The spectrum of Love
"He is grieved but does not stop loving us," was my answer to a question about how God feels toward His children who sin. We were talking about forgiveness of sins and how God's love is everlasting during our regular family devotion.
We all agreed that once one asks God for the forgiveness of sins and believes and trusts in the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ, one's sins are forgiven. It is absolutely absurd to go on consistently sinning.
There may be slip ups but we can be confident that we will always be forgiven when we come before God because of His grace. If the believer, however, chooses to continually do things aligning with his past sinful life, then that person is making a mockery of the love and grace God extended.
We will find that God's love is so multi-faceted that the Hebrew language uses more than one word for it in the Old Testament (mostly written in Hebrew).
Love in action
Ahavah is a noun that has several uses. It may denote a love between friends, love between a man and woman, or love for oneself. Most importantly, it is also used to talk about God's love to His people.
In the Old Testament, whenever ahavah is used as God's love to His people, it indicates a corresponding action from God as an expression of that love.
Some instances of ahavah include Deuteronomy chapter 7. We find Moses exhorting the Israelites after giving them the 10 commandments and rallying them to follow God and all His ways. In verse 8, Moses reminds them that because of the Lord's ahavah, He kept His promise to their forefathers and they were delivered from the hand of Pharaoh.
Ahavah was also used when Queen Sheba praised King Solomon for his wisdom and greatness. She acknowledged that because of God's eternal ahavah for Israel, He made Solomon king to do justice and righteousness. The same message is echoed in the letter of King Huram of Tyre to Solomon. He acknowledged that God's ahavah established Solomon as king over the Israelites.
In Jeremiah 31, we see prophet Jeremiah reassuring the Israelites who were left in Jerusalem and those in exile in Babylon with what the Lord told him. Jeremiah declared that the Lord loves them with an everlasting ahavah and will restore them back to Israel.
The New Testament is written in Greek thus the words agape (noun) and agapao (verb) are used to describe ahavah or God's love to His children.
Perhaps the most famous of all the verses in the Bible that uses agape is John 3:16. God giving His son Jesus Christ to the world is the greatest act of ahavah for all time.
Mercy, lovingkindness, goodness
Hesed is a noun also used in the Old Testament to express the different aspects of God's love. Take for example, mercy.
When Joseph was imprisoned for a crime (rape) that he did not commit, God showed him hesed or mercy by giving him favor in the sight of the prison keeper. The keeper had such a confidence in Joseph that he was put in charge of all the prisoners. The Lord made everything that Joseph did prosper.
Hesed also conveys kindness as in the case of the story of Ruth and Naomi. Boaz showed favor to Ruth by having his workers let grain from the bundles fall purposely for her to glean and also allowing her to glean among the sheaves. He also told his workers to let Ruth be and not to rebuke her. Naomi saw this act as God's hesed to her and her daughter-in-law Ruth.
David had committed the sin of adultery and murder and in Psalm 51 pours out his heart to God in repentance. Here, we see another facet of hesed which is lovingkindness. In verse one, David immediately appeals to God's mercy and hesed so that his sins may be forgiven.
We look again at an event in David's life while he was running away from King Saul who because of jealousy was intent on destroying him. David seeks refuge in the priestly town of Nob and asks the priest Ahimelech for bread who provides him the holy bread.
Unknown to the two, Doeg the Edomite, who is Saul's chief herdsman, heard and saw everything. He tells Saul what he witnessed resulting to Saul exacting revenge upon Ahimelech and his family; Saul orders Doeg to kill the priests. That day, 85 priests together with their families and livestock died in the hands of the Edomite.
The useless massacre becomes known to David which led him to write Psalm 52. David writes that despite the indiscriminate act of Doeg, the goodness or hesed of God endures continually. Indeed, the troubles and turmoil of this world will never overwhelm the hesed of God.
It is the month of February and Valentine's is right around the corner. I am sure people will get creative in celebrating the "love day" in our new pandemic world. I am glad though that celebrating the love of God is not bound by special days or by any circumstance.
His ahavah, hesed, or agape has always been there since the beginning of time. Everything He did came out of the abundance of His love. His work is perfect because it came from an act of His incomparable love.
When God created the world, He had us in mind. Everything was made for us to enjoy and have dominion over. Man had a pure relationship with God. He was complete and did not need anything else.
As we know, however, sin caused a chasm in the relationship between God and man. Consequently, a void was created in man because of that chasm. We all have that void and have been trying to fill it with human love, wealth, power, success, drugs, sex, adventures, and thrills. Unfortunately, only what was originally there in the beginning can fill that void.
For that to happen, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth to live among us and later on sacrifice Himself on the cross. By believing and trusting in Jesus, we are renewing our relationship with God and allowing His love to live in us and finally fill the void.
Jesus rose again on the third day of His death and after staying a while with His disciples, ascended to heaven to be with the Father. He is preparing a place for us because He will return one day soon to finally bring us to our forever home, our Father in heaven.
If you already have a renewed relationship with God then you are secure because nothing and no one can separate you from His love. If you have not experienced this yet, come and enter into a love relationship with Him and experience His favor, mercy, goodness, and lovingkindness forevermore.