One of the most sobering chapters in all of Scripture can be found in Deuteronomy 6. In this well-known portion of the Old Testament, we are informed that the Law of God is more than just a series of directives handed down by a Divine Deity. In fact, we learn that obeying the Law is not only a life-long pursuit, but a pursuit that can actually lead to a longer life (6:2). We are also told that obeying the Law is “for our good always and for our survival” (6:24). Further, we are tasked with the mission of not only obeying this Law ourselves, but of passing it on and teaching it to our children (6:6-7). Any one of these three components, when considered on its own, should be enough to convince us that God takes His Law seriously. Together, however, these three components form an unbreakable chain of history, responsibility, and legacy that prove that God’s expectations of His people have always been the same.

Many evangelicals are quick to dismiss anything from the Old Testament, especially if it smacks of “law-keeping,” but it should be noticed early on that verse 5 in Deuteronomy 6 has a familiar ring to it. Most Christians are surprised to find out that this verse is actually an Old Testament verse because they associate it solely with Jesus: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” This is what Jesus refers to as the “great and foremost commandment” in Matthew 22:38. John Calvin states that in order for this all-encompassing love for God to be brought about, “our soul must first be emptied of all other feelings and thought, our heart cleansed of all desires, and our powers gathered and concentrated upon this one point.” [1] In other words, it will require a constant mental, emotional, and physical battle to obey this “great and foremost commandment.” However, Jesus was not telling His first-century hearers anything new when He gave this commandment, He was merely reiterating what they already knew.

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