God’s love… is love in action
In the Hebrew language the verb “ahabh” (pronunciation: ahav) occurs which can be translated as to love but also includes the meaning of: longing for, being connected to/with, hanging on to, sticking to. This indicates that this concept of “ahabh”/to love also includes desire and connection. Therefore, the word “ahabha” (אַהְַבָה pronunciation: ahava), derived from the verb “ahabh”/to love, has the meaning of: love, affection, devotion, connection.
These multiple meanings are evident in the way “ahav”/to love and “ahava”/love are used in the Hebrew Bible. In it we discover that “ahava”/love is not just a feeling that you experience, or an emotion that you can express, but that “ahav”/to love actually sets in motion. “Ahava”/love drives longingly to the loved one and motivates to hold on faithfully to and stay persistently with those they love. That means that “ahav”/to love is not passive, but manifests itself in an active way. That is “ahava”/love, as God intends and as He gives Himself as the Source of all love.
God’s “ahava”/love for His own people
God’s love is never passive. We see that in His acting with Israel. Out of love He delivered them from slavery in Egypt (Deuteronomy 4:37). He made them His covenant people because “… the LORD “ahav”/loves you …” (Deuteronomy 7:8). We also hear this from the prophets: “I have loved you with an everlasting “ahava”/love …” (Jeremiah 31:3; Hosea 11:1; 11:4; 14:4). In “ahava”/love and pity God will redeem and carry Israel… (Isaiah 63:9). So, He will do it with all His own people.
What God’s love requires
God’s love requires an active response and that is why He asks for complete love with an undivided heart “You shall “ahav”/love the LORD your God with all your heart …” (Deuteronomy 6:5). This is how God’s voice of love sounds on the eve of the entry into the promised land in Deuteronomy. After 40 years in the desert, the Lord God made Moses and the people of Israel look back into that past, to point out again what He did for them in all those years. Hereby they are also presented with what He requires of them “… what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to “ahav”/love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart…” (Deuteronomy 10:12).
Actively responding to God’s love involves faithfully adhering to His Word and commandments and serving Him: “You shall therefore “ahav”/love the Lord your God and keep His charge, His statutes, His rules, and His commandments …”, “… “ahav”/love your God and serve Him…” (Deuteronomy 11:1; 1:13; 1:22). This active response to His love offers much joy and blessing, but it can also mean a sacrifice. But “ahava”/love is also devotion and persistently holding on! The Psalmist knew this “Oh how I “ahav”/love Your law! It is my meditation all the day…” (Psalm 119:97; 119:113; 119:119; 119:127).
Gods giving “ahava”/love
The Bible teaches that out of love for man, God gave His Son to die in place of the lost sinner: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son…” (John 3:16). Celebrating Christmas is remembering this fact of salvation with a heart that responds to His giving love. We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
God’s “ahava”/love that remains silent
The prophet Zephaniah, who so emphatically announced the coming “day of the Lord” with the urgent call to repentance to Him, ends his booklet with this prophecy: “The Lord your God is in your midst a mighty One, He will save …, He will remain silent in His “ahava”/love; He will exult over you … ” (Zephaniah 3:17). That is Divine love in action: it calls for repentance and conversion and invites man to come to Him, the Savior.
Whoever flees to Him with all sins finds eternal salvation through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. God receives man who calls on Him in faith with His Divine “ahava”/love. That is love that remains silent…. Silent about what? About the sins that He as Savior covered with His atoning blood out of love. He did that out of eternal love. “See what a love …” (1 John 3:1). We can gratefully respond to that love:
“I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice …” (Psalm 116:1).
© Copyright dr. Annechiena Sneller-Vrolijk