What love is this?

What love is this?

What love is this?

One problem that second and third
generation Christians have is that we often struggle with
comprehending the depth of God’s love for us. I realized
when I was 16 that although I knew that God loved me, I really
didn’t understand why this was such a big issue. I
hadn’t done a lot of bad things so the incredible sacrifice
He made for me at the cross really seemed to be a bit of an
overkill.

Over the 24 years that have passed
since then, God has graciously opened my eyes and more and more,
my heart swells with grateful love towards the One Who made the
supreme sacrifice for me.

While here in the country of
Turkey, I have been reading a bit of the history of the area,
particularly the era of the Ottoman empire. My mind has boggled
as I have read of the unbelievable excesses and atrocities
committed during this period. From there, I started to think of
similar offences done in other nations and realized afresh, the
amazing depravity of man without God!

In reading Anne Graham
Lotz’s book, “God’s Story”, the bigger
picture emerges of how God made us for a particular purpose
– relationship with Him. History shows that it didn’t
take long for that purpose to be frustrated by the devil using
his puppets, Cain and his descendants. God tried again by wiping
out evil mankind in the flood but the evil just kept popping its
ugly head up again. This time it came in the form of building a
tower to show how mankind could determine their own destiny from
Heaven, without their Creator. God tried once more to gain
relationship with man by scattering them far afield in the hopes
that somewhere, someone would come to their senses and seek Him
as a friend and finally, someone did!

A book called “The Marriage
Masterpiece” by Al Janssen, using the picture of two angels
- Abdiel and Zephon, describes it well. “…a
murmur of surprise and anticipation buzzed among the angels. The
Creator was talking to a man.

“Who is that?” asked
Abdiel.

“The man’s name is
Abram”, Zephon answered. “Listen!”

The Creator was talking to Abram
as a friend, the way He’d talked to Adam in the garden but
rarely to anyone else since. “Leave your country, your
people and your father’s household and go to the land I
will show you”, said the Lord. “ I will make you into
a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and
whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be
blessed through you.”

…Again the Creator met with
Abram. Again the angels heard Him speak, “Lift up your
eyes…go walk through the length and breadth of the land,
for I am giving it to you.”

“I haven’t seen Him so
excited in ages”, said Abdiel.

Zephon smiled as he reflected.
“This is different from when He walked with Enoch. Or when
He instructed Noah to build the ark. This is the kind of warmth
we saw only with the original couple.”

Abram’s relationship with
the Lord God continued to get closer and closer and God continued
to tell Abram of the blessings he would receive from His hand.
Abram, being human, asked for proof that these blessings would
happen.

“In answer, God ordered
Abram, “ Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three
years old, along with a dove and young pigeon.” Abram
understood the instructions, and at daybreak he proceeded to
gather the animals and lead them into the desert. Early in the
afternoon, he slaughtered the three larger animals and divided
them in half, placing the halves opposite each other. The birds
he kept intact.

“What is he doing?”
Abdiel asked.

“Abram and our Master are
making a covenant”, Zephon answered. “I’ve
observed this on a number of occasions. It usually occurs when
two tribes make a treaty, or when a boy and a girl are promised
for marriage to each other by their families. When everything is
ready, usually at sundown, the two parties to the agreement - the
fathers or tribal leaders – walk barefoot through the blood
of the separated animals, thereby signifying that this is what
will happen to either of them if they fail to keep their end of
the bargain.”

“In other words, if one of
them breaks the promise, he forfeits his life.”

“That’s
correct.”

“But God never breaks His
promises. Why is this necessary?”

“I imagine that the man
doesn’t know God the way we do.”

While Abram waited for God to
arrive at the meeting place, vultures began to attack the
carrion. Abram shooed them away. Then, as the sun was setting,
Abram fell asleep, and a terrible darkness descended. The two
angels were engrossed, barely aware that the heavenly stadium had
filled completely to observe the scene. They heard their Lord
speak to Abram, explaining that Abram’s descendants would
surely own this land, but not for another 400 years…The
sun had now completely set and it was pitch-black – the
angels couldn’t even see stars. Then, through the darkness,
the angels saw a light, like a smoking firepot with a blazing
torch, pass between the pieces of carcass. Meanwhile, Abram
remained in a deep sleep. “That’s most
unusual”, said Zephon.

“Why? What’s wrong?
asked Abdiel.

“As I explained earlier,
when two individuals make a covenant, they both pass between the
pieces of the sacrificed animals, signifying that both accept the
terms of the agreement and will pay with their lives if they
violate any of the conditions. But in this case,only
God Himself passed through
.”

“So only He is liable,
right? And He can’t break His word.”

“You don’t understand.
Both the man and God are bound by this agreement. But God
is liable if either party violates the contract. If the man or
any of his descendants breaks his part of the agreement, God must
pray the price for the man’s breach.”

“That doesn’t make any
sense.”

Zephon was quiet for a moment,
meditating on what he’d just witnessed. “I
wonder”, he finally said. “I think God is saying He
cares so much for the man that He is willing to do whatever is
necessary to make this relationship work.”

“Even die!” Abdiel was
so horrified by what he’d just said and slapped his hand
over his mouth. Zephon nodded his head in agreement with his
fellow angel. “You’re right. This makes no sense. No
sense at all.”

I agree – it doesn’t
make any sense at all when viewed through our human perspective
but when viewed through God’s divine and eternal
perspective, it obviously does. This story from the Old Testament
has shown me why, despite the atrocities, the excesses, the hate,
the killing…God still sent His Son to die for us. He is
keeping His part of the covenant made thousands of years ago even
though we aren’t. The driving force for Him to do so is His
fathomless and measureless love. The kind of love that we know
absolutely nothing about!

Even David knew this when he wrote
“As for our transgressions, You will provide atonement
for them.”
(Psalm 65:3)