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Sermon – 4/18/04
Deuteronomy 6:4 -

Friday Study Ministries

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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” is “YHWH” (“Jehovah” or “Yahweh”), but “God” in that verse is “Elohenu,” which is the PLURAL word “Elohim” with the first personal possessive plural suffix appended to it.  (Phew!)  “Elohenu” (“Our God”) 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 COMPOUND “one” 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!) many times.

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: Love!  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 Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

Tel: (562) 688-5559
PO Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)


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