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Today I would like to share with you on the topic of honoring God’s name, specifically how we use God’s name in our speech. And this, of course, leads us to the third of the ten commandments.

Exodus 20:7 – “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” (Also Deuteronomy 5:11)

This is the English Standard Version and is a fairly traditional rendering. The New Living Translation says, “You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.”

Now, we all know this verse, but let’s look at each part carefully so that we know what it teaches. First, we have the phrase –

Take . . . in vain

What does this mean?

  • “take” – means to lift up, utter, pronounce
  • “in vain” – means in a deceitful, empty, worthless or insincere way

As we saw, some newer translations put these words together and simply say “do not misuse the name.” The idea is don’t use the Name in a deceitful, empty, worthless or insincere way.

Now let’s look at –

God’s Name

God’s personal name is spelled YHWH. This is found over 6,000 times in Old Testament. In our translations this word shows up when you see “LORD” or “GOD” in all capital letters.

In the ancient world Hebrew writing didn’t have vowels, they were only added in when the words were spoken. And since the Name was eventually deemed too holy to speak (in part with regard to the 3rd commandment) its pronunciation was actually forgotten among Jews. So we just have the consonants – YHWH.

A little history here. When Jews read the Bible, they would say “Lord” or sometimes “God” in place of the divine Name in order to avoid saying it. Later, when vowel marks were added to the Hebrew Bible (ninth century), the vowels of the Hebrew word “Lord” or Adonai were put with the divine Name, as a cue to say “Lord.” This is where the word “Jehovah” comes from. When you put the consonants YHWH plus the vowel sounds of “Lord” together, you get “Jehovah.” But it wasn’t until, perhaps as late as the 1500’s in Europe, that people starting reading this as a real word, even though it was not. Now, of course, we have made it a real name or reference for God.

YaHWeH” seems to be the best pronunciation or the best way to add in the vowels. This is based on some early Christian texts that have vowels with the divine Name, the pronunciation of Samaritan priests who have pronounced the Name throughout the centuries, and archaeological finds with inscriptions that spell out the divine Name.

Well, it’s this personal name of God that is focused on in the 3rd commandment. It says, literally, “You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain, for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”

In New Testament times, Yahweh wasn’t used. But the concerns of this command are applied to other references to God:

  • In Romans 2:24 when Paul refers to God’s name being blasphemed, he applies the concern of the third commandment, not to misuse the Name,  to the word “God.” (Theos in Greek)
  • In Matthew 6:9, when Jesus calls God, “Father” and then prays, “Hallowed be your Name,” he applies the concern of the third commandment, to honor God’s name,  to the word “Father.”

So, the scope of the command covers all our references to God“God,” “Lord,” “Father” and certainly also to “Jesus,” “Christ” and “Spirit.” However we name God, that’s what’s covered by this command.

Now let’s look at –

Wrong uses of God’s Name

First, it should be noted that we can dishonor God’s name without ever saying anything. That’s because we bear God’s name as God’s people and we bear the name of Christ, as Christians. So when we don’t live up to this in our actions, when we sin, we dishonor and thus misuse God’s name (Romans 2:23-24). But we’ll keep to our focus and look at wrongful uses of God’s name with regard to our speech.

1. Swearing falsely. The basic idea here is that if you invoke God’s name in an oath and then, for instance, don’t tell the truth, you have misused God’s name. You use the name to give the appearance of telling the truth, but it is really being used as a cover for a lie.

Leviticus 19:12 makes the connection between swearing oaths and the third commandment. It says, “You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.” Swearing falsely profanes the Name.

2. Use of God’s name in profanity. You know how it works, adding the word “damn” to God’s name in anger or saying “Jesus” and/or “Christ” in anger. This is using God’s name to vent our anger or to try to be vulgar or to curse others or to get attention. We treat God’s name as a plaything that is at our disposal. We use God’s name for effect. This is not what God’s name is for.

3. Use of God’s Name to justify our ideas or actions. In Scripture this shows up when people speak in the name of God, for instance prophets, but are really only saying their own thoughts (Jeremiah 14:14; Ezekiel 22:28)

Today we have similar ways of doing this. For instance, politicians, who wrap themselves in “God language” in order to gain legitimacy for their ideas and agendas. And, has there ever been a war that wasn’t warranted by reference to God? And that, paradoxically, on both sides? These are examples of using God’s name to justify our actions, much or all of which have nothing to do with God.

We too need to be careful when we use God’s name to justify our actions. For instance, “I feel like God wants me to quit this job” – when really we just want to quit and don’t want to give the real reason. Or when we say, “God wanted me to tell you such and such . . ..” Well, if he didn’t, you have misused God’s name. You are using it to give more weight to what you have to say, when God doesn’t have anything to do with it.

4. Careless use of the Name. This is where we treat the Name as common, or use it in a casual way. This is, perhaps, where we have the most work to do. For instance everyday exclamations – “God knows!” or “O My God!” (texting OMG) or “For God’s sake.” These phrases may have all begun as real references to God, but that’s not how we use them. In these and in similar examples, what we are doing is trivializing God’s name into a kind of verbal punctuation mark for our conversations. This isn’t what God’s name is for!

Another example would be using God and God’s Name in humor. There may be differences of opinion on this, but it’s my counsel to you that it’s just best to stay away from this. We live in a very casual, informal culture and I am fine with that, but we still need to show deference to God. We need to treat God differently. I would encourage you to leave God out of your humor.

Well, we need to be careful with how we use God’s Name, especially as we look at –

Why this is so serious

A name in the Bible is connected to who you are. It has to do with your reputation and character. 1. So how you use a person’s name reflects how you view the personWhen we misuse God’ name we show that we have a low view of God. We don’t understand God’s awesomeness. We don’t have a proper reverence for God in our hearts, and so our mouth speaks out what is in our hearts – words that misuse God’s name.

2. This is serious because we will be judged for doing it. Exodus 20:7 ends with the warning, “The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.” (NLT). This is a promise from God that you don’t want to receive. God looks after his name. Rather, we need to ask for and receive forgiveness from God for our misuses of his name, and learn to be more  careful.

Let’s end with looking at –

How to use God’s Name rightly

  • Psalm 119:132 – We are to love God’s Name.
  • Psalm 102:15 – We are to fear his Name.
  • Psalm 113:3 – We are to praise God’s Name.
  • Psalm 103:1 – We are to bless God’s Name.
  • Matthew 6:9 – We are to hallow God’s name. That is, we are to treat it as special, not common. Just as God is holy, so is his name.

We should only use God’s Name reverently, sincerely, and thoughtfully.

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Another Look at Swearing Oaths

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Click here for more on oaths

We are continuing on in our series on righteous speech, learning what the Word says, so that we can guard our mouths.

Swearing oaths is not a topic that is talked about much anymore, but I think there’s some good stuff in this and I want us to dig into it this morning.

We will focus on – Matthew 5:33-37 –

“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not break your oath, but carry out the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be ‘Yes,’ ‘Yes,’ or ‘No,’ “No,’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.”

What are oaths?

Swearing doesn’t play a big role in our society today, like it did in Jesus’ day and even up to about a hundred years ago. As a result, we don’t actually know much about swearing today.

We use the word “swearing” very broadly to cover things that it doesn’t cover biblically. For instance expletives – foul or vulgar language, profanity or cuss words. However you want to say it. These all basically boil down to various alternative words for “idiot,” “poop” and “sex.” This is not swearing biblically considered.

Swearing is when you call upon God (or some other power) to guarantee your word – that what you say is true or that what you promise you will do. The guarantee equals a curse in that if what you say isn’t true or you don’t fulfill your promise, God himself will deal with you. (The kid’s version goes, “cross my heart and hope to die.”)

The introduction of a higher power lends credibility to the statement by putting pressure on the swearer to come through, for their own sake.

There are three parts to an oath: 1) I Swear . . .  this phrase indicates that you are placing yourself under an oath. 2) By . . . this is a reference to some power greater than you.  3) To . . . this refers to the oath statement itself. This is what you are asserting as true or promising to do.

An example is: “I swear/ by (to) God/ to help you tomorrow.” To swear an oath, you don’t have to go through the entire formula, you can say simply, ‘I swear I will help you’ or ‘by God I will help you,’ for instance.

Two basic kinds of oaths

1) A testimonial oath: You invoke God to testify that something is true or false. In Matthew 26:72/74 – Peter swears, “I do not know the man (Jesus)!” – with curses stated as well.

2) A promissory oath: You invoke God to guarantee that you will, or will not do a thing. In Matthew 14:7 Herod swore a promise to Herodias “to grant her whatever she might ask,” which got John the Baptist killed.

The Mosaic law on oaths

Swearing oaths is fine in the Old Testament. As long as you only use Yahweh’s name – Deuteronomy 6:13; 10:20. To use another god is to put yourself under that god’s power. You must also keep your oath – Leviticus 19:12. It is a breaking of the third commandment – using God’s name in vain (Exodus 20:7) if you don’t. Swearing is intended to promote righteous speech.

Now we come to our text and look at . . .

Jesus on promissory oaths

We’ll see as we go through this that Jesus is only talking about promissory oaths. Our first clue is that testimonial oaths are used in the New Testament. Just to give one of many instances – in Galatians 1:20 Paul says, “before God, I do not lie,” which is a testimonial oath.  With this in mind lets look at Matthew 5 and break this passage down into three points:

1. Jesus is teaching us not to swear promissory oaths – “Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not break your oath, but carry out the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear . . .” – Matthew 5:33-34.

With these words Jesus forbids promissory oaths. (Now some translations say “vow”  here, but that’s not the word and swearing is what Jesus is talking about).

That Jesus is talking only about promissory oaths can be seen in the phrase “carry out” in v. 33. Other translations say,  “repay,” “fulfill,” “perform,” or “keep.”  Since there is nothing to repay or carry out in the instance of a testimonial oath – you have either told the truth or not – this shows that Jesus is forbidding promissory oaths, where you make a promise and have to come through on it.

2. Jesus is teaching us not to swear any kind of promissory oath – “Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black” – Matthew 5:34-36.

Jesus is here rejecting substitute oaths. By the first century people were reluctant to swear by the name of Yahweh, for it was no longer thought fit even to pronounce the Name out of reverence.

This led to much discussion about what substitutes could be used for the Name, and thus which oaths were really binding, and which might not be truly binding . . . and you could use to deceive people.

Jesus gives the examples of heaven, the earth and Jerusalem. His argument here is that all of these substitutes point back to God (Isaiah 66:1; Psalm 48:2), and so they all invoke God, and thus are all binding. [He also makes this point in Matthew 23:16-22].

So when Jesus says, do not swear “at all” he means that all promissory oaths are forbidden – explicit God oaths and substitute oaths without God’s name since these imply God, too.

3. Why we shouldn’t swear promissory oaths – “for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be ‘Yes,’ ‘Yes,’ or ‘No,’ “No,’; anything more than this comes from the evil one” – Matthew 5:36-37.

Jesus forbids swearing promissory oaths because of our inability to do things – “to make one hair white or black.” The focus is on human weakness. We can’t always carry through on our promises.

Although it is not stated, looming behind this is, no doubt, Exodus 20:7 – don’t take God’s name in vain. Since we cannot always come through on our sworn promises, we should not entangle God’s holy name with our fallibility. This brings the Name to dishonor and brings judgment upon us.

The phrase – “anything more than this comes from the evil one” probably refers to the arrogance of those who do not see their limitations regarding the future and then involve God’s name in this. We are to be humble about what we can perform in the future.

James 4:16 makes this same point. After talking about boasting over tomorrow, it says – “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.”

Jesus then says, “Let your word be ‘yes,’ ‘yes,’ or ‘no,’ ‘no.’” This means, let our yes be truly a yes and our no truly a no. That is, simply keep your promises; the commitments you make – without using oaths.

Practical application

Jesus does allow testimonial oaths, when we are sure what the truth is, as we see Paul doing from time to time.

His teaching on promissory oaths, however, excludes the traditional political oath of office; the military oath; and the court oath. These are all promissory oaths. You promise ahead of time that you will do a given thing.

But in all of these cases today, as far as I can tell, you can affirm instead of swear – so that you make the commitment simply by giving your word, and not involving God in it. If you find yourself in a court setting, I encourage you to use the affirm option.

In general Jesus’ teaching on promissory oaths calls us to:

Integrity – we should come through on our promises and commitments (without the use of an oath) – Matthew 5:37. Let your reputation for keeping your word be all the credibility you need.

Humility – We are limited in our ability to carry out our intentions. We do not know the future and cannot guarantee it. To try to do so is boastful, arrogant and evil – Matthew 5:33-36; James 4:13-16.

The reverence of God’s name – we especially should not involve God’s holy name by means of an oath with our human weakness and fallibility – Matthew 5:33-37, James 5:12.

William Higgins

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We are beginning today to look at the first section of the Prayer of Jesus and we begin with the first request – “hallowed be your name.” This is probably the least understood request of the whole prayer and so I want us to spend some time looking at this and what it means.

The meaning of the request

1.  First of all, this is not an offering of praise to God – ‘Father, we hallow your name,’ so that we begin our prayer with a praise, (which is good to do, but that’s not what this is). It is, rather, a petition to God. We are asking God to do something.

(more…)

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This is a presentation I gave several years ago on the Lord’s prayer – reflections-on-the-lords-prayer.pdf   William

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Notes on the Shema

1. Where does the verb go?

Deuteronomy 6:4 literally says, “Yahweh our God, Yahweh one” or without the divine name, “The LORD our God, the LORD one.” There are a number of ways to translate this. You have to supply the verb “is.” But this is done differently.

  • Some put the verb between the two phrases, like the KJV – “The LORD our God is one LORD”
  • Some put it in the first phrase, like the NRSV – “The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.”
  • Some put it in both phrases, like the NASB – “The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!”
  • Some put it in the last phrase, like the ESV – “The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”

I would argue for the last option. Here are the reasons:

1. With regard to the first phrase – in the other 22 instances in Deuteronomy where “our God” is used with “Yahweh,” “God” is never the predicate to “Yahweh. (This is also true when the much more numerous -“your God” is placed with “Yahweh”). This would be the only instance in Deuteronomy of this.

2. In the Greek version of the Old Testament (LXX), the verb is with the second phrase. This is also true in the Nash Papyrus, Targum Neofiti and the Peshitta.

3. In the New Testament the verb is always with the second phrase. This is so in the discussion on Deuteronomy 6:4 between Jesus and the scribe in Mark 12:29, 32. And it is also so in various allusions to the Shema where the phrase “God is one” is used (for “the LORD is one”) – James 2:19, Galatians 3:20, Romans 3:20.

4. Zechariah 14:9 places the verb (a future tense) with the second phrase – “Yahweh will be one . . ..”

2. What does “Yahweh is one” mean?

“One” should be taken in the sense of ‘one and only.’ The sense of the phrase, “Yahweh is one” is – ‘Yahweh is [our] one [God]’ or ‘Yahweh is [our] only [God].’

Several things point to this meaning:

1. The focus of Deuteronomy is not on the nature of God (how God is internally structured) or even on monotheism (there are no other gods), but rather on Yahweh’s exclusive claim on Israel as their only true God.

Deuteronomy 6:4 is really another way of saying the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me.” You are to have only Yahweh as your God; Yahweh is to be the one,  and the only one.

2. This is the sense of Zechariah 14:9 – “On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.” This is a reference back to Deuteronomy 6:4. As the first part of the verse says, “the Lord will be king over all the earth.” It speaks to a time when only Yahweh will be acknowledged as God.

3. In the New Testament, the phrases – “there is one God” and “there is no God but one” are explications of the phrase – “The LORD is one” or as it shows up in the New Testament, “God is one.”

  • I Corinthians 8:4-6 – “Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that ‘an idol has no real existence,’ and that ‘there is no God but one.’ For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’ – yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist . . ..” The phrases “there is no God, but one” and “there is one God” allude to the Shema and mean there is only one true God.
  • Ephesians 4:4-6 – “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” The phrase “(There is . . .) one God and Father of all” is an allusion to the Shema and means that there is only one true God.
  • I Timothy 2:5 – “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus . . ..” The phrase “there is one God” is an allusion to the Shema and means that there is only one true God.

4. In Jesus’ discussion with the scribe on the Shema, “God is one” means there is only one true God. After Jesus quotes the Shema, the scribe summarizes it as follows – “You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him” – Mark 12:32. “God is one” means “there is no other besides him.” And Jesus approves of this. So the sense is that the Lord is our only God.

[Note also the references to the “only God” in the New Testament, which are almost certainly allusions to the Shema – John 5:44; 1 Timothy 1:17; Jude 1:25.]

To put it all together Deuteronomy 6:4 can be rendered, “Yahweh our God, Yahweh is our only God.”

3. The Shema in Judaism

I am referring to the Shema and only referencing Deuteronomy 6:4-5. This is based on what is quoted by Jesus in Mark 12. (Although this doesn’t mean that he was giving the whole Shema in this discussion).

Apparently the Shema was originally Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Later, after the time of Jesus, Deuteronomy 11:13-21 and Numbers 15:37-41 became a part of the Shema. Also, the phrase “Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever” was added after saying Deuteronomy 6:4.

William Higgins

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Let’s begin by all saying these verses together – “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” – Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Today we are looking at a very important text, which in Jewish tradition is called the “Shema,” from the first word – “hear,” which in Hebrew is “shema.”

1. The importance of the Shema

When a passage has its own name, you know it must be significant – you know, the golden rule, the ten commandments. And this passage is indeed important

  • It summarizes the central message of the Old Testament – there is one true God.
  • It is a restatement of the first of the ten commandments and the one upon which all the others are built – “you shall have no other gods before me.”
  • Jesus calls it the greatest commandment in Mark 12:28-30. Jesus was asked, “’Which commandment is the most important of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’”

The central importance of this passage was recognized, in that it was said twice a day by devout Jews (with other texts that call the people of God to true loyalty); once in the morning and once in the evening.

Early Jewish Christians, and I do not doubt Jesus himself, would have engaged in this practice as well. It is a continual remembrance of the true God, and a call to faithfulness. It is a practice that I would like for us to use as well, at least from time to time in our worship services.

Next, a question –

2. What does “the Lord is one” mean?

Next week we will ask the question, ‘What does it mean to love God . . .?’ from verse 5. But today we look at the first part in  v. 4 – “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

Alright, let’s break this down and look at it, and I will ask you to bear with me as we work through this.

First of all, literally it says, “Yahweh our God, Yahweh one.” Notice that the personal name, “Yahweh,” is replaced by “Lord” in our translations, out of reverence for the divine name. It shows up in our English translations as the word “LORD” in all capital letters. So when you see this it means “Yahweh.”

Also, note that there is no verb in the original. It has to be supplied. Without getting into the details, the best solution is to insert “is” in the last phrase – “Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one.” [See – Notes on the Shema]

So we have “Yahweh/God is one.” But what does this mean? In later church history this caused much speculation about the nature of God, or how God is put together. Speculations that go beyond what the Scriptures have to say.

In Scripture, there is a much more basic concern. In the context of Deuteronomy 6, Yahweh is presented as Israel’s one & only God. The point is that Yahweh has an exclusive claim on Israel as their only God.

Similarly, when the Shema shows up in the New Testament, the point is that there is only one true God. Here are some examples from the New Testament. Paul gives us a version of the Shema in 1 Corinthians 8:5-6. He says, “For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’— yet for us there is one God.” In this passage Paul understands “Yahweh/God is one” as “there is one (true) God.”

In Mark 12:32, after Jesus speaks of the Shema, the scribe rephrases what Jesus has just said in these words, “You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him.” And Jesus approves of this. The phrase, “God/he is one” is he same as saying, “there is no other beside him,” that is, that there is only one God.

So you can see in these examples that the phrase, “Yahweh/God is one” is the same as saying ‘there is only one true God.’ It can be translated literally as “Yahweh our God – Yahweh is our only God.” Or it can be translated, “The Lord our God, the Lord is our only God.” The point is that only Yahweh is to be our God.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself,

3. What about Jesus?

Just a word here. The apostolic writers were adamant that there is one true God, the Father. But they went on to say that Jesus, the Savior, is God’s Son. They even used the Shema to confess this belief:

  • 1 Corinthians 8:6 says,  “. . . there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist” and then Paul goes on to say, “and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”
  • 1 Timothy 2:5-6 says, “For there is one God” and then it says, “and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all.”

So, there is only one God, but they added that Jesus is God’s Son, come in the flesh and is Lord of all. That’s where the Scriptures leave it. And that’s where we’ll leave it for now.

Alright, getting into some application here –

4. The Shema calls us to beware of false gods

It’s trying to get us to understand – “Hear!” “Listen!” That’s why its repeated so often – morning and evening. Remember that there are other gods that want our allegiance! As Paul said in I Corinthians 8:5, “indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’” out there. So we need to beware.

A “god” uses their powers to give us help and peace in exchange for our allegiance, service and honor. We don’t have many literal idols around, or even things that we literally would say are gods. But there are still many gods and lords today.

Once could be your country, depending on your attitude toward it. Do you look to it for your help and security? Do you listen to it even when it tells you to do what is against the way of Jesus? We need to remember Acts 5:29, where Peter said, “we must obey God rather than men.”

Perhaps it’s drugs & alcohol. Do you look to these to solve your problems, or make them go away? Do you sacrifice of yourself and your family to serve them, to obtain them?

Maybe it’s possessions and wealth. Jesus talks about this as a god in Matthew 6:24. And I think it is the most dangerous and alluring god in America. Do you think having more money and possessions, will give you peace and solve your problems? Do you devote yourself to obtaining it, storing it up and protecting it so it will give you security against the future?

A god can be almost anything – a person, our career, popularity or acceptance with a peer group. What do you look to, to provide for you, give you peace, protect you, make your problems go away, give your life meaning? What do you serve? What are you willing to sacrifice for above the true God? There is your god!

What is yours?

The Shema calls you to set any such god aside and give yourself fully to the true God, to trust in God and to serve God with your whole heart.

Finally, since there is only one true God,

5. Only the true God is able to truly give us the help and peace we need

In speaking of idolatry, Jeremiah 2:13 says, “for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

The gods, although they seem to promise so much, are broken cisterns; cracked containers that can’t hold water. They can’t truly satisfy us. We end up thirsting to death if we rely on them because they don’t deliver.

Only the true God can give us what we so desperately need. God is the “fountains of living water.” How futile it is that we go around seeking after other gods, giving them our service and obedience, when only the true God can meet our deepest  needs.

I would like us to end by standing and saying together a paraphrase of the Shema:

‘Father, you alone are God and we give ourselves fully to you. We choose not to give any part of ourselves to other gods. We commit to love you with all that we have, and all that we are.’

William Higgins

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