“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord
is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4)
Deuteronomy 6:4 is one of
the most beautiful verses in Scripture, because it expresses MUCH
about God and it speaks of His expectations for your life and
mine. He wants you to hear His words, and He wants even more.
The word for “Hear”
in this verse is one that was in general use when we were in
Israel, a few years ago.
The word is not only spoken – it’s also on the radio in songs.
It’s the Hebrew word, “Schema,” sometimes written as
it is pronounced: “Schma!” and it is not unlike
the English “hear,”
a small word that is very important. In Hebrew, it is a command
that we are to hear God EFFECTIVELY! We are to PROCESS His words,
and RESPOND to what He says. We are to look to Him and understand
what He wants.
The ENGLISH word “hear” is
likewise more than you might think. Webster’s New Collegiate
Dictionary includes this definition for the word “hear” – You
are to “listen
with ATTENTION,” to “gain information”; to “LEARN.”
It’s more than your ears. In Hebrew, to listen is to understand,
to “walk in the shoes” of the person who is speaking to you; to
care enough about them to listen with the heart, to honestly heed
the one who speaks.
Actually though, as you and
I well know, we are only people and are severely limited in
“hearing” life and God. In “Reminiscences,” General
Douglas Mac Arthur recalled a class in Physics he took at
West Point. He was chosen to
recite a portion of the time-space continuum formulated by
Einstein. Mac Arthur had committed the pages to memory and
recited it almost word for word from the text book. The Colonel
who was teaching the class, asked him, “Do you understand this theory?”
Mac Arthur replied, “No, sir.” The class and the
instructor were quiet for a long moment. And then the instructor
said, “Neither do
I, Mr. Mac Arthur. Section dismissed.”
There is much that we do
not understand, both in the physical universe and about God, the
One who created it all. We’ve met those who can recite much that
is in the Bible, but the question is: Do they (we) UNDERSTAND what
is heard? The answer is: Probably not as much as we like to
think. If you take ANY concept (doctrine) in Scripture and look
for it on the Internet, you will find many who will agree with it,
at least to some extent, and others who disagree, some with
interesting arguments but all too often with surprising anger.
An example is found in
today’s verse. In English, the words appear to be simply
singular, but in Hebrew they are more. Biblical exegetes point
out that “Lord”
but “God” in that verse is “Elohenu,” which is the PLURAL
with the first personal possessive plural suffix appended to it.
is actually “our
Gods.” To make it even more interesting, the word
chosen carefully by the Holy Spirit for “One” is “Echad,” which is often a
in the Hebrew language. It is like saying, “One (echad) BUNCH of
grapes”. Absolute oneness (one grape) would require the word “Yacheed,”
which is never used for the unity of the Godhead in Scripture.
Deuteronomy 6:4 actually says, “Hear, O Israel: The Yahweh our Gods, the
Yahweh is a Compound (plural) One.” To many, those
are fighting words, for you can find the “Trinity” (God is Three in One)
in this verse, an idea that some do not accept. Certainly we
should all we able to HEAR in this verse that there is indeed ONE
God, and we all should want the truth about Him. Actually there
is much in the world that should help us understand the PLURAL
nature of this verse. Countries may have ONE government, but it
is more than one: The Executive, a Parliament & the Judiciary.
More than one, but ONE government - but those in government often
agree on – NOTHING! There is indeed ONE God, and “They” are ONE
in LOVE – In everything!
What does God WANT from
us? What IS it that we are supposed to HEAR and, of course, what
is MOST IMPORTANT for us to understand? Our understanding
(doctrines) probably don’t really GRASP the nature and person of
God, who has the ATTENTION of His audience on earth in relation to
this verse. We know His listeners have historically responded to
its importance, because Deuteronomy 6:4 has a nickname, “The Schema,”
and it is recited in Synagogues regularly. As stated, SONGS have
been written about it, and to turn on a radio in
Israel is to hear the word “Schema” (Schma!)
What does God want us to
hear? The next verse (Deuteronomy 6:5) flows directly out of this
one: “You shall love
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and
with all your might.” If God really wanted to tell
you something important (and He does), it would be at a time when
He has your attention. We know that Deuteronomy 6:4 is heard by
many in this world, and having your ear, He says that you are to:
That’s the first and most important thing He wants from you. He
wants your attention, He wants you to hear Him, to listen, and
when you are finally listening, He says this: You’re to LOVE Him!
That’s it! That’s the most
important! To love the Lord! An “exegete,” by the way, is
someone who explains or interprets texts of one kind or another.
Many years ago, a college professor said that modern scholars are
the ones we should look to for an understanding of the texts
within Scripture. I responded that if Jesus is who He said He is,
then He is our greatest “exegete.” We should look to Him to
understand. The professor and I disagreed.
Some “Sadducees” came to Jesus, asking
Him a prepared question that was designed to “stump” Him. The “Sadducees”
were a group of men considered religious leaders in
Israel, but incredibly, they did not
BELIEVE in much of anything! Like many today, they did not
believe in life after death, and essentially taught that if you
can see it, it’s real; otherwise it’s not! Jesus responded by
quoting from the one part of Scripture they did accept: The Law!
A scribe (a professional interpreter of the Law) heard Jesus and
liked His answer. He asked Jesus, “Which is the greatest commandment?”
Jesus answered, “The
first of all the commandments is: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our
God, the Lord is one. And you shall LOVE the Lord your God with
all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with
all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second,
like it, is this: You shall LOVE your neighbor as yourself. There
is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark
12:28-30). He was quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 & Leviticus 19:18,
observing that God WANTS our love.
If God is saying “Schma!”
(Hear) to you (and He is), here’s what I suggest: Reach out to Him
with everything you’ve got! Get a Bible and read it. “Listen”
with your heart and put your trust in Him. His love is your
need. Trust in Him, and you will understand.
Lord, let me hear and understand. Let me know Your love. In
Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
Tel: (562) 688-5559
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans