Theme Week: 1 God, 1 Messiah – Deuteronomy 6
Old Testament Reading: Deuteronomy 1 & 2
Psalms Reading: Psalm 77
(Our SeekGrowLove 2023 Bible reading plan includes 7 theme weeks spread throughout the year. This week is the first and will focus on 1 God, 1 Messiah. The OT and Psalms readings will continue and the third reading will be a chapter that lends itself to the theme. At the bottom of each devotion is a link to the yearly schedule you may download and print if you would like to keep track of where we are going next. Thanks for reading along! Let’s keep Seeking God in His Word, Growing our Faith and Loving Him More and More!)
Deuteronomy 6 is seen as a foundational chapter for discussing the “oneness” of God. People sometimes divide the teachings of Christianity into orthodoxy (right teaching) and orthopraxy (right action). On that basis the idea of there being only one God generally gets put under the heading of a teaching. But I think God may see our faith as a more active part of our lives than that description brings to mind.
When Moses says, at the start of Deuteronomy 6, that he is relaying “the commandments, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you” (NASB) he is continuing a thought from Deuteronomy 5 (see v. 31). Moses had described how it made the Hebrews afraid when they heard God’s voice at Horeb (Sinai) almost 40 years earlier. They had asked God not to speak aloud to them anymore, but to speak to them through Moses. The people gathered at that mountain knew that God was their God. God had already proven His faithfulness (He brought them safely from Egypt, after all), but God had also shown His judgment. They believed that to keep hearing that voice would mean their deaths. And God didn’t object to what they said. Maybe God even agreed that they risked death from being exposed so closely to God’s holiness, if only because they wouldn’t always respond to it properly. “Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all my commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!” (5:29).
Moses says he is going to tell us “the commandments, the statutes and the judgments,” and what he starts with is that the Lord is God and is singular, which feels close to the core of the matter. This chapter opposed the nations in the land the Hebrews were about to enter. But the message is deeper than a warning against the idols that would all too often distract coming generations of Hebrews. This is about commitment and devotion in living for God. To love with your whole heart, your whole soul/life, and all your might – that is not something you can just fall into, it is something you choose, and which you need to keep on choosing.
Moses was about to die, this speech was his farewell address, and he offered a plan that could steer the course of the history ahead of him. The generation that was being told these things was able to remember the miracles of the desert; many of them still could recall the Exodus and crossing the Red Sea. The idea was for that knowledge, that certainty about God, to be presented to each generation so it could take hold of faith for itself. But things did not go that way.
Lord, please allow me to love you with my whole heart, soul and might. I know this is not the first time I have pledged this, and that I have not maintained that focus. But you, Lord, are a great God. You are worth turning back to, I will not give up on you because I am imperfect. And you are a merciful Lord who is willing to receive those who turn back. You will not give up on me because I am imperfect. Please help me to be renewed in what is appropriate for your glory, and to do service for your name and the name of your son, Jesus. Thank you, Lord. Amen
Daniel Smead is a father of two, former pastor of the Eden Valley Church of God, former editor of the Church of God Adult Quarterly and sometime teacher at Atlanta Bible College. He lives in Minnesota with his family and attends the Pine Grove Bible Church. In his free time he is working on creating a board game centered around early Christian heresies.
- The text says to bind these words on your hands and your foreheads. Some see this as a metaphor, saying to let the scripture affect what you do with your hands, and how you think. What are some ways you could do that?
- Verse 24 says that we are to “fear the Lord our God for our good always”. Is it difficult to remember that God does not want anything for us that is bad for us? How do you remind yourself of that?
- It sometimes seems impossible that the Hebrews were denying God’s existence, rather they failed to worship their God by choosing to describe God to themselves as something other than what God is. At Sinai they pictured God as a golden calf, wanting to see the unseeable God, making God more understandable for themselves. Perhaps at Jericho Achan – who had been present for Moses’ speech – managed to mistake God for someone who cared about human wealth and advancement more than purity. Perhaps you can think of some other applications of this principle. How clearly do you think you understand what God is like? How does that understanding help you?