4Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God. Yahweh is one. 5You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.
Moses challenges the people to a wholehearted commitment to God. Half-hearted efforts in following God are just not enough. Moses’, plea is summed up in chapter 6 verses 4&5, ‘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.’ This command is of upmost importance for the children of Israel, it is known as the ‘Shema.’ Even today the Jewish people recite the Shema twice a day as a prayer. Jesus himself refers to the Shema when he is asked ‘What is the greatest commandment?’ His reply is ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your strength and with all your mind and your neighbour as yourself.’ (Luke 10 v 27)
Shema is the Hebrew word for Listen and it is how Moses calls the people to pay attention. However, it does not simply mean hear or regard what I am saying. Shema is a two-fold Hebrew word which means listen and obey. In the Hebrew context hearing could not be separated from responding with obedience. Moses is telling them it’s not enough to know these commandments they must also obey them.
Equally today, while it is important to read the bible and go to church and listen to sermon’s we need to know that God requires more of us. We can have all the information, but without transformation it is worthless. God requires us to live our lives in obedience to his will each day. So, as we hear his words let our hearts also respond. Shema.