For God so loved. It couldn’t possibly mean romantic love, now could it? Yet the love of God for backsliding Israel is presented to us who love his word as the relationship between lovers. God took a forsaken child, nursed her, cared for her, cleansed her and put his beauty on her.
God writes in Ezekiel 16
I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: [thy] breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou [wast] naked and bare. Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time [was] the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers’ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head. Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment [was of] fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it [was] perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD.
The language suggests a love relationship where God greatly desired the love of his people Israel as a man desires the beauty and love of a wife. God speaks to Israel in terms of commitment and endearment. He saw her grown from a polluted childhood, transformed into a beautiful woman, and he desired her beauty. She was unfaithful, and God calls for her return. He will, though betrayed consistently, wait patiently for her return. She will.
Jer 3:14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:
So, where do we discover God’s heart? Where do we find his love, his desire towards this one who betrayed him? You see it in full display at Calvary. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” when he could have destroyed them all.
So, what about the church, known to those who study scripture as the bride of Christ? What language! His use of the word bride suggests that Jesus Christ has a deep longing for the love of his people – the love of a man for his bride. Startling thought…if we humans who have not lost heart, have deep unquenchable longings for true love, how much more does the one whose heart is perfect, who created in us this longing, desire the love of his people, his church, those he purchased with his own blood. We are Christ’s bride. He is waiting for the wedding, ironing our wedding garments for us. Making us beautiful in his sight.
The only conclusion I can come to in all this is that God is a hopeless romantic, with a deep desire for the love of his bride, his church. We are invariably on the receiving side of all this. Perhaps we should listen for his voice. It’s a still small voice telling us he loves us. If we could be still long enough for him to manifest himself in our hearts, we could have the inestimable privilege of loving him and giving him that which he gave all for us. Let’s prepare our hearts for a visit from the Saviour. What if he really showed up at your heart today!