What are your devotions like? Do you spend time with the LORD?
I have been studying and meditating on Deut. 6:4-5 and Mark 12:29-30 to try and gain insight from Scripture and the LORD about a life devoted to the LORD. In this Pastor Chat I would like to share with you what these two Scriptures teach us about loving God and how God is speaking to me.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 says, “Hear oh Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.”
In Hebrew the word “Hear” is tantamount to saying, “Obey”. This could mean, “Israel we need to obey the LORD our God who is one” or “Listen up Israel, the LORD our God is one.” The idea of oneness can mean one of three things: (1) that there is only “one” God and this God is the God of Israel; and/or (2) the word “one” means a “unity” like Adam and Eve becoming “one” flesh (see Genesis 2:24 – the implication in Deut. 6:4 being that the Trinity, three-in-oneness, is a possibility); and/or (3) that the God of Israel “alone” is God. All three of the above are possible at the same time in interpreting Deut. 6:4.
There is another interesting interpretation of a word in this verse, the term Elohim is a plural form of the word for God. This does not mean there are multiple gods that make up the LORD, but rather it means God is to be thought of as either: (1) beyond our comprehension; or (2) a plural of majesty. The plural of majesty is like the royal “we”; for example when a King speaks on behalf of the royal throne he might say “we” meaning the King, the Queen, and the Prince who make up a unity who sit on the throne. This is a possible interpretation, which opens up Deuteronomy 6:4 to be a verse possibly supporting the idea of a Triune God.
The second verse in this great prayer says, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” The word love implies an obligation of Israel to love God based on His covenantal kindness to rescue Israel and become their God. The words “with all your heart” describe the seat of the intellect; it is the equivalent of the mind or rationale of humankind in the West. The word “soul” is the invisible part of our being that makes up the essential person. The word “strength” means physical being.
When I meditated on these words yesterday I thought of two things: (1) despite my back hurting, it is always good to bow physically before the LORD and get on my face; and (2) that I need more times of stillness before the LORD knowing and acknowledging that He is God. Combine this with my devotional the day before from 2 Chron. 16:12, which talked about seeking the LORD in sickness made me think I need to seek the LORD concerning my back pain.
In my devotional time today I looked at Mark 12:29-30, which Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6:4-5. I was reminded of two things: (1) that this prayer was a prayer of confession said by pious Jews two times daily; and (2) that Jesus called this the Greatest Commandment. If Jesus considered this the greatest command in all of Scripture, to confess who is God and to love God with all your being, then shouldn’t I take this prayer seriously and pray it myself even though I am not a part of Israel (though I am a part of the Church).
The Greek words of heart, soul, mind, and strength also give insight into how we are to love God. The word “heart” describes the seat of one’s spiritual and intellectual life. This is where doubts and hardness of heart come from, it is also where faith and obedience originate. One commentator reminds us that conversion begins when God opens the heart to believe.
The word “soul” is the life of the inner being that lives on eternally and will either be fit for heaven or hell. If we love the LORD it will be prepared for heaven. The third Hebrew word from Deuteronomy is divided into two Greek words, one meaning “mind” and the other “strength.” These two words together describe the physical person, but also the mind or conscience or disposition of a person in attitudes related to faith. If we love God with our mind / strength our will is bent to the LORD so that one is able to spiritually, physically and mentally engage God in prayer.
As I prayed today meditating on these verses, I found it hard to keep my mind on track. Like a teenager with ADD it is hard to focus on the words of Scripture and to hear from God what He might be saying. I found that I can be easily be distracted, hence the reason prayer should be done in a quiet place away from distraction.
I have committed to continue to contemplate these verses for a week and seek the LORD for personal spiritual renewal. I encourage you if you are struggling spiritually to take some verses of Scripture, even the verses mentioned above, and seek the LORD with your whole being.