Summary: This sermon explains why we developed our belief in the trinity.
This morning we have two closely related passages that we will start with. Both are found in the Book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is the fifth of the first five Books of Scripture. We call these first five books the Pentateuch, but our Jewish brethren call them the Ha Torah (The Law) or the Books of Moses.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
You shall have no other gods before me.
This morning we are going to engage in a little time travel. We are going to bounce around, back and forth through time. First, we are going to go back in time to some 3,300 years ago (more or less), when the children of Israel were wondering in the wilderness. During that time, God spoke to the Israelites and gave them His Commandments.
We have copies of those commandments in the first five books in our Bible. As Christians we commonly think of the Big 10, or the Ten Commandments as “The Commandments” of God. We also think of Charlton Heston and the parting of the Red Sea. But we primarily think of the 10 Commandments. However, according to Jewish tradition, and in fact according to reality, there are more than just the Big Ten Commandments. There are in fact 613 commandments found in the first five books of Scripture.
According to the Encyclopedia of Judaism (on the web) it says concerning the Commandments, that they are: “The injunctions recorded in the Pentateuch as having been spoken by God to Moses, to be communicated to the Children of Israel. These commandments were to be observed as the terms of the Covenant between God and His people. A third-century (Jewish Scholar), R. Simlai, postulated that they total 613 commandments, including 365 negative (prohibited) actions corresponding to the number of days in the solar year and 248 positive duties corresponding to the number of organs in the human body. These figures, though not mentioned in tannaitic sources, have been accepted by subsequent authorities (of the law) as authentic, and are the subject of numerous discussions in classical rabbinic works.”
The important thing to get from this, is that while we do have the “Big Ten” we also have 603 other commandments that are just as important for us to follow. Deut. 6:4 is one of those other 603 commandments. Now it is interesting that Deuteronomy 6:4 is considered to be the central tenet of the Jewish faith. It is considered the single most important identifying factor that sets Judaism apart from all other religions, for it was Judaism alone that worshipped only one God instead of a pantheon of gods as did the Romans and Greeks and all other societies around ancient Israel.
In fact, Deut. 6:4 is so central to Judaism that it even has a name that is derived from the first word in Hebrew. Deut 6:4 is called the Schema. It is so important in Jewish thought that the Schema is reflected in our popular culture at times. In fact, there is one scene in the 1949 John Wayne movie The Sands of Iwo Jima, where a dying marine, who is Jewish of course, quotes the Schema as his dying prayer.