Summary: Message uses God's dealings with Israel to teach about the love of God.
God’s Enduring Love
Richard Tow 8/21/16
Our text this morning is Jer. 31:3-4. “The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. 4 Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! You shall again be adorned with your tambourines, And shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice.’”1
That word came to Israel at a time when they were captives in Babylon, far from home. They were despised and belittled by the captors. Their hopes and dreams had been shattered. Their joy was gone. They had lost everything. In Psalm 137, we get a vivid picture of the despondency they must have felt. They are sitting down at the rivers of Babylon. As they thought about the way things used to be, as they reflected back on their homeland, they began to weep. They had lost their homes; they had lost their place of worship; they had lost their freedom. They were known for their celebrative songs of worship; but they their harps upon the willow trees. Instead of giving them sympathy, the Babylonians mocked them. Now their captors want them to sing one of the grand old songs of Zion. But they couldn’t do it. There was no celebration in their hearts, only pain. Psalm 137:4 “How shall we sing the LORD's song In a foreign land?”
That’s context in which Jeremiah gave this word to Israel. It is a word of encouragement and hope that these people desperately needed. “The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. 4 Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! You shall again be adorned with your tambourines, And shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice.’”
Three things God wants His people to know:
(1) The kind of love He has for them. “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love”
(2) The way He has drawn them unto Himself. “Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.”
(3) The plans He has for them. Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! You shall again be adorned with your tambourines, And shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice.”
I. The kind of love God has for His people is “an everlasting love.”
A. Is not up one day, and down the next.
It is steadfast and consistent. It is not an emotional response. We use the word love in our society for many different things. We love God. We love our dog. We love a certain kind of fabric. We love ice cream. The world often confuses lust with love. Instead of saying, “I want you for my pleasure” they say, “I love you.” Perhaps the same problem existed in Jeremiah’s day. At any rate, it was necessary for God’s people to know that God’s love for them is “an everlasting love.”
B. It did not begin with something they did.
It was not based on their performance. Just as a new mother loves her child the day he is born—before he has ever done one thing right or one thing wrong, God loves His children because they are His children.2 That new born baby messes in his pants, disturbs Mom’s sleep at night, and contributes nothing to the finances of the household—but none of that matter. Mom and Dad gladly change the diapers, warm the formula, and pay the bills. “Love covers a multitude of faults.”3 Real love prevails over everything else. Real love “never fails.”4 And if an imperfect human can love like that, think of the love an infinite God is capable of having. God told Israel that He did not choose them because they were more in number than any other people. In fact, they were the least of all people. But it was simply because He loved them and would keep His oath to their fathers. Deut. 7:9 "Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.” God wants His people to know the consistency and stability of His love for them.
God’s love for you is based on who He is; not who we are. “For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore, you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob” (Mal 3:6). Rom. 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” That tells us a lot about the nature of God’s love toward us. It’s not as fragile as you might think. It persisted even when Israel was unfaithful to Him. It did not fail, even when Israel did fail.5