Va’etchanan “And I besought”
1 Kings 19-22
Matthew 4:1-11; Romans 3:27-31
The Call to Return
This Torah portion is so rich that it is difficult to not write pages and pages of commentary. Instead I will focus on a great work which is happening in our day, a work based upon just one verse. In Deuteronomy 6:4 we find the Shema, “Hear oh Israel YH VH our God, YH VH is One”. For many people this is the first verse in Scripture they learn to say in Hebrew! The importance of this verse for the Jewish and Messianic communities is likened to John 3:16 in the Christian church. These verses are foundational in faith.
It was the mid 2000’s when the Shema took on fuller meaning for me. It was then I learned the verse in English and Hebrew. Later on, while I was at a speaking engagement in Lucerne Valley, California a dear friend and brother brought this verse to life for me. He, his wife and congregation had the alarms on their cell phones set to ring at 9am and 3pm. When the alarm went off they would stop whatever they were doing to recite the Shema. I liked the idea and set my alarm also. For a year or so I followed the tradition. In time the alarm and recitation lost interest in my daily life, subsequently the alarms were deleted. I found it was never a heart’s desire to do this, but more an interest in joining in with my friends.
I am not sure what prompted me, but a couple of years ago a change of heart occurred. I decided to set my alarm again. In meetings, conferences and daily life I have encouraged others to do the same. It is quite the experience to be in a meeting and hear alarms going off all over the room at 9am or 3pm so we can join together as one to give honor to the One that brought us together in the first place! Even more exciting is being on a tour to Israel with a busload of folks, or even just a few people in a restaurant, rise, turn toward the Temple Mount and begin to recite the Shema. Rather interesting conversations and events have happened around this as you may imagine.
Why the Shema and why now?
The Shema is not a prayer, but rather a call and declaration. As we honor Elohim, it is a call to those who turned away from Him. It is our voices being used to call out to the “Lost sheep of Israel” to make teshuvah (repentance and return) unto the Elohim of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov through the covenant of Messiah. When you and I recite the Shema our voices are going to the far reaches of the earth to call our brothers and sisters to nasa (lift up their heads) and return unto Him. It is a declaration of the revelation that the Elohim we serve is Echad, (One).
The words of the Shema are few, but filled with great meaning. Here is an amplified version by Barry Phillips of Remnant of Yisrael.
“So hear, grasp and comprehend, Yisrael, You covenant people chosen by YHWH, full of colors, nations, and tribes, YHWH, He Who is Mercy and Lovingkindness is our very own Elohim, our personal Creator and Judge Who will repay. This YHWH, the second mentioning, the revealing of the first mentioned, Y’shuah, is a mystical and wondrous unity of One; The first and the last together.” (Click to Site)