Not to long ago, I was seriously struggling with the concept of God’s love. It seemed to good to be true.
I would constantly ask (and still do sometimes), “Why on earth would God include me among the redeemed and saved? Surely my sins and rebellious heart disqualify me. I sin constantly! I give lip service to the idea of God’s love, but I consistently fail to honor him. Why would he even notice me, let alone, save me!? He’s certainly given up on me at this point! Hasn’t he?”
Well, no. He hasn’t. Yes, he wants me to honor him, but I’m not necessarily disqualified when I fail to do so.
Sure, it should be the goal of every believer to follow Christ with every fiber of their being. But following has a context that’s rooted in prior commitment– a marriage proposal.
I began unearthing this profound truth when a mentor of mine pointed out the Hebrew word ‘yada.’ A rough translation of this in English is: to know, to be known or to have intimate knowledge of something or someone.
The Old Testament (originally written in Hebrew) uses ‘yada’ to describe sexual intimacy between a husband and wife. God uses ‘yada’ to describe his intensely intimate (or sexual) union with the nation of Israel.
Admittedly, this idea made me a bit uncomfortable at first. Our culture has so twisted a pure and holy meaning of sex that it took me a while to buy into this idea. But, when I went to the Old Testament book of Hosea, I realized that God’s relationship with Israel is understood best as a sexual relationship between a husband and wife.
God bonded himself to Israel! He married them and consummated that relationship over and over again through his faithful acts of redemption and deliverance! (Exodus 20; Isaiah 62:5).
The Bible describes Israel’s relationship with God in this way because sex is the only parallel we have to understand it. Its the only union that comes even close to the capturing the type of intimacy which God desires to have with his people.
In reality, God’s desire for intimacy is much-much deeper than we can ever know!
In other words, Israel and God didn’t just know his each other in the generic sense (like you and I know our friends). No, this is deeper! This is intense! He’s their LOVER!
Guess what folks. If we believe that God never changes (which I do), then this still applies today!
He is still deeply, and I mean DEEPLY, personal. We see this best in the type of language used to describe Christ’s relationship with the Church:
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride [the Church] has made herself ready.” Revelation 19:7
This is marriage language–along with all (and I mean ALL) the joy and anticipation brides and grooms feel on the ‘big day’!
The author of Revelation is rejoicing, because the long expected moment is here! Christ–the groom–is to wed his beautiful bride–the Church!
If you’ve believed in Christ as your savior, and have committed to follow him, then you’re a part of this! You’re part of the most intimate relationship that anyone can ever have!
Admittedly, I’m still thinking through the concept of “yada.” I’m hardly a Hebrew scholar (I only know a few words), but the concept is true enough.
It’s so easy to doubt as I did. We get caught up in sin, shame and fear, wondering with every passing failure, if this was the last straw. Did God finally give up on us?
No! He didn’t.
He loves us SO intensely and SO passionately that he, literally, GAVE HIS BODY over to us (Galatians 2:20)! That is love. That is relationship. He LONGS for us even more than a man longs to be with his wife!
We are betrothed to God through Jesus, and he’s STILL planning to marry us!
So, be faithful to him, not to earn his love, but because of his ‘yada’! He knows you, he loves you and he LONGS to be with you….even now!