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Love the Lord Your God With All Your Heart and With All Your Soul and With All Your Mind

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EXODUS 17:8-19:15 | MATTHEW 22:34-23:12 | PSALM 27:7-14 | PROVERBS 6:27-35

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Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, was a smart man.  He comes to visit Moses, and brings his daughter, Moses’ wife, and their two sons back to him, but while there, he takes a look at things and before he leaves he gives Moses the good advice of appointing judges — from the people, for the people — in order to allow for a more streamlined and manageable approach to attending to the grievances of the people.

With this done, we see the people arrive into Mount Sinai, and Moses serving in excellent capacity as leader and liaison between the people and God.  It is interesting to see the level of involvement that God desires with this people and reminds them over and again of the fact that they are a chosen people.  In turn, the people are expected to conform to certain rules. 

This is all quite fascinating.  We shall see how well this arrangement works out in the days to come.  I daresay the law will prove to be a cumbersome thing in upholding the myriad details of it in every aspect of daily life.

Turning next to our reading in Matthew, we turn again to Jesus’ ministry as he goes about the land.  The Pharisees and the Sadducees are the priests and elders of the Temple and the community, and are not quite impressed with the way this man Jesus appears to be breaking several aspects of the Jewish law — the same law that was first handed down to Moses several thousand years ago.  And so, they question him on the intricacies of the law, hoping that he will slip and fall in his responses, and they may thereby charge him with blasphemy and sacrilege.

One such question is about what might be the greatest commandment in the Law.  They ask:  36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  

And Jesus replies, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” 

Could that have been any clearer?

Jesus goes on to teach his own disciples about the ills of the law and points out the hypocrisy practiced by those who claim to uphold it.  He specifically charges them against taking on high-sounding titles and such.  As always, his motto is that the least among them will be the highest. 

Jesus says, 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Next, we turn to the Psalms, and find that David’s psalm for the day is one in which David displays his vulnerability and cries out to the Lord for help.  And yet, in his despair — he must have written this while fleeing from King Saul — he does not lose hope, and says instead:

13 I am still confident of this:
   I will see the goodness of the LORD
   in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD;
   be strong and take heart
   and wait for the LORD.

May it be that we are encouraged by this prayer, and like David, and Moses before him, we would also be strong and would take heart to wait for the Lord.

Finally, a few verses from the Book of Proverbs in which Solomon, wise king of Israel, is posing questions—all of them rhetorical— and all of which have the resounding answer, “no!”  May it be that we remember this in our hour of temptation.

27 Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?
28 Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.  Amen.

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