Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Greatest Command - Deuteronomy 6:1-9

Deuteronomy 6:1-9
1“Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess,
“Now” – This is the beginning of a new paragraph, a new section in the book of Deuteronomy. Chapter 5 contains a review of the Ten Commandments, and the experience of hearing the voice of the living God from the mountain. One way to think about these two chapters is Chapter 5 is fear without love and Chapter 6 is fear because of love. Moses turns his attention to the heart of the Law.
It seems that there are three topics or headings being taught here by Moses: commandments, statutes, and judgments. Perhaps we can see the distinction better in Leviticus 26:15 – “and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break my covenant,”
Matthew Henry says this concerning the distinction of ideas here: ‘“commandments” seem to denote the moral law, the “statues” the ceremonial law, and the “judgments” the law by which the judges decided.’
Moses is the spokesman, but God is the source of the commands. In other words, God wrote the textbook, and Moses is the professor. Deut. 4:1 – “Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and judgments which I teach you to observe…” Essentially, Moses is obeying the Lord by teaching the people all that the Lord had commanded.
Notice that there is only ONE commandment. “this is the commandment” – God has made things simple. He has given one over-arching command that is worked out through all of the little commands.
Purpose in the commandment – ‘That you may observe them in the land’ - The goal in Moses’ teaching was obedience, not just knowledge. The goal was to put them into practice as they entered the Promised Land. The goal was that the commands of the Lord would become the lifestyle of the people. Moses didn’t say “that you may remember them,” he said, “that you may observe them.” The word, “observe” in Hebrew means, ‘to produce, to make.’ Obedience to these commands should have become so much more than just doing a list of chores. It should have become a wellspring of good deeds and good fruit.
2 that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.
Motivation for obedience – ‘that you may fear the LORD your God’ – the fear of the Lord is the source of obedience. The only reason for the Israelites to obey the commands was because of the fear of the Lord.
What is the fear of the Lord? The following quotes help us understand a bit better what is meant by the fear of the Lord.
“That thou mightest fear the Lord - Respect his sovereign authority as a lawgiver, and ever feel thyself bound to obey him. No man can walk either conscientiously or safely who has not the fear of God continually before his eyes. When this is gone, more than a guardian angel is fled.” –Adam Clarke
“That thou mightest fear the Lord thy God,.... Being taught to know the greatness of his being, and the nature of his mind and will, and the manner of his worship; and not with a slavish fear, but with …a reverential affection for God; being instructed in their duty, as of children, to their God and Father” -John Gill
On a side note: In Scripture we find that the fear of the Lord is the source of life, love, wisdom, knowledge, faith, obedience, service, sanctification, length of days, and confidence.
When a man has a healthy fear of the Lord he will teach his children and grandchildren to fear the Lord. It will affect the generation to come – “you and your son and your grandson.”
Adam Clark said this: “Whoever fears God will endeavor to bring up his children in the way of righteousness, that they also may fear God, and that pure and undefiled religion may be preserved in his family through all its generations, not only in word, but in practice also.”
If you don’t fear God, you will not train your children.
“all the days of your life” – observe the commands of God and teach them to your children until your dying breath.
Teaching your children doesn’t stop when your kids turn 18; it doesn’t stop when your kids get married; it doesn’t stop when your kids have children of their own, it doesn’t stop until you are dead.
Results of obeying God’s commandment –
1.        ‘that your days may be prolonged.’ – God’s desire was that His people enjoy a long life of obedience in the land of Canaan. He wanted to bless them and bless each family’s obedience to Him. But, just as their obedience would cause length of days for them, their disobedience would bring life to an end. Deuteronomy 4:26 says this in reference to idolatry: ‘you will soon utterly perish from the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess. You will not live long it in, but will be utterly destroyed.’ Proverbs 10:27 - The fear of the LORD prolongs days: but the years of the wicked will be shortened.
3 Therefore hear, O Israel, and 1be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you— ‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’
2.        ‘that it may be well with you’ – Not only will observance of God’s command prolong days, it will cause well-being and prosperity in those days.
3.       ‘that you may multiply greatly’ – God is going to fulfill His promise to make them a great nation.
Summary: Putting the command into practice, motivated by an active fear of the Lord, resulting in length of days, fullness of days, and to make them a great nation is God’s goal in giving this command to His people.
What is the command?

4“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!

“Hear, O Israel:” – a call to attention

“The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”This weighty text contains far more than a mere declaration of the unity of God as against polytheism; or of the sole authority of the revelation that He had made to Israel as against other pretended manifestations of His will and attributes. It asserts that the Lord God of Israel is absolutely God, and none other. He, and He alone, is Jehovah (Yahweh) the absolute, uncaused God; the One who had, by His election of them, made Himself known to Israel.” – Albert Barnes
Note: the word, “one” is the same word used in Genesis 2:24 where it says that a husband and wife are to become ‘one flesh.’ The term suggests unity, not singleness. “While this verse was intended as a clear and concise statement of monotheism, it does not exclude the concept of the Trinity.” – John MacArthur
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is the first part of the ‘Shema’ (the Hebrew word for ‘hear’) – the Jewish confession of faith, if you will. The devout Jews would recite this twice a day along with Deut. 11:13-21 and Num. 15:37-41.

Jesus confirms this passage as the greatest commandment in Matt. 22:37-38; Mark 12:29-31.

5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

“love the Lord your God” – show affection for Him, esteem Him, worship Him, obey Him, fear Him, trust Him, delight in Him, rejoice in Him, LOVE HIM.

God is to be loved because of the perfections of his nature, and the works of his hand, of nature, providence, and grace; and because of the relations he stands in to men, and especially to his own people; and because of his peculiar love to them; and, indeed, he is to be loved by all men for his care of them, and blessings of goodness bestowed on them;” John Gill

We are commanded to love God, but how is God to be loved?

1.       “with all your heart” – the seat of understanding
2.       “with all your soul” – the center of the will and personality
3.       “with all your strength.” – all the energies of a person

The commentary of Adam Clarke is worth mentioning:
1.    He loves God with all his heart, who loves nothing in comparison of him, and nothing but in reference to him: - who is ready to give up, do, or suffer any thing in order to please and glorify him: - who has in his heart neither love nor hatred, hope nor fear, inclination, nor aversion, desire, nor delight, but as they relate to God, and are regulated by him.
2.    He loves God with all his soul, or rather, with all his life, who is ready to give up life for his sake - to endure all sorts of torments, and to be deprived of all kinds of comforts, rather than dishonor God: - who employs life with all its comforts, and conveniences, to glorify God in, by, and through all: - to whom life and death are nothing, but as they come from and lead to God, From this Divine principle sprang the blood of the martyrs, which became the seed of the Church. They overcame through the blood of the Lamb, and loved not their lives unto the death. 
3.    He loves God with all his strength who exerts all the powers of his body and soul in the service of God: - who, for the glory of his Maker, spares neither labor nor cost - who sacrifices his time, body, health, ease, for the honor of God his Divine Master: - who employs in his service all his goods, his talents, his power, credit, authority, and influence.
4.    He loves God with all his mind (intellect) who applies himself only to know God, and his holy will: - who receives with submission, gratitude, and pleasure, the sacred truths which God has revealed to man: - who studies no art nor science but as far as it is necessary for the service of God, and uses it at all times to promote his glory - who forms no projects nor designs but in reference to God and the interests of mankind: - who banishes from his understanding and memory every useless, foolish, and dangerous thought, together with every idea which has any tendency to defile his soul, or turn it for a moment from the center of eternal repose. In a word, he who sees God in all things - thinks of him at all times - having his mind continually fixed upon God, acknowledging him in all his ways - who begins, continues, and ends all his thoughts, words, and works, to the glory of his name: - this is the person who loves God with all his heart, life, strength, and intellect. He is crucified to the world, and the world to him: he lives, yet not he, but Christ lives in him. He beholds as in a glass the glory of the Lord, and is changed into the same image from glory to glory. Simply and constantly looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of his faith, he receives continual supplies of enlightening and sanctifying grace, and is thus fitted for every good word and work. O glorious state! far, far, beyond this description! which comprises an ineffable communion between the ever-blessed Trinity and the soul of man!
Does that describe you? Does that describe me? Does that describe someone you know?

Many people say that they love God. They go to church every week, they've been a Christian for 40+ years, they give an offering every week, and they don't curse. But do they really love God how God wants to be loved? Is it not possible that they are satisfied with what they've done and don't see that God wants all of their love. He doesn't just want first place in a person;s affections, He wants all of a person's affections.

6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.

Put them at the seat of your understanding! At the foundation of all you know and understand should be this: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

If it doesn’t reach your heart, it will not stay. The heart is the foundation of your life. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it spring the issues of life." All the issues of life spring from the heart. When this command is in your heart, everything you do will be laced with this command. Look at the following situations:

7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

Each parent is to be a great teacher; a diligent teacher.
“when you sit in your house” – Inside the home
“when you walk by the way” – Outside the home
“when you lie down” – From the beginning of the day
“when you rise up” – to the end of the day

8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

“bind them” – give all diligence and use all means to remember
“sign on your hand” – put something there that is out of the ordinary. (also let them govern the actions of your hands)
“frontlets between your eyes” – put it right where you can see it. (also let them govern the desires of your eyes)

9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

“on the doorposts” – so the household knows
“on your gates” – so the neighbors know

There is no situation that is not covered here. Every area of life is covered. This is what will be the natural outflow of placing this command in your heart.

Every aspect of your life, every relation to your children, and every decision of each day should be permeated by this command: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

And God is looking for your consistency in it. He desires that we do our best and rely upon His mercy and grace when we fail.

Psalm 78:1-11 - "Give ear, O my people, to my law; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments; And may not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not set its heart aright, And whose spirit was not faithful to God. The children of Ephraim, being armed and carrying bows, Turned back in the day of battle. They did not keep the covenant of God; They refused to walk in His law, And forgot His works And His wonders that He had shown them." 

The generation that is not taught the fear of the Lord and is not discipled by their parents will turn back in the day of battle. They will lack courage. They will forget God. They will forsake God.

We must teach our children the ways of God. We must show them that our motivation for obeying is the fear of the Lord--not obedience from terror--but obedience from a fear that flows from love and respect.

Do you believe this? The true test of believing is whether or not you put this into practice. It must go from your head to your heart to your feet.

Are you training your children?

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