And these words that I am commanding you today shall be on your heart. Deuteronomy 6:6
Shall Be – It looks like a command, doesn’t it? When we read this verse, we think of the enormous task of putting these words, all of them, into our memory banks. Seems impossible, doesn’t it? In a culture that has universally substituted the written word for the spoken and memorized word, we rely on texts, not voice. We see; we do not hear. It is so much easier to Google the idea than it is to commit words to memory. In the process, our ability to recall what we need to know in a moment is seriously diminished. We are like travelers who rely on GPS systems but we’ve lost the signal. Now what?
All is not lost (but it is certainly more difficult). The first word in this verse is the verb hayah – to be, to become, to be manifest. This is the same construction that we find in “The Word of the Lord came to Hosea.” God’s message was manifest in Hosea. It became in Him. Perhaps Moses is saying that these commandments given this day will become manifest in your heart; they will become part of your very being in the world. Perhaps this is not a homework assignment followed by a memorization test. Perhaps it is a statement that doing them will result in knowing them. Repetition produces memory. In this case, repetition produces a change in heart, an incorporation of God’s instructions into the very fabric of how we live. The words given this day will initiate the process of becoming God-instructed people. Just keep doing them.
Jeremiah hints that at some time in the future continual repetition as a means of remembering will no longer be necessary. In the renewed covenant, we will follow God’s instructions because He will write them on our hearts instead of on tablets of stone. It’s nice to have tablets of stone, but in order to convert words inscribed on stone into actual behavior, I have to practice over and over. If those words are part of my very being, my character, my heart, then practice ends.
Yeshua also hints at a connection to the Helper. He will come to bring to remembrance all the words. With His help, these words will be manifest in us. How will we know? Because we will find ourselves doing what God commands.
Does this mean we can sit back and relax? Does this mean that we wait for God to bring it to mind? Hardly. “Work out your rescue with fear and trembling,” says Sha’ul. Moses would remind us to speak about these words in every transitioning action during the day. If God’s Word is to be your guide, you will have to work it in. The process of theological education is doing, then knowing. A Boy Scout doesn’t need a map. He can read the signs of the heavens. But believe me, it takes practice.
Time to discard your spiritual GPS. Learn the signs by practicing the instructions until you know them like the back of your hand.
Topical Index: shall be, hayah, knowing, doing, practice, Deuteronomy 6:6