Day 14 - The Ahabah and Chesed Love of God-Part I

Day 14 - The Ahabah and Chesed Love of God-Part I



Thursday, March 20 2014
 
Some years ago (I don’t plan on revealing how many!) I was working on a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies in Canada. One of the courses I took was on the Old Testament. For one of the papers we had to research and write, my professor challenged me to explore “The Love of God in Deuteronomy”. I started full of questions and doubts. The love of God in Deuteronomy? Wasn’t this fifth book of the Bible full of commands and judgments?  But love – the love of God? When I began, I was convinced that it was going to be the shortest paper I had ever written. When I finished a few weeks later, I had in my hands an 8,800-word document. But more importantly, it was a teaching that transformed my life.  Today, on the 14th day of Lent, I’d like to share with you some of the treasures that I learned about the love of God as revealed in this book.
 
Essentially, Deuteronomy is a “document of a renewed covenant”.  It deals with the “book of the law” according to Moses (Deut. 31:26), and the “book of the covenant” according to King Josiah (2 Kings 23:2).  In the words of Jehovah God, it was a covenant of mercy and love (Deut. 7:9,12 y 13ª). And so, it is clear that the concepts of law, covenant and love are so intimately intertwined in this book that it is impossible to speak of one without implying the other two as well. 
 
Let’s take a look at the love of God in Deuteronomy, where the doctrine of His love for the Israelites is explicit, as is the response of love that He expected from them.  “The love of God for Israel is a result of His election manifested through a covenant.”  So, the two Hebrew words for “love” that are most used in the book, “ahabah” and “chesed”, are intertwined. “Ahabah” speaks of the elective love of God, and “chesed” refers to his covenantal love.  “Ahabah” is what brought the covenant into existence; through “chesed” the covenant continues and endures. 

First, let’s study God’s elective love, that is “ahabah”.  It is an unconditional love, limited only by the nature and will of the one who loves. In Deuteronomy, we see that God elected and chose to love Israel.  God was not obligated to love them; it wasn’t even that they deserved to be loved by Him.  “God simply declared that He loved them because He loved them, and He did so because of the mystery, the sovereignty, and the unconditional nature of His divine love.”  Deut. 7:7,8 says: “The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.  But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors …” Deut. 10:15 says: “Yet the LORD set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations …” God chose Israel because He loved her. From the depths of His loving nature, He simply elected her to be His chosen nation. 

Now let’s examine God’s covenantal love, that is “chesed”.  This love implies an unbreakable faithfulness that both parties of the covenant had to fulfill – in this case, God the superior participant and Israel the inferior participant.  God always fulfilled His part:  He always was, and is, firm, sure and eternal in His love. Israel rarely fulfilled her part:  her love for God was always fickle and changeable. Many times the Israelites provoked the Lord to anger (Deut. 9:22). “You have been rebellious against the LORD ever since I have known you,” Moses lamented (Deut. 9:24). But in His faithful covenantal love, God called Israel to Himself over and over again, not wanting to destroy the nation (Deut. 10:10), always wanting to bless them as He had promised to do (Deut. 7:12,13). “The most important Biblical concept throughout the Old Testament is God’s extraordinary and fierce persistence in continuing to love such an obstinate nation.” 

Dear friends: the Word of God says that if we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, if we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved (Acts 16:31 and Romans 10:9).  And if we are saved, 1 Peter 2:9 says of us: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession…” Just like the people of Israel during Old Testament times, and today still – we who believe in modern times are also included in and encompassed by God’s unconditional and eternal love. 

God loves us with “ahabah”, an elective love; and He loves us with “chesed”, a covenantal love.  He loves us because He chose to love us, not because of who we are, or what we do.  And He will continue loving us, come what may, because His love for us is faithful and unshakeable.  He will continue loving us because He made an eternal covenant with us, and He wants to keep the oath that He swore to us: “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” (Deut.7:9)

Dear friends: let’s give our God and Father infinite thanks for the love He has had for us since before the creation of the world, the love He has for us today, and the love He will have for us for all eternity. “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”  (Jeremiah 31:3)

P.S. Tomorrow we will continue with the “ahabah” and “chesed” love of God for Israel and for us …


 


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