The pandemic changes the way we view things. It teaches us what is most important to us. Most of the time, the most important things are not the material things. The most important things are things which money can not buy: like relationships with our family and friends, health and the nature which God created. And of course, there are the basic needs that we must have: food, shelter and clothing.
Deuteronomy means “second law” or “repetition of the law”. The book of Deuteronomy is a farewell speech by Moses to the 2 million Israelites. Farewell speeches are very important. They are the last words of a person. Before the Israelites enter into the Promised Land, he wanted to equip this generation of the Israelites for a new life in the Promised Land. It would not be easy. They would be living among nations who did not know God and they had their own cultures and beliefs. The Israelites had to be mindful that they were the people of God, they were not to assimilate into the culture around them but to shine for God and live lives that glorify God. They were not to forget God for all the blessings He had showered upon them.
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
“Hear” or in Hebrew “shema” means to listen with the purpose of obedience. This is so important that the Jewish boys are to memorise it as soon as they can speak. The nations around them worshipped many gods and idols, but for the Israelites, they affirm that there is only one true and living God.
The “one” (ehad) also means “a unity” in Hebrew. It is the same word used to describe the oneness of Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:24). The Israelites are to remember that God is one. God was the One who delivered them from enemies and rescued them.
5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
We love God because He first loves us. We can only love Him if we know Him. Loving God means knowing Him and obeying Him. We know God through His Word: read, meditate, talk about it and share it with others.
To love God, to worship Him and to serve Him is the greatest privilege we can have. Our love for God involves our whole person “with all your heart, all of your soul and all your strength”, that means, all of us (Ps 103:1). Love the Lord with all that is within us.
Timothy Keller, a US pastor, “Love is never primarily defined in the Bible as a feeling. At its foundation love is at least a commitment and a promise”.
Loving God is not basing on feeling. Today I feel God, I will love God more and be kinder to people. Yesterday I didn’t feel like loving God so I did not read the Bible or pray. Loving God is a commitment. It is not based on our feelings.
If we love God, we will love others in response to God’s love for us. if we love God, we want our family to love Him and enjoy Him too. We will want to talk about God to our family and what He has done because He is so great. There are so many things we can talk about Him to our family.
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.
When we love God, we listen to His Word and we keep them in our hearts and we live them out. Someone said Christians are like a walking Bible. Others will know about God through our conduct, speech and behaviours.
Moses urged the parents to discuss God’s Word in the home and to allow God’s Word to guide them in their daily lives. God’s word also control who could come into the gate of their home and the door of their house.
The lsraelites took this literally. They wore a part of the Scriptures in little containers called phylacteries on their foreheads and left arms. They also had a small container of Scripture—a mezuzah, to the front door and on every door in the house. Every time the occupant passed through the door, he or she would touch the mezuzah reverently. By placing the Scriptures on the forehead, on the left arm and on every door, the Israelites were mindful that they themselves and the house was for the glory of the Lord. The home should be the place where the Word of God was taught, loved and obeyed. The home should be the place where loving God and loving one another is practiced.
May our home welcome God in their house. May each family reading this walk in love and unity in the Lord.
As Moses spoke to the Israelites, warning them of the challenges ahead, living in a pagan culture, the same challenge is for us today. We are to remember we are children of God. We do not assimilate into the cultures around us but to be salt and light in the society. One of the most important things we can do is to teach the younger generation about God and His Word. The world we are living in is a tough world, all the more we need to teach our children God’s Word and be grounded in faith, or else, the cultures of the world will push them to and fro. We need to teach the next generation the importance of being a follower of Jesus Christ. Teaching them God’s Word will save them from danger and harm. Not only that, their children after them will also benefit from the teachings we teach them, “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.” (Deut 6:1-2). In God’s Word, there is life. We want our children to live well. Something we have to strive to do is to teach them about God, and to pray for them.
It is a life journey. Some days are better than others. You will have good days and you will have better days and some days which are not so good. It is a journey.
Our God is not interested in looking at the results only. What interests Him and what He wants to see is the moulding of our character in the process, and deepening of our relationship with Him. He cares about the transformation of our lives too.
May our homes be filled with God’s love and be blessings to the community.