We are spiritual beings. Our souls will outlast our physical beings, and we can connect with other people and God at a level which is deeper than physical. God revealed himself to Israel in this way and asks us to love him with all of our heart, soul, and strength…
1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3 Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Right after Moses repeated the ten commandments to the generation of Israel who would be crossing the Jordan into the promised land, he challenged them to inspire their future generations. He said that as they observe the commands of God in the promised land, their children and grandchildren will have an awesome reverence for God, following in their footsteps.
Moses revealed to them that if they are careful to obey, that it will go well for them and they will increase, just as God promised. Ahhh… the fulfillment of the promise of God is influenced by our surrender and adherence to God’s ways. And no, this doesn’t mean that bad things don’t happen to good people. It means that God’s promise to bless us can be impacted and limited by our own behaviour. God has made it that way, I think, because he wants to have relationship with us. He wants us to stay close to him.
Who is this God? Well, we find out from Moses in one the most important texts in the Jewish faith. The Shema was recited by Israel and painted on their door frames and bound to their hands and foreheads. They were to keep this close to their hearts. What? That God is one, and that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, and strength. There were many foreign religions which worshiped multiple gods and idols, and Moses is sharing that the Hebrew God is one – monotheistic in nature – and that they are to serve him only (which is the first commandment).
How are we to love God? With all our hearts, souls, and strength. Following God will take heart and strength – it will take perseverance and dedication – it is not for the faint of heart. There will be many things which face us and attract us to veer off course of our God-relationship to seek help from other ‘gods’ or sources of strength. It will take perseverance to only look to God.
With all our soul. We are spiritual beings. We have a soul which will outlast our physical beings, and we can connect with other people and with God at a level which is deeper than physical. God is saying to us that he is the fulfillment of our soul’s desire. God desires to provide a spiritual abundance of life (John 10:10) which we cannot get from the world.
Therefore, Moses challenges them (and us), talk about these things with your children and in your families. Make the Lord and his presence the centre of your homes when you lie down and when you rise up. When you sit around the dinner table and when you walk along the road into the world, talk about these things.
So how do you practice these elements? Do you make the Lord central in your family? Will your grandchildren know the Lord because they have heard about him from your children who heard from you? We are planting seeds of trees which future generations will both climb and sit beneath.
What are we planting?
How can you make today a Shema day? Will you love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and strength in the situation you face today?