Lent Devotion for March 8
Reader: “Hear, O Israel”
Response: “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
SCRIPTURE: Deuteronomy 6:4–9
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 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.
Reader: "The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
This passage of Scripture is known as the Shema and is a form of Jewish creed. It is central to morning and evening prayers. Shema means “hearing, obeying.” You recall how often Jesus said, “he who has ears, let him hear.” To the Jewish mind, to hear was to obey. Your obedience was the confirmation that you heard. In this portion of the covenant, Moses is laying out God’s stipulations and expectations to the people. Of necessity, we will not be able to comment on all the aspects of this loaded passage. Implicit in the opening words are “hear, understand, obey” all people of Israel. I am giving you a pattern as to how I expect you to live and uphold your end of the covenant I am making with you. I am your personal God. I am not a force. I am not a distant deity. I am not made of wood or stone or metal, like the gods of all the people around you, and across the Jordan River. I actually interact with you as I have been the past forty years. I know you very well. I am your God. Furthermore, there is only one of me. Unlike the people in the land you are going to take, who have many gods, made with human hands — by the way, there is only me. Actually, there is no God but me. I am One alone who rules. Jesus addressed this as the greatest commandment. Rabbi Hillel in the first century called this statement as the central theme of the Hebrew Bible with the rest of the Old Testament mere commentary. We may give this little thought, but we live in a world of polytheism actually. People worship sports, power, the environment, political views, health, knowledge, technology, appearance, self, and so forth. Think how strange it would be to stop someone on the street and say to them, “Do you believe there is only one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?” Apart from the fact that this would be extremely weird and awkward and that they would think you were a nutcase, apart from that, what do you think their response would be? My guess the truth of one God, the Uncreated Being, is not even on most people’s radar. So God begins this creedal statement with a clear, concise description of himself and Jesus reinforced in the New Testament. Make this a memory project. Memorize these verses. Include them in your prayers.
"Shema” in Hebrew (Watch on YouTube)
May the time not be distant, O God, when Thy Name shall be worshiped in all the earth, when unbelief shall disappear and error be no more. We fervently pray that the day may come when all men shall invoke Thy Name, when corruption and evil shall give way to purity and goodness, when superstition shall no longer enslave the mind, nor idolatry blind the eye, when all who dwell on earth shall know that to Thee alone every knee must bend and every tongue give homage. O may all created in Thine image recognize they are brethren, so that one in spirit and one in fellowship they may be forever united before Thee; then shall Thy Kingdom be established on earth, and the word of Thine ancient seer be fulfilled: The Lord will reign forever and ever. Amen.
- from the Union Prayer Book (Jewish Prayer book)