And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
Deuteronomy 6:6 (KJV)
Heart – If I didn’t tell you where this verse was from, would you think it was a New Testament verse? Isn’t the New Testament where the law becomes written on the heart and no longer on scrolls and tablets? But Deuteronomy is clearly a part of Torah, and it appears YHVH’s instructions were to have these commandments in the hearts of the people from the beginning.
So the people of God were required to keep the commandments physically, AND have these commandments written in their hearts as well. Today, we use this as an excuse to disobey the commandments. “Oh, well they’re written on my heart. I don’t have to keep them physically, just spiritually.” But today is no different in regards to the commandments of God. Yes, they should be written on our heart, but we should be keeping them physically as well. The physical is a representation of the spiritual.
Furthermore, let’s take a look at the word heart in Hebrew and in the context of that culture. Here, the word is levav. Today, we associate our hearts with emotion and feelings, but our intellect and logic resides in our brain. This isn’t so for the Hebrew culture. In the culture of the time, the heart was where both intellect and emotions resided. Everything that made you who you were symbolically resided in the heart. The heart was the representation of your character.
So let’s think about this. If these commandments are written on our hearts, we might recall that our hearts are symbolic of our love, and so we reason that writing the commandments on our hearts is purely about love. Then we’d draw attention to the two greatest commandments and how they are both about love. So naturally, we love, therefor we’re keeping the commandments spiritually. But this wasn’t God’s expectation from the get-go. He expected the people to keep the commandments physically, and that physical obedience would be the proof of loving God and the proof of loving others.
It was Hellenism that crept into society and separated logic and emotion and determined that logic was in the mind while emotions in the heart. This was happening before Yeshua showed up on the scene. This is also why Paul makes a point when quoting Jeremiah 31:33 in Hebrews 8:10 he finds it necessary to include that the law will not only be written on the heart as Jeremiah prophecied, but in the mind as well. Paul understood the societal acceptance that the two were different and wanted there to be no misunderstanding that whether it was logic or emotion that compelled you, the law of God was to be the guidance by which we lived.
The heart is everything about you. If the law is truly written there, then your life will be the example of Torah manifested in the world, as was Yeshua’s. If we love God with all our heart, and in our hearts is where the law resides, then it is by the law that we show the love of God.
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
1 John 5:3