The Mandate of Every Heart

Posted on July 14, 2020

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By David Ettinger

Target Audience
I have a dilemma. What is the target audience for the verse I will be highlighting? Written to the ancient Israelites, it is clear the verse was intended for them all. But what about modern times; is the target audience God’s people, or the entire world.

No doubt the verse is a mandate of the human heart, but is it a mandate for God’s people only, or all humanity?

A Universal Call
The verse is renowned, Deuteronomy 6:5: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” This, of course, was originally intended for ancient Israel ­– every Israelite. But what about the surrounding nations? As the centuries passed, was it intended for the Assyrians, Babylonians, Medo-Persians, Greeks, and Romans?

What about today? Yes, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, souls, and might, but what about unbelievers; does this mandate apply to them?

I would have to say that considering the consequences of not loving God, this mandate does apply to everyone. I believe it is a universal call to love God. Perhaps the “prequel” for this verse – written about 1,450 years later – is found in Acts 16:31: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” Does this have to occur first before one can truly love the Lord with all of his or her heart, soul, and mind?

And what about Orthodox Jews who truly believe in the God of the Old Testament and strive to live according to His precepts? Do they love God? They will tell you they do, and I believe it. (I ponder this quite a bit as I grew up Jewish, knew many Orthodox Jews, and have many Orthodox Jews as relatives.)

Especially True
I suppose the above meanderings are a glimpse into my increasing humbling as I grow older. Though I’ve taught the Bible for more than 30 years and have read it all the way through more than 60 times, I become more cognizant of just how little I truly understand. With this in mind, the best I can determine, I believe Deuteronomy 6:5 is a mandate for every human heart, that every human being should “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

And this should be especially true for the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. If you are a believer, consider this question: “Do you love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, and might? For me, the answer in theory is “yes,” but in application, “no.” To love someone is to place that individual on a pedestal and devote your life to loving that individual. Do I place God on a pedestal and devote my life to loving Him with every fiber of my being? Sadly, no.

And yet, I embrace the mandate of Deuteronomy 6:5, and hope you do as well. Despite worldwide pandemics, the dismantling of societal norms, and the swelling violence and hatred plaguing the world, our mandate is clear. Though all humanity should turn to God and embrace Him, believers above all should resolve to make it a reality.

Oh that our Heavenly Father would endow all who call Him “Lord” with the steely fortitude to determine to love the Lord our God with all our heart, souls, and might. May it be the mandate of your heart and mine!