"Hear O Israel" - יִשְׂרָאֵל
Updated: Jan 7
4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Parents, Grandparents, Guardians of kids,
One of the most read, most famous and most important prayers contained in the Bible is one we see the Hebrew people repeat over and over again throughout the Old Testament. It is a really powerful prayer and contained a HUGE amount of meaning for their lives and for our daily lives as well. The truths that we find in this scripture can have eternal meaning for our families as we truly live it out in our "Stay at Home" times.
This prayer is called The Shema, which is the Hebrew word for "listen,". This important prayer is the centerpiece of the last speech Moses gave to the Israelites before they went down into the promised land. After entering the promised land, the Shema became a prayer the Israelites prayed twice daily. It is still prayed twice daily by orthodox Jews because of its importance on one’s life. It can be viewed as central to our lives as well as it has the capacity to keep a person or family centered on what is MOST important. It starts Shema, Israel…
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
What is it that we should hear, grab hold of or pay attention to? It quickly becomes clear that what we should listen to or hear is first that there is only ONE "LORD"...Only ONE "God”. He becomes the centerpiece of the prayer as His name gets repeated five times in the first two sentences….and we are to Love Him!
The next part of this prayer reminds us to love Him with different parts of ourselves. Here it is good to note that the original language that this text is written in gives more meaning to the words describing different parts of us. Let’s take the three words individually. We are to love the LORD with all of our…
The Hebrew word for this part of us is “Levar” or “Lev - לב” for short. Although lev is frequently translated as “heart,” it really could also be translated “mind”. This word does not refer to the organ that pumps blood but rather it has Biblical meaning which most often refers to the control center of our lives. Today we might refer to the mind as the place where decisions are made. In the Bible Lev literally means the inner man, mind, will, heart, soul, understanding. It is where we use what we know or understand, where we have thoughts and feelings in order to discern right from wrong. It is where in Psalm 119:7 it says...
"I will praise you with an upright lev, when I learn your righteous rules.
Lev also refers to feelings like joy, sadness, happiness, love. At times we make decisions based on these fleeting parts of us. In Psalm 139:23 it says..."
Search me, O God, and know my lev! Try me and know my thoughts."
So to love the LORD with your lev means that He wants to be central in helping you decide and discern what is best, right or wise in your life.
Our daily question from this word could be...Do I love the LORD my God with the inner control center of my life?
This Hebrew word is Nephesh - נֶ֫פֶשׁ. This shows up 700 times in the Bible. We might think of the soul more from Greek thought which has more of a ghostly meaning as the part of us that leaves our body when we die and goes to heaven. Biblically, Nephesh means “Throat”. Interestingly this word more deeply means what we hunger and thirst for. It is what gives life and at the same time means the whole physical human body…the whole physical living and breathing being. In Psalm 42:1 we see it like this…
“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my nephesh for you, O God.
A great question for each of us to ask ourselves daily is...Does my body and my life “long” or “pant” for the LORD?
This word in Hebrew is sometimes translated "strength". It was a hard one to translate into English as Me’od – מְאֹד literally means “muchness, force, abundance”. This word shows up in the Bible 300 times and is a word that intensifies the meaning of lots of words. One time in Genesis we see this word was translated "very" when we read Genesis 1:31...
"And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was Me’od good."
We could say Me’od love, Me’od hate, Me’od money, Me’od of anything and it means much or very much of it. To love the LORD our God with all your muchness has actually some great meaning for our lives each day. Do you love the LORD your God with your muchness or to “infinity and beyond” like Buzz Lightyear. Do you infinitely love God? Your family depends on you, especially in these anxious times, to decide to daily love the LORD your God with your heart and mind, to thirst for Him daily, to infinity and beyond. Let’s do that.
It could be that during this season of being at home more you could choose to say the Shema in the morning and night individually or as a family. It is a great reminder of what is most important in all of life…
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
Then as the text goes on to say…
6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Use your daily rhythms to decide to love the LORD your God with all of you. The LORD our God is telling us in today's text that we should be diligent in teaching this truth to your children. Really, their spiritual lives depend on us as parents, grandparents, leaders and spiritual guardians to do that.
(*pictures are from https://bibleproject.com)