Jim Burns Homeword Daily Devotional for Parenting and Christian Family

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HomeWord - Oct. 26, 2006

The Shema 
This devotional was written by Mike DeVries

“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, 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     

Today’s Scripture passage is known as “the shema” and is the central proclamation of the Jewish people. In it, they proclaim that the LORD their God is whole and unified, and that He is the only true God. They also acknowledge the absolute necessity of passing along their spiritual heritage to the next generation.


Now, for the longest time, I read the shema through the eyes of a parent. Yet, if there is one thing that we know for sure, we know that the ancient near east, including the Jewish world, thought in communal terms, not individual terms. When they thought about being a follower of God, it was in terms of being a part of the people of God, the community – not about the popular thought of “just Jesus and me.”


This has some profound implications, especially in regards to the shema.


The “impress them upon your children” was not merely a call to parents, but to the community as a whole. (The first three words of the shema are a giveaway. It says, “Hear, O Israel,” not “Hear, O you parents…”) The Jewish culture saw it as the calling of the entire Jewish community to pass along the knowledge of who God is and what He has done for His people.


Think about what this means for your church and for you.


It is not only the job of parents to pass along a spiritual heritage to their children; the rest of the faith community has a role, as well. Whether or not we have children, if we call ourselves followers of Jesus, we each have a personal responsibility to make sure that the next generation knows the God who has embraced us and whom we embrace.


But what happens if we don’t?


Judges 2 offers some startling insight.


“After that whole generation was gathered together to their fathers, another generation grew up, who neither knew the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals.”  Judges 2:10-11


This new generation did not “know the LORD,” nor what He had done for Israel – and the result was disastrous. They leave God in order to serve idols.


What was at stake, both then and now, is the very preservation of the faith.


May we be the kinds of people who faithfully pass on the spiritual heritage of those who have gone before us. May we be the kinds of people who pass along a vibrant knowledge of God to the next generation – whether they are our own children or not.      

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1. What are some tangible ways in which we can “impress these things” upon the next generation?

2. How can you personally be involved in this kind of life?


Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Joshua 3:14-4:9; Judges 2:6-15

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