THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL (DEUTERONOMY 6:1-9)
What is your favorite Bible verse or golden verse? Two verses shaped my life, one led to my conversion and the other to seminary. The first, from Matt 10:32-33, convinced me not to delay accepting Christ: "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. "
The second, from Rom 10:14-15, planted the seed of seminary enrolment and full-time ministry in my heart when I was a teenager: "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?"
Before entering the Promised Land, the new generation of Israelites were given the golden verse of golden verses in two short verses, which is also known as "The Shema" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aad0rYQ7p58&feature=related), which today is the centerpiece of the twice-daily, morning and evening, Jewish prayer services. Observant Jews consider the Shema to be the most important part of the prayer service in Judaism, and its recitation as a mitzvah (religious commandment). (Wikipedia "Shema Yisrael")
What is the purpose of the Shema? Why is its teachings central not to individuals but also to the family and the society? How do the core values apply today?
Guide the Young
1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3 Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, promised you. (Deut 6:1-3)
What is the best gift a parent can bequeath a child? Te priority should not be leaving "half a bucket of gold" (¥b±íª÷)," which is what a couple called an apartment they planned to leave behind their adult son. I am sure you know what the Chinese think the best gift to leave one's children, which is also the tried and true way for people in old Hong Kong to get out of poverty? The answer is no other but education.
The United States Census Bureau reported that the average annual earnings in 1999 ranged from $18,900 for high school dropouts to $25,900 for high school graduates, $45,400 for college graduates and $99,300 for the holders of professional degrees (medical doctors, dentists, veterinarians and lawyers).
The report reveals that over an adult's working life, high school graduates can expect, on average, to earn $1.2 million; those with a bachelor's degree, $2.1 million; and people with a master's degree, $2.5 million. So a bachelor's degree is worth $900,000 more in lifetime earnings than a high school diploma and a college master's degree is worth $1.3 million more. Persons with doctoral degrees earn an average of $3.4 million during their working life, while those with professional degrees do best at $4.4 million.
Deuteronomy is unique is the Jewish world and understanding of education. For such a popular word, the verb "teach" (v 1) surprisingly did not makes its debut in the Old Testament until the book of Deuteronomy, and it occurs 17 times in the book, more than any narrative book in the Old Testament. Teaching is so urgent and unmistakable that the verb commanded is repeated three times (vv 1, 2, 6), other wise translated as "directed" in verse 1 and "give" in verses 2 and 6. The verb "lamad" is so central to Jewish faith and the precursor for the Talmud, the rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history.
What were verse 1's commands (Gen 26:5), decrees (Gen 47:22) and laws (Gen 18:19) that Moses was commanded to teach? The commands are Moses general teachings, the decrees are stipulated ordinances and laws means social justice. However, note that the focus and purpose of teaching is the commands, decrees and laws in print but for them to fear the Lord in person. Jesus said to those who sought to kill him: "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me" (John 5:39-40) It is easy to nitpick on law but neglect the Lawgiver Himself (Isa 33:22), to worship the writings but not the Writer Himself, to enjoy the academics but forget the Author.