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I love Deuteronomy chapter 6 verses 4 through 9 in our readings today! These verses are known as the Shema - which was named after the first word in this verse and means "Hear." The Shema became the Jewish confession of faith, which was recited by pious Jews every morning and evening and it is still recited in synagogue services today. They are the last words a Jew says prior to death. More very interesting information about The Shema from a Jewish website is at this link. ""Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again. Tie them to your hands as a reminder, and wear them on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
Bible.org's commentary on Deuteronomy chapter 6 titled "Responsibilities of Fatherhood" is at this link.
Today in Deuteronomy chapter 7, the New Living Translation has the chapter titled "The Privilege of Holiness." Keep in mind that these chapter headings - or headings within sections of chapters - are not Biblical text. They are not from the original manuscripts, but are basically brief summaries from the viewpoint of modern-day translators. Generally speaking though, you can trust what they are telling you - but just remember, they're not Biblical text. All this to say, I was intrigued by this chapter's title in today's readings. Israel was indeed privileged and called to holiness. I think an important for us to keep in mind is that in the Old Testament, Israel was God's chosen people. So, yes, we do read in this chapter and future OT chapters God favoring Israel over all other nations. However, keep three things in mind. One, Israel is the people of God's covenant going to back to Abraham and God is just forming Israel as a nation. Two, the other nations at that time were immersed in sin and idolatry to other gods. Three, through Jesus' ministry, God indeed shows love toward all nations today and wants all nations to be in relationship with him. But, prior to Jesus, we see clearly in this chapter that Israel is, per verse 6: "a holy people, who belong to the LORD your God. Of all the people on earth, the LORD your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure."
Today in Deuteronomy chapter 8 verse 10 we read: “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.” What a great verse! Many say that it is because of this verse that we traditionally say grace at meal time. Interesting that this verse indicates that the Israelites were to praise God after eating – which, actually, is sometimes how I say grace today now too – when I forget to say grace before eating! :) I think the other thing this verse above gets at is that we humans have a tendency to “forget” God in the good times. In the bad times, maybe we do a decent job of praying to God and trying to stay close to Him. But in the good times, I know that sometimes I can forget Who really blessed me with the good times. I think it is so important for us to remember each and every day this one thing – God has given us everything. Every single good thing we have in our life comes from God. Our family. Our friends. Our physical abilities. Even the very air we breathe. It ALL comes from God. And, while I think it is pleasing to God for us to praise him for these good things – I also think it is ultimately healthy for us to praise God for the good things he has given us. Because, when we truly thank God each and every day for even very simple things – our eyesight, our 12 year old car that still runs fine, etc. etc. – we realize how very blessed we really are, and then I think we have less of a chance of feeling sorry for ourselves. We are blessed! How are you doing on praising God for the good things he has given you in your life? Will you make a conscious effort to really praise and thank God each and every day? Think this might be pleasing to God? Think this might be healthy for you?
Okay, I'm really appreciating the New Living Translation little commentary headers before sections of our readings - as I discussed in yesterday's post, these are not from the original manuscripts so should not be considered Biblical text. Nonetheless, I personally do find them useful. And I really do like the first header in Deuteronomy chapter 9 today in the NLT - "Victory by God's Grace." You'll note that you won't actually find the word "grace" in any of the verses that follow. However, I think we do get a good overview of how grace works in this section, and verse 6 gives an example of grace: "I will say it again: The LORD your God is not giving you this good land because you are righteous, for you are not--you are a stubborn people." This verse made me chuckle a bit when I read it. Because it is true. The Israelites were a stubborn people, as we've seen in our readings. And yet, God was still showing grace by giving them the Promised Land. This verse primarily made me chuckle because I think that we, today, are still oftentimes a stubborn people. Not a lot has changed in 3,000+ years. We humans are still a stubborn people. And God is still a God of grace. Then and now. God shows us humans his grace. Thank goodness!
Later in Deuteronomy chapter 9 we read about the golden calf, and we get a great reminder of how Moses truly was a mediator between God and the Israelites - in some ways foreshadowing the mediator role that Jesus is now between God and all humankind. Verses 18 & 19 demonstrate Moses' mediator role well - "Then for forty days and nights I lay prostrate before the LORD, neither eating bread nor drinking water. I did this because you had sinned by doing what the LORD hated, thus making him very angry. How I feared for you, for the LORD was ready to destroy you. But again he listened to me." And check out this amazing image below of Moses laying prostrate before God on behalf the Israelites... can you imagine doing this for 40 days and nights for someone? Particularly for someone who just sinned greatly against God? Moses is amazing...
Worship Video: Today's readings in Deuteronomy reminds me of the fantastic song by Shaun Groves called "Welcome Home:"
Have you welcomed Jesus into your Home? Click here and welcome Him!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on three verses of Scripture today: "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts." Deuteronomy 6:4-6 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that you will love God with all of your heart, soul and strength. Pray that God's commandments are written upon your heart today and forevermore.
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
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