As Valentine’s Day approaches, our hearts tend to turn towards thoughts of love. It’s human nature. We all know that the idea of love comes from God. But how does God describe his love for us? As I read my bible every day, and follow my plan to complete the bible in one year, I find myself in the book of Exodus. We find in chapter 34 God passes before Moses, and he proclaims who he is. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7 ESV). This falls right in line with how Paul describes the Love of God in 1 Corinthians 13. Love is patient and kind. Love does not envy or boast. It is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV). This is the love of God. This is what love is supposed to look like. This is the love we so often focus on. But this is not the only way God describes his love for us in Chapter 34 of Exodus. For you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God, (Exodus 34:14). How often do we think of God as Jealous? God is a jealous God. God is a jealous lover. Let me expand on this.
How many movies have you seen in your lifetime? How many of those would fall into the category of Romance, Romantic-Comedy, or Chick Flicks? In the tens or hundreds of thousands of movies ever made, what do better than 90% of all the movies in the genres of romance or chick flick have in common? They all involve a male character who, by the end of the movie is so head over heels in love with a woman, that he is willing to do something insane, crazy, something outlandish, and so over the top, that she can’t help but notice him and how much he loves her. The male character would stop planes, trains, and taxis, he would shout her name from roof tops, mountains, and stadiums speakers, he would put himself in the most dangerous situations, risking death to proclaim his love for the apple of his eye. The romance story that God released is no different. It’s about a lover (God), who was so head over heels in love with a woman (his bride, the church), that in his jealousy, he would do something so crazy, so dangerous, so over the top, that we (his bride) would see his love for us on display. For God so loved the world, he sent his only begotten son, that whoever would believe in him, would have eternal life (John 3:16). Do you see how far God is willing to go to prove his love for us? Do you see the jealous lover in John 3:16?
God’s bride, his people, had wandered from God. They had fallen for another lover, the world around them. But God, being a jealous lover would not stand for his woman being with this other man. He would move heaven and earth to prove his love to her. God yearns jealously for us. God is jealous and yearns jealously after us. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us?” (James 4:5 ESV). This Greek word for yearning jealousy can be more accurately described as a hunger, an ache, an intense desire for something. A better way to describe the jealous yearning of God, is to paint a picture of a junky or an alcoholic, who is so addicted that they can’t think of anything else. They long for another fix. The need it to live. God’s jealous yearning for his people, his bride is the same. He is willing to do anything, spare no expense in doing whatever it takes to get our attention. Much like the main male character in a romance movie, God is willing to do whatever it takes to profess his love for us, in such a way we cannot ignore it.
My favorite scripture paints this very picture. A God so jealous and so passionate about his creation, that he will stop at nothing to have her. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV). God so loved the world (jealously yearned for it) he sent his Son. There is so much to unpack in this scripture. It shows to what extent the jealous lover of our souls is willing to go, to show his great love for us.
This passage starts with though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God as a thing to be grasped. Jesus was in the very form of God. This scripture is clear. But the word picture used to describe “in the form of God,” more literally means, they were exactly the same in every way shape and form. Every scripture used to describe God, also described Jesus himself. They were exactly the same in every way. Jesus had all the attributes of the Father. When the scripture describes God as “all powerful”, “all knowing”, everywhere, it also describes a pre-incarnate Jesus. Jesus was all knowing, all powerful, able to be anywhere and everywhere, he had a glory that could kill you in an instant. And He said, I will make my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name the LORD. And I will be gracious, to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But, he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” (Exodus 33:19-20). To look upon Jesus was to see the very face of God, and that was death. Jesus was in every way, God.
Philippians continues, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. This is just part of the crazy, over the top plan to show his love. Jesus could not keep the things that made him like the Father, and fit it all into the body of a man. He would have to give it all up for the one he loves. It says “He emptied himself.” Jesus stripped off the things that made him exactly like the father. All the “kill you glory”, all the power, all the knowledge, he removed and laid aside to show his love for us. The part that gets my attention the most is, he will never be able to put all that back on again. It was laid aside for us. God had changed into a man, knowing he would never be the same again. If that isn’t the heart and passion of a God who yearns jealously for us, I don’t know what is. He would never again be everywhere at once. Scripture says he is in one place now, at the right hand of the Father interceding for the believers. He would never again have the power to create worlds. He would never again have a glory that would kill you if looked upon him. He would never be the same again. But that wasn’t enough. He had to go further in proving his love for us.
This passage of Philippians wraps up by saying, and being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. It wasn’t enough that the God who created the universe and all that is within it, would strip himself of the things that make him God. He humbled himself further, paying the ultimate price for love. Paying the penalty for our sins with his very life. Taking our place in death, a death that we deserve. He suffered and died the most horrible death that man could come up with. The death of the cross. He was spit on, punched, made fun of, beaten beyond recognition, given a crown of thorns, and then nailed to a tree; all for the apple of his eye, all for the love of his life, us. For the joy set before him, as Hebrews says, he endured all this for us. This is the greatest love story ever told. A lover who yearned jealously for the one he loved. So jealously, he would pay any price to have her. He stripped himself of all that made him God, never to pick it up again, changing himself forever. He came to earth as a man, paid for us with his life. All to show his creation his love. For God so loved (jealously yearned for) the world, that he sent his only son, (displayed his love for us), that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Does God have your attention? Can you see how far he was willing to go for you? He couldn’t stand not having you with him, he couldn’t stand not being with you. You are the one he loves. He would spare no expense. He would do whatever it takes. He loves you enough to shed his own blood and give his own body for you. I for one cannot help but love him back. I for one cannot help but adore him and sing his praises.
During a holiday filled with love and admiration, during a season of displaying our love for our significant others, may we remember how far God was willing to go to put his love on display for us. May we remember the jealous lover who would spare nothing to have us unto himself. May we remember the height and depth, width and breadth of God’s love for us! Amen.