Did you know that the Old Testament holds some key truths regarding the brain’s frontal lobe?
This coming Sunday is our Youth-Led Service. As Youth Pastor, it will be my responsibility to give the message. This considered, the text that I have been given to preach on is Deuteronomy, chapter six. As I begin the process of putting together my message, I’d like to share some of my initial thoughts. In particular, from verses 4 through 9.
“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. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deut. 6:4-9)
In a culture where family values are crumbling, this passage is critical for any readers who are parents. Most of this passage is fairly self-explanatory. As a parent, I must accept that I should “impress” God’s commandments on my children, “talk about them” when I’m at home or out and about, living life. These principles are not hard to comprehend.
Verse nine is also not so difficult to understand. It is highly beneficial to set aside physical reminders of God’s commandments, in order for them to be brought to memory at a later time. However, verse eight often causes some confusion and deserves some further study this morning.
The Jewish Orthodox world would read verse eight literally. When they read “tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads“, they actually write Scripture on small pieces of parchment, place them in tiny boxes and attach them to their wrists and foreheads. Though it shows a great deal of commitment, it does nothing to improve one’s actions or behaviors. What does this verse really mean?
It turns out that a more realistic answer can found through an understanding of how God has designed the human brain. More specifically, how God has designed the brain to function, in relation to behavior(s). Modern study of the human brain has uncovered that behind or under one’s forehead is the Frontal Lobe.
The Frontal Lobe is responsible for “motor control and cognitive activities, such as planning, making decisions, setting goals, speech, and purposeful behavior“. Further study shows that the area in the very front of the Frontal lobe is the Prefrontal Cortex. The Prefrontal Cortex supports functions “involving the integration of information about emotion, memory, and environmental stimuli” and “support the regulation of behavior and control of responses to environmental stimuli“. (http://www.therefinersfire.org/phylacteries .htm)
In short, the Prefrontal Cortex is where we make decisions to take action on thought or shorter still, the Prefrontal Cortex handles one’s behavior. To bring this back to our passage, perhaps God (who designed our brains) was leading Moses to be as specific as possible, in exactly where we should store His commandments.
But what about the “symbols on your hands” reference? Well, perhaps this understanding of how God has designed our brains can shed some light on this concept as well? As we already established, the Frontal Lobe deals with motor control and cognitive activities.
For example, no healthy adult, living in Western society, really has to think deeply about brushing their teeth. Sure, maybe about squeezing the tooth paste into a straight line on the brush. But once the tooth-brush is placed into one’s mouth, the hand and brain seem to take over until the job is finished and it’s time to rinse.
Considering our text and scientific research on the Frontal Lobe, perhaps God was indicating something significantly greater in verse eight? Furthermore, considering the fact that God designed us, He must be fully aware that the actions we repeatedly do with our hands, become second nature to us.
Eventually these actions become automatic behaviors and/or character traits. We should not be surprised if and when scientific data on the brain that God has designed, points us to possible Scriptural understanding and/or clarification.
Originally posted at QuietMorningsWithHim.com by Jeremy Norton.