Dearly Beloved of God,
For more than forty years, we have answered our home phone with the words, “God loves you.” Sometimes people say, “I must have the wrong number.” Sometimes they respond, “That’s really nice.” Once in a while, they hang up. Of the three words in “God loves you,” the last one is often the most problematic and difficult to grasp. God loves YOU. That means that YOU are the object of God’s love.
What or who else does God love? Does He specify that in His Word, the Bible? To answer this question, we researched every time the following phrases are found in the Bible: God loves, God loved, He loves, He loved, the Lord loves, the Lord loved, I have loved, and I love. We wanted to find out what God says He loves, so that we can love those things or people as well!
As greeting cards about LOVE are freely and abundantly given this month, especially on February 14, we want to explore the ONLY LOVE THAT NEVER FAILS—God’s unconditional love, His ahavah (ah-ha-VAH) in Hebrew. Let us consider the many objects of that wondrous love.
God Loves…His People Israel
The first object of God’s love in the Bible is a people, the people that He redeemed from Egyptian bondage. God calls them His treasured people, am segullah (ahm seh-goo-LAH), chosen above all other peoples on the face of the earth (Deuteronomy 7:6). The Lord explains that Israel was not
chosen because they were more numerous than other peoples, for they were indeed the least of all peoples. Moses gives God’s reason: “because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers” (Deuteronomy 7:8).
The God of the Holy Scriptures reaffirms His love for His people Israel throughout the Torah (Old Covenant Scriptures). He gives His reason for refusing to listen to the curse that Balaam tried to pronounce against God’s people: “because the LORD your God loves you” (Deuteronomy 23:5). When Moses blessed the children of Israel before his death, he said: “From His right hand came a fiery law for them. Yes, He loves the people…” (Deuteronomy 33:2-3). When the Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon and saw his wisdom and prosperity, she commented as follows: “Blessed be the LORD your God, who delighted in you, setting you on the throne of Israel! Because the LORD has loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness” (1 Kings 10:9). Hiram, King of Tyre, made a similar observation. (See 2 Chronicles 2:11.)
Yes, the LORD loves His people. The Holy One of Israel said concerning them, “Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you” (Isaiah 43:4). Finally, a beautiful expression of God’s love for Israel is found in Jeremiah 31:3, “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.”
Some say that the God of the Holy Scriptures no longer loves Israel, that the Church has replaced her. Not true. God’s love is unconditional and everlasting. The Apostle Paul makes reference to God’s covenant with Israel and His eternal love for them: “Concerning the Good News, they are hostile for אהבה your sake; but concerning chosenness, they are loved on account of the fathers—for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:28). The Message Bible has a unique way of phrasing this verse: “From your [Gentile] point of view as you hear and embrace the good news of the Message, it looks like the Jews are God’s enemies. But looked at from the long-range perspective of God’s overall
purpose, they remain God’s oldest friends. God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded.”
God Loves…Mount Zion
God not only loves a people Israel, He loves the land of Israel, in particular a city in Israel: Jerusalem, also known as Zion. No other city is found connected with the love of God. Only Zion. “Mount Zion which He loved” (Psalm 78:68). “The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God” (Psalm 87:2-3).
God calls Zion His “holy hill” (Psalm 2:6). “Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the great King” (Psalm 48:2; Matthew 5:35). We can conclude that Jerusalem (Zion) is God’s favorite city. Jerusalem has a long Jewish history. King David made the city his capital in 1000 BC, when he captured the Jebusite fortress there. The city became known as the City of David or Mount Zion. When the State of Israel was established in 1948, Jerusalem became once more the capital of a sovereign Jewish State.
In 1995 the U.S. Congress passed a law requiring America to move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. After all, shouldn’t the U.S. respect Israel’s choice of its own capital? However, every president since 1995, Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, declined to move the U.S. embassy,
citing national security reasons. They maintained that moving the embassy would greatly hinder an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. This was ludicrous in light of the unwillingness of the Palestinians to accept any proposal of peace. It also put the United States in the peculiar position of denying a sovereign nation the right to determine the location of its capital.
But President Trump, in a very bold move, officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6, 2017, and announced plans to relocate the U.S. embassy there. In doing this, he blessed something God loves, and allowed our nation to come into agreement with the truth of the Bible, and
the fact that Jerusalem has always been Israel’s capital. By this move, President Trump acknowledged the reality that existed, and denied the pretext that the United Nations could tell a sovereign nation where it could or could not place its capital.
God’s love for righteousness is strongly emphasized in the Holy Scriptures. We should love righteousness if God loves it! Righteousness begins with God. He is Righteous. “For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright” (Psalm 11:7). What exactly is righteousness? Righteousness has to do with being “right.” It has been defined as the quality of being morally right, or justifiable. This implies standards. God has standards of right and wrong. He is totally Right, and defines what is “right” in His Word. He has the authority to do this because He is God! The world for the most part does not accept what God says is “right.” His way is considered narrow. And it is. Moral righteousness is akin to holiness. Righteousness can be seen as the opposite of sinfulness or wickedness. It also includes the idea of justice. “He loves righteousness and justice” (Psalm 33:5; 37:28).
God’s love for righteousness and the righteous pours forth in the Psalms. “The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; the LORD raises those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous” (Psalm 146:8). “You love righteousness and hate wickedness” (Psalm 45:7). And also in Proverbs, “The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but He loves him who follows righteousness” (Proverbs 15:9).
Do not be discouraged in 2018! While true and perfect righteousness is not possible for us to attain on our own, God has made a way for us to be righteous. That is why He sent the Messiah. Yeshua’s atonement on the Tree of Sacrifice for our sin, and the cleansing that we experience through His shed blood, enable us to become righteous in God’s eyes. The New Covenant explains the divine exchange that makes this possible, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). “Righteousness and peace have kissed” (Psalm 85:10). Since Yeshua is our Sar Shalom, our Prince of Peace, and we are the righteousness of God in Him, that verse is a picture of us kissing Yeshua! (Had to get a kiss in somewhere!)
God Loves…the World
The majority of verses in the Brit Hadasha, the New Covenant, that mention what God loves are found in the Gospel of John. This is not surprising, given the fact that John is considered the Apostle of Love, the one who leaned on the Messiah’s breast at the last Passover, the disciple who called himself “the disciple whom He loved” (John 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20). John knew what Yeshua loved because of his intimate relationship with Him. He knew that the Messiah loved everyone, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
If God loves the world, so should we. He loves the sinner, but hates the sin. He loves your annoying neighbor, your ruthless employer, your ex-husband or wife, the friend who betrayed you, the thief, the liar, all of them. God is burdened for their souls. Are we? May we take Proverbs 11:30 to heart in 2018, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.” We have to be careful not to write anyone off, thinking, “They are beyond saving.” We are impressed by what the Bible states concerning the “rich young ruler”: “Then Yeshua, looking at him, loved him” (Mark 10:21). God loves President Donald Trump, with all his many faults. Let’s pray and agree for his salvation! Concerning him, as well as other rich men, the Messiah said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27).
God Loves…His Son
Yes. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has a Son, and His name is Yeshua. If you are Jewish and doubt that, consider a verse from the Book of Proverbs, “Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, if you know?” (Proverbs 30:4). His name is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and His Son’s name is Yeshua (Jesus, in English).
At the onset of His ministry in the Land of Israel, Yeshua submitted to immersion in the Jordan River to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). When He emerged from the water, the heavens opened and the Spirit of God (Ruach HaKodesh) descended like a dove upon Him. “And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased‘” (Matthew 3:17).
The Apostle John testifies of the Father’s love for His Son. “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does” (John 5:20). Yeshua Himself testified of His Father’s love, “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).
God Loves…Us (Yeshua’s Disciples)
In His parting words to His talmidim (tahl-me-DEEM), His disciples, Yeshua reassured them of His love. He said that He loves those who have His commandments and keep them, and that those who love Him will be loved by His Father (John 14:21). Yeshua also said, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love” (John 15:9). In another verse, John quotes Yeshua’s words, “For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God” (John 16:27). We find John 13:1 particularly moving, as it ends with “having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.”
Yes, Yeshua loves His own: Us, the ones that He purchased with His own blood (1 Peter 1:18-19). His love for us is expressed beautifully throughout the book of 1 John, especially in chapter 4. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:10-11). “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
We find that same love of God for “us” in Rabbi Saul’s (Paul’s) letter to the Ephesians: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Messiah” (Ephesians 2:4). “And walk in love, as Messiah also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:2).
God Loves…By Doing
Love, in Hebrew thought, always involves action. Words can be meaningless. We “love” chocolate. We “love” football. We “love” parties. We “love” the outdoors. We “love” animals. We tend to give priority to things that should be lower on the list. God, our Father, deserves to be our highest priority. We were created to be in a love relationship with Him. But that means more than simply saying, “I love God.”
Many years ago, Jamie searched the New Covenant, looking for the words “I love you” as spoken by Yeshua. They aren’t there! The closest we came was when others commented on His love; for example, after seeing Yeshua weep over the death of Lazarus, the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” (John 11:36). Yeshua is never recorded as saying “I love you” to anyone. Why? Perhaps because we needed to see that real love, Yeshua’s kind, is what we do, more than what we say. This prompted Jamie to write a song entitled, “He Never Said, ‘I Love You.'” It was a special thrill and blessing to hear Jamie’s favorite Messianic Jewish psalmist, Marty Goetz, sing her song at a concert on December 23, 2017, in honor of Jamie’s 70th birthday.
“He Never Said, ‘I Love You.‘”
“Feeding the multitudes, preaching to the poor,
Touching little children, teaching on the shore,
Taking time to be a friend, healing the oppressed,
Washing the disciples’ feet, being Matthew’s guest…
He never said, ‘I love you.’ Talking was not His way.
He set His love in motion. He lived it every day.
He never said, ‘I love you,’ but love touched all He knew.
He GAVE to show devotion. His Love is Love that’s true.”
To see the second verse of the song, as well as the sheet music to this song and twenty of Jamie’s other original songs, please request her songbook, Roots and Fruits, on the pink response card. It is free with a donation of any amount.
We want LOVE to be what we do, not what we say in 2018. May this be your desire as well. God loves YOU, and we do too,
P.S. God also loves MARRIAGE – both spiritual and natural. The Bible tells us that we, as believers, have been betrothed to one husband – the Messiah Yeshua (2 Corinthians 11:2). We hope you will be able to join us on the Freedom of the Seas cruise (March 25-31) as we teach fundamental skills of marriage, re-dedicate marriages (both spiritual and natural), AND celebrate Passover. There is a very limited amount of space available. Call 888-435-3787 or visit www.Passovercruises.com .