Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Love of God

Do you know the extent of God's love for you?

You may say, "Well, yes. He is my Father."

Guess what? He loves you MORE than just a father. It's true, a father's love is insanely deep. However, not only does God want to be your Father, he wants to be the lover of your soul!

Let's go back to the scripture for a moment. You remember in Genesis there is this guy named Abram, whose name gets changed to Abraham. He makes a covenant with God and from Abraham and Sarah come the Israelites. It's a story we are told as kids, right? Minus the bloody, nasty parts, of course. Don't want kids throwing up or having nightmares now, do we! But isn't everything in the bible important? Of course. In fact, it's actually an integral part of the story! (A lot of my knowledge comes from Ray Vander Laan. If you want to check out his stuff go to www.followtherabbi.com.)

In Genesis 15, Abram asks God how he would know that God would give him all the things God has promised. (This is called chutzpah is Hebrew, which is like persistence. But I won't get into that right now.) So God tells Abram to go get a cow, a goat, a ram. a dove, and a pigeon. What he doesn't tell Abram is what to do with them. However, Abram apparently already knows what to do. This tells us that this was a cultural ritual. (It still is in some places.) What this ritual was is that terms would be made between men and they would agree on the terms, unless it was between a greater party and a lesser party in which the greater party will set the terms. They would then kill the animals and place them where the blood would pool in a valley. Once there was a river of sorts, they would each pick up their tunics, take off their sandals, and walk through the blood. In doing this each would be saying, "If I break my promise, you can do this to me." ("This" being killing and walking in the blood.)

Gross, right? No wonder they didn't tell us this part in Sunday morning Bible class! But if we think about it, God's willingness to do this ritual for Abram's sake shows his immense love! He is the God of the universe for goodness sake. He could have just said, "Because I said so!"

So let's continue with what the text says. Abram then waits for God, making sure the birds of prey stay away from the carcasses. (Again, gross!) The sun starts going down and Abram falls asleep. In his sleep, he realizes what his end of the bargain is, to be blameless, and he because terrified. No kidding. Abram knew that if he even stuck his little toe in that blood, he was a dead man and the promises God had for him would be no more. So, then a smoking pot "walks" through the blood. (This would have been a pot with holes in it that women would have in their tents to put the burning coals in from that days fire and put the top on. It would then smoke all night and the women would then pour out the coals the next morning to make the next days fire with.) This represents God as the greater party would always go first. Thus, it was Abram's turn. The text doesn't say this, but it's as if he walked up to the valley and God, the torch, and moved him out of the way saying, "No wait. I've got this." God walks through the blood a second time. God is saying, "If YOU break YOUR promise, YOU can do this to ME."

At this moment, Jesus was sentenced to death on the cross.

Let that sink in for a moment.

When I told that to the Jr. High students at church Wednesday and their minds were blown. They couldn't believe that no one had connected those dots and told them about it before!

There's more. "What?" Oh yeah!

Fast forward to Exodus. Moses has lead the Israelites out of Egypt and they have stopped at Mount Sinai. This is where I think, "Oh, yeah. This is where God gives the ten commandments!" There's more to the story. This isn't just where God sets ten rules the Israelites have to follow. This is a wedding. God marries his people. The ten commandments weren't two tables with 5 on each one, it was 10 on each, a Ketubah, a contract. This is still practiced in Jewish wedding today, Instead of having vows, the bride and groom will write up a contract each to God of what kind of a husband and wife each will be. Ray Vander Laan read the first one, "You shall have no other idols before me" in this new light as so: "I will have no other lovers."

Powerful, right? "Didn't something happen with the Israelites while Moses was on the Mountain?" Yes. The golden calf. See, while Moses was getting the Ketubah from God, the Israelites decided that he wasn't coming back and so they needed a new god. They melted down their earrings and from it made a golden calf and started worshiping it, throwing a big party. (We won't get into what kind of party it was, but I will say it wasn't G rated. Even Ray Vander Laan didn't want to get into it.)

Fun fact: instead of wedding rings on their fingers, the Hebrews would wear rings in their ears, earrings. Wait, what did they melt down? Their earrings. Their wedding rings. During the wedding between God and his people, his people cheat on Him! You'd think he'd be done with them. Seriously, if it was my wedding and I found out something like that, the wedding would be off! But God doesn't do that. He keeps loving them! He purifies them and then the wedding resumes.

Now that is love. Pure love. Not just from a Father but from a spouse who loves unconditionally and intimately. To know that this is the kind of love that God has for us, and not just the Father/Child relationship that everyone talks about, speaks deeply to me!

Think about our young girls! For them to know that they can be fulfilled in every way because they have a God that loves them as a beautiful bride could be life-changing! They could know that they don't need to look for love from outside sources, from boys their age who are struggling with the same things that they are. Plus, thinking back on my own life, I think I may have looked at some things differently if I had thought of God as my husband and not just my Father. God is our Father, but he is also the lover of our souls. Yes, lover. He wants to know us as deeply as a spouse. Deeper even!

I think that this thought might bring a new perspective to our girls as they look at their relationship with God and what they do with their lives. It sets a new light on "God is always with you." It's no longer God the Father watching you and making sure you don't mess up and when you do He is going to punish you, it's more that God is with me because He loves me deeply and he WANTS to be with me, he CHOSE me.

There is a song by Francesca Battistelli called "He Knows My Name" in which the bridge says:
He calls me chosen
Free, forgiven
Wanted, child of the King
His forever
Held and treasured
I am loved.
Not only does this speak to being a child of God but, in my opinion, also a lover, a spouse, of God. Wanted, His Forever, Held and Treasured, Chosen, Loved; these are all things that a husband would say to his wife (and visa versa). My husband wants me, I am his forever, he holds and treasures me, he chose me, he loves me. As well, I want my husband, he is mine forever, I hold and treasure him, and I love him.

Imagine some things that girls fall into because of the world we live in. What if they had the mindset that when they start worshiping something besides him that they have cheated on him? How would that impact them? Would they still do some of the things the world likes to tempt them with? How does that impact you?!

Just as we all have a love language, God has a love language. His love language is obedience. Just as I feel loved when someone gets me a thoughtful gift, God feels loved when I obey His commands.

I will show God that I love Him by keeping His commandments. I know I am going to mess up, but I know that He is going to forgive me when I do. Because of His love I will strive to be blameless. His love is my motivation. He is the lover of my soul. Is He yours?

1 comment:

  1. There are so a many deep truths in this blog that speak to how our hearts respond to the amazing way God loves us. Fabulous blog!!!