Saturday, October 17, 2015

Love Story--by Linden Malki

God is Love--and He made us to love Him and each other; that men and women were made to love and become "one flesh".  When St Paul in his letters commands husbands to love their wives, he is not saying anything new; he is drawing on this very old pattern.  We see Abram/Abraham's love for his wife--that even when she had no children, he still did not send her away, which would have been common in his situation, and only took Hagar on Sarah's instigation.   We are told that Isaac loved Rebekah at first sight; and years later, he found himself in a situation where he was afraid to say she was his wife, thinking that Abimelech, a Philistine king, might kill him to get her.  What blew that story was that when Abimelech saw them together it was obvious what their relationship really was. 

One of the amazing love stories in the Bible is Jacob, who worked for fourteen years to earn the right to marry Rachel, and was inconsolable when she died, even though he had a houseful of available women.  In the story of Ruth, Boaz shows  his love for Ruth.  At the beginning of the story of Samuel, Elkanah tells Hannah of his love for her. 

We read that God not only commands the Israelites to love Him, but also expresses His love for them. He explains in the incident where Balaam is hired to curse the Israelites on their exodus trek through the wilderness, that "Yahweh your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because Yahwah your God loved  you." (Deut 23:5 Jerusalem Bible). We see the relationship between God and Israel expressed when King Solomon was told, "Blessed be Yahweh your God who has granted you His favor, setting you on the throne of Israel. Because of Yahweh's everlasting love for Israel, He has made you king to deal out law and justice."  By the time of Hosea, God is describing Israel as an unfaithful wife,  who turns her back on the covenant given them by God and messes around with the idols of their neighbors.  Unfaithful--but still loved.

And then Jesus came into a Judah that had finally gotten the rules down, but had somehow forgotten the reason: God's love. Jesus makes it clear from the beginning that He has come to restore the relationship, staring with John 3:16-17.

We see Jesus' referring to Himself as the bridegroom, and implying that His followers are the bride. In the final act of the drama,  in Revelation 21, we have the image of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, where the Family of God is complete.

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