The video of this lesson can be viewed on the Sunset International Bible Institute YouTube channel by clicking on this link.

INTRODUCTION:

  1. Our passage is called the “Sh’ma” (pronounced She-MAH, and meaning “Listen” or “hear”). It has been used as a prayer by devout Jewish people since before the time of Jesus.
  2. It is the first verse in the Torah every Jewish child memorizes.
  3. It is still the first prayer in the morning and last prayer at night a religious Jewish person offers.

CONTEXT

  1. Moses is speaking to those ready to enter the Land of Canaan under Joshua.
  2. They and their parents have spent almost 40 years after leaving Egypt learning to fully believe in, trust, and obey the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
  3. They had to learn that the core of their Law and their obedience was that YHWH was the only God there is!
    • “I am YHWH your God, who brought you out of Egypt”
    • “You shall have no other gods other than me”
    • “You shall not make a carved image… you shall not bow down to them or serve them”
  4. They had learned many hard lessons in the desert, and a whole generation had died there, because of their idolatry, rebellion, disobedience and grumbling.
  5. In chapter 4, YHWH says, “Hear… follow… keep… observe” – Deut. 4:1-6
  6. Again in chapter 5, “Hear, O Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them.” – Deut. 5:1

TEXT

  1. Sh’ma in Hebrew meant, “listen, hear, with the intent to obey or do.” It does not mean simply letting the sounds vibrate against the ear drums. Used also in Deuteronomy 6:3-4; 7:12; 8:20.
  2. Here is the point. Truly obeying God begins by:
    • Knowing there is only one God – the One who has delivered us and the One we have entered into covenant with
    • Devoting ourselves to loving Him with all of our heart, all of our life, and all of our efforts.
  3. In other words, only if I am totally convinced that there is a God, and that He is my God, and only if I then commit myself to love Him with all my being… then, and only then will I always be able obey Him.
  4. The combination of loving and obeying YHWH is found throughout the Old Testament – examples include Exodus 20:6; Joshua 22:5; 23:11; Nehemiah 1:5; Daniel 9:4.
  5. Through the Old Testament, numerous judgments against Israel came because they did not “listen” to the LORD their God.
  6. Jesus said this passage is the Greatest Commandment of all – on it all other commands depend. Mark 12:29-30.

CONCLUSION: In closing we know that Jesus then told His disciples (and aren’t we His disciples?), “If you love Me, you will keep My commands!” (John 14:15). “Hear, O Israel. The LORD our God is One. And you shall love the LORD your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your strength.”

Our image comes from the Wikipedia article on “Shema Yisrael,” showing the Hebrew version of “Hear, O Israel” carved on the statue of a menora across from the Jewish Knesset in Jerusalem.