God’s love for His enemies is the greatest story ever told. In this lesson we take a front row seat to hear from the Father. “God is love” (1 John 4:8). It is not simply that God loves but that He is Love itself. Love is not merely one of His attributes, but His very nature. He loves all men. Here are three ways in which He made His love known to mankind.
God’s Love is Declared
David sings of the Lord’s love: “Thy lovingkindness, O Jehovah, is in the heavens” (Psa. 36:5). “How precious is thy lovingkindness, O God!” (Psa. 36:7). If anybody knows how penetrating and priceless God’s love is, it was David. He betrayed one of his soldiers by committing adultery with his wife. He lied. He went so far as to have his loyal soldier murdered on the battlefield. Yet, when he confessed his transgressions to God, God forgave him (Psa. 32:51).
He who knows the Father best is Jesus. He Who is the very image of the Father, declares the Father’s love (John 3:16; 15:9). “Even as the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you: abide ye in my love.”
The Holy Spirit inspired these powerful heart-moving declarations. They fill our hearts and are dear to every forgiven child of God (Rom. 5:5).
God’s Love is Depicted
Have you ever heard someone trying to suggest that you never see the love of God in the Bible until you get to the New Testament? Such suggestions show a faulty view of the Old Testament.
Entire Old Testament books help us to see the love of God. Out of God’s history books, the book of Ruth serves as an example of God’s redeeming love for those of us who are not His people. Turning to His poetry, the Song of Solomon depicts God’s love. “Many waters cannot quench love, Neither can floods drown it: If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, He would utterly be contemned” (Song 8:7). Even the books of the prophets artfully portray the divine Husband’s love. The entire book of Hosea is “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely; for mine anger is turned away from him” (Hos. 14:4).
Ezekiel 16 gives us a great allegory displaying God’s love and it would profit the reader greatly to peruse the entire chapter. If John 3:16 is the golden text—and it is—then Ezekiel 16 is the golden allegory.
Relationships which Jehovah ordained for mankind bring out God’s love: The friendship of David and Jonathan (cf John 15:13), the love of Jacob for Rachel (cf Eph 5:28). The love of a father for his son David and Absalom (2 Sam. 19:6). Such endearing relationships are in God’s Holy Writ to convey His majestic love for us.
God’s Love is Demonstrated
Some are all talk and no action. That is not God. He supports His talk with unmistakable action.
The Father demonstrated His love through that which He gave up. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). Jesus summarized His earthly poverty, telling His listeners, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” ((Matt. 8:20). Giving up heaven says a lot. In Philippians 2:5-8, Paul reminds us of this sacrifice, saying,
Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself [of what? Deity? No. Heaven’s glories.], taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.
Jesus demonstrated His love by dying for us (1 John 4:9-10; John 15:13; Rom. 5:8). This was not a circumstance imposed upon Jesus. It was His mission from the outset (Matt. 20:28; Luke 19:10). He willingly left heaven, was born of a virgin, reared in poverty and hardship, taught those who were against Him, and died a humbling, criminal’s death. No one has matched this love.
The Savior demonstrated His love by saving us (Titus 3:3-6). God “poured out [His mercy] upon us richly, thru Jesus Christ our Saviour.” Someone told the story of two men who were trapped in a mine cave-in, and poisonous gas was escaping. One man had a wife and three children. He also had a gas mask, but his mask had been torn in the underground explosion and he would have perished apart from the act of the man who trapped with him. This second man took off his own mask and forced it on the man who survived, saying, “You have Mary and the children. They need you. I am alone and can go.”
Another said, “I asked Jesus, ‘How much do you love me?’ And Jesus said, ‘This much.’ Then He stretched out His arms and died” (Unknown). Jesus loves you so much that He went to the cross, stretched out His arms and died for each one of your sins. He loves unconditionally, selflessly, and wholeheartedly.
God’s love for His enemies and His children is the greatest story ever told, and Bible readers have a front row seat. Such a loving One demands our devotion.