Love. There are few things so universal and yet so challenging. Love for God. “The most important” commandment, says Jesus (Mark [12:29]–30), and one that both the old and new covenants portray as necessary to enjoy God’s sustained favor.

As Moses asserted, Yahweh “keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,” but he “repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them” (Deuteronomy 7:9–10). Similarly, Paul declared that “all things work together for good” only for “those who love God . . . who are called according to his purpose” (Romans [8:28]).

Some have tagged the Supreme Command of Deuteronomy 6:5 the “all-command,” because of the three-fold “all” — “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (ESV). There is no room here for divided affections or allegiance. As Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters” (Matthew [6:24]). If indeed there is one God who stands supremely powerful and valuable (Deuteronomy 6:4), this demands a supreme and total loyalty from you and me, a loyalty that starts with the heart.

Loving with All Our Heart

While surprising to some, the old covenant recognized that a spiritual relationship with God begins fromwithin, with a proper disposition toward the preeminent Savior, sovereign, and satisfier. From the heart “flow the springs of life” (Proverbs [4:23]), and without one’s will, desires, passions, affections, perceptions, and thoughts rightly aligned, the life of love is impossible.

Therefore Moses calls Israel to “know . . . in your heart” that God disciplines like a father his son (Deuteronomy 8:5). He urges God’s people to “lay it to heart” that there is no God besides Yahweh (Deuteronomy [4:39]–40) and to ensure that his words “be on your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:6), thus anticipating the miraculous heart-work that the new covenant would realize (Jeremiah [31:33]).

Loving with All Our Soul

Along with our hearts, we are called to love Yahweh with all our soul. In the first five books of the Old Testament the “soul” refers to one’s whole being as a living person, which includes one’s “heart,” but is so much more. For example, in Genesis 2:7 we are told that “Yahweh God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living [soul] creature” (Genesis 9:5).

Written by Jason DeRouchie

Full article at Desiring God  

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