We think of God in the Old Testament as being righteous, but how much do we think of him being loving? I want to list some of the verses that speak of how he loved with a powerful faithful love.
Deut 7:8 — “But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”
God saved Israel because he loved them, and his love meant that he worked for them in epic ways — redeeming thousands of them out of Egypt, bringing them through water and wilderness, having mercy on them. God’s love was not just a feeling, it was a commitment to do awesome things for them, to make them into a people more numerous than the stars.
Ps 44 — With your hand you drove out the nations and planted our ancestors;… It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them.
Isa 63: In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
These verses portray God as a passionate hero. His arms fight for Israel. His face shines on them, he smiles on them, he bestows blessings on them. He resonates with them when they are upset, as if he himself were experiencing their heartbreak. He knows they are weak, so he carries them in his arms. He helps them every day to succeed, and supplies what they lack.
Once again, this love is so much more than a feeling. It is more than a benevolence that a deity graciously bestows from afar. It is getting dirty, getting in the trenches with the ones he loves. It is actively being involved with the day to day aspects of their lives. It is showering them with blessings when they are too small minded to conceive of such goodness.
Jer 31:3 — “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you to myself with lovingkindness. I will build you up again, and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt.'”
Through the ages God loved with a faithful, undying love. He was good to those he loved, and drew them into his embrace. I had to read more from this passage:
I will lead them beside streams of water, on a level path where they will not stumble, For the Lord will deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they. They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord— … They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more. Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.
What was Israel’s reaction to this love? They sinned and strayed, time and time again.
What is our reaction to this love? We take it for granted. We don’t see it. We view the world through the lens of our own experience and efforts, instead of the spiritual.
“To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:
‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.’” (Luke 7)
Jesus knew people’s hearts were hard. They didn’t see or acknowledge the love of God, and how he was active in their lives. God had sent them John the Baptist and Jesus, but they didn’t realize the all encompassing importance of this. They didn’t see this as the culmination of God’s love, the ultimate expression of his heart for them.
“Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7)
This woman saw the love of God, and she was profoundly grateful for it. And what did she do with her gratitude? She spent her time at Jesus’ feet.
That is what all of us should do. The face of God is shining on us. He has flexed his mighty arm to save us. He has orchestrated our lives so we might seek and find him. He is listening and responding to our prayers. In response, we need to spend our time at the feet of Jesus, pouring ourselves out for him.