DEUTERONOMY 6: PASSING THE BATON
This Book of Deuteronomy that we’ve looked at in my Breadcrumbs over the last days has been a recap of the last 40 years: the first 40 years that the Nation of Israel as their own nation outside of slavery in Egypt. As such, these chapters would be like Moses’ Last Will and Testament. The first chapters in this book seem to be one last reminder to those he loved and this in light of a good and prolonged future without him. [v1-3] However, the first thing that I should note is the mention He makes: “…that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live…” [v2]
If you want to accept this baton or pass this baton on, the first thing you may be thinking is: No Way! Surely fear in 21st Century ears and Western intellectualism is related to keeping people under control and captive to an oppressor who is making them fearful. We can certainly see this happening everywhere on the planet today wherever slavery reigns. The 2013 movie 12 Years a Slave shows how they would beat their victims in a room before they finally broke their defiant spirit for rightful freedom and escape. It is utterly abhorrent for any human to cause another human to live in fear for as long as they live. That true, then why follow a god who makes a requirement out of fear?
Well… we first have to spung away all our presuppositions and horror stories (along with horror movies) that flood our minds when we think of the word fear. In this situation as the Children of Israel sat on the desert floor waiting to receive their golden baton, Moses was talking in legal terms and the sentence in Hebrew reads: “…that you might fear the Lord your God to be shomer (legal guardian) over all His statutes and commands….” This commission was to be lifelong and down three generations. If kept up, this would reach us today. I want to tell you that of all the mistakes that followed in HIStory, and unlike any other written record from the ancient past, they did it! Without the help of digital technology, their record that they legally guarded was the only one to survive history in both quality and such great quantities. They had such reverent ‘fear’ to be shomer (legal guardian), that they kept this 3800+ year old record in perfect condition so that you and I can read it today, trust in its authenticity, then stake our life on it.[a]
But having a healthy concern for guarding a set of rules is not enough. We have to be legal guardian to do it [v1&3] otherwise they are pointless. King Solomon of Israel (hail as the world’s wisest man ever, an Albert Einstein of his day) summed up at the end of his life the secret for successful human existence in two simple things: “….Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind…”[b] While this is the ‘duty’ of a human image of God[c] (to copy the God that we are emulating, and should be in every way a mirror-image of His likeness), any parent trying to train their children will tell you that a healthy fear of outcomes or fear of their Dad, causes them to stop and choose rightly before becoming uncontrollable and unteachable. In this same way, Father God wants it to go well for us and we’ll prolong our lives in a place of blessing – not just prolong our personal life experience but prolong blessed life on planet earth for humanity. [v3]
But if it’s an important as all that, how can we then read v4-5 so clearly, that the Creator is the One and Only for His people, and yet Yehoshua (Jesus) has been brought into the storyline as you will soon see in my Breadcrumbs when we finish this Book of Deuteronomy. Surely we have to get it right if we’re to understand who is in charge, otherwise we would be following the wrong person down the garden path. “Shema Yisroel Adonoi Eloheinu Adonoi Echad.” [v4]
The key to getting answers for vital questions is to go back to the Hebrew and find out what it original meant rather than blindly using English in a modern translation. Here then, I have to take you back to the first sentence every recorded: “In the beginning Elohim (God) created hashomayim (the heavens, Himel) and haaretz (the earth).”[d] The one we follow is the one who started it all – Father God. However, the Hebrew word in the very first sentence before any global disputes started, is plural! The word elohim or ‘elohiym (ʼĕlôhîym) is a grammatically plural noun. Likewise, v4 in today’s chapter Echad is a Hebrew word that translates as “one” or “unity.” This idea of unity – being many parts yet one. Read again then and correctly not having punctuation marks or small words as we do in English: “Shema Yisroel Adonoi Eloheinu Adonoi Echad And thou shalt love Hashem Eloheicha b’chol l’vavcha u’vchol nafshcha uvechol modecha” is literally translated “Hear Israel my-LORD/Yahweh our-Gods Yahweh/my-LORD One-unity And you shall love the-Name our-Gods with-all-your heart with-all soul with-all strength/loving-with-body”.
And so, however humans want to now argue it between themselves, whoever our Creator God is He is complex with many question marks .[e] Yet He has revealed exactly what we need to know as this epic drama gradually unfolds in HIStory – assuming that we’re willing to dig for buried treasure.[f] Not only are we to love our Creator with all our capability, we’re to teach our children (two generations) all the time everywhere such that it permeates every part of both our life and the life of the next generations down. [v7-9] Seeing what happened after the post-WWII generation stopped sending their kids to Sunday School (attending church), is now clear proof of how our world in two generations has deteriorated as today’s chapter warned.
What’s critical in today’s chapter is that Hashem Eloheicha (the-Name our-Gods) brought them into their promises [v10] – what was promised. [v11] But if He is leading God’s Family, and if God’s Name had been embedded inside someone else[g] as already seen in the last couple of Breadcrumbs, and if we’re to beware lest we forget the-Name [v12], then this is an invaluable piece of information woven into the Creator God’s Global Masterplan then laid out in the next 61 books that make up His Handbook for LIFE, the Bible.
Everywhere the Hashem Eloheicha is used together (both capitalized) it’s about a personified Name that speaks [v19] and physically leads, coupled with God pluralized One-unity. We’re to fear Him, serve Him, and swear by Shmo (His-Name) v13, and do what’s right in the eyes of Hashem the-Name. [v18] We’re not to test Hashem (the-Name) Eloheichem (one of the names of God which plural and translates your-Gods) in v16. Yet in v17, He is clearly singular.[h] In v20 it reads Eloheinu is in the plural. It literally translates to “Our Gods” and the writer at Woodbury Jewish Centre adds: “Obviously, this is deeply problematic from a monotheistic religion.”
With Easter and the Jewish Passover coming soon, we can talk more about this, for now it’s enough for us to understand the purpose for what Moses was trying to get across for everyday living. If I put God to the test [v16], for example, instead of passing His test [v17], I will risk getting to my destination: the place the He is leading me to enter into. [v18] Having been created in His image to operate in His likeness, it only takes a good conscience to do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord. [v18] And the physical promises about a physical land for one Nation [v19] are just as important today for this God who transcends time – symbolic of our Father’s promises of His future kingdom for the entire world. Quoting Jehoshua (Jesus):
“In the Beis (House – alludes to the focal point of holiness, the Sanctuary or Holy Temple) Avi (Father – comes from the name Avraham, meaning father of nations”) – In my Father’s House there are many me’onot (dwelling places, permanent residences, homes, cf 14:23); if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a makom (place) for you?” [John 14:2]
So, when my Grandson asks me in times to come, saying, “What does all this mean that the Lord our God commanded you?” Then I can PASS ON MY BATON by saying that I was a slave to the prince of this world[i], but the Lord brought me out of that life with a mighty hand. Moreover, the Lord provided great and terrible signs and wonders before my eyes as I read through HIStory, and as I travelled through my personal wildernesses. He brought me out of there in order to bring me in, to give me the land which He had sworn to our fathers.[j] So the Lord commanded me to follow His statutes, to fear the Lord my God for my own good always and for my eternal survival, as it is today. And it will be righteousness for me if I’m careful to follow all this commandment before the Lord my God, just as He commanded us all. [v20-25]
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[a] John 5:24
[b] Ecclesiastes 12:13
[c] Genesis 1:26-28
[d] Genesis 1:1
[e] Isaiah 55:9
[f] Isaiah 45:3
[g] Exodus 23:20-22
[h] Deuteronomy 10:17; 14:1. Psalms 76:11 = Hashem Eloheichem (your Gods) םכיהלא
[i] Ephesians 2:1-2
[j] Revelation 21:1-5 (context = whole chapter)
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