:27.
The Shema – a source of misunderstanding and thus misfortune for the Jews
Deut. 6:4, NKJV “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”
The Shema, like the Lord’s prayer for Christians, has been turned into a prayer by Jews and though both are often recited without flaw, they are both largely never followed.
The first word in the phrase IS the word Shema which is translated as LISTEN or HEAR.
This is NOT a bad translation, but it means more than that – it means to hear and obey and carries with it the notion of respect.
Wives say Shema all the time – or rather they mean it, because they want their husbands to care and respect them enough that if they ask them to do something – they want a response and if the response was yes – they want follow through…not just lip service.
Here is a video on this from The Bible Project…
Israel is the one God wants to listen and obey Him due to their respect for Him “Shema of Israel”.
Then He gives the basis for His words as His inherent nature.
The LORD (in all caps) is the name Yahweh given to Moses at the burning bush. However, to reveal how this statement is a statement about God’s inherent nature we need to realize that when God answered Moses when he asked, “Who should I say sent me?” God did not say Yahweh but EHYEH which is the personalized version of His name. Ehyeh means “I am that I am” where as Yahweh means, “He is” or “He will be” which is to say, He is Self-existent. He needs no one to exist and did not require anyone to come into existence since He just simply IS!
“The Lord our God, the Lord is one!”
Now we get to the word ONE. The English word ONE is a very interesting way to translate this Hebrew word echad, because it has been used to say that God was here teaching Israel against polytheism when in fact the word “one” (or Echad) does not exclusively mean one, but takes on a greater meaning based upon how it is used.
As it does in Genesis 3:22, “and the two shall become one flesh” – clearly the word echad or “one” does not mean that they stop being two individuals, but rather that AS individuals they become unified. It is very much like the word “team” which is a singular noun representing a plurality of people who all work as ONE.
The word can also carry the meaning of integrity – or true to.
So in this statement, God may be saying – “Listen and obey Me out of respect for the Self Existing one, for our God, the Self-Existing One is unified, full of integrity and is true to Himself.”
He then goes on to show them what to hear and obey out of respect for the ways of the Self-Existent One.
Implied in the text therefore is the notion that because I – the Self-existent One am this way – YOU be this way! Now this was set before Israel as an impossible task to frustrate them under the oppressive weight of the law so that when He cut the second covenant with them in the blood on the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world – He would give them a new heart and write His laws (ways) upon them and they would live the truth not as a set of RULES commanding behaviors from the outside, but an instinctive truth which resonates with their reborn human spirits as they live from the inside out BY THE POWER of the Holy Spirit Who would be given to them. Thus the New Testament is LOADED with statements which add up to “because I am this way – you be this was as well”!
God was not, is not and will not ever desire a token sampling of you! Natural lovers might be either deceived or self-deluded about the “stated” affections of their mate or friend or family members but God is not capable of being so misled. As I often do, I find myself drawn to the words of Michael Card in his song, Know You in the Now!…and what an apt description of the relationship God has always wanted with His people. I wish I had the time and enough interest in you all to explain this from a standpoint of none-time or eternity, but we don’t have “time” for that. God LIVES in the eternal NOW and wants to know you there. It is MUCH the same as natural relationships were we know the outcome of an exchange BEFORE it happens with someone we KNOW intimately. Yes, in those cases we know the end from the beginning – but does that steal the joy of experiencing the moment with the person in question in the NOW?! NO!!! So it is with God, Who knows you intimately beyond all you think you know of yourself. He even understand COMPLETELY the thoughts and intentions of our hearts before we ever give expression to them ourselves – yet He lives in bated expectation (favorable hope) of experiencing your intimacy in the NOW. But intimacy on that level cannot be intimacy if our natures are diametrically opposed to one another and so God calls us, He beckons us – yes, He even BEGS us to surrender our all and become LIKE Him that we might experience true koinonia in our every now throughout eternity! Not just do what He does – but LOVE what He loves.
I mentioned the song from Michael Card, “Know You in the now” and I will ask you to indulge me as I read the entire song,
“Echo of history
A light so many strain to see
The One we talk so much about
But rarely ever live it out
Could You tell me why
Was it for this You came and died
A once a week observance
When we coldly mouth Your words
Lord I long to see
Your presence in reality
But I don’t know how
Let me know You in the now
We should confess
We lose You in our busyness
We’ve made You in our image
So our faith’s idolatry
Lord, deliver me
Break my heart so I can see
All the ways You dwell in us
That You’re alive in me
Lord I long to see
Your presence in reality
But I don’t know how
Let me know You in the now”
Deut. 6:5-15, HCSB “(5) Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. (6) These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. (7) Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (8) Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. (9) Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (10) “When the LORD your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that He would give you–a land with large and beautiful cities that you did not build, (11) houses full of every good thing that you did not fill them with, wells dug that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant–and when you eat and are satisfied, (12) be careful not to forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. (13) Fear the LORD your God, worship Him, and take your oaths in His name. (14) Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you, (15) for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God. Otherwise, the LORD your God will become angry with you and wipe you off the face of the earth.”
Deut. 6:16-25, HCSB “(16) Do not test the LORD your God as you tested Him at Massah. (17) Carefully observe the commands of the LORD your God, the decrees and statutes He has commanded you. (18) Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so that you may prosper and so that you may enter and possess the good land the LORD your God swore to give your fathers, (19) by driving out all your enemies before you, as the LORD has said. (20) “When your son asks you in the future, ‘What is the meaning of the decrees, statutes, and ordinances, which the LORD our God has commanded you?’ (21) tell him, ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand. (22) Before our eyes the LORD inflicted great and devastating signs and wonders on Egypt, on Pharaoh and all his household, (23) but He brought us from there in order to lead us in and give us the land that He swore to our fathers. (24) The LORD commanded us to follow all these statutes and to fear the LORD our God for our prosperity always and for our preservation, as it is today. (25) Righteousness will be ours if we are careful to follow every one of these commands before the LORD our God, as He has commanded us.’”
Blessing was a motivator under the old Covenant but under the New – love and respect for God are the only motivators needed.
I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.
We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.
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