Tag: Deuteronomy 6:5

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Word Study: Love The Lord

WORD STUDY – LOVE THE LORD

Deuteronomy 6:5: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

John 21:15: “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, [son] of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.”

I have spent the last ten years of my life searching for the Heart of God. What started me on this journey was Deuteronomy 6:5 and John 21:15. I spent ten years in Bible schools and Seminaries studying to be a minister, studying to serve God. I took courses in preaching, in theology, in Biblical languages, in church history, in missions and on and on. I learned how to minister, how to build a church, how to preach – in a word, how to serve God or how to “Feed His sheep.” Yet, there was one course I never took, because it was never offered. It was a course in how to love God. Bible Colleges and Seminaries just take it for granted that you love God. Even in our admissions interview I was never asked if I loved God. I was asked if I was saved, but being saved does not automatically mean you love God.

Yet before Jesus ever asked Peter to feed His sheep, His first question to Peter was: “Lovest thou me?” Jesus was saying: “If you don’t love me, then don’t feed my sheep, I don’t want you feeding my sheep unless you really love me.”

In the Greek Jesus used the word agape which in an unconditional love, the highest form of love but Peter had to answer that he only phileo felt a brotherly love, a lessor love, but still Jesus said: “Feed my sheep.” Jesus understood that love grows and even after three years of following Jesus, there was still more growth to take place in his love for God.

Deuteronomy 6:5 : “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” is one of the most sacred verses in Judaism. Every orthodox Jew recites this verse every morning, afternoon, and evening. When confronted with a difficulty they recite this verse, when going to battle, they march into battle reciting this verse. They believe in the recitation of this verse that it draws them into the heart of God because they will grow in their love for God. Just as it is necessary for a husband and wife to remind each other every day that they love each other, so too must we tell God every day that we love Him. Not that He needs to hear it but because we need to proclaim it. If we do not proclaim our love for Him every day, just like in any relationship, that love will grow cold.

It is true that like any relationship we might start using those words: “I love you” like saying hi or goodbye. They lose their meaning. That won’t work, we need to say it every day from our hearts, not our lips. If a man and woman can tell each other every day: “I love you” and speak it from their hearts, that love will never grow cold. Some days it may be like Peter saying phileo, a lessor love but it is still love and there are moments when they small fire of passion, that little glowing ember can turn into a flame again. Love takes work on a human level as it does with God. That is way every orthodox Jew recites those words: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God…” three times a day. That is why they wear their skull cap and their tilit. Love has to be nurtured and cared for or it will die out and once that little ember loses it glow, it is very difficult to relit it and turn it into a flame.

Curious that the word for love in Deuteronomy 6:5 is ‘ahav and not racham. ‘Ahav is a lessor love than racham but it is still love. Again, love is something you work at and cause it to grow. We begin with ‘ahav but after many years of walking with God, going through trials and difficulties, having that love tested we will grow to love Him with all our hearts, soul and might. We will racham God.

“With all your heart” is Be-khol levavkha, Abraham discovered God in his heart and believed with all of his heart. The word heart in Hebrew is lev and has come into the English language in our word love. The very last word in Torah is Israel and the last letter of Israel is Lamed. The first letter of Torah (in beginnings) start with a Beth and put the two together what do you have the word Lev which means heart. The sages teach that with Torah we find the Love of God as well as the love of our fellow man. But, soft, you notice the word for love begins with the last word and ends with the first word. Why? So teach the sages: “Love for God can only be created after we have studied the Torah and allowed it to complete love in us.” Love for God comes through the study of His Word.

“With all your soul” is be-khol nafshekha in Hebrew. Isaac, the second patriarch, was prepared to give up his life on the altar of sacrifice.” Love means a willingness to make your life a sacrifice to God.

“With all your might” is u-ve-khol meodekha in Hebrew. The word in the Hebrew for might is meod. Meod according to the sages should be translated as wealth or all that you have of any value. Remember how God prospered Jacob, the third patriarch multiplying his sheep over that of his Father in Law, Laban. Jacob made a vow to God (Genesis 28:22): “… and of all that thou shall give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” Love means committing all you have of value to God.

1 Corthinians 13:13 – 14:1 “And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these [is] love. (14:1) Follow after love and desire spiritual [gifts], but rather that ye may prophesy.”

Too many Christians today seek the spiritual gifts of prophesy, healing, teaching etc., but neglect to nourish the gift that comes before all and that is love, to love God with all your heart, soul and might. Love is not easy, love will be tested, love will require sacrifice of all you value. Only then are you able to serve God.

Word Study: Your Might מאדכ

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WORD STUDY – YOUR MIGHT – מאדכ 
Deuteronomy 6:5: “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”

“Grow old with me, the best is yet to be.” Robert Browning

I was listening to a talk radio show this afternoon and the host was a journalist who was a born again, evangelical Christian who made no apology for his Christian faith. He continually quoted Scripture to support many of his views. Deuteronomy 6:5 was one such verse he quoted to express his belief that we cannot negotiate with ISIS and that we must use deadly force against them. To support this view he said that even Scripture commands us to love the Lord God with all our hearts, soul and might. He explained that clearly the Bible is saying that we must us might, strength and deadly force against evil as this this is our command if we are to love God.

It is not this old boy’s politics I am questioning but his interpretation of this Scripture. It is called proof texting. That is taking a position and finding a verse to fit your position. I mean the guy is after all a journalist and not skilled in Biblical languages. But to make such a bold statement over national radio, the least he could have done was consult a commentary. But, of course, like I said, he is a journalist and even Jesus had to deal with journalist. I mean look at Mark 2:4, some young men were trying to bring a paralyzed friend to Jesus to be healed and what happens they run into the media. I mean really they had reporters there from the Jerusalem Tribune, the Bethlehem Press, The Samarian Bugle all trying to get to Jesus. Seriously, read it in Mark 2:4 in your KJV “And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press…” There it is, right there in your King James Bible, the press, the media keeping these poor men from getting their friend to Jesus to be healed. Even back then the media was getting in the way.

Oh, this being Christmas and all, if you want Biblical proof of Santa Claus, well I have that for you as well. Look up Zechariah 2:6 in you KJV “Ho, ho, [come forth], and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD:” Yes, and Merry Christmas to you too. I know, I may sound like I am taking pot shots at the KJV but the truth is, I am. The KJV has led me to some very embarrassing moments. Like the time I lost complete control of a Junior High Sunday school class when I had them read out loud the ten commandments from the KJV in Exodus 20. It was going very well until we hit verse 17 and the ninth commandment. I will let you look it up read it but I suspect you know what it says in the KJV. I am still embarrassed over that oversight.

Ok, we have all poked fun at the KJV and its archaic language. There are those who still hold to the KJV as the only trust worthy translation, even though the NIV is now the best selling version of the Bible. As a teacher of Biblical languages, I have had people throw Revelation 22:19 at me “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book.” As well as Matthew 5:18: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” I am told I am messing around with the Word of God, I am changing the Word of God by researching the Biblical languages. Ok, next time you teach teenagers the ten commandments from the KJV.

The general teaching of the conservative evangelicals is that the Word of God is inspired as to the original documents. The problem we run in to is that the original inspired documents have been lost. As the originals were passed around and rewritten by scribes, many scribes felt it was their duty to add a few extra words and/or delete certain words that they personally did not like. That is why since the translation of the KJV we have discovered many more manuscripts that predate the manuscripts used by the translators of the KJV and these earlier manuscripts and discoveries sometimes did not include things found in later manuscripts. Logically the earlier the manuscript, the more true it would be to the original documents as it did not pass through as many scribes who would add or delete.

Still I don’t doubt that the KJV is a reliable translation, I use it all the time myself. But one must be aware of the fact that the English language has gone through some changes over the last four hundred years. I have a Life Magazine from 1950 which had a lead article entitled: “The Gay Secretary of State.” Harriman was not gay as we understand that word today. It just meant he liked to party. So we do need to be careful with many words, such as this word in Deuteronomy 6:5, might.

Does it mean that if we love God we will use might or force against evil? Does it mean what we commonly think is that we must love God with great effort? The word might in Hebrew is simply the word mo’ed which often used as an adverb to intensify and modify a verb. The most common rendering for mo’ed is very. He is very (mo’ed) strong. When used as a noun as it is in Deuteronomy you can say strength or might as that is showing intensity. However, that can be misleading from the root meaning of the word mo’ed. Mo’ed has little to do with strength. It comes from an old Akkadian word mo’odu which means to increase to be in abundance. As it passed into the Hebrew it kept that meaning as well as carrying the idea of maturing and growing. This maturity could be in stature, strength, or even position. Thus, the idea of loving God with all your mo’ed is that you increase in the love for God in your heart and soul.

In other words, you are not only to love God with all you heart and soul but you are to let that love grow to maturity in your heart and soul. I have seen elderly couples who say they are more in love than the day they got married. They have grown to love each other so much that it is not uncommon that if one passes away, the other would pass away very shortly. I found that with my own parents. I believe one can truly die of a broken heart.

I have seen many new Christians who were so on fire with God. They loved Him so much, then after a year, they were back to their old ways hardly giving God a thought. I consider myself fortunate to have found God as a child and now as the years have gone by, my love for Him only grows deeper, richer fuller and if God were to ever leave me (which I know He will not) I am certain I would die of a broken heart in a matter of months, if not weeks.

I don’t condemn this radio host for his use of Deuteronomy 6:5, I am only saying that to not really search out the word might, he missed a wonderful and beautiful message, and that is we must let our love for God grow and mature so that the older we get in Him the deeper our love will grow. In the words of Robert Browning: “Grow old with me, the best is yet to be.”

MY JOURNEY – DAY #11 – I WILL LOVE – אהבת

 

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Deuteronomy  6:5:  “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”

 

Mark 12:30: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is] the first commandment.”

 

We all recognize that love is a gift.  It is something that you give freely.  By giving someone love you are giving them your heart and making yourself vulnerable to that person, giving that person the power to wound you and hurt you.  That is a true gift and one not given lightly.  It is a gift that is solely up to you and your right to give it or to not give it.  To give of yourself in such a way it must be a voluntary act of one’s will.   If this is the case then why does God command us to love Him?

 

This has often plagued me as many others and as I am now into my eleventh day of the search for the One Whom my soul loves I am finally addressing this question.  Why must God make it a command that I love Him. By commanding me to love takes away the idea of giving Him a gift.  That is the only gift I can give Him, surely He is not taking that away from me.

 

I went to my English Bible and found the words thou shalt love in Deuteronomy 6:5. That sounds like a command to me.  In fact the New Testament even calls it a commandment.  Do it or else. Someone once described it as being on a sinking ship and the captain commands you to get into a life boat. It is a command meant to save your life.   So too with God who commands you to love Him or face the consequences of not loving Him.  That’s cool, but it doesn’t satisfy me. If I am on a sinking ship and the captain points to a spot in the life boat and says it is reserved for me and everyone else is taken care of, I mean he does  not have to order me into the boat.

 

However, when I looked in my Hebrew Bible I found something interesting. Thou shalt love is the word ‘ahavat which is love in a grammatical preterite tense.  It is not in an imperative form.  Imperative is a command.  A preterite is, well let me quote form the Gesenius Hebrew Grammar book, the standard Hebrew grammar that is used in our seminaries and Bible colleges.  I quote on page 312-313, “To express facts which are undoubtable imminent and therefore in the imagination of the speaker, already accomplished (perfectum confidentiae).”  A preterite is not a command but an expression of one’s imagination, of something that has been accomplished or will be accomplished.  Hence we should render this not: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.”  But “Thou will love the Lord thy God.”  Better yet, “Thou does love the Lord they God.”

 

In ancient times and up through medieval times and still in some areas  today the Jews arrange a marriage.  Sometimes the bride and bridegroom do not meet until the day of their wedding.  That is the origin of the bridal veil as the groom could not look upon his bride until they were married.  The bride will often ask her mother before the wedding, “But what if I don’t love him?”  The mother’s answer would always be: “You will, you will learn to love each other.”   Every day an orthodox Jew puts on his phylactery and recites Deuteronomy 6:5, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God…”   However, one rabbi told me the way he prays this verse is: “I will love the Lord my God…”  He then commented that he is not sure when he will reach that state of perfect love but he is confident he will so he expresses it as a given as a preterite.

 

We used to call the preterite a future perfect tense.  For instance, David says that his enemies are destroyed,   Preterite tense.  His enemies are not destroyed, they are still out there, but his faith is so strong and he is so certain of God’s protection he says it as if it is a fact.   In fact as a preterite tense, “Thou shalt love the Lord” could be more properly rendered as “I do love the Lord God with all my heart, soul and might.”  If it is not true right now, I am confident that one day, one day I will be able to stand before God face to face and say: “I love you with all my heart, soul and might.”   So if it is not true now and it will be so why not just say it as a fact.  After all it is a command.  Ouch, there is that word again.  What shall I ever do with that word command?  Welcome to my meditation for Day #12.

 

WORD STUDY – WITH ALL THY SOUL – בכל נפשׁכ

 

Deuteronomy 6:5: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, with all thy soul and with all they might.”

 

When Rick Warren came out with his book “The Purpose Driven Life” he achieved the dream of every writer, to stumble upon a work that would touch the lives of millions, not to mention coming up with a best seller. I remember when the book came out I was working with a guy who attended a mainline, liberal church and he came to me all excited over this new book that came out and the class that his pastor was conducting using Warren’s book as a guide.  Here was a guy who was living the American dream.  He was married to a beautiful woman with two small children.  Their combined incomes and investments put them on the high end of six figures etc.   Yet, on numerous occasions he would admit to me that his life seemed meaningless and had no purpose.  He was desperately hoping that Warren’s book would help him find some purpose in his life.

 

Considering the popularity of Warren’s book, my friend seemed to share a problem that exist among multitudes of people and what is unfortunate is that the target market for this book were Christians. Yet, who hasn’t asked that question, “Why am I here?”  “What purpose is there for my life?”  About four years ago I was rushed to the hospital where I assumed that the old hour glass ran out, this old train of life had pulled away from its last station where the old man with the scythe stepped on board as we started for the final destination to Gloryland. But God decided to add more sand to my hour glass and it appears the old train made a detour on its way to heaven. I will admit I wasn’t too pleased about that. I am still a bit miffed about the whole thing. Particularly now that I am going through the fires. You know: “Lord, like this was your idea to extend my days down here, I mean even the travel industry gives you some perks when the ETA to your final destination is delayed. Oh, well that is another issue, back on topic.

 

With the way things have been going lately I have been wondering why God was keeping me around. I did something I rarely do and I should do more often and that is to read the final books of the Bible. I started to read in I Peter and when I read 1: 8 my spirit was quickened: “Whom having not seen, yet you love” I had a season of prayer last evening and I found myself repeating over and over: “Lord, whatever time I have left, let me not waste one minute in learning to love you.

 

I thought of Deuteronomy 6:5 where we are commanded to love God with all our heart, soul and might. Since I began my journey to the heart of God seven years ago I have done a number of studies on the greatest commandment, which is to love God.  The very nature of a command means that you must make a decision. Obeying a command is an act of your will. We choose to love God, it just does not happen. If we have any purpose in this life, it is to choose to love God, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer until death brings us face to face with Him. When I was a pastor I had to perform weddings. One of the most stupid questions I would ask the bride and groom is: “Do you promise to love?”  I mean I fully expected the guy to say: “Of course I do, why do you think I am standing here, what a dumb question.”  But you know that question was not for that moment it was for five years in the future when maybe she put on some weight, a few screaming kids are in the background and she is getting irritable. Suddenly you ask yourself, “Do I really love this woman?”  That is when this promise you are making at this moment takes effect.  That is when you make a conscious decision, “I don’t know if I love her or not but I made a vow to God that I would love her so dog gone it, I am going to love her, I am going to do the things I used to do when I was in love. Before I go to bed I am going to love this woman again.”  Love becomes a choice.

 

A friend of mine called me a romantic, maybe I am, I have spent my life trying figuring out what it means to love with your heart.  But what is this loving with your soul business? Isn’t that the same thing?  How can you love God with your soul. The word used here in the Hebrew for soul is nephesh which literally means to take a breath, refresh yourself. We are to love God with our very breath.

 

When I was in the hospital I had a period where I could not breathe. I remember sitting on the edge of my bed trying to breath. Nothing else in the world mattered at that time than just being able to take a nice rich deep breath. I would have given my most prized possession just for one deep breath. When they hooked me up to oxygen, I began to praise God with every breath I took. I thought of Deuteronomy 6:5 at that point, to love God with all my breath.

 

When you examine this word nephesh you find it has a built in commentary.  It is spelled Nun, Pei, and Shin. The letter Nun is also the word for fish. A fish is seen as swimming among the ebb and flow of the currents of a stream, just as we swim among the ebb and currents of life. The sunny days, the stormy days, the warm days and the chilly days, the Nun takes in all of life. Without breath we would not have life, we would not have the storms or sunny days. The Nun in nephesh tells us that the soul is all of our physical life. We are to love God with every part of our life, the stormy days, the sunny days, the cold and the warm.
The Nun is followed by the Pei. The Pei represents the mouth and speech. It is the breath that creates speech. The Talmud teaches that Moses was thick of tongue. Every name of God required the use of the tongue and thus Moses could not speak the name of God.  So God gave him a name he could speak without the use of his tongue, it was YHWH.   That name of God is spoke with the very breath of your life. To love God with all our soul means to express that love through every word we speak as each word we speak originates from the breath of life.

 

Finally the last letter is Shin which expresses a fullness, a wholeness, or enoughness.  You know even joyfulness is a discipline.  Last night I shared with a friend that I just didn’t think I was the type of person that really experiences joy.  She simply said; “You don’t even try.”  You know, even joy is an act of your will. We need to practice being joyful. We need to practice that feeling of enoughness and being satisfied with GodLoving God with all our soul is a discipline, a practice.  It is finding him in every breath we take, and in every word we speak and learning like the Apostle Paul that His grace is sufficient (II Corinthians 12:9). To learn to love God with all our soul is what gives us our purpose in life.