Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Can you love God with all your heart and not all your might? I don’t think so.
“I really feel like I love God with all my soul, but my body doesn’t really get in on it.”
Come on. That is not how we work. We are holistic people. Your heart is connected to your soul is connected to your might. This is an all or nothing deal.
Is there ever a time when they shouldn’t be immersed in God and his commands? Again, I don’t think so. This isn’t a “I do this one day a week” thing.
Israel is to be swimming in God and his law. Conversation. Generation. Location. Occupation. No deviation. You even have it written on your forehead so other people can see the law when they see you.
Hmm, when people look at you, they should be reminded of God. Interesting. If only there were some other place in Scripture that talked about that . . .
I was studying this passage with some of my students and they made an interesting connection. God is one. He is undivided. Therefore his people must be undivided. There is no place in their lives where God does not enter in. There is no place he doesn’t show up.
That’s why you don’t study the Bible alone: freshmen in college came up with that one!
Cities You Did Not Build
Here’s an interesting twist. The Israelites are going to settle in a land that is fully developed. It already has cities, storehouses, vineyards, and most importantly, cisterns.
They built none of it.
This land was not made with their hands. But their hands will tend it. Their hands will continue the work that was begun. Their hands will hopefully act in obedience with what God has called them to.
If only there was another place that Scripture talked about this . . .
When Your Children Ask You
In the future, their children will want to know what the law means. They will ask questions (God bless them) and be curious.
Rather than giving them a list of rules, do you know what you are supposed to say?
You tell them THE story.
You tell them that you were slaves in Egypt. God brought you out and into a good land. God wants you to live so he gave you laws that help you live.
The Israelites must never ever forget their story.
And neither should we.
The bit about the pre-built cities is interesting, because I’m sure I remember reading somewhere that the early chapters of Genesis were informed by a tension between city dwelling (ie, Cain building a city, the Tower of Babel, Lot going to Sodom and Gomorrah) and the nomadic herdsman lifestyle practiced by Abraham. I don’t know if this plays into Deuteronomy 6 though…
I definitely noticed a tension between wandering and settling. Basically, in Genesis, settling is the worst thing you can do. Nothing good happens after you settle.
Which is why I think God warns them in Deuteronomy that “when they have eaten their fill” to not forget they are slaves. They will get comfortable and forget their story.
We should rally (as one) around that beautiful story.
Great thoughts, Ben!
You mentioned swimming, but I’m a runner so I can relate to that. I run because I want to be healthy. Because I want to serve God as long as physically possible. Because I am the temple. Because I can get away and think and pray and meditate. Because I can listen to sermons on my mp3. Because I enjoy it and He wants me to enjoy it.
Is that undivided?
I think you are on the right track (running term). I get the sense that God wants his people to be living and breathing his word all the time. There is no such thing as an “unspiritual activity.” So yes, running ought to be a way to encounter God. Same with doing the dishes, business, music, art, conversation, schoolwork, etc.
Oh Lord, give me an undivided heart that I may fear thy name.
One of the best passages in the Bible. Love it.