Hear, O Israel - אחד יהוה אלהינו יהוה ישראל שמע shema Yisrael, Yehovah Eloheinu, Yehovah achad . These words may be variously rendered into English; but almost all possible verbal varieties in the translation (and there can be none other) amount to the same sense: "Israel, hear! Jehovah, our God, is one Jehovah;" or, "Jehovah is our God, Jehovah is one;" or, "Jehovah is our God, Jehovah alone;" or, "Jehovah is our God, Jehovah who is one;" or, "Jehovah, who is our God, is the one Being." On this verse the Jews lay great stress; it is one of the four passages which they write on their phylacteries, and they write the last letter in the first and last words very large, for the purpose of exciting attention to the weighty truth it contains. It is perhaps in reference to this custom of the Jews that our blessed Lord alludes, Matthew 22:38; Mark 12:29, Mark 12:30, where he says, This is the first and great commandment; and this is nearly the comment that Maimonides gives on this place: "Hear, O Israel; because in these words the property, the love, and the doctrine of God are contained."
Many think that Moses teaches in these words the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity. It may be so; but if so, it is not more clearly done than in the first verse of Genesis, to which the reader is referred. When this passage occurs in the Sabbath readings in the synagogue, the whole congregation repeat the last word אחד achad for several minutes together with the loudest vociferations: this I suppose they do to vent a little of their spleen against the Christians, for they suppose the latter hold three Gods, because of their doctrine of the Trinity; but all their skill and cunning can never prove that there is not a plurality expressed in the word אלהינו Eloheinu, which is translated our God; and were the Christians, when reading this verse, to vociferate Eloheinu for several minutes as the Jews do achad, it would apply more forcibly in the way of conviction to the Jews of the plurality of persons in the Godhead, than the word achad, of one, against any pretended false tenet of Christianity, as every Christian receives the doctrine of the unity of God in the most conscientious manner. It is because of their rejection of this doctrine that the wrath of God continues to rest on them; for the doctrine of the atonement cannot be received, unless the doctrine of the Godhead of Christ is received too. Some Christians have joined the Jews against this doctrine, and some have even outdone them, and have put themselves to extraordinary pains to prove that אלהים Elohim is a noun of the singular number! This has not yet been proved. It would be as easy to prove that there is no plural in language.
These words form the beginning of what is termed the “Shema” (“Hear”) in the Jewish Services, and belong to the daily morning and evening office. They may be called “the creed of the Jews.”
This weighty text contains far more than a mere declaration of the unity of God as against polytheism; or of the sole authority of the revelation that He had made to Israel as against other pretended manifestations of His will and attributes. It asserts that the Lord God of Israel is absolutely God, and none other. He, and He alone, is Jehovah (Yahweh) the absolute, uncaused God; the One who had, by His election of them, made Himself known to Israel.
“Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon Him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons; specially the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather Me the people together, and I will make them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.... And He declared unto you His covenant, which He commanded you to perform, even Ten Commandments; and He wrote them upon two tables of stone.” TM 140.1
“Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” TM 140.2Read in context »
The Bible gives explicit directions concerning the important work of educating children: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart.” The parents are themselves to be connected with God; they are to have His fear before them and to have a knowledge of His will. Then comes their work: “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” 5T 328.1
The Lord commanded Israel not to make marriages with the idolatrous nations around them. “Thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following Me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.” “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn unto your fathers.” 5T 328.2
Here are positive directions that reach down to our time. God is speaking to us in these last days, and He will be understood and obeyed. God spoke to Israel through His servants: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” “The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” 5T 328.3Read in context »
Then the Restorer practiced His medical missionary work. “The blind and the lame came to Him in the temple; and He healed them.” MM 123.1
The marketplaces, the merchandise stores, need cleansing. Courts of justice, lawyers’ offices, the medical fraternity, need purifying. Shall we say that the medical missionary work needs cleansing? Christ, who came to our world to reveal the Father's heart of tender compassion, has shown us the methods which Sabbath keepers are to follow in their work. These are plainly specified in the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. God will not be a party to any dishonest transaction. The soul who keeps the Sabbath is stamped with the sign of God's government, and he must not dishonor this sign. By closely examining the word of God, we may know whether we have the King's mark, whether we have been chosen and set apart to honor God. Please read Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Ezekiel 20:12-20.... MM 123.2
God will never, never allow any man to pass through the pearly gates of the City of God who does not bear the signet of the faithful, His government mark. Every soul who is saved will cherish pure principles, which proceed from the very essence of truth. He must fasten himself by golden links to the everlasting power and love of the God of truth. He must be loyal to the principles of God's word, loyal to the everlasting covenant which is a sign between man and his Maker. MM 123.3
Righteousness, high and elevated, is to control the conduct. Strength of mind, learning, power of influence, will not give man his eternal life insurance papers. God weighs the action. Each must form an individual character after the likeness of Christ. He must have a conscience taught of God. He must see behind every promise the All-powerful One, with whom he must work as an agent to do His will. If man will not take this position, he will make shipwreck of faith. God will never insure a man for everlasting life whose anchor is not securely fastened to heaven's unalterable law. He must reveal the Christ working in him, in his doctrinal precepts, in his practical obedience. MM 123.4Read in context »