Deuteronomy 6:4–9 ranks as one of the pivotal passages in the Old Testament. It is the basic Jewish confession of faith, recited twice daily by devout Jews. To this day, the synagogue service begins with this passage, known as the Shema, after the first Hebrew word which means “hear.” Moreover, when Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment in the law, he quotes verse 5 from this passage. Furthermore, this passage may be the single most important passage on parenting in the Bible.
For all these reasons, Deuteronomy 6:4–9 is extremely significant. It begins with a simple, succinct statement about God: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.” The Lord, the God of the Scriptures, the God who revealed Himself to Moses, and the God who would reveal Himself in Jesus: He is God and He alone is God.
This is a statement of monotheism. It is a confession of God’s uniqueness. The Israelites had to be crystal clear on this because they were immersed in a pagan, polytheistic world, with all kinds of fears about appeasing various gods. The Israelites had to grasp the basic truths: These gods are not real. There is only one God. Yahweh alone is God.
This foundational confession carries immense connotations. To confess that the Lord is God is to confess that He is Creator, King, Judge, Ruler, Savior, and Shepherd. It means that He is our God and we are His people. It means that we are accountable to Him, to love Him and obey Him, to worship Him, and to serve Him. We join in the historic confession: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.” The God of the Scriptures is the one and only real God.