Suffice that love is a name of God (1 Jn 4:16), and God has manifested His love for mankind in different ways. God’s love is indeed limitless and no one can expound it completely. Whatever we can see will be a brief idea:
God’s love was first manifested in the creation. How?
In the eternity God was alone present, but He did not will to be alone. Due to His love He willed to bring us into existence. The idea was not new to Him, for nothing is ever added to Him. We were in His mind an idea and in His heart a pleasure. So our existence is the fruit of his love and his beneficence.
A proof of God’s love for man is that he created man in the sixth day, after creating everything for him. He prepared the earth for him to live on, created for him the food and the water and the air, and even the animals which man uses or tames. God made light : the sun for the day, and the moon and stars for the night; and God set rules for them and for the waters and river. He subjected to man the nature of animals, and after all this preparation He created man. This is beautifully revealed in the Liturgy of St. Gregory under the words: “For me ….”:
How beautiful it is to meditate on all this. If the angels had asked God why He had created the sun, the moon, and the stars, or the earth with its fruits and flowers, the birds, and the beautiful nature, He would have answered them, saying, “For the pleasure of man, “My beloved”. Indeed for all God’s gifts preceded our coming into existence.
Another evidence of God’s love for us is that He made us in His image and likeness (Gen 1: 26, 27).
He made us in His image as a being, an intellect, and a spirit which is immortal; and also in His image with respect to purity, chastity, love of good, leadership, and authority. God gave man authority and blessing: “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over…” (Gen 1: 28) So, man became lord over all the earthly creation. Then God gave the same blessing to our father Noah and his children after the great flood (Gen 9: 1, 2). It is true that man has lost some of this authority at present as a result of sin.
Due to His love God put man in a beautiful garden adorned with all types of fruits & flowers.
The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed (Gen 2: 8, 15) Furthermore God created for the man a helper comparable to him: He created her from his side and implanted love between them. Therefore Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.” (Gen 2: 23)
The creation of Eve was a proof of God’s love, for He made them male and female that they might multiply and their descendants be as the stars of the heaven and the sand of the sea shore (Gen 1: 27; 22: 17).
Even after man’s fall God did not abandon His love.
While punishing them God combined the punishment with a promise of salvation, that the woman’s seed shall bruise the serpent’s head (Gen 3: 15). He turned for us the punishment into salvation as we say in the Liturgy of St. Gregory. God also did not curse Adam and Eve as He cursed the serpent, because if He did, the curse would befall all mankind (Gen 3: 14).
Again when God punished Cain, He did not abandon His love, and He set a mark on Cain lest anyone finding him should kill him (Gen 4: 14, 15).
God’s love for man also is manifested in His care for man through the Law and the prophets.
When man deviated and said in his heart there is no God (Ps 14: 1), and all people became corrupt and none did good (Ps 14: 3); their conscience having darkened no more guided them, God sent them the prophets to bring to them God’s voice and commands. He also gave them the holy inspiration and the written law. The first two tablets even were written by God’s own hand (Ex 32: 16).
God did not stop sending prophets to guide the people when they forsook His covenant, killed His prophets with the sword, and tore down His altars (1 kgs 19: 14), even when they worshipped the golden calf (Ex 32) and the idols for a long time.
In His love for man, God was the Good Shepherd to him.
Therefore David sang, saying, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want… He leads me in the paths of righteousness.” (Ps 23) The Lord Himself said, “ I will feed My flock… I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick…” (Ezek 34: 15, 16) He also spoke against the shepherds, who fed themselves and neglected His flock. He said, “ I will require My flock at their hand … I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them.” (Ezek 34: 10).
Also in the New Testament, the Lord says, “ I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep,” “I know My sheep, and am known by My own,” “My sheep hear My voice… they follow Me…They shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” (Jn 10: 11, 14, 27, 28).
God’s care for His people extends to all aspects of their life.
Spiritually, He saved them from their enemies, as He said to Moses, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord… The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Ex 14: 13, 14) Many other examples of salvation are contained in the Book of Judges.
God’s materialistic care revealing His love for His children appears in sending them the Manna and quails, and in sending food to Elijah the Prophet by the Brook Cherith during the famine, as we read the impressive words, “I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” (1 kgs 17: 4) God’s wonderful love also appears in that He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good (Mt 5: 45); He gives to the beast its food, and to the young ravens that cry (Ps 147); He gives food even to the worm under the stone! How wonderful is His love and His kindness to all!
God’s spiritual care covers the whole story of salvation.
He sends His ministers to care for the people spiritually, as St. Paul says, “He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God…” (Eph 4 : 11-13) St. Paul also says about the angels, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb 1 : 14)
The sending of the angels to serve and help mankind is an important evidence of God’s deep love.
Daniel the Prophet tells us about it, saying, “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths.” (Da 6: 22) And Jacob the Patriarch tells us about the angel who redeemed him from all evil (Gen 48: 16). An angel saved Peter the Apostle from prison (Acts 12: 7,11), and an angel killed thousands the army of Sennacherib the king of Assyria and saved the people (2 kgs 19: 35). Truly says the Scripture: “The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” (Ps 34: 7)
In His love also the Lord send angels with good news and joy.
An angel announced to the Virgin that she would conceive Christ (Lk 1: 26 – 38), and an angel announced to Zacharias that they would have John the Baptist (Lk 1: 11 – 20). An angel announced to the shepherds the birth of Christ (Lk 2: 18-14) , and an angel brought to Joseph the Carpenter the birth of Christ (Mt 1: 20, 21). Many angels also brought news of the resurrection to the women, and many other angels brought joyful news to the people.
Out of His love God called us His children.
St. John the Apostle says, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 Jn 3:1) We also pray always addressing God as “Our Father in heaven” (Mt 6: 9). And the words “ Your heavenly father” are repeated many times in the Sermon on the Mount, related to the perfection required from us, or to forgiveness, hidden acts, God’s good things given to us (Mt 5: 48; 6: 4, 6, 14, 18, 31, 32; 7:11)
God’s love also called us “children” in the Old Testament.
He calls every one of us, saying, “My son, give me your heart.” (Prov 23: 26). And the inspiration says about the descendants of Seth, “The sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful.” (Gen 6:2) God also blames His people, saying, “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me.” (Isa 1: 2) And in (Mal 1: 6) God says, blaming them, “A son honors his father and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence?” And the people likewise call Him “Father” : “Look down from heaven, and see … Doubtless you are our Father, though Abraham was ignorant of us … You, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from everlasting…,” “You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter.” (Isa 63: 15, 16; 64: 8).
The word “Father” implies in numerable emotions.
It implies love, compassion, and care, as David the Prophet says, “As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” (Ps 103: 13, 14) The word “Father” also means that He treats us as children, not as servants, and therefore we have inheritance in heaven. We should then love Him because He first loved us (1 Jn 4: 19), otherwise we will deserve the reproach: “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons… But if you are without chastening… then you are illegitimate and not sons.” (Heb 12: 7, 8)
Many other names expressing love are given us by God. :
• He likens us and the church to the bride, as in (Jn 3: 29) : “He who has the bride is the bridegroom and also in the Parable of the wise virgins who watched” till the coming of the Bridegroom (Mt 25), and again in (Eph 5: 25- 33). This love is expressed in a whole Book of the Scripture: the Song of Songs, describing the relationship between God and the human soul. This relationship is also described as the relationship between the head and the body:
• Christ is the head of the church and the Savior of the flesh, and we are members of His body.
• He also is the Vine, and we are the branches. The branch that abides in Him will give fruit (Jn 15: 5).
• We are His own who He loved to the end (Jn 13: 1).
• He called us temples of His Holy Spirit (1 Cor 3 : 16, 17; 6: 19)
The abiding of God in us is a deep matter that needs to be discussed afterwards.
Brother, the pages ended but the subject has not yet ended. The mysteries of God’s love are too deep to be included in one article, or even in one book.
We will continue with the same meditations in the coming issue, God willing.