Summary: God asks us to build a Memorial to His Word... but is yours a memorial to a living God or a dead faith?
OPEN: During the 1600’s there was an Emperor in India by the name of Shah Jahan (the 5th Emperor during the Mughal Dynasty) and he was believed to have been descended from Tamerlane and Genghis Khan
Some time during his reign, a rebel group in the southern portion of India sought to reject his rule and so he led an army to defeat them. In his entourage was his beloved wife – who was pregnant with their 14th child. Unfortunately she died while giving birth.
The Emperor was overwhelmed with grief and locked himself in his quarters where he neither ate nor drank for 3 days and kept the doors locked for a total of 9 days. When he emerged from his rooms, his raven black hair had turned completely white and his heart was filled with a dream.
He would build two memorials. One would be a tomb made of white marble for his wife’s body, and the other a tomb of black marble to be used for his burial chambers (which he never was never able to build).
The construction of her tomb required 22,000 men and women to labor 24 hours a day for 22 years. It was built of white marble decorated with 28 different kinds of gems. A sheet of pearls was spread over the coffin doors of solid silver opened onto the tomb and a solid gold railing surrounded the monument.
(Readers Digest 11/83 p.161)
Does anyone know the name of this tomb in India?
The Taj Mahal
APPLY: The Taj Mahal is one of the most famous memorials in the world, and it is a memorial to death. The Shah didn’t build it while his wife lived… only after she died.
That’s the way it often is with memorials.
Memorials are often built to remind us of someone who has died that we care for or respect.
A memorial is something that is built to help us remember.
Now, here in Deuteronomy 6, God is asking His people to REMEMBER something.
In Deuteronomy 6:6-7 God declared “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 and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
God was saying
- I want you to build memories into your family.
- I want you to help them remember the commandments I’m giving you today.
And He speaks of it almost like He’s asking them to build a memorial
In verses 8-9 He says
“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.”
BUILD A MEMORIAL - IN YOUR FAMILY - TO MY WORD
The people of Israel eventually took these commands literally.
They actually TIED His Word to their hands/ foreheads, and WROTE them on their doorframes.
They created little boxes called Phylacteries that they tie to their forehead and arms. (show a picture of a phylactery on the screen).
They also built a different kind of box called a Mezuzah that they nail to their doorframes. Religious Jews are expected to touch the mezuzah as they enter and exit their homes.
Now frankly – that’s seems fairly innocent
It can even be a helpful practice because these little boxes constantly reminded Jewish people of their commitment to God’s Law.
But the problem became that many Israelites ended forgetting about God’s Law, and began putting their faith into those little boxes. NONE of those phylacteries or Mezuzahs were big enough to hold the entire law. Mezuzahs (for example) hold Deuteronomy 6:1-8; and Deuteronomy 11:18-21 - called the Shema (or “Hear”). It was in this Shema that Israel was told that God wanted “These COMMANDMENTS that I give you today” (not just the Shema) “to be upon your hearts” (not merely in a box somewhere). Deuteronomy 6:6
The faithful in Israel got to the point where they focused more on the boxes than on the contents.
For example, one source I read said the Mezuzah was to be (Mezuzah picture)…
· mounted ONLY on the right door post of the home
· it was to be slanted so that the top is pointed to the inside of the room
· it should be affixed to each room in the home (except the bathroom)
· AND its contents must be examined by a reliable scribe at least twice every 7 yrs to make sure the ink on the parchment hadn’t faded.
If these requirements were not met… “its blessings are nullified”
In other words:
If you don’t do it right… God won’t like you very much. And He won’t bless you!
Now there’s something seriously wrong with that kind of thinking.