>What is so significant about history? When we read Scripture, we often see the phrase, “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” The Israelites had a rich tradition. Their roots went deep. It was significant that the God of their forefathers was their God. Their history was a rich one, and they knew about it. Who they are as Jews is wrapped up in their history.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 follows a key verse known as the Shema (vv. 4-5). The Shema is widely considered to be the greatest commandment. In fact, when Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment, he replies with the Shema. “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” (Dt. 6:4-5; Mk. 12:29-30).

When we read the Shema, often we stop there. I remember my accountability group memorizing vv.4-5 a couple of years ago, and we were challenged to memorize vv.6-9 as well. They go hand in hand. You cannot take vv.4-5 without also reading vv.6-9. So, what is so significant about Dt. 6:6-9? Yes, vv.4-5 are widely considered to be the most important in Judaism, but vv.6-9 demonstrate just how important it is.

Dt. 6:6 – The commandment “shall be in your heart.”
The commands given by God are not intended to be rules that we follow out of some kind of formal legalism, but they are guidelines to which we submit as a form of humble obedience to God. As we continue through the Israelite history, it is clear that the former is what ended up taking place. The commandments of God were not seen as freedom to serve God, but came to be a “ball and chain” of sorts. There was the legalistic hedge built around the commands that were followed because they were there, not out of obedience to God. Over time, this heart that was supposed to keep God’s commands became a heart of stone. Perhaps this is why the New Covenant refers to the heart. “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Eze. 36:26).

Dt. 6:7 – The Israelites were commanded to “teach them to your children.”
The family unit is central to keeping the commands of God. It is through the family that God’s commands are learned. The family model of discipleship is brought forth at this point in Scripture.

God’s primary characteristic in Scripture is holiness, and God desires the same for His people. “For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44) If we are to be a holy people because God is holy, we need to follow God’s expression of holiness, which is found in a perfect balance between love and righteousness. Our response to God’s holiness, as a holy people of God, is to be love and obedience. In doing so, we set the example for the next generation. By responding to God’s holiness through love and obedience, we set the example for our children – biological or not. By teaching God’s commands to our children, we continue the legacy of our forefathers in the faith and we fulfill God’s original intention of living in relationship with the one true God.

So, what’s so signficant about history? Have you ever been told, “Let’s not re-invent the wheel”? It seems like such a silly phrase, but what does it mean? We are not starting fresh. We stand on the shoulders of giants. The history that we read about in Scripture is not a string of stories brouth together for our amusement. It is the story of who we are. It is our story, our heritage. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is our God. Once we have an idea of where we came from we can get a better idea of where we are going.

Just some musings from a traveling pilgrim.

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