HOUSMAIL HM#071 - THE SHEMA - "HEAR O ISRAEL"(Mark
14 March 2001
(The Greatest Commandment of ALL!)
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall
love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and
with all your mind, and with all your strength."
(Mark 12:29 and Deut 6:4-5)
Jesus quoted this commandment from Deut 6:4-5. When he did so, it had already been, for 1500 years, the non-negotiable starting point for recognition of the identity of the God of Israel. And no Jew familiar with the Old Testament would ever have thought that ONE meant MORE than the simple cardinal number - "ONE". Especially, there was no recognition at all in the Jewish Faith into which Jesus was born, of later human inventions such as "trinity" or "compound unity", or "uni-plurality"! Indeed, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that, since these concepts are NOT BIBLICAL, they must result from some fundamental failure to properly obey the commandment to "HEAR"!
If Jesus says that this commandment is THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, it deserves our full attention! We must study it prayerfully, until we get it right! It is important enough to memorise it. It is important enough to KNOW without prompting, where to find it in the Scriptures. And it is important enough to teach it to our children ..... diligently ..... until it is fixed in their hearts as firmly as it is in our own! (Deut 6:7)
Note carefully that this greatest Commandment of all, has THREE parts.
PART 1 - THE FIRST PART OF THE COMMANDMENT SAYS "HEAR".
HEAR WHAT? Hear the commandment to "HEAR", of course!
There is a lot in that single word "hear". It implies in the strongest possible way that we must listen carefully, diligently, intelligently ..... fearless of any personal "consequences" of hearing properly. (such as persecution or rejection!) And it follows of course, that APATHY about listening properly to this commandment from God, or refusal to listen at all, or deliberate and dishonest distortion of what we hear, in order to make what we say more "acceptable" to others ..... will be an absolute barrier to our obedience to the rest of it!
By saying that it is the greatest of all commandments, Jesus has made it so fundamental to FAITH in the ONE TRUE God of the Bible, that we MUST make certain that we hear correctly. We cannot afford to be wrong about this greatest commandment of all!
JESUS HAS MADE IT ESSENTIAL TO THE GOSPEL!
And when we have heard properly ourselves, we must not be reluctant to tell others what we have heard about this greatest commandment of all! If it is so important to Jesus, we should never be guilty of hiding this God given light under a bushel (Matt 5:15) for the unworthy motive of making an "easier road" for ourselves.
PART 2 - HEAR THE COMMANDMENT WHICH SAYS THAT GOD IS ONE (ONLY)
There is no other God apart from the one defined by Moses. This God (YAHWEH) says of himself, "I am the first and the last; besides me there is no God." (Isaiah 44:6)
And Jesus repeats that in different words, when he says that HIS FATHER is the ONLY true God. (John 17:3)
So when people don't listen properly to this second part, and instead re-invent God from ONE to make him THREE-IN-ONE, or "compound unity", or some other illogical impossibility which requires us to throw our MINDS away, the inevitable conclusion is that, for whatever reason (either through ignorance, delusion, or willful rebellion? -- see more about this below) they are in fundamental DISOBEDIENCE to the greatest commandment of all.
If WE want to obey this commandment to know and believe with ALL our mind and heart, that God is ONE, we will have to HEAR carefully and prayerfully until we KNOW what that means.
Otherwise we will never be able to "graduate" to Part 3, and truly love God as we should.
PART 3 - HEAR THE COMMANDMENT WHICH SAYS TO LOVE GOD WITH ALL OUR BEING.
This is the ultimate goal of this greatest commandment of all. The first two parts are "stepping stones" -- absolute pre-requisites -- to keeping the third part! Without that foundation, we will never be able to know enough ABOUT Him, to KNOW HIM PERSONALLY for who and what he is. And if we can't do that, we shall never be able to LOVE HIM enough to devote ourselves to keeping the rest of his "lesser" commandments -- with ALL our heart, mind, and soul and strength.
Jesus tells us this in John 17:3 -- but with one added dimension. He says that receiving ETERNAL life is conditional on KNOWING his Father as the ONLY TRUE GOD, and knowing himself as someone else -- who is NOT the only true God, but the Messiah sent by God.
In this verse, "knowing" is a far stronger word than merely "knowing about". Jesus also means "knowing personally" -- in the personal relationship which exists between a Father and his children, or between two brothers who are also "best friends".
Of course we must know something ABOUT God before we can love him. You can't love someone you know nothing about. Nor can you love someone properly, if your love is based on LIES about who they are, and what they are.
This greatest COMMANDMENT to know that the ONE LORD of Israel - who is also the Father of Jesus - is the only true God, is given for good reason. It is THE foundation on which TRUE love and obedience, can grow to its fullness. (Eph 3:14-21)
Caution here! Even if we do have it right, it doesn't guarantee that we WILL DO THAT! It is OUR responsibility to use our FREE WILL CHOICE to exercise our heart, and soul, and mind, and strength, to love God.
Notably, exercising the mind to love God, DOES NOT MEAN throwing our mind away to blindly accept illogical lies!
IGNORANCE - is dispelled by knowledge. We get that by reading the Bible!
DELUSION - can only be cured by removing the cause of delusion! We must learn both to love the truth and to hate our sins, so that God will not send delusion! (2 Thess 2:11-12)
WILFUL DISOBEDIENCE - is
cured by repentance! In this context in particular, that means repenting
from the wrong motives that lead to suppression of truth, and it means
acceptance of the consequences of proclaiming truth. Some of the most common
of these false motivations are:
- Desire to continue in sin, which is stronger than fear of judgement. (Romans 1:18-20,32)
- Avoidance of persecution. "Acceptance" by the majority, to "swim in their bigger pool."
- Coveting a "ministry" not available to those who reject the confusion of Trinitarian creeds.
"All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." (Matt 4:9)