Jesus was asked many questions during the days and months He taught His disciples on earth. Those questions helped lay the foundation for how we are to follow Christ our Lord and Savior.
One of the most important questions dealt with which point of the Mosaic Law was most important (first). Jesus answered, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.” (Mark 12:29-30).
Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Jews recited these verses daily. Every scribe carried the verses on a miniature roll in his phylactery (small case of parchment bound to the forehead or arm). Here’s why:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9
The scribes of Israel took the Scripture literally and tied them as symbols on their hands and bound them on their foreheads. It’s interesting that the person who asked the question of Jesus was a scribe. He carried the answer to his question on his body. Jesus may have even pointed to the scribe’s phylactery as He answered the question. The Lord was always pointing the religious leaders of Israel to the spiritual meaning of God’s Word. The scribes and Pharisees were big on the “outward” demonstration of obedience to God, but negligent on the more important “inward” obedience.
Jesus chose a specific word to describe the love and devotion believers should have for God: agapao. We Christians know this is the word used for the love that comes to us from the Spirit of God. God gives us the love we need to love Him with the proper depth of affection and gratitude.
“Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” We need to understand and accept that the Lord is One. He is the Mighty God of Heaven and there is no other like Him. He is the Creator God. There is no being that compares with the Lord God (kurios theos – “one who has power over another, master, owner” — God – from the Hebrew Elohim and Jehovah).
Notice how deep our love should go for God:
- with all your heart
- with all your soul
- with all your mind
- with all your strength
God instructed Israel to love Him with their entire being. Each of these words in Hebrew and Greek (heart, soul, mind, strength) cover the total perspective of being a human being. That is how much we are commanded to love God.
That kind of love leads naturally to deep devotion and worship. Jesus is presenting us with a challenge to love Him more than we love ourselves; to love Him more than we love anyone else in life; to love Him more than we love things.
The Bible is filled with amazing examples of people who worshiped God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. We’ll look at some of them this week with the purpose of deepening our understanding of worship. Let’s begin with Israel’s great King David. Look at the depth of his love and devotion to God.
“O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me. But those who seek my life, to destroy it, Shall go into the lower parts of the earth. They shall fall by the sword; They shall be a portion for jackals. But the king shall rejoice in God; Everyone who swears by Him shall glory; But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.” Psalm 63
King David is pouring out his heart to God and sharing his deep love for Him. Remember that David wrote this song when he was in the wilderness of Judah. David and his soldiers had just saved the city of Keilah from the Philistines. David asked God if he should attack the Philistines and God told him to attack and save Keilah. David’s soldiers doubted they could win, so David went back to the Lord and asked Him again. God told David to go to Keilah, “For I will deliver the Philistines into your hand.” David and his men defeated the Philistines and took away their livestock. However, King Saul heard about where David was and believed God had delivered David into his hand to be killed. Saul planned to surround Keilah and destroy it to get to David. David inquired of the Lord and God told David that the people of Keilah would deliver David to Saul to save their city. So, David took 600 of his men into the Wilderness of Ziph and hid from Saul in the mountain forests. King Saul tried to find David to kill him, but God protected David and his men. Saul and his soldiers came very close to encircling David and his men in the Wilderness of Maon, but a messenger brought Saul a message that the Philistines had invaded his kingdom. Saul had to abandon his plans to kill David to fight against the invading Philistines. Then David went to the strongholds of En Gedi.
David wrote many of his great songs (Psalms) when he was in desperate situations. Those hard times drew him closer to God. The same is true for us. Some of our deepest spiritual worship comes during some of the darkest moments of life. God teaches us so much. When life hits you square in the face and you feel as if no one cares, we remember that God always cares for us. It is during those moments that we find our soul thirsty for God. We, like David, want to see His Power and Glory. Because His Lovingkindness is better than life itself, our lips praise Him. Our mouth will praise Him with joyful lips. We meditate on Christ in the darkness of the night watches. We rejoice because God is our help in times of trouble. Our soul follows close behind Him, even as Jesus upholds us. We know what the future holds for those who oppose us. We know what our future will be with Christ our King.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we love you! We worship you!
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”