Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!
There is no contradiction between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Just like the New Testament, the Old Testament teaches there are not many ways to the true God–there is only one way. And we see that truth throughout the Old Testament. What themes of the Old Testament remind us that the old way was one way?
The most basic theme of the Old Testament is the oneness of God. If you ask the average Christian today, “What is the most important verse of the Bible? If you could claim only one verse in the Bible, what would it be?” most Christians would say John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” But if you were to ask an Israelite living in Old Testament times, “What is the most important verse of the Bible?” they would say Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” If they had football games back then, that verse would have been on the banners around the stadium.
Why was that such a foundational verse? As the children of Israel were preparing to enter the Promised Land, Moses, who was an old man by now, stood on the mountain and delivered the second giving of the law–we call it Deuteronomy. And that’s where he gave that reminder: “The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” Moses warned the Israelites that when they came into the new land, they would be faced with numerous temptations from the pagan Canaanites. Not only would they be faced with numerous temptations, but they would be faced with all kinds of deities. Moses was saying, “You will be tempted to go after this god and that god, but remember this: God is one. There is one God. There aren’t many ways to God; there is one God and one way to that God.” And who was that one God Moses reminded the Israelites about? It was the God who had appeared to Moses eighty years earlier on Mount Horeb. It was the God who had appeared to Moses in a burning bush. It was the God who said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14). Notice that God did not say, “I am whoever you think I am.” Big difference.
Often I will be out with my family, perhaps going to a movie or at a restaurant, and I’ll be talking to them, or I will be talking on the cell phone, and a stranger standing by will start to listen. That person will come over and say, “I recognize your voice. I recognize you. You’re the guy on Pathway to Victory.” I will say, “Yes, thank you very much.” But usually the conversation doesn’t stop there. The person usually goes on to say, “You are not at all what I imagined you to be.” They’ll go on and say, “You are grayer and older than I imagined.” The operative word there is “imagined.” You see, I am not the sum of other people’s speculations about me–and neither are you, and neither is God. God said, “I AM WHO I AM.” The primary theme of the Old Testament is the oneness of God.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Old Way Was One Way” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.