Write them [God’s words] on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors. [Deuteronomy 11:20-21 (NLT)]
After unlocking the door, he reached up to the small metal case on the right side of the door post, touched it, and brought his fingers to his lips. My friend is Jewish and inside the box he touched was a mezuzah—a parchment (called a klaf) upon which the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21 are hand-written.
Like the tefillin worn during prayers, the mezuzah serves as a reminder of God’s continual presence and the covenant He made with His people. For the Jew, it’s like God saying, “As you enter this house and as you leave it, remember me, your heritage, and all that I’ve taught you.” When touched upon entry, the mezuzah is a reminder that the home is a holy place and, when touched upon exit, it is a reminder of how one should act when out in the world. Observant Jews place a mezuzah on nearly every exterior and interior doorway (bathrooms excepted) as a constant reminder of God as they walk throughout the house. The mezuzah also tells anyone passing through the doorway that it is a Jewish household: a home that serves one God and operates by a special set of traditions, rituals, and principles.
As Christians, we don’t affix mezuzahs to our doorposts but there certainly are times I wish we had a sign by the door that said, “Jesus lives here!” It would remind all who pass through the door (including me) that ours is a home that serves Jesus and operates by His principles. While it should be obvious to anyone that Christ is our king, I wonder if it is as obvious as it should be. I’m not talking about crosses or pictures of Jesus on our walls, Bibles on the bookshelves, or Scripture verses on pillows. Is every room in our house filled with the Fruit of the Spirit? Are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control evidenced in all of our interactions? Is there mercy and forgiveness in our dealings? Is the presence of Christ sensed and is God acknowledged in all we say and do? It’s those things, not décor, that identify a home where Jesus lives.
Thinking about touching the mezuzah upon entry and exit, I wonder what it would be like if, every time we came in the doorway, we paused for a brief moment of prayer, thanking God for our safe arrival, asking Him to help us leave the worries and troubles of the day at the threshold, and praying to be filled with His wisdom, love and patience. What if, every time we left our houses, we also paused for a brief moment of prayer, asking God for safe travel and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all we say and do?
There are hundreds of rules regarding the mezuzah: everything from what size room requires one and the height of its placement to the form of the letters in the script and the way the scroll is to be rolled. Although Jesus freed us from the Old Testament laws, the purpose of the law has not diminished—both in our houses and out, we must always remember the Lord our God and all that He has done (and continues to do) for us.