Page 4 - February 2019 - Truth & Tidings
P. 4

“        ear, O Israel: The LORD our God   doubted the Lord’s present ability to give
               is one LORD.” With these em-
                                             them the victory. Their faithless fathers had
        Hphatic, uncompromising words        recklessly wished for, and been granted,
        begins the Shema – the Hebrew confession   death in the desert (Num 14:2), but now
        of faith and the preface to the command-  the children must face the foe.
        ments which the Lord delivered to His   This introduces us to the first sense in
        people as they stood on the threshold of the   which we say that God is one - numerically.
        Promised Land (Deu 6:4). It was intended   There are not many Gods.  Though He is
        to be the bedrock of their beliefs and their   known by many blessed Names, there is
        constant companion at home or abroad. By   only one true God.  This statement affirms
        constant reiteration of this truth, the Lord   the Uniqueness of God. He is alone - with-
        intended to ensure the integrity of His   out equal: “I am the LORD, and there is
        people’s affections for Himself, ultimately   no other, besides me there is no God” (Isa
        guaranteeing the prosperity of all their af-  45:5 ESV). And, He tolerates no rivals: “You
        fairs – domestic and international.   shall have no other gods before me” (Exo
          The force and timing of this confession   20:3 ESV).
        are  hugely  significant.  First,  although
        the wilderness proved to be a physically   In an increasingly pluralistic and hostile
        austere place (which they survived only   world, solid convictions about the singu-
        through the miraculous provision of food   larity of the true God will both anchor our
        and water by the Lord) for the new-born   affections and embolden our endeavour.
        nation of Israel, it was a relatively benign   His uniqueness demands that no competi-
        spiritual environment. Just as the pillar   tor come before the Lord in our hearts, and
        of fire and cloud protected them from   the assured knowledge that there is no
        natural elements, so the solitude of their   god besides the Lord gives strength and
        wilderness encampment and the special   courage, even in adversity. “Therefore, my
        presence of the Lord had largely separated   beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmove-
        them  from  the  darkness  of  Egypt  and   able, always abounding in the work of the
        shielded them from the withering blaze of   Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your
        Canaanite religious pluralism into which   labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1Cor
        they were about to enter.            15:58 KJV).
          Second, even having experienced His   In the NT, the importance of the Shema
        mighty deliverance from Egyptian tyr-  was emphatically reinforced by the Lord
        anny, the previous generation had turned   Jesus, for when the Pharisees came to test
        back in fear at Kadesh-Barnea (Deu 9:23).   Him, asking which was the greatest com-
        Faced by the spies’ reports of impenetrable   mandment, the Lord replied by citing the
        strongholds and formidable foes, they had   words  which  immediately  follow  it  in

        36   TRUTH kTidings   February  2019
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