The Hear O Israel Prayer and the Great Commission

Hear O Israel Prayer

So far in our study of the Hear O Israel prayer (otherwise called the Shema), we’ve discovered that the prayer is relevant both in the Jewish religion and the Christian faith. We saw clearly in Mark 12 that Yeshua referred to the prayer as the greatest commandment.

In this blog, we’ll be exploring another exciting aspect of the Hear O Israel prayer: how it points to the Great Commission as recorded in Matthew 28:18. But before we do that, let’s briefly examine the theological link between the Old Testament books of the Bible and the 27 books of the New Testament.

The Link Between the Old Testament and the New Testament

Growing in my faith, God has helped me to appreciate several incredible realities from the Bible, and I’m sure that’s the same for you too. But one thing that strikes me differently is the interconnection of the events in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Let me give you an example of such interconnection.

In Numbers 21:7-9, Moses recounted a not-so-good experience that the children of Israel had in the wilderness. In this Bible passage, the people were bitten by flying fiery serpents, and there was no cure for the bite. In verse 9, God instructed Moses to make an image of a serpent and then hang it on a tree for the people to behold. It happened that everyone who looked at the brass serpent lived.

Now coming to John 3:1-21, Yeshua referred to this event as a shadow of the salvation everyone who believes in Him would receive.

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:14-15)

Can you see how the New Testament explains what happened in the Old Testament in this scenario? Interestingly, I’ve found out that it is like that for many other Bible stories in the Old Testament, including the Shema.

With this background, let’s examine how the Shema, as recorded in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, points to our God-given mandate to preach the Gospel in Matthew 28:18.

How Does the Hear O Israel Prayer Point to the Great Commission?

Christian ministries in IsraelLiterally, the word “commission” implies a formal statement of a command or an order to do something. I’m sure you would agree with me, we see that a lot in the Bible. And while every commandment is important, the Great Commission holds a special place in God’s heart.

In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, God commanded Israelites to teach their children His laws. We looked at that extensively in the article Hear O Israel: How to Share the Gospel to Your Family, so I won’t be going into the nitty-gritty of that again.

But there’s something I want to draw your attention to in that text, particularly in verse 7. Let’s read it together.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:7)

The tone of the instruction here sounds more like God was asking the people to make their children disciples of His laws.

Now, let’s compare what God said in Deuteronomy 6:7 with Yeshua’s commandment in Matthew 28:19-20.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

In a similar manner to the instruction in Deuteronomy 6:7, Yeshua instructed His followers to teach people to observe all that He has commanded them. While in Deuteronomy 6 the goal was for parents to instruct their children, the Great Commission in Matthew 28 calls upon believers to make disciples of all nations. In both cases, God is calling His people to share His Word with others.

As individuals and as Christian evangelism ministries in Israel, God expects us to give our best to fulfill this mandate. One thing that I believe would help us stay committed to this heavenly call is to do exactly as the Shema says:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

Naturally, a heart that genuinely loves the Lord will be passionate about rescuing the perishing by sharing the Gospel with them. Since Yeshua referred to this as the great commandment in Mark 12:28-30, we can safely say that our commitment to the great commandment will help us stay devoted to the Great Commission.

Final Thoughts

The Shema and the Great Commission are two similar God-given mandates to share God’s Word with others. As faithful ambassadors, we should make the best use of every opportunity to share the Gospel. And like I’ve noted in our recent posts, one attention-grabbing way of doing that is by wearing a Yeshua t shirt. But regardless of the method you choose, preach the unadulterated Gospel of Yeshua to those who need to hear it.

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