Explore the Bible
Moses explains to the people they were to love God exclusively (Deut. 6:4-9). In traditional Judaism, this text is called “The Shema,” which means, “listen with the intent to obey” (Deut. 6:4). Israel needed to hear that “The LORD our God, the LORD is One” (Deut. 6:4). The word “one” is the Hebrew word echad, which implies “one in essence.” It reaffirms the monotheistic core of Judaism unlike the polytheism of Egypt and Canaan. Since God is the “One and only One God,” the Israelites can love and obey Him alone with their total being (Deut. 6:5).
The Shema is more than a mere abstraction. It was to be deeply ingrained in the heart or mind (Deut. 6:6). It was intentionally repeated to the children (Deut. 6:7). In ancient Israel, repetition was a teaching technique. They were also to remember these words full-time and in every circumstance (Deut. 6:7).
The ancient practice of “tefillin” was the conscious and literal wearing of the Word by using phylacteries. Some have argued that Moses was speaking figuratively (Deut. 6:8). This may be the case since there is no documentary or physical archaeological evidence prior to the second century B.C. Jesus scolded the Pharisees for excessive outward displays of faith (Matt. 23:5).
The word phylactery comes from a Greek term meaning “amulet.” I was raised in a church tradition that promoted the use of medals representing aspects of faith or images of patron saints. I learned that God is more interested in His Word being in my heart and mind rather than around my neck.
Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Obedience is a natural result of love. Jesus was the ultimate example, “being obedient to the point of death, even to death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8).
Their obedience in the Promised Land would remind them of God’s goodness. It would remind them to fear Him, to worship Him, to remember their promises to Him, and to remain faithful to Him (Deut. 6:13-14).
Bible Studies for Life
What is God’s answer to suffering?
This lesson asks the question, “What is God’s answer to suffering?” His answer is simply, “Trust Me!” Although this answer sounds rather simple, grasping its spiritual truth can give us perspective and strength.
We should avoid getting the impression that we should never question God about our suffering. Billy Graham had an interesting perspective, “He said God doesn’t want us to pretend or to be dishonest. He already knows what is in your heart and mind.” It is less about questioning God and more about how we question God.
Most answers to questions about suffering reside in the realm of mystery. Biologist and evangelist Henry Drummond said, “A science without mystery is unknown, a religion without mystery is absurd.” We may never know the answers to some of our questions.
We must be careful that our questioning does not set us up in judgment of God. Job called on God to appear so he could plead his case before God’s court. Job had set himself in judgment of God and accused Him of wrongdoing (Job 40:7-8). God didn’t answer any questions regarding Job’s situation. Instead, God presented Job with the wonders of creation, the mysteries of nature and the behavior of wild animals. Job was left with knowing that there are some things he would never know. He is left feeling insignificant and speechless (Job 40:3-4).
Job confesses that he spoke about things he did not know (Job 42:3). He admitted there were things too wondrous for him to know (Job 42:3). He had heard things about God but now God had opened his eyes to see Him (Job 42:4). Job repents, “I take back my words and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). Job is not repenting for any sin he was accused of by his friends. He was repenting for his speech in which he argued his integrity at God’s expense. Job had challenged the justice of God (Job 40:7-8). In doing so, he elevated himself to the place of God.
God’s actions are beyond our understanding but we need to trust Him.
© Copyright 2019 Arkansas Baptist Newsmagazine, Inc. Use of this article in print or through electronic means a violation of copyright. Request permission to reprint here.