God’s love unmeasured

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 3:16-18, New American Standard Bible

This message is hugely savaged by commentators old and young, neophyte and expert. Many will say that this is their favorite verse because it speaks of God’s great gift and great love. However, the intent and even the speaker is not properly ascertained. “For God so loved” is often thought to be an expression of how much God loved (or loves), but the operative word “so” is properly the adverb “thus”.  The writer the is attempting to say this is how God loved the world, in that he gave his only son.

Furthermore the model or example of giving life is to be related to the bronze serpent the desert episode which appears also right here in the context of John 3:16

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;

John 3:14, NASB

Giving up a son is a powerful precedent

Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, “By Myself I have sworn”, declares the Lord, “because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies.”

Gen 22:15-17, NASB

Not only does God prefigure the giving up his son but he makes Abraham’s giving up his son to be the avenue of great blessing to Abraham’s descendants in the years to come.

Childbirth as an effective solution

The gift of a son is often momentous: Seth replacing Abel (Genesis 4:25), addressing Hagar’s affliction with the birth of Ishmael (Genesis 16:11), reversing the childlessness of Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 17:16), transforming a barren womb with Samson’s birth (Judges 13:3), and the establishment of eternal government by David’s son (Isaiah 9:6-7).

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.”

Isaiah 9:6-7

It is without a doubt the profoundest expression of love is to give a life, and since God is love it must be obvious that he does not love the world with “part of his heart” or with less than all of his resources. The idea that God loved the lost world “so much” that he gave his son must make us inquire about how much love is directed towards the saved world. Divine love is immeasurable.

Love enforced is freedom’s wasteland

The commands to love God or one another only make sense in a culture or environment where hearts are deemed to be incapable of doing what comes natural to God and by any reckoning is the normal human pattern. I am pretty sure that parent-child love does not need to be commanded, so the presence of water in that bucket after hundreds of years of being under orders to love God raises questions about human freedom to hate and God’s love for freedom. The glorious liberty – not yet seen in full bloom – of God’s people is inconsistent with the indecision about what love between God and humans really looks like. Love for one another faces unsurmountable problems in the tradition of Mosaic instruction and levitical ministry.

It is incredible that we have not thought of asking Yeshua why a priest can violate Sabbath regulations and be blameless. The answer is quite simple and shows people in the grip of deception with their most precious possession being outrageous righteousness defined by the law of Moses. You can be forgiven for not believing Moses when he said “Ask Yeshua”. At least Moses knew who was in charge!

It is public knowledge – yet even the prophet and the prelate do not know – that a hungry person could enter the priestly compound, eat food expressly forbidden to anyone who is not from the priestly family, and face no charges. It is obvious that the sabbath and the law are lords of people who are mired in idolatry.

When I speak of love and God as inseparable I take my cue from the New Testament’s declaration that “God is love” and that God demonstrates that love tangibly. I also refer to the Old Testament declaration of God’s enduring goodness, lovingkindness and mercy. It was a big deal, that the people celebrated in the central shrine in a big way.

and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,” the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud,

2 Chr. 5:13

Let us suppose that in the three years of Christ’s public ministry he never helped a needy soul on the Sabbath or that he did nothing that was thought to be God’s prerogative salvation would still be a dream and God’s love and the human response would be respectively a thing he demonstrated by choosing one of earth’s family and a thing demonstrated by obedience to a covenant that had neither forgiveness or adoption. The facts are not supposition.

God’s love and human salvation are entirely in the divine love stream. The love demonstrated by God in saving (pardoning all sin, adopting believers by means of the Holy Spirit). Salvation is not a condom and the Holy Spirit is not a agent of law and sin. So even with the law written in their hearts believers need forgiveness every day, or Christ and John are unreliable witnesses.

What future does a woman from one of Israel’s neighbours have when she becomes the wife of an Israelite, having been on the enemy list along with all her compatriots?

Human freedom to hate and divine love for freedom.

We cannot imagine God saying that his ultimate goal is expressed in the jubilee and at the same time I want you to be loyal to a a human, or human agency, or a particular family. What have we learned about a father’s love,

Abraham can enlighten us.

He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Gen. 22:2

Love in Mosaic instruction stands opposite particular behaviours: vengeance and grudging.

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. Lev. 19:18

Love insists on including outsiders

You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. Lev. 19:34

Love directed at God is on the same level as that directed at one’s neighbours

  • You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. Lev. 19:18
  • You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deut. 6:5
  • Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. Deut. 10:19

Loving God seems equal to fulfilling covenant duties

“You shall therefore love the LORD your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always. Deut. 11:1

Loving parents and loving a spouse are very different matters

And Samson’s wife wept over him and said, “You only hate me; you do not love me. You have put a riddle to my people, and you have not told me what it is.” And he said to her, “Behold, I have not told my father nor my mother, and shall I tell you?” Judg. 14:16

Loving things like traditions or practices stand opposite standards and practices

  • ​you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions; Ps. 45:7
  • You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking what is right. — Selah Ps. 52:3
  • You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue. Ps. 52:4

Contrast these “loves” with a personal love.

Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.

Eccl. 9:9

Loving God is not transactional; no benefit for which we can pay

Rejoice not, O Israel! Exult not like the peoples; for you have played the whore, forsaking your God. You have loved a prostitute’s wages on all threshing floors. Hos. 9:1

Loving God is not to be reduced to rituals

offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them; for so you love to do, O people of Israel!” declares the Lord GOD. Amos. 4:5

God’s love and hate are real but unlike the human versions

“I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob Mal. 1:2

Serving one master and hating the other

Hate is legitimate behaviour when it comes to choosing a certain kind of relationship. This kind of hate does not attack, assault, or plot the demise of its object. This hate starves the lines of fellowship. The object of this kind of hate gets little, if any, of one’s time. The hated master or mistress loses the ability to command or instruct.

Matthew 6:24

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Matthew 6:24

An entity deserving to be called masster has no rival. Humans are not equipped to be mastered by more than one entity. Yeshua addressed having two masters as impossible not as a problem anyone can resolve. This demonstrates the folly of sitting on any fence when matters of God’s kingdom are the concern.

Love needs no reason. One “like” or a thousand professions even for the ultimate reasons is not lovemaking.

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

Matthew 5:46

“You shall love me no matter what your life looks like, no matter where life leads” is a hard call. It is so hard that everyone practically looks elsewhere for relief every day. If we could eat something different every day we would. That love seems to apply only to God, and that kind of love has not been accepted by any culture. Who else, holding the keys to life, death, liberty and bondage, deserves to be loved and adored?

Love’s unfinished business

There has to be a thing called love beyond being obedient like a servant or a child. Divine love is not a construct of the created world. It transcends creation. Natural and supernatural love part ways, and the recognition and acceptance of it shapes the concept of life unmistakably. The endurance of the Jewish people shows us that love is not the transactional affair our teachers have told us it is. Seeing that love is a matter that God reveals to individuals (Matthew 16:15-20) prevents lipservice and ritual from overrunning the relationship. Seeing it is unlikely and problematic if proof of love is loyalty and obedience. That picture is simply the cause of tension and anxiety: anxiety over whether to swerve God or to love one’s neighbour. Should there not be a love for God outside of hearing everything he demands? There has to be lovemaking after the covenant obedience is achieved.

God reveals vital matters to individuals not groups

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Matt. 16:15
Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matt. 16:16
And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. Matt. 16:17
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matt. 16:18
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matt. 16:19
Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. Matt. 16:20

Thankfully the covenant that is open to all humans demonstrates the greatest love known, and does not depend on human loyalty to the covenant’s stipulations. The covenant that brings humans into God’s family is entirely God’s doing. The covenant path is uncomplicated: God gives His Son, His Son dies, and His resurrected Son sends the Holy Spirit to seal everyone who believes the gospel.

The Great Love

By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jn 13:35

Some say that this identification is not enough. I suppose that in their book “love is NOT the greatest thing”.

Isn’t that like dumping the cross?

Doesnt that leave one wounded and bleeding, heading upcreek without a paddle?

Since “The whole of man is fearing God and doing what we are told” (Ecc. 12:13) the example that of doing God’s will that permeates the spiritual world is the Word of God becoming human so he could give his life as a ransom.  One act of love by God illustrates his expectation and execution. 

We who tell people to be obedient to the law or God or parents do we have a record of compliance? Isn’t there a whole lot of blasphemy, childish folly, and idolatry in our history? Isn’t there enough evidence to plug our trashy megaphones?

Nay-sayers and evildoers

21. you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? 22. You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23. You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?

Romans 2:21-23

When God’s love touches us on the inside we love people without distinction.