Monday, January 21, 2013

A Study on the First Great Commandment

Today as I was driving in my van, taking the kids to Grandma's, a song came on my iPod - twice.  It's not on my list twice, but it must have cycled through the list and played it again on shuffle.  It's a song entitled "Love the Lord your God" by Lincoln Brewster.  If you don't know the First Great Commandment, then you will after listening to this song.  :P


When something happens to me twice in the span of a few hours or on the same day, I usually take notice.  Sometimes it's God trying to get my attention.  So, I began thinking about this Great Commandment and how it ties in to abiding in Yeshua.  Abiding in Christ is one of the big themes on my blog, and therefore I wanted to tie it in with that theme.  

In Scripture, Christ gives the Two Great Commandments after someone asks Him, "What is the greatest commandment in the Law?"  Christ responds with this in Mark 12:30:

He actually responds with the Shema, which is what devout Jews recite every morning and evening -- "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one" and then goes into the "Love the Lord your God..." from Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Okay, let's examine each word and what they mean, because even though we recite this, we might not really internalize what the words mean.

Love the Lord your God with all your:


With all your love, basically.  Every piece of your heart - it says "ALL" of your heart.  You put God first in your life and everything else second.  From the heart springs praise, worship, adoration, and devotion.  The heart is where your desires come from.  Loving God with all your heart makes HIM your Desire.  If the world offered you all its riches, you'd shun them - you don't love material items, you love GOD.

Love the Lord your God with all your:


The soul is your being, your life-force.  It is the seat of your morality as you were made in the image of God.  Loving God with your soul is connecting to Him in prayer by His Spirit.  Your spirit tunes in with His Spirit and you touch the eternal.  It is by the soul we are able to come into His presence.

Love the Lord your God with all your:


The mind is the center of your thoughts.  It is where you reason, how you learn, obtain wisdom and gain knowledge.  It is with our mind we seek God, and we therefore find Him with our soul.  As Scripture tells us to think on things that are pure and righteous (Philippians 4:8), that is how we love Him with our minds.  Learning of Him and thinking on holy things.

Love the Lord your God with all your: 


It is with our strength we are able to do deeds for God.  Through our strength, we serve Him.  Our strength gives us courage when our hearts fail us.  Our faith springs forth from the courage in our hearts.  Whatever our hearts' desire, the tenacity with which we want that desire determines the strength by which we obtain it.  Therefore, if we love the Lord our God with ALL our heart, our strength flows from that devotion.  Even if our flesh and our hearts may fail, GOD is the strength of our hearts, and our portion forever (Psalm 73:26).  Our strength gives us the ability to serve Him, to obey Him, and the perseverance to trust Him.

Scripture says in Ecclesiastes 4:12 that a cord of three strands is not easily broken.  This cord of the First Great Commandment has four.  If each element of this cord is in place, our close, abiding bond with Yeshua will never be broken.  This is how we abide in Him without falling away.  Most Christians who feel far from God say, "Yeah, I pray, I make time for God first thing in the morning.  I do read my Bible.  I go to church.  Why is God silent?"

Compare your walk with Yeshua against the First Great Commandment.  Do you love Him with all your heart?  Every last DROP of your devotion and praise?  Do you thank God for creating you?  Do you praise His name for saving you?  Do you marvel at His creation and see His glory wherever you turn?  

Do you love Him with all your soul?  When you pray are you mouthing words to an empty room, or truly stepping into the Throne Room of the Most High?  Is prayer a duty or a pleasure?  Does it annoy you, one more thing on your to-do list, or do you crave it as a balm to your weary soul?  

Do you love Him with all your mind, are you endlessly seeking Him (as that is what it means to "seek")?  Seeking is a continual process.  One does not merely "find" God and be done with it.  Seeking implies continual treasure-hunting, going back into the mine to find more and more gold.  One knows they are truly seeking God when one golden nugget of Truth simply isn't enough.  They must have more and more.  This treasure trove is bottomless, therefore the seeker can now only hunger after the very Bread of Life.  The treasures of the world grow strangely dim against the glorious gems of God's Spiritual wisdom.  

And finally, do you love Him with all your strength?  Do you continue to serve and obey Him, even when the road gets rough?  Do you continue to trust and have faith though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death?  Can you say to yourself, "I am merely walking *through* the valley, I am not stopping forever.  Death is merely a shadow, not an eternal darkness.  And where there's a shadow, there's a Light.  God is beside me."  Can you say that honestly?  Are you serving God with courage, and perseverance, when the sweat pours off your brow and you're tired and beaten down by those who would seek to shake your faith?  Is God alone the strength of your heart?  Is He the first place you turn when you are faced with a problem?

These four cords are braided so tightly around each other that you cannot abide if you do not have one of these cords.  If you do not have the heart, you cannot have any strength.  Without strength, your mind will fail.  Without your mind, you cannot refresh your soul.  And your soul cannot seek the Spirit of God without the heart.  Not only is the First Great Commandment a braided cord with four strands, but it is an endless circle as well.  A ring.  

Quite fitting, considering Yeshua is our Bridegroom.

As I was studying these words, I went back and read the original text in Deuteronomy our Lord was quoting.  Here is what it says in Deuteronomy 6:5:

Do you notice what's missing from this verse in Deuteronomy compared to what Yeshua told us in Mark 12:30?  I have never noticed this little gem before, because I've never bothered to look at this section in Scripture with any scrutiny.  I wonder if this is all part of the Spirit's plan for prompting me to do this study? 

Christ tells us in Mark to love the Lord our God with all our MIND.  That word is conspicuously missing in the Deuteronomy text.  And yet, the Lord quotes the Shema perfectly in Mark.  I know the Spirit doesn't whisper things to me unless He wants me to know some truth, so I asked Him why.  "Why does Yeshua add the mind in Mark, Lord?"

The answer actually floored me, and it came quite quickly.  Yeshua taught a new way of interpreting the Law.  He taught that we can break it even with our THOUGHTS.  If we look at a woman with lust, we have committed adultery with her (Matthew 5:28).  If we hate our brother, we have murdered him (Matthew 5:21-22).  Yeshua, being the Word of God, was teaching that not only should we love the Lord inwardly (heart), prayerfully (soul), and outwardly (strength), but also with our very thoughts (mind).  I have no doubt this was monumental to the Jews of the day, devout Jews who recited the Shema every morning and evening.  It was with this one amendment to the Shema that Christ blew the minds of His brethren.  

If thoughts are on the table in breaking God's Law, then no one is saved by the Law.  Christ proved many times that He could read thoughts: Matthew 9:4, Luke 9:47, John 1:45-50.

And thus, He subtly told everyone present they were guilty of sin and needed a Savior.  They needed HIM.

Hallelujah, this study is better than I'd hoped!  That's when you know the Hand of God directed it.  Thank You, Lord, for playing that song twice today, else I wouldn't have found this vein of gold.  \O/


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