Every morning while our daughter is eating breakfast, we read to her from her Bible. No, it’s not a regular “adult” Bible. She is only two years old. It’s a children’s Bible, and one of the best I have ever seen. The Jesus Storybook Bible (JSB) by Sally Lloyd-Jones. If you have small kids and don’t have one, you need to stop reading this and go to Amazon.com and buy one. Seriously. It’s definitely worth owning.
Aside from the illustrations, which are FANTASTIC (sample illustration below, Jesus about to be baptized by John the Baptist), one of my favorite parts of the Bible is the way it describes God’s love. In the Hebrew text the word most often used to describe God’s love is hesed. It’s typically translated “stead fast love” and/or “covenant faithfulness.” However, most scholars agree that our English translation of the word doesn’t quite translate the true force behind the Hebrew word. However, I wonder if Ms. Lloyd-Jones hasn’t done it with her children’s translation.
In the JSB, Lloyd-Jones describes God’s love as, and I quote, a “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.” God’s love is relentless. Not that I am a Bible scholar, but in my opinion that is a wonderful translation of the word hesed.
What strikes me about this definition is that it communicates that God knowingly puts Himself in situations where He knows He will get His heart broken. Reading through Hosea this past week reminded me of that yet again. Just like God calls Hosea to marry a promiscuous woman, God knowingly binds Himself to a people who will readily turn their backs on Him, and He knows it. And just like Hosea, God has every reason to dismiss His people from relationship with Him, yet He doesn’t.
It’s His “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love” that compels Him to continue to pursue His people. Even until the point where it hurts. In Hosea 11v8-9 we read,
How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I treat you like Admah?
How can I make you like Zeboyim?
My heart is changed within me;
all my compassion is aroused.
I will not carry out my fierce anger,
nor will I devastate Ephraim again.
For I am God, and not a man—
the Holy One among you.
It’s almost as though you can feel the anguish in His voice. You can sense that His heart is breaking, but His love never stops. It never gives up. It’s always bent on wooing His people back to Him. And this is God’s heart for His people. His heart isn’t hard. He isn’t cold and distant, even when we turn our back on Him. His heart is breaking. It’s longing. It’s yearning for us to be restored to Him.
This painting is is titled “Hosea and Gomer” by Cody F. Miller.