(1) And now thus has YHWH said
the one who created you, Jacob,
and formed you, Israel.
Don’t be afraid, for I have redeemed you.
I have given you your name. You are mine.
(2) When you pass through the waters, I am with you,
and through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you go through the fire, you will not be scorched,
and as for the flame, it will not burn you.
(3) For I YHWH am your God,
The Holy One of Israel your savior.
I have given Egypt as your price,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
(4) Because you were precious in my eyes,
You were valuable, and I loved you.
I will give all humanity in exchange for you,
and people instead of your life.
(5) Don’t be afraid, because I am with you.
From the east I will bring your seed,
And from the west I will gather them.
(6) I will say to the North, “Give them up!”
And to the south, “Don’t hold back!”
Bring my sons from far away,
and my daughters from the end of the earth!
(7) All who are called by my name,
whom I created for my honor,
I formed them,
indeed I made them. — Isaiah 43:1-7
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. My devotional wasn’t very much along the lines of a Valentine, so let me talk about it today. Often we’re uncomfortable in church, in Bible studies, in small groups, or in various â€œspiritualâ€ activities to talk about romantic love. Especially amongst men, â€œromanceâ€ is not a very popular type of literature. We think it’s light, and not worthy. We may read it, but we apologize for doing so. Women who want to be sophisticated and 21st century go right along with the men on this.
But God chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and he chose the simple and universal to teach us something complex and uniquely special. Romantic love and sexual passion is God’s best illustration of the way he loves us.
This is emphasized repeatedly in Isaiah. Notice this verse. His people are precious to him, valuable, he loves them. I had this emphasized to me when I noticed that in Deuteronomy 7:7, the same word is used of God’s desire for Israel as Hamor, Shechem’s father, used of his son’s passion for Dinah, a passion that resulted in rape. Now one can make too much of such a connection of words. The word has different precise meanings in different contexts. But God is clearly not afraid to be pictured as passionate.
The extreme desire of sexual passion is the one thing that we have in human life that will serve as an illustration for how much God desires us to be joined with him, to be his people here, and eventually to be with him for eternity. We spend our time worrying about people accidentally ending up in hell. We work desperately to reach someone for Christ because we don’t see how else God will get hold of them. But God isn’t going to be denied that easily. I don’t mean not to work. Be a witness, but do so confidently, not desperately. Do so realizing that God loves each person more than you can imagine.
This is also a good reason for purity. The intensity and focus of romantic love and sexual passion is best shown, and I believe most enjoyable in a one-to-one pure relationship.
Once you realize that God passionately loves you and will passionately and implacably pursue you, add this: His love is unlike our love in that it’s eternal in scope. It’s as much bigger than our love as the universe is than we are. He loves us with an eternal love (Jeremiah 31:3).
Revel in his love today. Embrace his passion.