HOW Do we “Love the Lord Our God With Our Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength”? Jesus. The answer is (always) Jesus.
After rescuing the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt, leading them out into the wilderness with Him, Yahweh bound Himself with the nation of Israel. He married Himself to His people. In later generations, when Israel was unfaithful and broke covenant with Yahweh, the prophets warned of coming judgment using the language of “harlotry”, comparing Israel to an unfaithful spouse.
Centuries later, when Jesus was asked by experts in the the Mosaic Law, what is the greatest commandment, the most important, it would not have surprised anyone to hear Him say, “To love God. To marry yourself to Him, to be faithful to Him, body, mind, heart, and soul.”
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31)
Loving God – heart, soul, mind, and strength – was the mark of God’s people, it was what set them apart, the way in which they were to make their mark in the world. This, Jesus says, is the primary value in the Kingdom of God: To know that Yahweh is one, and there is no god besides Him, and to love God with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself.
Historically, Israel was NOT faithful to their covenant with Yahweh – which was, of course – not a surprise to Yahweh.
In Deuteronomy 30:6 there’s a promise, “Moreover, Yahweh your God will CIRCUMCISE your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.”
In order to love God heart, soul, mind, and strength, Israel would need “circumcised hearts.”
Centuries after Moses, Jeremiah the Prophet would explain this circumcision of heart, crying out
“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Jeremiah 31:31-33)
The New Covenant would bring a NEW heart.
Generations after Jeremiah, Jesus would stand before His disciples at the Passover supper and break bread and pour out wine, again using covenant language.
We don’t recognize it, but the disciples at the last supper would have recognized what Jesus was doing from the marriage, covenant ceremony. Continue reading