The First Of All The Commandments

by Joseph Hunting

"Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one."


Just as Christian parents teach their children to pray: "Our Father which art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven . . . " , so every Jewish child is taught the great declaration of Moses: "Shema Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Echad. (Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One) . Indeed, many orthodox and observant Jews breathe those holy words in their last moments of consciousness in this life.

It may not be generally known that Jesus Christ also endorsed this great declaration as the first Commandment in the Law. "And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is One Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first commandment." (Mark 12:28-30)

It may be asked, How can one love Someone Who is so holy that He requires an atonement be made before we can approach Him? Indeed, how can we love Someone with all our heart, soul, mind and strength if that Person is unknown to us, or perhaps only vaguely comprehended?


Among all the nations of the world only Israel has given mankind a Book which reveals the loving kindness and tender mercy of "The Lord our God" . And only Israel has revealed to the world through the Bible His glory and awesome power when He flung the sun, moon and stars into space: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth . . . He made the stars also." (Genesis 1)

And the same Scriptures which set forth His absolute holiness, awful majesty and power also declare that Bethlehem in Judah would be the village honoured above all the cities of Israel because it was destined to be associated with His earthly advent. Hear this! "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel: Whose goings forth have been from everlasting." (Micah 5:2) There are some staggering revelations in this prophecy concerning Bethlehem and the One whose birth immortalized this village which was hallowed with memories of David's boyhood. The One to be born in Bethlehem was also the One whose "goings forth have been from everlasting" ! He is also to be "ruler in Israel" !

Isaiah also brings us an equally wonderful statement concerning the Divinity of this coming One. He describes the supernatural birth of a child who is given a title that can only be given to the Lord our God. "Thou shalt call his name Immanu-El" (God with us, Isaiah 7:14). But wait! Isaiah again challenges us to follow him a step further as he tells us more about this great God-man who is born as a child, and yet is described as "The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father" . Nowhere in all Scripture is there a more amazing statement than this: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: AND HIS NAME SHALL BE CALLED, WONDERFUL, COUNSELLOR, THE MIGHTY GOD, THE EVERLASTING FATHER, THE PRINCE OF PEACE." (Isaiah 9:6)


Was there ever a time in the history of mankind when a child born of a Jewish mother in the little town of Bethlehem could lay claim to the titles of Deity set forth by Isaiah and Micah? I believe there is. But first, let us look at Zechariah's prophecy which describes His entry into Jerusalem: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; Behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just and having salvation: lowly and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass." (Zechariah 9:9)

Daniel foretold that from a given date in history, the date the commandment was given to rebuild and restore Jerusalem, 483 years would elapse until Messiah would be cut off. There is one day recorded in the New Testament which Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem as the long-promised King-Messiah of Israel. On that day multitudes hailed Him with shouts of "Blessed be the King who comes in the Name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest." Calculating from the first day in the month Nisan, on which day it is believed Artaxerxes gave his commandment to rebuilt Jerusalem we find that the 483 years of 360 days each terminated on the very day Christ entered Jerusalem as prophesied by Zechariah.

Just as Zechariah described the occasion of Messiah's brief moment of glory, so Daniel pinpointed the time with astonishing accuracy. Four days later He was "cut off" . This fact was established by an eminent mathematician, Sir Robert Anderson, K.C.K.L.L.D., who has shown that the first day of Nisan in the 20th year in the reign of Artaxerxes would correspond with the fourteenth day of March 445 B.C. The day of Christ's entry into Jerusalem was the 10th Day of Nisan or the 6th of April 32 A.D. The period embraced was 173,880 days which, divided by 360 days to the year, gives us exactly 483 years, thus fulfilling to the very day Daniel's prophecy of the coming of "Messiah the Prince".

And just as Zechariah and Daniel foretold the manner and time of Messiah's first advent, Isaiah vividly describes His suffering: "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way; AND THE LORD HATH LAID ON HIM THE INIQUITY OF US ALL." (Isaiah 53:3-6)

There is nothing remote about the One who has "borne our griefs and carried our sorrows" , who was, "wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities." Surely, this makes His relationship with us very personal indeed. But there is one more factor, which above all else demands our love. It is this: "THE LORD HATH LAID ON HIM THE INIQUITY OF US ALL" .

Truly, both the Torah (The Law of Moses) and HabritHahadashah (the New Testament) affirms and confirm the first and greatest commandment: "HEAR O ISRAEL, THE LORD OUR GOD THE LORD IS ONE, AND THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD WITH ALL THINE HEART, AND WITH ALL THY SOUL, AND WITH ALL THY MIGHT." (Deuteronomy 6:4) He alone is worthy of such love.