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The Bible by the Numbers > Day 3

The Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4)

The “Shema,” as it is called by the Hebrews, states: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:4). There are only three monotheistic faiths in the world; that is, there are only three faiths that believe in only one true God. They are Judaism, Christianity and Islam. All of the other religions of our world are either pantheistic—believing all is god and god is all—or polytheistic—believing in many gods.


Interestingly, all three monotheistic faiths trace themselves back to the same individual, Abraham. The Jews trace their faith back to Abraham through Isaac, Abraham’s son by his wife Sarah. The Muslims, in particularly the Arabs, trace their faith back to Abraham through Ishmael, Abraham’s son by Sarah’s handmaid Hagar. Finally, Christians trace their faith back to Abraham through the promised seed of Abraham, Jesus Christ! Whereas Judaism elevates Jewish people as the chosen people of Jehovah and Islam elevates Arabs as the chosen people of Allah, Christianity invites “whosoever will” to come, declaring all who believe in Christ to be God’s elect, regardless of their race or ethnicity. 


The fuel on the fire of the world’s hotspot—the Middle East—has always been the dispute between Arabs and Jews over Middle Eastern real estate. The Arabs insist that Allah promised it to them, through their father Abraham, while the Jews insist that Jehovah promised it to them, through their father Abraham. On the other hand, Christians, like the father of their faith, Abraham, are looking “for a better country—a heavenly one” and a “city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:8-16). 


Unlike Judaism and Islam, the God of Christianity is “no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). In Christ we are all one! “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female” (Galatians 3:28). As the popular children’s song proclaims: “Red and yellow, black and white, All are precious in His sight.” 


Christianity promises to all who believe in Christ a “place” in the “Father’s house,” not a piece of Middle Eastern real estate (John 14:1-4). It is a faith with a heavenly and eternal inheritance rather than an earthly and temporal one. I wonder today, what are you looking for? Are you like Abraham? Are you looking for a better country whose builder and maker is God?

Don Walton