It’s a little oblong box. On a piece of paper rolled up inside the box are the words from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 about loving the Lord with heart and soul and strength, about talking about him all the time and everywhere, and about wearing God’s words on hands and forehead.
The paper must be rolled up from left to right so that the first word visible as it is unrolled is the word Hear. (Hebrew is read from right to left.) The little box must be placed on the right side of the doorframe on the upper third of the doorjamb. Those who enter the room must touch the box and, in so doing, remember the words inside it.
Jews call that little box a mezuzah (from the Hebrew word for doorpost). Using it was their way to be obedient to God’s command to “write” his commands “on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deut. 6:9). There’s still a mezuzah on the right-hand side of the Jaffa Gate in the wall surrounding Old Jerusalem, and pedestrians still reach out and touch it on their way into or out of the city.
The principle of the mezuzah is at the heart of a Reformed world-and-life view. God’s Word is at the center of everything. It’s unavoidable, inescapable. God’s people bring God’s Word to bear on all they do wherever they are: sitting at home, walking along the road, lying down, and getting up. They behave in such a way that God’s Word is noticeably operating in their lives. In other words, Scripture impacts everything everywhere all the time.
In addition, Moses says, “impress [the commandments] on your children.” Notice that he doesn’t advocate force-feeding. He suggests showing them that God is relevant always. He suggests that parents—really, all adults—live such evidently God-influenced and God-controlled lives that their children (and all members of the younger generation, for that matter) become curious and ask why they live the way they do. Then parents can tell them and in so doing reveal the will of God to them.
I remember as I watched the people walk through the Jaffa Gate that the mezuzah-touching could be somewhat ritualistic and mechanical. We sometimes treat God’s Word that way too. My wife and I rarely touch the mezuzah on the doorframe leading into our living room. We noticed it there just the other day and reminded each other of what it meant. Let’s remind one another of the same truth—not by simply touching the doorpost, but by doing what the words in the mezuzah remind us to do: make God inescapable.
That is the heart of Reformed theology: the conviction that there is not a square inch of the universe over which Jesus does not shout, “I am Lord!” That is the mission of all true God-fearers. That is the mission of all parents. That is the mission of Christian schools. That is the mission of Calvin College: to allow God through us to touch every aspect of the world and life around us. It is not only permissible but mandatory.
There are some among us who believe that issues of ecology and conservation are of less importance than the proclamation of the gospel. The reality is that we’ve always said both are important before God. Now we must back up what we have said with how we will live.
In ancient Israel, no one was to enter or leave one’s house without confronting God and making it evident that all that went on there was a response of love to God. God’s people today are obligated to live the same way.
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Don’t miss this week’s must-read articles:
- Feature: Tending God’s Creation
- Exposing Harassment of OSJ Raises Questions, Hope for Humility
- Book Review: Something’s Not Right