Greetings! It’s the first of the year, and while journaling by the fire yesterday, I felt the Lord impress me to get back to writing, and speaking, and communicating, anything He puts in my heart to share. Whether it’s writing letters to brothers in prison, attending prayer meetings and Bible studies, sharing testimonies from my life or sharing what the Spirit is showing me from Scriptures while on mission trips, or just hanging out with family and friends? Last year, and certainly the last half of last year, I took a break from sharing much publicly and rested in His presence with His leading.
The first day of the new year is here.Thank God for new beginnings! And thank Him for new years. These cause us to stop and ponder our lives. How fast they are going? Their meaning? At the very least we pause and focus, if not for circumstantial assessment — whether good or bad at the moment, then on the brevity of our lives. We’re thankful that we still have “time to choose,” but feeling simultaneously that we have “no time to lose.” 🙂 To live well and steward our days and years whether they be few or somewhere near the seventy the Bible says God has planned generally for man.
What is the greatest commandment? Or said another way, what is the first among commandments? Of course, if you’ve had much Bible training or education, your mind would run to the time a pharisee asked Jesus the same question. The occasion, question, and Jesus’ answer are recorded in three of the Gospels.
Nine out of ten people would say He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength,” and “The second is like unto it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” “for on these two hang all the laws and all the commandments.” Profound. Powerful. Weighty words, from the greatest human Who ever lived, Who also had insight and connection to the Divine. The lawyers nodded and were silenced. The crowd too.
But Mark records that the very first words from Jesus’ mouth were, “Hear of Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One!” I wonder why the others didn’t record that as well? Could it be that is was so familiar to them and their Jewish audience that if just part of it was quoted, they would all say and know the rest in their minds?
Indeed, since 1500 years before His day and 2000 years since, faithful Jews around the planet have recited it in their prayers, written it on their door posts, taught it to their children, and worn little scrolls containing it on their wrists and foreheads. It’s called the Shama and is recorded in it’s entirety in Deuteronomy 6:4. “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
Whatever the reason I think it important to note He said it and it was the first thing from His lips. So the most important or first command may be to “Hear” or “Listen” as the Hebrew word is most often translated. And to “consider it true that the Lord is One.” It’s something to ponder, and to ponder the ramifications of what Jesus said first.