Deuteronomy 6:1-3 the words used in Hebrew for commandment, statutes, and judgments are all in the singular and not plural. We should understand this as the word given to Moses in Deuteronomy as overall legislation of experiencing God’s blessings in His Land. Moses explains that this Law was designed to produce four results in Israel’s life. 1) To fear the Lord. Such fear leads to wisdom by keeping God’s commands (Prov. 1:7). 2) Keeping the Law will also result in enjoying long life. 3) That it will go well with them in the Land. 4) That they would increase greatly in the land they were receiving.
Deuteronomy 6:4 The Shema (hear) is the heart of the Covenant at Sinai also known as the Mosaic Covenant. It is the conditional everlasting covenant whereby God would bless or discipline His covenant people. The Mosaic Covenant is also the basis of the conditional aspects of the New Covenant. How we comprehend the Mosaic covenant helps us to understand both the blessings and cursing’s (or discipline) that are part of the New Covenant. We see the conditional requirement for blessings in Yeshua’s words in John 15:1-6:
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
Genuine Christians, those who have been filled with God’s Spirit, have been sealed with God’s Spirit Eph. 1:11-14. This is an unconditional covenant by God’s election or His choice and assures us that we have been given an everlasting inheritance. What is conditional is whether we will experience the blessings of our heavenly citizenship.
Dr. George Eldon Ladd of Fuller Theological Seminary wrote convincingly about the two natures of the Kingdom of God: its presence and its future state. He used the phrase “already and not yet” in A Theology of the New Testament to describe his position on the Kingdom of God and then immediately explains his words: “The early church found itself living in a tension between realization and expectation—between “already” and “not yet.” The age of fulfillment has come; the day of consummation stands yet in the future.”
Deuteronomy 6:6 The covenant relationship with its promises and provisions were for not just this generation but also for future generations (Deut. 5:9-10) You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. This required regular instruction or discipleship. Father must educate son and son the grandson so that the covenant might never be forgotten. As New Covenant believers we are called to make disciples, not just converts. “These commandments” (lit. “these words”) encompasses the covenant spoken by Moses which is summarized in the Shema of vv. 4-5. The instruction to “tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads” have been literally interpreted in Judaism with twice daily application of Tefillim (lit. “prayer”) or Phylacteries (Gk. “defenses” or “protections”). Which contain parchments with the same scriptures placed in the mezuzah. The verses in the Mezuzah are Deut. 6:4-9 and Deut 11:13-21. Phylacteries or Tefillin are referred to by Yeshua in Mat. 23:5 “But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.” The tassels referred to by Yeshua is a command that God gave to Israel (Num. 15:38; Deut. 22:12). In the TaNaKh the heart is not related to emotional life but the intellect or rational side mankind. To “be on the heart” is to be in constant, conscious reflection. This is what Paul was referring to when he called God’s children to pray without ceasing.
Deuteronomy 6:7 God’s commands were for all of Israel, even children who were entering into the covenant. It was the primary responsibility of the parents. The Hebrew word translated diligently, or impress is a word used to describe the sharpening of a knife on a stone. The Word of God is described in the New Covenant as a sword. Some see the sword as an offensive weapon, and at times it is, but it is best to see the Word of God as a scalpel used to circumcise hearts. Children are to be sharpened as willing instruments for God as they grow old. This too is part of our call to make disciples of all nations. To train a child in the way he should go is to impart wisdom that comes from God’s Word. To sit and to walk suggests teaching in any situation. To lie down and get up speaks of at the beginning of the day and the end. The kind of love God requires is full time and in every circumstance. Children not only must be taught but must see it exemplified in their parents, otherwise it will not likely be learned. Our walk and talk must be consistent.
Deuteronomy 6:8-9 This command is most likely figurative but were taken literally in Judaism and remain a part of Jewish religious practice today. The wearing of phylacteries or Tefillin dates back to at least the 2nd century B.C. and are required to be worn at morning prayers and festivals but not on Sabbaths. On the doorpost of Jewish (Heb. Mezuzah) is placed a cylinder that contains portions of Scripture there are a number of laws concerning the mezuzah in Judaism: The mezuzah text is to contain 22 lines of writing. Unlike a Torah scroll, which must be copied from another manuscript, a mezuzah may be written from memory by a scribe. If even one letter of the text is missing, the mezuzah may not be used. The mezuzah is to be affixed to entrances of all residential buildings and to the doors of all rooms used for living purposes. (It is not to be attached to the doorposts of bathrooms, schools, or houses of worship.) Since the verses in Deuteronomy not only declare “on your doorposts” but also you’re your gates” mezuzot (plural for mezuzah) are also obligatory for apartment house entrances. The mezuzah is to be affixed at an angle to the top third of the doorpost on the right (as one enters), with the upper portion slanted inward and about a handbreadth from the outer edge of the doorpost. When the mezuzah is affixed, the following blessing is recited: “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast sanctified us by Thy commandments and hast commanded us to fasten the mezuzah.” If one’s house is sold or rented to a Jewish person, the previous occupant must leave the mezuzah. The mezuzah in a private home must be inspected for legibility of the writing twice in every seven years. Shaddai, one of the names of God, is inscribed in Hebrew on the outer side of the top of the parchment. When passing through the door, one must touch and kiss the word Shaddai and recite the following prayer: “May God keep my going out and my coming in from now on and ever more.V 10-12 Moses is speaking to the next generation who were now nearing 60 years of age. They were nineteen years old or younger at Kadesh Barnea when those who were twenty and over would were told by God that would die in the wilderness. They were old enough to remember the events of Sinai, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the destruction of the Egyptian army. They saw a whole generation die in the wilderness. They had seen God’s miraculous provision and would see even more as they face their enemies. They were about to receive a land filled with cities they did not build, houses filled with goods they did not provide, and wells they did not dig as well as orchards and vineyards. Moses warned that the greatest danger they would face would be forgetting the Lord. Prosperity and blessing often causes us to forget where blessings came from. They were to guard their hearts and minds. The life of the blessings of the spirit need to be cultivated. In the context of the wilderness wanderings Paul wrote these words to the Corinthian Believers “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). This next generation needed to, cultivate their inner life and water the garden of their devotion to God.
Deuteronomy 6:13-15 God calls Israel to worship him exclusively, to serve him only and take oaths only in his name. They were to have nothing to do with the traditions and ways of the people they were removing from the land. If they did God warns that His anger would burn against them and they would be removed from His Land. This was not an empty threat as history shows us. Man was created to reflect His image that we might bring His love and grace to His creation. His law reveals His truth but because of our weak flesh He came to incarnate what a life lived in truth looks like in Yeshua. By abiding in Him and being conformed to His image through His Spirit and Word we are able to do in Him what we cannot do in ourselves. In the Old Covenant failure to keep His commands led to removal from the Land in the New Covenant failure to abide in Him causes us to lose the abundant life He means for us to have.
Deuteronomy 6:16-19 Forgetting the Lord was not just removing God from their memory but failure to be constantly devoted to Him. The illustration that Moses gives is when they put God to the test at Massah Exod. 17:2-7:
The people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, “Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “What shall I do to this people? A little more and they will stone me.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. He named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us, or not?”
To test God involves overlooking His past faithfulness and forcing Him to defend his holiness and Word. Israel at Massah had forgotten how God had cared for them taking them out of Egypt delivering them from Pharaoh’s army at the Red Sea and His daily provision each step of the way. Forgetting will cause Israel to stumble and fall, and the same is true for us today. They are warned to keep the commands of the Lord and to do what was right and good in his sight. The result will be success as they go in to possess the land promised to their forefathers with God enabling them to expel their enemies.
Deuteronomy 6:20-22 Every generation is twenty years away from falling away. That’s generally the time needed to be transformed from being self-centered to God centered. God warned Israel that they needed to be aware of the potential for loss of faith in the next generation so that they would be motivated to spare no expense or effort in training their children. One of the key illustrations of instruction is the annual Passover Seder in their homes. There are actually 4 questions that are part of the seder that children are called to ask which is what v. 21-22 are speaking of. Each Passover we are to internalize the bondage and deliverance of our fathers in Egypt as if we were there. To remember that we worship a God of power, love, and faithfulness.
Deuteronomy 6:23-25. God’s redeeming work did not simply bring Israel out from Egypt but also to bring them to the land that he promised. Salvation is essential, but it is just a beginning, not an end. The believer is not just rescued from the penalty of his sin; he is redeemed to love God and his neighbor so that others might come to know him. If God’s people cannot bring their own children into a relationship with God, then they’re not likely to have much impact on others. God expects His children to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord. If they will they would enjoy a relationship that would be personal and instilling a great hope for the future.