The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful.” Jeremiah 31.3-4.
“How did you two meet?” we will sometimes ask a couple. “Oh, we were at the same party,” she will reply, “and I just felt drawn to him.” The image is of someone being gently pulled towards another by a cord that has somehow become tied around one; and that is the image God uses here of Israel and what he has done to her. And the cord is love … chesed… loving-kindness as the NIV has it.
I explored this word at some depth in my post “The Love of God” on 29 February and, as I said then, it is an almost untranslatable word. But what we know from looking at it in all the contexts in which it is used is that it expresses the absolute, unconditional, limitless goodwill, favour, acceptance and heart of God for his people and for those who will one day be his people. It is an everlasting love, and “everlasting” is ôlam. The root of that word is “hidden” and the word itself refers to the “vanishing point” in past and future beyond which man cannot see. It is the word for God’s eternity. And that is where the love of God stretches from and stretches to. It extended to Israel before Israel even existed on planet earth. It extended to me before I existed on planet earth.
And the effect of his chesed on all upon whom it is set is to “draw” them. Here, through the mouth of Jeremiah, God says that by his love he drew Israel to himself. And Jesus takes this up in John’s gospel. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day,” he says; or, as The Message puts it: “You’re not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me — that’s the only way you’ll ever come” (John 6.44). And the cords that God uses to draw people are still the cords of love.
I see it on Calvary. There is the full expression of the love that will not let me go. And that is what draws me to Jesus and thence to the Father. Jesus himself said: “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (John 12.32). We talk of things having “pulling power” — this is the power of the cross … to pull people out of the well of lostness, loneliness, darkness and despair into the foundness of the family of God.
I’ve found a friend; O such a friend!
He loved me ere I knew Him;
He drew me with the cords of love,
and thus He bound me to Him:
and round my heart still closely twine
those ties which nought can sever,
for I am His, and He is mine,
for ever and for ever.
Thank you, Father, for the love that brought me into being and then brought me to you, and will keep me with you, always. Amen.