24 Feb 2021
After the fall of Adam and Eve, God continues to love their descendants.Though Cain and his heirs are rejected by God, Seth and his sons after him are loved by God, down the long generations to Noah. While humanity’s wicked hatred of God finally culminates in the flood, still God’s love is not completely extinguished. He chooses to save Noah and his family from destruction, and then particularly blesses Noah’s son Shem and the line that descends from him. In Genesis 12, the story focuses on God’s call of Abram out of idolatry and into friendship and covenant with Him. He promises Abram that He has chosen him and that his descendants will become a great nation. God fulfils that promise; He sets His love on Isaac, then Jacob, and eventually on Jacob’s descendants, the nation of Israel. He rescues them from their slavery to Egypt, and sets them apart, giving them a covenant and calling them to be a blessing, an expression of love to the whole world. At Mount Sinai, God betroths the nation of Israel to HImself as His own special and uniquely loved people.
Like Adam, Israel rebels against God by turning to other idols and ‘lovers’. God responds by judging the nation Israel but throughout the judgement, God continues to love His people. Incredibly, God’s people continue to spurn His love, preferring their idols instead. Finally, God leaves them; He leaves the temple. As the Old Testament draws to a close, the temple stands empty and the prophets become silent.
Then comes the greatest demonstration of love the world has ever seen. God sends Jesus, the Son He has loved from all eternity past. Jesus lives the life of loving obedience toward God that we should have but did not. Then He takes upon Himself our penalty for spurning God’s love by dying our death on the cross. He calls it a new covenant in His blood. Death cannot hold Him; He rises from the dead, so that whoever repents of their sin and turns in faith to the Saviour will be forgiven of his or her sins and welcomed back into God’s loving embrace. Through Jesus, God proves His faithful love to His unfaithful people.
Interestingly, the story of God’s love does not begin with creation, but with the eternal love that God has for the Son, and that God the Son has for the Father. God’s love for a special people, it turns out, is wrapped up in His love for His Son. This love still transforms unlovely people, sinners like us, into the radiantly beautiful bride of Christ, the church. Now we wait in hope once more for the demonstration of God’s love to return when the Son will take His bride home to a new heaven and new earth, a world of love.
In this great love story, a holy God chose to love an unholy people at the great price of the life of the Son whom He has loved from all eternity. He did this so that He might transform an unlovely people into a radiantly beautiful bride for that Son. Our salvation is not about us; our salvation is finally about the display of God’s glory in this eternal love of Father for Son and Son for Father such that our eternal joy and happiness and life can be caught up in this incredible story of love.
Love is bound into the very nature of the Trinity. God cannot be God without love, because God is love. It is not just that one of God’s attributes is love; there has never been a time when God was not love, for the love of the Father for the Son and of the Son for the Father is eternal. It is easy to think that God and His love must revolve around us and our problems, and we evaluate His love based on how we feel He is doing at loving us. But God’s love was perfect before we ever arrived on the scene, and it will remain perfect long after we leave.The eternal and therefore prior love of the Father and the Son for each other reminds us that at the end of the day, life and love is not about us. Though the love of God for us is real, it is also derivative, an overflow of the most fundamental love within the Trinity itself. If love is firmly established in the nature of God, then there is hope, despite what we encounter here.
In God’s dealing with His people, we must not miss the fact that God loves sacrificially; His love is longsuffering; His love is poured upon those who do not deserve it, in grace, and HIs love is perfect. He always loves HIs children in exactly the way they need to be loved. In that process, His love perfects them; God’s love in Christ is changing us to be like Christ. The perfection of God’s love for us is not measured by how well He is managing our agenda for life; no, the perfection of God’s love for us is seen in the goal He has set for our life, and that goal is nothing less than likeness to the Son He loves.
In our previous reflections, we noted that God began with very poor and ‘rotten’ material and He moulded them to be His children and into the likeness of HIs Son. All, including those in the spiritual realm, marvel at the way that God could do this, and they continually praise Him and give Him all the glory. But realise that God did it in the context of the greatest love story ever told – it is a story of a holy loving God who continues to love and love until this objective is achieved and it is wrapped up in His nature – for God is love!