What Scripture did believers cherish before John 3:16 was ever written? As important as teaching children John 3:16 presently, it is likely Jewish children were taught with the same intensity Deuteronomy 6:5-8. Also, as much as John 3:16 has become tritely affixed upon banners at events and cheeks of athletes, the Hebrew’s tendency to trivialize the “Shema” was extremely possible. Locked in this nugget of Scripture is the seed bank of eternal blessing for all who love God. You could study this passage for a month and still thrill at each new discovery. However, in an effort to remain concise, here are a few observations from this vital passage.
First, you will find a unique exclusiveness. “The LORD our God is one LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:4). This was startling to the pagan cultures who worshiped many gods. The value in the Lord’s exclusivity is realized in that you can worship with absolute allegiance. Your devotion is not fractured across a pantheon of gods. The Lord is your “one-stop” focus. Whatever your station or situation, the Lord is your God. This demands absolute commitment and echoes the description of God’s character as a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24).
Second, you will notice the law was to be engraved upon the hearts of these people, and they were responsible for impressing them upon the hearts of their children. If they truly heard the word of the Lord and loved Him, they would obey with complete devotion from their heart. The statutes of God would become their delight (Psalm 119:97). Before long, their love for God’s word would define their character. As the saying goes, wild horses could not tear the wisdom of God from their life.
Third, the expression of God’s law was in the form of teaching. The method was not really focused on memorization, but rather immersion. Through the examples of everyday life, parents and teachers were given the grave responsibility to nurture their children in the admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). This is impossibly difficult if your allegiance to God is divided among other gods of this world and if your personal application of God’s law is weak. God’s statutes were not merely to be a system of laws, but a style of life.
Moses tells the people to not repeat the Massah experience where the people challenged, “Is the Lord among us?” Moses knows that the people will soon cross the Jordan River. Once they enter the Promised Land, the cloud will disappear, the manna will cease, and Moses will be dead. All of the tangible indications of God’s presence, protection, and provision will dematerialize. The transmission of truth was not something to which they could point, but something they could pattern in their life and pass to the next generation. The reality of God’s presence rests in their faithfulness to the revealed Word of God.
How you listen, love, and live today impacts the next generation. You are a thief of the next generation’s blessings when you choose to live selfishly today. If you really want to leave a legacy worth more than the world for your children, then love God with all your heart. Do it for the children.