I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
How deeply have you considered the love of God towards you, believer? Is it something that crosses your mind during your busy days or fills your thoughts during restless nights? Have you noted it as we sing some of the great hymns of our faith, like the penetrating words of the 3rd verse of the hymn, We Have Not Known Thee As We Ought: “We have not loved Thee as we ought, nor cared that we are loved by Thee…” John Owen, that great Puritan theologian, once posed this question: “If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will?” What a sad state indeed for a child so greatly loved either not to acknowledge that love or to not love in return. How deeply the father’s heart must be broken. Such love, some would argue, is wasted upon such ungrateful creatures and ought to be removed or withheld. But His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are His ways our ways (Isaiah 55:8, 9). The Scriptures tells us that our God is not like us; His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. How blessed is the one who knows this is true!
In chapter 31 of Jeremiah’s prophecy, God is speaking a message of hope to His people, “the remnant who will survive the sword and find grace in the wilderness”. It will be after God’s judgment through His people’s exile in Babylon that He will again draw them back to Himself. We must remember that this was a rebellious and stubborn people, a people who had not cared that they were loved by Jehovah. Instead of loving Him through obedience to all His commands, they sought other gods, which are not gods, and gave themselves to worthless and unprofitable things. The children had grieved the heart of the Father. And in response, the Lord spoke: “…I have taken away My peace from this people…lovingkindness and mercies…” (Jeremiah 16:5b). But it would not always be so; it could not be! Why? Look again at the words Jeremiah records in chapter 31: “I have loved you with an everlasting love…” The great message of hope and comfort to this remnant was that God’s love is everlasting. According to Deuteronomy 7, the LORD had set His love upon His people not because they were more numerous than the other peoples of the world (they were less), nor because they were better than others, more attractive or more deserving. No! God simply says it is “…because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers…” And even the judgment of God in Babylon is, for His people, an expression of His great love for them, so that they may be made partakers of His holiness (Hebrews 12:3-11). So great is the love of God towards those who believe!
We are in the midst of one of the most hectic and exhausting seasons of the year—the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Families will be pulled in many directions and the pace of life will pick up dramatically. Our thoughts will be running to and fro as we try not to forget the next thing on our lists of things to do. Let us covenant together before God as families and as a church that we will not allow the busyness of this season take away the wonder of His love for us in Christ. After all, everything about this time of year calls for our thanksgiving to God as we are confronted with the truth of the incarnation, where our God was not satisfied with simply declaring His everlasting love to us, but demonstrated it by sending His Son of promise in the fullness of time. The Apostle John wrote of this demonstration of love in this way: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” God sent His Son—full of grace, full of truth, full of everlasting love!
If you truly belong to Christ by grace through faith, then you must know that God has loved you with an everlasting love. We often think of that only in “fast forward”, meaning that God will always love us and never stop. But we need to look backwards, as well. In his excellent little book entitled Election: Loved Before Time, Kenneth Johns writes: “For now we have love that was in full bloom before the reconciliation took place. We have love that was not dependent upon a deal. We have love unqualified, unconditional and overwhelming. It is awesome and inexhaustible in its dimensions…There has never been an instant in the history of the universe or of the Trinity of God when we were not known as we are. We always were and always will be in His heart and mind…always loved by God.”
As you come to the Lord’s Table this week, consider the indescribable love of God. It is that love towards us in Christ that will make us delight in Him. If such love does not move us, what will?
Delighting in God’s love in Christ, the Beloved of God,
Pastor Ted Trefsgar