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The Love of God

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures for ever. 1 Chronicles 16:34

The idea that our God is a God of love is something we take almost for granted, but it was a strange idea to the rest of the world when Israel began to proclaim it and rejoice in it over three millennia ago. The gods of the nations were anything but loving – they were cruel, vengeful, aloof, hostile, unforgiving and merciless; and they looked on those who worshipped them with contempt and scorn. But not so the God of Israel: he is good and his love endures for ever. What is this love of his?

The Hebrew word is chesed and it is a difficult word to translate. In the King James version of the Bible it is rendered by no less than six different English words: kindness, mercy, pity, favour, goodness and loving-kindness, and indeed here, in 1 Chronicles 16:34, the King James version has “for his mercy endures forever”. The fact is that the word contains all those meanings. It signifies the absolute unfailing goodwill that God has towards all his creation, his total commitment to the well-being of human kind whatever the cost. And, of course, though Israel did not know it, God’s chesed for the world would find its ultimate expression in his stepping down into his creation, taking human flesh and allowing the human race to nail him to a cross. That is chesed … faithful love in action, seeking, saving, rescuing, redeeming, restoring.

And it endures for ever. It never fails, as Paul puts it (1 Corinthians 13:8). As I sit writing this it is radiating out from God to me, filling me, surrounding me, working in me with unfailing patience and persistent power to bring me to glory.

Lord, thank you for your love. Amen.

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