January 4, 2021
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NIV)
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
Isn’t this a little excessive or fanatical even? Who talks about the Word of God all the time? Who binds it to their hands and their foreheads and writes it on their doorframes and their gates?
Short answer: We do.
God created the creation by his Word. Humanity’s failure to heed and obey God’s Word wrecked the creation. God is now redeeming, restoring, and recreating the creation by his Word. The question we must constantly engage: Are we heeding and obeying God’s Word? The answer to the question will be determined by how much of a reality Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is in our lives.
God knows how prone we are to forget his Word and, even if we remember, we so easily misconstrue or misapply it. Sometimes I wonder what might have happened had God’s signal command in the garden of Eden been written on a sign and nailed to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The point of today’s text is not so much about posting the rules as it is about fostering a Word-shaped world. We want to cultivate a daily—when we get up—breakfast, lunch, supper—when we lie down—walking along the road—teaching our children—sharing with one another relationship with the Word of God and the God of this Word. In a world filled with distraction, we want to do everything we possibly can to hone our attention on Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In case we missed seeing the Word on the gate, we will catch it on the doorpost. In case we missed seeing the Word bound to the hand of our neighbor, we will see it on his forehead.
Note how the instructions center around our faculties of attention—of hearing and seeing. We are instructed to speak these words and talk about them, which engages our listening. We are instructed to post the Word of God in conspicuous places so that our eyes will see them. Eyes to see and ears to hear. Notice also the instruction referencing these words being “on our hearts.” The Word of God keeps our hearts soft and pliable in the hands of God.
Finally, note how all of this is connected to the beginning and the end of loving God with all of our heart, and our soul, and our strength, which is the core of the core of the core of it all. Today’s text reveals to us the impossibility of loving God without loving God’s Word. Everything we care about in life we have a way of making practical, of keeping it before us all the time. We don’t tend to put our passions and priorities in partitioned compartments. They tend to color our whole lives. It makes it all the more absurd the way we tend to keep God’s Word in its designated place, like a church service or an appointed quiet time. To be clear, these places are good, but the point of the text is to say there are no boundaries for the Word of God. The notion of sacred space and secular space is an absurdity to the Bible. No place is too sacred and no place too profane to warrant the witness of the Word of God.
The Word of God will not be bound. In truth, we must labor to loose them from the bindings of our sacred books. Deuteronomy 6 calls us to be practical in our intentions and imaginative in our creativity when it comes to crafting the Word-shaped world in which we live. Why? Because this Word endures forever. It never returns to him empty but always accomplishes the purposes for which he sent it (Isa. 55:11). It is more precious than gold and sweeter than honey (Ps. 19:10).
First Word. Last Word. God’s Word.
Our Father in heaven, thank you for your Word, apart from which we would have no idea of who you are. Thank you for your Word which informs of your love for us and which inspires and makes practical our love for you. Show me how to release your Word from my small categories and sacred compartments. I want for my whole life to be invaded, informed, and inspired by your inspired Word. Lead me in new ways with your Word and along new paths of righteousness for your name’s sake. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
What practical and even imaginative ways are you releasing the Word of God from its bookish bindings and posting it in your everyday life and world? What have you learned from others in this regard? What ideas come to mind that you might consider? Are you worried about being perceived as an overly religious person? Why?
For the Awakening,