Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Love of God

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

There are many, many hymns that I could say are my favorites. In fact, I’ve had to quit saying that because I say it so much: but if I was stranded on a deserted island, and could only have 3 or 7 or 18 hymns, I would definitely have to include this one.

The word pictures in this hymn really bring the truth of God’s love alive for me. God’s love is greater, bigger, longer, higher, deeper than any tongue or pen could never tell. EVER. If everyone on earth was trained as a writer and used every branch, blade of grass and stem as a quill, dipping it in the ocean filled with ink, and writing on the paper sky, it would drain that ocean dry to write about God’s love. Think about this: every one on earth is writing, dipping their quills in an ocean full of ink. The ocean goes dry because there is so much of God’s love to write about. And the paper sky fills up, it can’t contain all the writing about God’s love. There’s just too much. Isn’t that an amazing picture?

As Christians, we believe that God’s love was demonstrated to us in the sending of His son to die for our sins. He reconciled us to Himself, and pardoned us from our sin. God’s love redeemed Adam’s race.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). Ephesians 2:4-5

But God’s love is so much more than sending Jesus. Certainly, His plan to redeem His creation was in place from the time Adam and Eve sinned (Gen. 3:15), but God shows His love to His people in all things. In the Old Testament, God led His people out of Egypt and protected them until they reached the land He had provided. His incredible love for them meant that they had rules to follow and commandments to keep. He put those in place for their protection. He disciplined them out of love. He had a purpose in mind for them: that they would get to the land He had ordained for them. And, eventually, they did.

I think it’s examples like those that inspired the 3rd verse of this hymn. That verse is from a Jewish poem, Haddamut, written in 1050 by Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai. This is the part I find extremely amazing: the man who wrote the 3rd verse doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Messiah. He doesn’t believe that God sent Jesus to die in our place and redeem us, reconciling us to God and promising us an eternal future. And yet, look what he says about God’s love: it would drain the ocean dry if all the scribes were to write about it. The scroll couldn’t contain the whole of God’s love, if it was stretched from sky to sky. God’s love is THAT big, even to someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus.

God’s love will endure, when time has passed away, when earthly kingdoms fall, when men call on mountains instead of Him. It is sure, it is strong, it is more beautiful and greater than tongue or pen can ever tell.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. II Cor. 13:14

The Love of God

Words by Frederick Lehman

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.


Vicki said...

Beautiful reflections on the love of our great God! Blessings to you!

Susanna said...

I have never read that hymn before.
I have a favourite hymn about God's love- 'O love of God how strong and true, eternal and yet ever new'

Was reading this morning from John 4- about the water of life, and the idea that we never thirst again in Him. His resources never run out- and endless stream of all we need. Amazing.

Blair said...

What a beautiful visual!!! Oh the Love of God!! Thank you so much for sharing this, it has blessed me greatly!

Rebecca said...

I like what you say about the love of God. Your right. there is NO WAY EVER that we can tell all about Gods Love for us. But you are wrong about the auther of the third verse. This was written by a man in a asylum who was said to be demented. The lines were discovered after his death. This fact is known ervery where, and it is on the internet under Frederick M. Lehman. I would say that the writer of the third verse know who God was and still is. Rebecca Bailey

Sara said...

Rebecca, the man in the asylum is the one who wrote the Jewish poem. In his book, Frederick Lehman, who wrote (the first two verses of) "The Love of God" says:

"One day, dur­ing short in­ter­vals of in­at­ten­tion to our work, we picked up a scrap of pa­per and, seat­ed up­on an emp­ty le­mon box pushed against the wall, with a stub pen­cil, add­ed the (first) two stan­zas and chor­us of the song…Since the lines (3rd stan­za from the Jew­ish po­em) had been found pen­ciled on the wall of a pa­tient’s room in an in­sane asy­lum af­ter he had been car­ried to his grave, the gen­er­al opin­ion was that this in­mate had writ­ten the epic in mo­ments of san­ity."

Leland Bryant Ross said...

The passage from the Haddamut, that Lehman thought had been written by a recently deceased insane asylum inmate, was not original with Rabbi Meir, either. The rabbi drew much of the thought and imagery from the Qur'an, sura 37. The precise citation is from the 31st sura, at 31.27; as given by Ken Nafziger, Professor of Music at Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia in the Summer 2013 issue of The Hymn, the passage may be translated as

If all the trees on earth were pens,
and the ocean were ink,
replenished by seven more oceans,
the writing of God's wonderful signs and creations
would not be exhausted;
surely God is All-Mighty, All-Wise.