Richard Ritenbaugh, examining our belief regarding the nature of God, which rejects both the Catholic-fabricated trinity as well as the Protestant assumption that Yahweh was the harsh God of the Old Testament while Jesus was the benevolent God of the New, explains the context in Deuteronomy 6:4—"the LORD is One." The Hebrew noun transliterated Elohim is plural, but takes a singular verb, denoting that it is a collective substantive. More than one Being constitutes the God Family. Before Christ revealed God the Father, the world as a whole was ignorant of the Father—that Our Lord has a LORD to which we are all subject. The Old Testament Scriptures provide powerful hints about the existence of the Father, beginning with the proclamation in Genesis 1:26, "Let Us make man in our image." The substantiation of God the Father's identity was obscured by a narrower cultural understanding that "My LORD said to my Lord (Psalm 110:1)" referred to any anointed Israelite king, who the Scriptures recognize to be a son of God. After Christ revealed the Father (acknowledging Him as the Supreme Deity), it became clear that: (1) God the Father is Our Creator; (2) We physically resemble Him; (3) He has strict, unchanging standards for eternal life; (4) He is sovereign; (5) He is the Father to Christ and to us; (6) He works through His Son; (7) He bestows authority in the Son; (8) He aims to set up an everlasting Kingdom that will bring peace everywhere. Deuteronomy 6:4 refers to God as one, signifying unity of purpose and single-mindedness in character!
Richard Ritenbaugh, cautioning that the world is spinning out of control, warns us that if we are not careful, we could spin right with it. The hectic pace never stops. The world has turned into a tiny electronic village, with screaming fast Internet connections (in places), cable television, satellite radio, etc. Sadly, there are terrorist attacks, wars, and chaos—everyone is running phrenetically to and fro. Our anchorage in this chaotic mess is subjection to the Eternal with all our minds and all our hearts. "The Lord our God; the Lord is One" is the bedrock of our faith. Without faith, it is absolutely impossible to please Him.
Richard Ritenbaugh, relating a story of a wannabe author, interviewing for the job of a personal secretary to what proved his boyhood idol, a popular author, learned very quickly the adage familiarity breeds contempt. The longer the relationship continued, the more his boss had contempt for him, leading to the young man's resignation. True knowledge comes only from experience. The apostle Peter has admonished us to grow in knowledge, both biblical (or special spiritual epignosis) knowledge and secular (gnosis) knowledge. The epignosis knowledge consists of eternal life: knowing intimately the Father and the Son, a process in which time is critical. The understanding involved in a marriage relationship involves years and decades of discovery, enabling us to add knowledge to knowledge. When God gives us His Holy Spirit, it takes time before this relationship with God matures. It takes time for us to see the intervention of God in our lives in the form of blessings, corrections, or other forms of epignosis—or His Spirit working in us. The more knowledge we add to knowledge through His Holy Spirit, the more we will become like Him—at one with Him just like our father Abraham. It is by walking with God that we come to a full understanding of Him. We need to follow His lead in everything
John Ritenbaugh, asking how we take (tolerate) sin, states that the Bible does not budge one inch. Sin is considered a major impediment to approaching God. It impedes worship and stops God's ears to our prayers. Sin creates estrangement from God, causing us to fail in everything we attempt. Sin always produces separation; it never heals, but causes death. God is as serious about sin at the end of Revelation as at the beginning of Genesis. Overcoming sin is a formidable task, but it is not impossible. Each of us is admonished to be alert because the enemy is at the door. We are in no way in competition with each other, but we are in mortal combat with our carnal human nature. God wants us to become one with Them, the greatest purpose that can be given to any human being. God the Father and the Son do not sin. Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4) a deviation from what is good and right or missing the mark. A sin is a deviation from a moral standard (assumed to have been done in ignorance or sins of weaknesses). Even though God distinguishes between willful sin and sins committed in weakness, the consequences are just as deadly. Presumptuous sins have the tendency to be expansive, rebellious and self-willed, rashly done without the fear of God (as Jacob exemplified when he cheated his brother). We need to learn to develop a fear for God as a complementary aspect of loving Him. If we really fear God, we will be afraid to sin. If we fear God, we will not fear anything the world has to throw at us. Once this fear of God is etched in our minds, it will create a sense of obligation to keep His covenant.
John Ritenbaugh suggests that the episodes in Mark 12:28-34, Matthew 22: 34-40, and Luke 10:25-37 are separate incidents. Loving God with all our heart and loving our neighbor as ourselves can not be separated. One cannot obey one command and ignore the other without having violated both. We need to be a neighbor to the needy crossing our path. Christian living requires keeping the "love thy neighbor" aspect of the spiritual law, demonstrated by giving physical aid to the neediest among us, especially our spiritual brothers. Our neighbors include our employees or employers to whom we must serve as we would Jesus Christ, even those who are harsh and unreasonable, emulating our Elder Brother Jesus Christ who did not retaliate even though He had the capability. David, a man after God"s own heart, studied the creation in order to learn God's mind. These encounters strengthened David to endure hardships and humiliation, realizing that God had ordered these experiences for his ultimate good. As we encounter other human beings, we need to realize that we are all in this same creative process together, showing pity and compassion on them, just as our Heavenly Father does. Jesus sets the bar very high when it comes to love. We no longer live for ourselves, but to Christ, who commands us to love all of mankind, including our enemies.
Clyde Finklea, acknowledging that putting out sin is a significant aspect of the Days of Unleavened Bread, suggests that reconciliation with Almighty God is equally as important, adding that we could call these days the Days of Reconciliation. The words of the Shema "the Lord is one,„ indicates the specialness and uniqueness of our God; there is no other. Jesus Christ counsels us that we are mandated and obligated to love God with all our hearts and minds and strength and soul, emanating from the core of our being with no holding back. Our relationship with God is central connoting total commitment, bringing every thought into captivity to our Savior, trusting in His power with every fiber of our being. God wants the exclusivity of our affections, with all of our talents used for His glorification. We demonstrate that we love God by keeping His commandments doing those things which please Him.
Richard Ritenbaugh observes that the world today is spinning dangerously out of control, and we are in danger of spinning out of control with it. The human mind and body were not designed to withstand the stresses of the rat race. During these chaotic times, we need to be mindful of the core belief that "the Lord, He is God," as Elijah demonstrated before the prophets of Baal. Internalizing the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) produces the fear of the Lord. If we have faith that our Eternal God is the only God, we can endure any hardship on our way to inheriting eternal life (Hebrews 11:6-7).
Richard Ritenbaugh explores the spiritual intent of the tithing principle. Because everything in the universe belongs to God, including the natural resources from which we get our wealth (we have nothing that didn't come out of the earth- including ourselves), we should not regard tithing as a bill we grudgingly pay. As part of His creation, we are not our own, but the purchased property (a slave or steward) of another. God has shown us a pattern of giving and redeeming, desiring that we should emulate that trait deep in our character, functioning the way God functions. Abraham, having the mind of God, tithed as an appropriate response to what he knew God is and does. Jacob, entering a covenant, responded with a tithe. Tithing both precedes and transcends the covenant, having a deep spiritual significance far beyond the letter of the law- learning to give as God gives.