- The Explore the Bible lesson for Feb. 2 focuses on Deuteronomy 6:1-13.
I remember when my daughter (now 4 years old) began talking. Little by little, she started adding words to her vocabulary. Then one day, she surprised me with these words, “I love you daddy.” It was an amazing feeling—a feeling that didn’t last long. After a few days passed, my daughter returned from day care, and I asked her to do some chores. She snubbed me. I asked her again and received the same response. Finally, I raised my voice and asked her to do the chores. At that point, she responded, “I don’t love you anymore!”
That is how we treat God in our lives. One day we love God with all we have, and the next day we neglect God and his commands. God wants us to love him with all of our being.
The Promise (Deuteronomy 6:1-3)
After restating the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5, Moses is ready to deliver another sermon to the Israelites. This time, he reminds the people about the commands and rules listed in chapter 4. In addition, Moses highlights some important elements in his discourse. The people have been instructed to listen and observe so that they can teach others to listen and obey as well.
God designed this discipleship pattern to keep the covenant promise made to Abraham alive. The people were ready to possess the land. The land was inhabited with people who practiced different religions and false gods. God knew his people’s beliefs and convictions were at risk. In an effort to help them overcome the temptation to embrace the pagan religion and gods, God made a promise: If you observe the commands and decrees, and teach your children and their children after them to fear the Lord, they will enjoy a long life, it may go well with them and they will increase greatly.
One word of caution: This is not a formula that can be duplicated to gain material possessions, nor is it a promise that will keep us free from sufferings or pains. The blessings from God go beyond materialistic possessions.
The Passion (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
This section serves as an exhortation to heed God’s teachings. The Shema, from the Hebrew word “hear,” encourages people to love God with all we have. This is an important passage. In fact, when Jesus was asked about the most important commandment, he cited this same one.
The Shema was of pivotal importance at this time in Israel’s history because of the polytheism around them. God wanted them to know that he was the one and only God, and they needed to love him unconditionally.
During Jesus’ time, he emphasized this passage to reinforce the idea to love God with all we have is only half of the equation; the other half is to love one’s neighbor as ourselves. To love God with everything we have leads us to love others. This is how we show that we really love God—by loving one another.
The Proclamation (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
In these verses, the Israelites learned practical steps to implement this teaching. Before they could teach these commands to their children and other people, they needed to embrace these rules with their hearts. Then, they were commanded to follow a series of steps.
The first thing after embracing these commands was to impress them on their children. Impress is a fascinating word choice. To impress something is to apply pressure so as to imprint. God expected the people to take this responsibility earnestly he would provide the path to accomplish this. The people were to talk about these matters everywhere—when they would sit, walk, lie down and rise. We demonstrate our love for God by teaching others about him. Where are you proclaiming God’s love?
The Possession (Deuteronomy 6:10-13)
This final section challenges the Israelites to remain faithful to God. The Israelites were about to take possession of the flourishing land. They ran the risk of forgetting the God who rescued them. God instructed them to be careful not to forget him. There is an interesting phrase used in these instructions: “then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord.”
This behavior was repeated on several occasions when the people were wandering in the desert. One day they were happy, full and satisfied, and the next day they wanted to kill Moses. God warned them about this behavior one last time.
We ought to be encouraged by these words to continue to love God when everything is good around us. God has blessed us so richly that sometimes we forget to fear and serve him.
Jaime Cortez is discipleship pastor at First Baptist Church in Athens, Texas.