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The Shema of Vigilance...

    B"H  Tishri 5774

Shema of Vigilance

Remembering the need of this hour...

by John J. Parsons

The Shema

"Hear, O Israel, the LORD is our God; the LORD is One."
– Deut. 6:4

WE ARE LIVING IN PERILOUS TIMES, and therefore for all the more reason we must "pay more careful attention to what we have heard so that we do not drift away" (Heb. 2:1). We must be anchored to the truth lest we become shipwrecked in our faith. Drifting occurs slowly and almost imperceptibly, though the end result is as deadly as openly turning away from God in outright apostasy.  As C.S. Lewis once wrote, "The safest road to hell is the gradual one - the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts." The devil seeks to lull you to sleep...

Spiritual danger is just as real as physical danger, though most people pretend it isn't because it isn't as easily seen. The danger today is to give up hope, to "go with the flow," to become numb, to drift off asleep, and to die inside...  It is far more dangerous to tranquilly ignore God's mercy, or to make a pretense of knowing God's grace, than it is to blatantly break his law. Therefore the urgent need is to remember, to hear, and to awaken the soul to face the truth about reality. We must focus the heart, concentrate the will, and consciously "set" the Lord always before us (Psalm 16:8). Each day we must awaken from our emptiness to reaffirm the central truth: "Hear, O Israel, the LORD is our God; the LORD is one; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might" (Deut. 6:4-5). As the Apostle Paul said, "Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light" (Eph. 5:14).

The great commandment is always "shema," listen -- listen to the voice of God's love for you; listen to the message of God's good will for you; listen to the call of the Spirit. But to truly listen you must quiet yourself, you must "make space" within your heart, and you must consciously attend to God's Presence by "setting" the LORD before you...

Therefore we must be viligant to secure our high calling in Messiah: "Let us know; let us press on (i.e., נִרְדְּפָה, "pursue after") to know the LORD; His going out is sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth" (Hosea 6:3). The day is drawing near, and now - more than ever - we must remain steadfast. May God help you pursue him be'khol levavkha – "with all your heart" – because He has promised, "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13). And may the love of the LORD be upon you, even as you put your hope in him (Psalm 33:22).

Hebrew-English Transliteration:

Hebrew-English transliteration

shema  Yisrael  Adonai  Elohenu  Adonai  echad

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