Note from the Christian Basics Bible
“These are the commands, decrees, and regulations that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you. You must obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy, and you and your children and grandchildren must fear the Lord your God as long as you live. If you obey all his decrees and commands, you will enjoy a long life. Listen closely, Israel, and be careful to obey. Then all will go well with you, and you will have many children in the land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you. Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:1-5, NLT
With Israel about to enter Canaan, with its many religions and various gods and idols, Moses needed to underline that there was only one true God: “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
In declaring the uniqueness of Israel’s God, Moses was affirming what the Bible says from the beginning. “In the beginning God . . .”—not a god, or the gods, but God. This belief in one God lay at the heart of Israelite faith—though sometimes they would forget that and so would be challenged by the prophets (e.g., 1 Kings 18:16-18; 2 Kings 17:7-20).
In light of this affirmation of the uniqueness of God, Israel was called, first, to have no other gods (Deuteronomy 5:6-7) and not to make any idols that might lead them astray (4:15-19; 5:8-10), and second, to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength” (6:5). Why? Because if there were no other gods, they need not keep anything in reserve to offer to them. Why? They simply do not exist.
Jesus himself said that this commandment, to love the one God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, was the greatest of all the commandments, and that it, along with the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves, was the basis of God’s entire law (Matthew 22:37-40).
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