Perhaps now would be the perfect time to take a look at the love of God for the individual. Honestly, the entire Bible is one very long love letter from God to mankind. I understand the Bible, for the most part, is not viewed in this manner but that is because the god of this world has blinded the minds of people so that they cannot see God's heart.
There are three, perhaps four, ways in which we can view the love of God. We can view it as the love God has and continues to demonstrate toward us. We can also view it from the perspective of our love toward God. Then, we can further view this love as we manifest it toward the other people in God's Family. Finally, the fourth way would be similar to the third, in that it would be the love we manifest toward those who have not believed God and therefore are outside of His Family.
In this teaching we will only be considering God's love for us.
The first major difference between the love the world promotes and the love that God has demonstrated is it's foundational concept of control. One is based upon a deliberate decision, or the mental control to continue to love while the other is subject to ever changing and fluctuating circumstances and situations.
"Young men's love then lies not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes." With these words Friar Lawrence nails Romeo's hormones to the wall. How does she look? Does she have all the right curves, and in the right places? What of her hair and her eyes? And that smile, amazing! The criteria will change from the female perspective but none the less, it is based in feelings and emotions. The love that is not a deliberate decision is as constant as the stock market and just as capable of crashing tomorrow. Or as Juliet said to Romeo, "O, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon, that monthly changes in her circled orb, lest that thy love prove likewise variable." Variable is the perfect word to describe the love two people feel for one another.
Science has handled love from a completely different perspective. "Researchers at the University of Colorado have found that pheromones are detected through the Vemeronasal Organ (VNO) in the nose. The VNO functions as the distinct sensory apparatus that detects pheromones. All people they examined had two small holes on both sides of the hard divider in the nose. The holes are found just inside the opening of the nose. A group of clear cells lies just behind these holes. These cells are similar in appearance to nerve cells. These scientists have concluded these cells are responsible for detecting human sex pheromones. The pheromones then transmit a signal to the hypothalamus in the brain (the brain's center of emotions), sending a chemical message of sexual attraction."
Maybe this explains how the Inuit greeting know as a kunik, what others call an Eskimo kiss, came to pass. They were simply breaking away any ice buildup so they could get a whiff of the other person's pheromones! While the rest of the world runs the risk of never finding love because of having a cold or a runny nose!
God's love is neither based in emotions nor a chemical reaction. God's love is based on His deliberate decision to make another important to Himself. God decided that every person was important to Him. Each individual's welfare and wellbeing is important to God. It wasn't based on how we look, or the wonderful thoughts and emotions that come from our hearts, or a chemical reaction and His over sensitive nose. God's family would be considerably smaller if any of these were His criteria for loving mankind. Also, contrary to popular and common declarations from some aspects of Christianity, God's love is not founded upon how well, or how often we obey Him. That would be circumstance controlled rather than a deliberate decision.
During the Patriarchal, and the Law, and the Christ Administrations God revealed Himself by specific names that allowed both the Gentiles and the nation of Israel to see and understand His love for man.
In Genesis God is Jehovah Jireh, the Lord provides. In Exodus God is Jehovah-Rapha, the Lord that heals. In Exodus God is Jehovah-Nissi, the Lord is our banner or canopy. The canopy in the Eastern culture is a symbol of protection. Jehovah-Nissi is in reference to God's desire to protect people. Who He is protecting us from is His adversary, the Devil and those who stand with him. Sadly enough, He is also trying to protect us from ourselves.
In Judges God is Jehovah-Shalom, the Lord is our peace. In Jeremiah God is Jehovah-Tsidkenu, the Lord is our righteousness. In Ezekiel God is Jehovah-Shammah, the Lord is present. In Psalms God is Jehovah-Raah, the Lord is my shepherd.
These are what have been called the seven redemptive names of God that hold forth the greatness of God's heart to every man. He wants to provide for man's needs including giving him health and protection from enemies, both physical and spiritual. God wants to give man peace and clothe him in righteousness. God wants man to realize that He is ever present with man. Finally, He is their shepherd. A shepherd will incorporate the other aspects we have just seen in the names of God but the one overriding quality of a shepherd is love, His love for His sheep.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Within these six verses God declares some of the names by which He identifies Himself in the Old Testament.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures, Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord provides.
He leads me beside still waters, Jehovah-Shalom, the Lord is our peace.
He restores my soul, Jehovah-Rapha, the Lord heals.
He leads me in the path of righteousness, Jehovah-Tsidkenu, the Lord our righteousness.
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me, Jehovah-Shammah, the Lord is present.
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me, Jehovah-Nissi, the Lord our canopy or protection.
"The shepherd is at the pinnacle of the seven redemptive names of God because the outstanding quality of the shepherd is love. The reason He desires man's fellowship is love. The reason He redeemed us is love. The reason He gave His Son is love. The purpose of man is to love, and as a matter of fact, the purpose of everything is love."
Most realize that God refers to Israel as the sheep of His pasture. But few understand that God also refers to Gentiles as sheep.
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
"Sheep have a strong instinct to follow the sheep in front of them. When one sheep decides to go somewhere, the rest of the flock usually follows, even if it is not a good "decision." For example, sheep will follow each other to slaughter. If one sheep jumps off a cliff, the others are likely to follow. Even from birth, lambs are conditioned to follow the older members of the flock. This instinct is "hard-wired" into sheep. It's not something they "think" about."
When Adam lost holy spirit he became leaderless. As man's body is to be subject to his mind, man's mind was designed to follow the lead and direction provided by holy spirit. When Adam loses holy spirit he becomes leaderless and spiritually ignorant. As Adam and Eve leave the Garden of Eden they are like sheep.
Israel does not come into existence as a nation until Moses leads the twelve tribes out of Egypt, some twenty-five hundred years after Adam has left the Garden of Eden. Prior to Israel becoming a nation all of the world is made up of only Gentiles and the Gentiles, who also are without holy spirit, are like sheep, they are leaderless.
Since holy spirit does not come with the package when a baby is born, like a sheep, a baby is hard-wired to follow someone or something. They come as a blank sheet of paper and they are looking for someone to start writing the "how's" and the "why's" and the "when's" and the "what's" so that they can begin to make some sense out of all the information their minds are receiving by way of the five senses. How a baby is led will determine the initial standards and reasoning a baby develops.
Yet one thing the five senses mind is completely at a loss to comprehend or understand is the spiritual side of life. For the spiritual side of life is the unseen world. Therefore, all humans since the Garden, in the genealogical line of Adam have a gap when it comes to this unseen world.
Into this gap steps those who have spirit and thus have the ability to set a direction for others as they receive direction from that spirit. Men like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Moses had spirit from God and could begin to understand God in light of the names we have already mentioned. These men could also stand in the gap for those around them who lived like sheep, looking for direction.
On the other side of the ledger, God's enemy, the Devil, also has spirits that obey him. A third of all the angels in heaven left with the one named Lucifer, later known as the Devil, when he rebelled against God. He is also willing to supply spirit to mankind to lead them in a direction that is always away from, or contrary to, God. Men such as Cain, and Nimrod, and Terah, the father of Abraham.
All leaders will have spirit from one side or the other. If no spirit is present, then like other sheep that man is looking for someone to follow.
While having holy spirit in the Old Testament provided some leadership for the rest of the sheep it was a leadership that lacked a full or complete spiritual understanding. Much of that which is unseen was still a mystery to them.
And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
This verse in Colossians is speaking about Jesus Christ making known the complete spiritual picture, a picture that until Christ man never fully saw or realized. The Bible, as well as history, shows us that man realized there was evil in the world. There were unseen forces at work that they did not comprehend. They could see the bad things happening around them and to them. But they never fully comprehended or understood why these things took place. The full picture was not seen until Christ came and walked with the heart of God while exposing the deceit and lies of the adversary.
And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
Job is speaking concerning the things that had transpired in the first twenty verses of chapter one. He lost his livestock, and his servants, and his children. All laid at the feet of God yet God took nothing from Job.
First, if these first twenty verses of Job 1 are read carefully you will see that God is not the one who attacked Job. It was God's adversary Satan. Second, these verses read that God gave His permission. Why would God give permission to His enemy to attack a man that loved God?
We read in Romans 6, in an earlier teaching, that we are the servants of the one we obey. Adam obeyed God's enemy, the Devil, and by doing so, he made himself and all that would follow in his line servants of the Devil. It's in Luke 4 that we read Adam surrendered the power and authority God had given him to the Devil. Then it is written in 2 Corinthians 4 that Adam's action made the Devil the god of this world.
God didn't need to give His permission for Satan to attack Job, Job belonged to the Devil because of Adam's action in the Garden. God needed to redeem mankind because mankind was owned by the Devil. Throughout His Word, God endeavors to work with man so that He could redeem man. This is an act of love based solely on God's decision to love us. Had God not made this decision to love us, He would have walked away from man in the Garden.
Consider Jesus Christ. Did he ever carry or use a weapon? Whom did he physically attack or harm? He was known to have turned over tables and yell at men that were making money off of people's belief in God. The tables may have gotten damaged but not the men.
He spoke against hypocrisy, and greed, and selfishness. He taught that all decisions had consequences and responsibility for one's actions. He taught about laying aside worry, and fear, and anxiety. Jesus taught people to have hope. He was known to have fed thousands of people on at least two occasions. Many who were blind, or sick, or crippled were healed by him. He spoke of and taught about love, and compassion, and mercy. Forgiveness was a big theme in his teachings. But mostly Jesus taught about a love that was not based on circumstances, or conditions, or feelings. Jesus walked with the heart of God. Jesus declared the heart of God.
Now consider who stood with Jesus as he was arrested, beaten, condemned, and killed. Not the man born blind who received his sight. Not the thousands he fed or the hundreds that flocked to him as he entered a city. Not the disciples who walked with him and heard more of his teachings than any other and saw his miraculous works. Where were these people as he was being accused? Who was yelling for the release of Jesus rather than Barabbas before Pilate?
What Jesus taught was heard. What Jesus did was seen. Yet people, like sheep, were lead by men who had a different spirit than the spirit God provides. Just as men with a devil spirit lead people to proclaim and lay false accusations at the feet of Jesus, they have lead people to lay false accusations at the feet of God. This has taken place repeatedly since man left the Garden of Eden. This continues to take place even today.
God has always loved mankind and always worked for mankind's deliverance from the bondage and slavery to the Devil. While the Devil, who hates mankind, has always found people to accept his spirits to lead man away from God while laying false accusations at God's feet.
Throughout the Word of God many figures of speech are used to emphasize certain points. One of those figures of speech is called Idioma of the verb, by permission. This figure of speech is defined under idioma as, "active verbs were used by the Hebrews to express not the doing of the thing, but the permission of the thing which the agent is said to do."
For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead:
Following the pronouns, the "they" of "they took him down from the tree" refers back to those who dwell at Jerusalem and their rulers. This is idioma of the verb, by permission for "they", the religious rulers of Israel, did not take him down from the tree but Joseph of Arimathaea took him down , after permission had been given.
Throughout the Old Testament this figure of speech is used of God taking actions that He did not take but rather allowed or gave permission to occur. Again, why would God give His permission? The answer is simple, He is a Just God and He must stand by and back up His Word. God had given the power, and authority, and dominion of the earth to Adam. Adam was formed, made, and created first and therefore he was in charge, or had the final decision. Eve was deceived but Adam's deliberate decision to give what God had given him to the Devil was devastating. God had to abide by the actions of Adam or He would not have been Just. God won't change the rules because things don't go the way He desired them to go. As a Just God He had to abide by Adam's decision and allow the power, authority, and dominion of the world, and all that is in the world, to fall into the hands of His enemy.
Due to Christianity's failure to understand this figure of speech they too have acted like sheep. Following men with the wrong spirit even Christianity has learned to perceive God as an angry and wrathful God. Then Christianity endeavors to twist and contort every principle of logic and reason to proclaim God to be loving while they accuse Him of things like destroying the world with the flood in the days of Noah. God didn't destroy the world, it is the figure idioma of the verb, by permission. The god of this world tried to destroy God's creation and all the people in it!
Like Jesus before Pilate, God has stood before the world with false accusations laid at his feet and even His disciples are nowhere to be found to stand in His defense. Even Christianity declares it is God who condemns, God who makes you sick, God who sends tidal waves and earthquakes. But, it is said, He does these things out of His love for you!
This is not the God and Father that our Lord Jesus Christ has made known. This is not the God that I call Abba, Father. This is not a description of the God who has loved you from before you were even born.
Those who lived in the Old Testament times had a reason to misunderstand, like Job saying God gives and God takes away, or Moses believing God would kill the nation of Israel. But today, men are without excuse when they continue to propound such foolish and ignorant doctrines. For Jesus Christ has revealed the spiritual side of life. He has made known the reality of two spiritual sides and what each side represents. God is Light while the Devil is darkness. God is Love while the Devil is fear. God is Life while the Devil is death.
Jesus Christ made a show of God's adversary. He revealed the darkness in the world and placed it exactly where it belongs, squarely at the feet of God's adversary. Like Dorothy in the Land of Oz, Jesus Christ has pulled back the curtain to reveal the Truth, God is Light and in Him is no darkness at all; God is Love and love does not seek to hurt or harm but rather love endures the foolishness, and ignorance, and arrogance of man while remaining kind, and full of mercy, and grace.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Like sheep mankind has come hard-wired looking for a leader. God has endeavored since man was formed, made, and created to be that leader.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith Jehovah, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you in your latter end a hope.
God has been ever present, Jehovah-Shammah, to guide and direct but man has turned a deaf ear to His God to follow in the footsteps of their father, Adam. Man has rejected Jehovah-Shalom and the peace that He has offered just as men rejected Jesus before Pilate and the religious leaders of his day.
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God...
The words "there is" appear in no text and have been added by man. This is not the statement of an atheist as the one who added these words assumed, this is a statement of a rebellious child and should read, "The fool has said in his heart, no, God..." This man seeks another to lead him and thus says no to God. He is a fool!
It's the man who says, "Yes, God" that is able to see the love of God.
Now, in the Administration of Grace, we have the opportunity to end our slavery to the Devil and the privilege to stand along side of God. We can see through the smoke screen of the adversary and the lies held forth by false or deceived leaders. We can see and fully appreciate God's love for every man as we see what He accomplished in the life, death, and resurrection of His son Jesus Christ.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
We now have peace with God...Jehovah-Shalom.
For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
We have been made righteous by God...Jehovah-Tsidkenu.
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
We are quickened, made alive, healed by the spirit He has created within us...Jehovah-Rapha.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
For us, all things work together for our good...Jehovah-Jireh.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
We are more than, or super conquerors...Jehovah-Nissi.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God is present with us, nothing can separate us...Jehovah-Shammah.
All that is missing is Jehovah-Raah, the Lord is my Shepherd. That is missing because it has been replaced with a higher and greater reality. We do not need a shepherd because we have a big brother in Jesus Christ, we are his body, he is our head. Never again will we be leaderless. For we also have a loving, heavenly Father in God and once again we have power and authority through the spirit He has created within us and the authority we have received in the name of Christ. God has returned us to the original design of body, soul, and spirit. Not conditional as it was with Adam, now this spirit within is our nature. Truly, a treasure in an earthen vessel.
This is the gospel that Paul was not ashamed to preach, the Gospel of Grace, the power of God unto salvation, the righteousness of God revealed, the goodness and love of God made known.
We are not sheep of his pasture, we are children of His household.
We have not gone astray, we have come home to the living room of God's love.
2 Corinthians 13:11
Finally, brethren, farewell [chairo - rejoice]. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.