What Does God Mean by KEEP?


the shepherd KEEPS his flock

the shepherd KEEPS his flock

Exodus 20:6 but showing mercy to thousands to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

I have many complain that it is very difficult to keep all of God’s commandments. On top of the ten commandments it is said that there are over 300 more listed in the first five books. Then Jesus fine tuned some of them and gave us new commands.

Here is something that is interesting. The Hebrew language uses concrete communication whereas our language, patterned after the Greeks uses the abstract. We love to use adverbs and adjectives, whereas, the Hebrews loved to use verbs.

The Hebrew word for “keep” is a concrete word but “keep” is abstract. You can not touch, taste, smell keep. So, what does the original word mean? What is God commanding us to do?

The word literally means to guard. The shepherd, at night, would build up a wall of rocks around his sheep and then place thorn bushes on the top. This was called a “shamar.” This is the word that the translators chose to translate “keep.”

God was commanding us to guard and protect the commandments. In no way do this now imply that the commands do not apply to us. Rather, you can not guard and protect something which you do not love.

The first mention of this Hebrew word is found in Genesis 2:15 where God commanded Adam to “shamar” the garden. How do you keep a garden? What you cultivate or take care of is what you will be blessed with.

Deuteronomy 31:20 When I have brought them to the land flowing with milk and honey, of which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and filled themselves and grown fat, then they will turn to other gods and serve them; and they will provoke Me and break My covenant.

God’s ways should not be to us a list of rules like a speed limit that no one agrees with, but ways of God that we cherish. They become a passion to us. Let’s teach the Word of God, not a do’s and don’t’s but as a living word that we hold with a passion. We must get to the place that we are not afraid of the punishment of breaking God’s laws but breaking His heart.
Ok, we guard and protect God’s ways. Now, what about this word “break?” What does it mean? It literally means to “throw on the ground and trample under your feet.” Is it easier to see someone breaking God’s covenant or to see them throwing it down and walking on it?

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