The Shema and The Greatest Commandment

In Blog, devotional by S. L. Ozbun1 Comment

In the book of Deuteronomy, we come across a very important passage. This passage includes the Shema, which is a very prominent and important prayer within Judaism and also includes what is referred to by Jesus himself as the greatest of all commandments. This passage is Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9 KJV

Oh, that we would burn this passage upon our hearts and memory forever!

The very first verse is known as the Shema, a prayer recited by many Jews around the world for thousands of years. Often included in the morning and evening prayer services and spoken over their children at night before bed. “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Hebrew: שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָֽד׃)

This passage in Deuteronomy goes on to command us to love the LORD with all of our heart, with all our soul and with all our might. Jesus refers to this passage when He is approached and asked, of which of the commandments is the greatest.

“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.” Matthew 22:36-38 KJV

The first and greatest commandment is for us to LOVE our God! I often think of love as a choice, a decision, an action as opposed to just a feeling. If this is so, how do we go about loving God? How can we know we truly love God? Thankfully, this question is answered clearly by the Apostle John.

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” 1 John 5:2-3 KJV

This is so simple, and yet often overlooked or regrettably ignored by most Christians today. Our generation has completely abandoned the notion that we must obey the commandments of God. Sadly, we have become very ignorant of the faith once delivered to the saints.

WE MUST get back to walking in holiness. We must renew within ourselves a hunger and thirst for God’s ways, for the yoke of Messiah to be upon our necks and for righteous!

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6 KJV

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S. L. Ozbun
Shawn L. Ozbun is an independent podcaster, author, and commentator on many biblical topics. Shawn is a student of the scriptures, ancient writings, Dead Sea Scrolls, and biblical Hebrew language. Above all, Shawn is passionate about furthering the Kingdom of God, and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


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