True Love: From Cover to Cover (Part 1)
I John 4:8 reads - "He who does not love does not know God, for God is love."

When I think about the love of God, my mind often focuses upon the amazing sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for all the world as He was crucified at Calvary nearly two thousand years ago. However, it should be understood that there is much more to the love of God than this--though it cannot be denied that the crucifixion is the culminating act of God's love toward mankind. We will have much to say regarding this central aspect of God's love in our feature lesson this Saturday. But, today I'd like to encourage you to think about the numerous aspects of God's love that are manifested throughout the inspired Scriptures. I believe that the love of God can be seen in every book of the Bible--not just at Calvary--and I will endeavor to begin demonstrating that for you at this time.

The love of God was first displayed in the book of Genesis via the creation of this world and all the beautiful things contained therein. God's love was shown as He made man in His own image and blessed him with the gift and responsibility of free will. Because of God's love, eight souls (Noah and his family) were spared during the global flood. God's love was manifested in the promises He made to the great patriarch Abraham and his descendants. In the book of Exodus, God raised up a deliverer, Moses, to powerfully lead the people out of Egyptian bondage. His love was seen as the Red Sea was parted for His children and the covenant was established on Mount Sinai. The love of God was shown in Leviticus as He instructed His people how to worship and maintain fellowship with Him. God's love was demonstrated to His children in the book of Numbers by guiding them to the border of the Promised Land (after He punished them as a nation for their disbelief). We see the love of God in Deuteronomy as the Lord reviewed, through Moses, His laws with the new generation of Hebrews. He wanted them to know His will so they could obey it and be richly blessed!

In the book of Joshua, God's love was shown as He brought Israel into the promised land and allowed them to conquer it. Although the children of Israel fell into sin time and time again in the book of Judges (and were punished accordingly), God loved them by raising up an appropriate deliverer each time they repented. He continued to forgive them when they came back to Him. The lesson of God's love that can be gleaned from the book of Ruth is that the Lord will embrace anyone, regardless of their nationality, if they will put their faith in Him and obey Him. We see the love of God in the books of Samuel as God promised to set up an eternal kingdom through David's lineage. God's love was demonstrated very clearly toward His faithful children in the historical books of the Kings and Chronicles. He blessed those who obeyed Him and punished those who defied Him (of course, His discipline is also a manifestation of His love; cf. Heb. 12:5,6). Ultimately, He allowed all twelve tribes to be conquered by foreign nations because of their idolatry and infidelity to His covenant. However, He showed His love even as He allowed Jerusalem to be destroyed in that He preserved a remnant (i.e., some survivors). The love of God eventually restored the Hebrew people to their homeland as was recorded in Ezra and Nehemiah. God did not leave His people in captivity! In the book of Esther, the love of God was demonstrated providentially through the saving of the Jewish people from destruction.

Tomorrow, we will continue considering God's rich love, as is seen from cover to cover in the Bible.