The Lord He is One
The expectations of this life, socially and otherwise, can be spiritually dizzying, distracting, and leave us feeling fragmented, anxious, and exhausted.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. "My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
— Matthew 11:28
As it refers to the above verse, I often ask myself whose yoke I am wearing or who I am serving when the burdens in life feel neither "easy" nor light.
The Shema, which means to hear, is recited and considered an essential prayer by Jews and makes of utmost necessity this idea of their central focus on one God. It comes from the book of Deuteronomy.
“Hear (Shema שמע), O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one ("Echad" אחד)
— Deuteronomy 6:4 (first part)
Jesus recited the following verse when He encountered the religious legal questions by those looking for loopholes to justify their positions or looking for Jesus to slip up on His interpretation of the specifics of the law. Jesus simplifies what they all had complicated through their fragmented self-serving interpretations by offering a simple motive and response revolving around one thing.
Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is:‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no other commandment greater than these.”
— Mark 12:29-31
In the ancient world of polytheism, people were required to serve, appease, and please many gods. God calls His people to worship Him alone in this Scriptural command.
We may not have wooden statues we worship, but it is my guess, by the level of distraction in the modern church, and more than likely in our own lives, we are seeking to please and appease more than just one God. Maybe it's the opinions of social groups, family members, friends, co-workers, or church people. People-pleasing is a big problem for many of us. It was one of the most significant issues of the religious rulers of Jesus' time. They did things to be seen by men and to be thought highly of by them.
Or maybe our god is our belly (Phil. 3:19) or our fleshly desires.
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things
— Philippians 3:18
A Sheep Example
Near the village of Gevas in eastern Turkey, while shepherds ate their breakfast, one of their sheep jumped off a 45-foot cliff to its death. Then, as the stunned shepherds looked on, the rest of the flock followed. In all, 1,500 sheep mindlessly stumbled off the cliff. The only good news was that the last 1,000 were cushioned in their fall by the growing woolly pile of those who jumped first. According to The Washington Post, 450 sheep died.
The Bible often refers to human beings as sheep (Ps. 100:3; Isa. 53:6; Matt. 9:36). Easily distracted and susceptible to group influence, we would rather follow the crowd than the wisdom of the Shepherd.
I'm glad the Bible also describes sheep in a positive way. Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd . . . My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:14,27).
So the big question for us is: Whom are we following?
One another? Self-centered shepherds? Or the voice and direction of the Good Shepherd?
Our challenge is to avoid the mistake of the sheep who blindly followed one another over a cliff. We must make it our daily purpose to ask ourselves: Am I listening for the voice of the Good Shepherd? Am I following Him? Follow Christ, not the crowd.
— Mart Dehaan "Daily Bread"
Second Part of the Shema
It would uncomplicate many things in life if the one and only person we desired to please were God.
One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple.
— Psalm 27:4
This thought agrees with the second portion of the "Shema."
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
— Deuteronomy 6:4
Our heart (affections), soul (thoughts), and body (actions) need to be united in worship and purpose.
"in our vision we penetrate all things, seeing only One God at the bottom, at the top, in and through all things. We look in any direction, inward, outward, upward or downward and, as did the prophet Isaiah, we see only One -- there is no other. “Hear O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one.”
— Fred Pruitt Word Press
The Hebrew Word For One
The Hebrew word for "one" is "Echad" and is closely related to the term for "unite."
Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite ("Yechad" יחד) my heart to fear Your name.
— Psalm 86:11
From the above verse, we see that our fragmented hearts have to be united and become single in loyalty and purpose.
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
— Matthew 6:22
The Greek word for "single" in this verse, according to "Strong's Concordance," means: undivided, focused, without a double agenda, needlessly distracted, without folds, uncomplicated.
" the mind has two objects in view, a legal intention to serve God, but an ultimate intention to serve self."
— Charles Finney
I often see the double agenda going on in my heart of trying to please both God and man, or God and myself, are genuinely exhausting.
Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye service, as men pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;
— Colossians 3:22
A Word From H. Clay Trumble
"A divided heart is no heart at all. He who can see any other object of love and devotion comparable with the one to whom he gives himself in covenant-union, is thereby incapacitated from a covenant-union...The human heart is always inclined to divide itself when it ought to be undivided. It is reluctant to be wholly and always true to God alone. ..without wholeness of heart a covenant of union with God is an impossibility.
— H. Clay Trumble from The Ten Commandments as a Covenant of Love
Mary and Martha
In Luke's account of Mary and Martha, Martha complains that there is too much work to do and that her sister won't help. Jesus responds
"you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed" . . . sitting at His feet and hearing Him. (our undivided attention)
— Luke 10:41-42
The Shema (The Lord is One) begins with the command to "Hear." Who we listen to broadly reveals who we worship. It seems at times as if a thousand voices are calling for our attention, but Jesus told Martha that there is only one that is necessary.
This noisy fragmentation and distraction in our souls, along with the demands of all the other voices, manifest its destructiveness in our souls and spirits in even in physical ways.
Some Notable Quotes On This Topic
"Noise usually drowns out the voice of God. Few of us can fully appreciate the terrible conspiracy of noise there is about us, noise that denies us the silence and solitude we need for this cultivation of the inner garden"
— Gordan MacDonald
"Noise is not only toxic to the sensitive hair cells of the ear but it is also damaging to the cardiovascular and nervous systems as well as to our relationship with God and others."
— Richard A. Swenson "More than Meets the Eye"
"Spiritual rest frees you from the burden of pleasing others to doing all to please Him....Spiritual rest looks to God for guidance, hears from God for approval, waits on God for timing, leans on God for sufficiency, depends on God for results.
— Roy Lessin
Anxiety and Division
The Psalmist must have made the connection between division and anxiety when he wrote:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked (idolatrous in Hebrew) way in me
— Psalm 139:23-24
The Hebrew word translated "anxieties" in this verse is rooted in a word meaning ambivalence, divided and disquieting thoughts and opinions, and described as distracting.
The word "wicked" in its original Hebrew means idol. Idolatry certainly creates a division of loyalty where God is concerned.
It's pictograph images this for us further and illustrates anxiety. It reveals concepts to which we all could relate.
The first letter of this Hebrew word is a "sheen" and is imaged by teeth, communicating the idea of consuming. I think it would be fair to say that anxiety is all-consuming.
my soul is full of troubles,
— Psalm 88:3
The second letter is a "resh," a picture of a head and can indicate the mind itself. It is also an obvious observation that this is where our struggle takes place.
. . . a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
— James 1:8
The third letter is an "ayin" and is an eye. It illustrates the concept of focus.
Where there is no vision, the people perish (become unbridled and aimless in thought and action) : but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
— Proverbs 29:18
. . . let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus . . .
— Hebrews 12:1-2
This idea of focus was also noted earlier when discussing the "single eye."
The final letter is a "pey" imaged by an open mouth that gives expression to the all-consuming distracting thoughts that have captivated our attention.
. . . my anxious thoughts make me answer . . .
— Job 20:2
Verse 24 of Psalm 139 gives a clue to the possible source of our anxious thoughts when the Psalmist asks the Lord to see if there be any "wicked" way in him. This particular Hebrew word translated wicked is not the common word that translates as such. This word is actually rooted in a term that is associated with idolatry. What David is asking in this Psalm is for the Lord to see if any grievous, idolatrous ways are causing such an anxious distraction.
Elijah confronts the people concerning this division when he says
“How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.”
— I Kings 18:21
The right prescription for this malady is found in the second use of the word for "anxiety" in the Scriptures.
In the multitude of my anxieties within me,
Your comforts delight my soul.
— Psalm 94:19
The true test of our worship sometimes is who or what we run to when life contains tragedy or trial.
Deliver from the sword my soul, From the paw of a dog mine only one ("Yachid" יחיד).
— Psalm 22:20
The above verse is from "Young's Literal Translation," Most modern translations omit the word "yachid," meaning "mine only one." This passage of Scripture shows us that the Psalmist looks to "only one" to deliver him.
What if He was the "only One" we ran to for our help and hope? What if we didn't work so hard in our strength to figure everything out and try to make it work out? What if we really knew He is the only One who can truly save us in any given trial or situation?
Even when we sin, it is against God more so than it is to any person we sin against. David writes this psalm about his adultery with Bathsheba and having her husband killed.
Against You, You only, have I sinned.
— Psalm 51:4
Pictograph of One
The pictograph for "one" gives us some further insight into "one's" meaning.
The first letter is an "aleph," which is a picture of an ox and represents the idea of something strong and leading. It also describes the will. Our will strongly leads us to our loyalties. Are our loyalties one and undivided?
"Aleph" is the first letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet and represented by the number one, which contains the idea of unity, singleness of purpose.
Has not one God created us?
— Malachi 2:10
In the Jewish version of the ten (sayings) commandments. The first one is
"I am YHWH your Elohim (God)"
It is the acknowledgment of, and the faith in, the one and only God that enables us to obey the rest of the commands.
Also, "aleph" being first can mean just that. We must put God first in all things.
Three Titles—One Shepherd
The three letters of this word also correspond with the three shepherds describing Jesus in the New Testament. (Chief, Good, and Great)
And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
— John 10:16
Again we see the combination of "one" shepherd in three descriptions and the importance of hearing His voice.
I also notice that in John 10:16, He says, "they will hear My voice." Aleph being strong and leading also refers to the "will." God being one requires the cooperation and action of our will. We must consciously decide to put Him first.
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days . . .
— Deuteronomy 30:19-20
The "aleph" represents the Chief shepherd, the strong and leading one which the picture of the ox shows us.
. . . and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
— I Peter 5:4
The second letter of "echad," the Hebrew word for one, is "chet" and is represented by a fence. It can communicate the idea of a protected relationship. In fact, "aleph" and "chet" (the first two letters of "echad") together spell brother.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!
— Psalm 133:1
Contained within this Hebrew word is a picture of oneness expressed in the bond of brothers dwelling together as one.
A fence also speaks of boundaries and can be seen as an enclosed courtyard to keep sheep in, which leads to the expression of the shepherd in our second letter, "chet." When we live in that exclusive intimate relationship with Jesus, we are enclosed in a protected relationship by the "Good Shepherd" We see this intimacy and protected connection communicated in John chapter ten.
I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
— John 10:14-15
Chet also expresses the Exclusivity of a relationship. He is ours, and we are His.
Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are . . .
— John 17:11
The final letter of the Hebrew word for "one" is "dalet," and it is a picture of a door. "Dalet" can indicate the idea of "an entrance to "or "path into" or "out of." It also comes with the thought of " the clinging of an ancient door to a tent." A tent door was a curtain that hung down from the top. We could think of it as a hinged modern door. The hinge is joined to the structure itself. In fact, the Hebrew word for cling is "devaq," its first two letters being "dalet" and bet together, meaning the door of a house or tent.
God, the only to us, requires us to cleave and cling to Him. The first mention in the bible using the word cleave is about the union of husband and wife.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
— Genesis 2:24
Adam is commanded to prefer his wife over all others. Apart from a wife, the parent/child relationship is the most closely bonded. This type of bond is an example of what God intends for us to do in our relationship with Him.
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
— Luke 14:26
Just like God asked Adam to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, he is showing us that He wants us to cleave to him in a way that our relationship to Him is closer than any of the others.
I can't help but think of Abraham when God asked him to sacrifice His one and only son. Abraham was cleaving to the goodness of God in His moment of decision. He showed that He preferred God's way over his own in making the promise come to pass.
"Dalet" represents the "Great Shepherd."
. . . the God of the peace, who did bring up out of the dead the great shepherd of the sheep—in the blood of an age-during covenant—our Lord Jesus,
— Hebrews 13
It is through the blood that Jesus shed that we can enter into a covenant relationship with God.
The Biblical description of cling that agrees with and compliments the concept of "one" and "unity" is discovered in Job.
One unto another they adhere, They stick together and are not separated.
— Job 41:7
Cleaving to Him shows our love for Him, and our obedience is the action that expresses clinging. Fearing Him is also included in this idea. Who we fear is who we obey. If we fear man's opinions, we will abide by what we believe is pleasing to man. If we fear God, we will desire to please Him and Him alone.
Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.
— Deuteronomy 10:20
We serve whom we fear.
For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him;
— Deuteronomy 11:22
Cleaving to Him is an act of love.
Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
— Deuteronomy 13:4
Everything we do is evidence of to what or whom we cling.
But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.
— Joshua 22:5
Heart and soul must be united to cleave to Him.
May we pray that God would give us a "united" heart of oneness to cling to and follow after the "One" and only true God.
And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you
— Ezekiel 11:19
They shall be My people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them.
— Jeremiah 32:38-39
© 2011 Tamarajo