Joy: In Context
Scholars caution against interpreting Scripture without addressing its context. The Greatest Commandment is a broad Biblical theme. It’s God’s prescription for Man’s fallen condition. In Eden’s Garden, God’s relationship with Man was perfect. God designed it that way and declared it to be so. Then Man questioned God’s love for him. He was tempted to love himself more than God and then rejected God by choosing his own desires over those of God. That’s how sin entered the human race. The Bible is a record of God’s actions to restore His relationship with Man. So the Greatest Commandment is God’s instruction to rebuild that lost relationship. It is a state of being rather than a task to be undertaken.
The love command was given during Moses’ sermon on the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 6). Moses began with Exodus 3:20 –
You shall have no other Gods before Me.
The love God requires expresses itself in worship of Him. This is Man’s ‘right’ state of being as defined by God. The divine call is found in Deuteronomy 6:4 –
Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is one Lord,
This draws attention to God’s unique worthiness to be worshiped. He alone is Self-existent and infinite in all His attributes. Our priority is to worship and honor God for Who He is. The necessity of commanding Man’s love for God only underscores the heights from which Man has fallen.
In the Garden of Eden, Man’s worship was ‘face-to-face.’ After the Fall, Man faced the prospect of loving God from his fallen, spiritually dead state. After Adam, there was no memory of what it was like to love and worship God as He intended. The Apostle Paul noted this when he wrote:
Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know even as also I am known, (I Corinthians 13:12).
The Greatest Commandment is a call to worship. And that call holds the promise of once again worshiping God face to face. When that promise is realized worshipers will experience eternal journey into His inexhaustible love. How do we know that? Look here…
And that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God, (Ephesians 3:17b-19).
Did you see it? His love surpasses knowledge. It is infinite. For eternity we may plumb its depths and explore its heights, but we will never reach its end. So, God’s call to love Him above all calls us to infinite joy in a relationship that cannot be exhausted or fully explored.
Question: Is the certainty of infinite joy encouraging to you? Would it encourage someone that didn’t know about it? Will you help make sure they know?
Soli Deo Gloria!