Lent – Day 4: Saturday, 20 February
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, 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 ancestors, promised you.
4 Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.
God frequently reminds his people that he is the same God who brought them out of slavery in Egypt. He is the God of Abraham and Isaac, the God who made a covenant with his people, the God who prospered, protected and saved them, and who will continue to do so as long as his people keep their side of his everlasting covenant.
Verse 4 is central to the Jewish faith. It stands for all time for those who come under the covenant. The response required is love – not fear or trembling. I’m surprised that even in some Christian groups the dour sternness of God seems to be emphasised over nurturing a response of love to our Provider.
The history of God’s people reveals that they frequently failed to keep this commandment of God. God warned them through his Prophets until they were hoarse before he acted.
How can a God of love punish his people?
Why didn’t God create people who were more obedient?
Father God, teach me to love you from the way you love me. Engage my heart, my head, my strength, my innermost being in responding to you. Amen.