Do you remember your child’s first day of school? Was it more traumatic for you than for him or her? When my daughter started school, I was an emotional wreck. I blamed my display of emotions to young motherhood.
Recently, my granddaughter started preschool. This time, both my daughter and I were a wreck. Perhaps a few reminders would help, “Remember to wash your hands! Don’t lose your lunch box, and please don’t drink out of your friend’s water bottle.” Are these familiar “last” words?
Time doesn’t stand still, and our little girls become teenagers starting High School. Last words continue, “Remember what we said about boys! Remember to resist peer pressure! Remember never to walk home alone!”
When your daughter becomes a young woman, you think you’re past those vulnerable years until she announces, “I’m engaged!” Before you think of a whole new set of last words, God reminds you that those “remember years” included the most important reminder of all, love God.
Moses Last Words
There’s an entire book in the Old Testament that contains last words.
The book of Deuteronomy is Moses farewell address. Israel was about to inherit God’s covenant promise of land—Canaan. Abraham’s decedents, the second generation of former Egyptian slaves, were God’s chosen people–His holy nation (Exodus 19:5-6).
Forty years of waiting had finally come to end, and their new home was just across the Jordan River. Moses reminded Israel of God’s faithfulness and their special covenant relationship.
Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.
Deuteronomy 6:4-8 New Living Translation
Today, in a culture that uses the word “love” casually, I find an extraordinary passion in Deuteronomy 6:4-8. God reveals His expectation—wholehearted love.
God wants our love to be a natural response. It’s not a response that produces mindless acts of obedience; it’s a response that overflows with faith, obedience, and gratitude.
Listen with Our Hearts
The first word in this passage is “Listen.” It grabs your attention and evokes a sense of urgency. God is speaking and commanding our full attention. This verb implies more than an auditory process. It’s an understanding that goes beyond sound to grasp the depth of the message so it can actively live in the hearts of His peoples.
God wants His people to remember and share His love for future generations. It’s commitment to gift His goodness to neighbors and friends because it’s tightly fastened to our hearts like a Jewish Phylactery (a physical placement of scripture tied on foreheads and hands during prayer).
To love God with all our strength is a decision to remember Him. When we’re intentional about making God an active part of our day, blessings follow. Soon, blessings become opportunities for generosity.
We can be generous with our talents, gifts, resources, and our words. We can voice prayers, words or encouragement, and yes, even reminders. Deuteronomy 6:4-8 tells us to talk about God’s greatness as if they were our last words.
When our words flow out of love, we can become a conduit for change. We can prepare a future generation.
If you had one opportunity to speak into someone’s life, what last words would you share?
Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). In Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed.). San Francisco: Harper & Row.
Easton, M. G. (1893). In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.
Hill, Andrew E., and John Walton H. “Deuteronomy.” A Survey of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 2009. 163-76. Print.
Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.
Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.