I once read a book by Leonard Sweet called Soul Salsa. In the book, Sweet wrote a lot about the Jewish mezuzah. Mezuzah actually means doorpost. In Deuteronomy 6, the Jews were instructed to continually remind themselves of all the great wonders God had done on behalf of his people. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-6.
The Mezuzah is typically a small case that is fixed to the doorpost of a home that holds inside the handwritten words of this reminder. As the members of the household come and go from their home, they touch the case and kiss their fingers in acknowledgement of the promises inside.
Rather than mimicking the Jewish tradition of the mezuzah and actually nailing one to our doorposts, Sweet suggested that we should mezuzah our lives. Mezuzah causes an intentional pause for us to remember the great promises not only to the Jews, but now through Jesus, to the Gentile believers as well. It is easy as we got through the busyness of our lives, to forget God’s promises to us, and ours to him. Whether at work or at play we should remember his teachings and follow in his ways.
So yesterday I decided to mezuzah my house. It’s a bit of a more literal action than Leonard suggested, but something I had wanted to do for quite some time. I have seen it done in a few homes before. My mother-in-law has “mezuzahed” her house for years, as have some friends of ours.
They both painted from the scripture Joshua 24:15,
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”
over their front door, or in some other prominent place in the home. This verse was Joshua’s line in the sand. It didn’t matter if others wanted to worship unicorns; he was going to stay devoted to the one true God.
I decided to mezuzah my dining room with this declaration. It was a risky endeavor, but I figured if I really messed it up, I could just paint over it. I borrowed my artist daughter’s paint and brushes, found a font I really liked on the computer, and printed out the verse I had chosen. I carried a ladder up from the basement and used a level and a ruler to make sure everything lined up right. As I started, I reminded God that I was about to paint his word on my wall and could he please help me not to mess it up? Two hours later, I was standing back viewing my handiwork. I thought it turned out pretty well.
Now, as we gather together as a family to share in the provision of food, we will be reminded that we have decided to serve the one true God who is our Provider. The results were met with rave reviews from everyone in my family. The kids all want to mezuzah their bedrooms!
God knew it would be important for his people not to forget his great love for them. He knew they would face trials on every side, and that if they were not careful they could (and often did) turn from him. The same is true even now. God knows that life is hard. He knows that sometimes if may appear as though he is far from us. Yet it is during those times that the mezuzah reminds us that he is near and that his ultimate end is to bring us into his perfect peace.
So go grab yourself a paintbrush and mezuzah your house. Or if that’s just too radical for you, find other ways to mezuzah your life so that you never forget our great God or his promises.