Ḥesed: Loyal Love

From deep within the underwater hotel of the fish’s belly, Jonah cried out to the LORD to save him after three days and three nights. Jonah (meaning “dove” in the original Hebrew) confessed that he was wrong to have not taken the message to the people of Nineveh as God had instructed and was now ready to make the journey to give God’s message to these brutal people. God was pleased and caused the giant fish to spit Jonah onto dry land and the message of urgency for repentance and turning from the evil practices they were engaging in to receive God’s forgiveness was in fact preached by Jonah—and received gladly and with gratitude by the Ninevites!

 

This story is familiar for a lot of us, but confusing for most of us. Why would God tell one of his prophets to go to a land where the people (of the Assyrian empire) were committing such wicked acts (e.g. chopping people’s head off and stacking them in pile, hanging people naked on poles, sodomizing pretty little boys and pretty little girls from conquered lands, etc.) when God stated that He was going to destroy them if they did not stop acting in such wicked ways and repent to God? The answer goes back to a Hebrew word; esed. According to Dr. Ron Allen of Dallas Theological Seminary, “Next to the actual name of God in the Bible, esed is the second most important word in all the Bible.”

 

Well, seeing as it is super important, allow us to define the term. esed as defined by Dr. Ron Allen is loyal love. The very things that God had revealed about Himself to Moses many years previous, were now the very things Jonah was struggling with as he had debated whether or not to deliver God’s message to the barbaric people of Nineveh. God described His own nature to Moses in Exodus 37:5-7 in three main ways:

  1. God is compassionate beyond imagination
  2. God is patient beyond expectation
  3. God is filled with grace and truth

 

It is because of God’s esed that anyone is able to be forgiven by God for all the wicked, crazy and shameful things that we do. It is because of God’s esed that John 3:16 is at play for any and all who call upon His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. It is because of God’s loyal love (ḥesed) that the people of Nineveh were told to turn from wickedness or God would destroy them; by stating destruction, God was displaying His ḥesed in the fact that He was delaying the punishment for sin by giving them the ability to repent to God and turn from their evil ways. It is because of the ḥesed of God that Jonah was shown mercy to be swallowed by a great fish, rather than simply drowning in the ocean after being thrown overboard by sailors for running away from God. The LOYAL LOVE (ḥesed) of God is all over the book of Jonah! And if we are honest, it is all over our own lives, too.

 

You see, the beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all centered upon this beautiful fact: Jesus paid the price of death for you, for me and for any and all who would believe it through offering up His (literally) perfect and sinless life to die upon a Roman cross, to be buried in a tomb and to raise from the dead on the third day so that in exchange, we would receive what we do not deserve nor merit—the imputed righteousness of God (Romans 3:23). Now, does that mean that now I am perfect and I am so much better than everybody else? Nope. It means that I did not have a righteousness of my own (and am aware of my own deficiencies); only filthy rags of futile attempts to “be good enough” on my own is all I –or any human for that matter—can bring to the table when approaching God. What it does mean is that when God looks at me, He no longer sees my shame, my guilt and my rebellion—He sees the punishment that Jesus Christ took for me—paid with His own blood (Isaiah 53:5)—and I am seen as pure and clean before Almighty God (Psalm 51:7). Imputed righteousness means that I did not earn right standing before God, but by believing that I need someone to deal with my sin problem and that Jesus Christ did in fact die on a cross to pay from the rebellion of each person of every country and culture around the globe—including me—including you—(Romans 5:8, Romans 8:1-2, 1 John 4:9-10), each believing soul will in fact be saved (Romans 10:9-10).

 

9that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.11For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him;13for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” -Romans 10:9-13 (NASB)

 

“ 8If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” -1 John 1:8-10 (NASB)

 

As we close our brief study on the gloriously eternal implications of the esed of God in the Holy Bible, may we savor and truly rejoice in the reality of God’s LOYAL LOVE, through Jesus Christ, offered freely to any and all who would choose to place their eternal hope and security in His hands as we read Romans 8:33-39:

 

“ 31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36Just as it is written,
            “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG;
            WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”

37But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor 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 8:33-39 (NASB)

 

 

 

 

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VLOG: Christian Apologetics in light of Islam (part 2 of 5)

The Holy Spirit has laid it upon my heart to share of conversations over the past near decade with dear friends from the Islamic faith regarding Christian doctrine. In this five part series, we will explore why Jesus had to die, if there is really only one God, which apostles should we follow, what the Christian church believes regarding other creeds and how does one decide what is right and what is ultimately wrong. May the Lord Jesus Christ be glorified and draw hearts to Himself for He alone is worthy.

You Think You Know Someone: When The Clouds Opened and Salvation Came

“ 7Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13:7 (NASB)

 

Last night, while speaking to the woman I respect and look-up to most in all the world, something was shared with me that instantly brought tears to my eyes and goose bumps to form in ninety-five degree Florida!

 

After two God-ordained encounters that day, one with a calls center woman in Colorado and another with my lifelong friend in North Africa, God led me to call this most cherished woman to my heart, who had loved and guided me from the day of my birth, to share of these events. Yet, as I shared my passion to see the Lord bring salvation to the Muslim people through dreams and visions (as He is already doing—and we have had the personal privilege of speaking with Muslims in two different Muslim countries where this has happened to them)—I was given a blessing that I could not have expected.

 

This woman praised the Lord for all that He had done and then asked me, “Have I ever shared with you the story of my conversion?” I stated that she had told me through the years that she had accepted Jesus when she was young. The elegant and stately woman paused and then began to share her heart’s story.

 

“I was eight years old. I was lying in a field and watching the clouds, when suddenly the clouds parted and I saw Jesus standing there. He was wearing a white robe and I remember His face. He looked right at me and extended His hand out towards me as He said, ‘Follow Me.’ I saw bright lights behind Him and there was music playing. It was at that moment that I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.”

 

Knowing this woman as a strong Christian believer who is solid in her doctrine, I was instantly in tears! I told her how amazing that was to hear and shared that I was covered in goose bumps! She continued.

 

“You know, Katie, as I have gotten older, memories have begun to fade; but that one is as clear as the day I saw Him.”

 

I told her that I was shocked and utterly thrilled to learn of this, but had never, ever heard this from her in all my life. She replied, “I will never forget the way that people would look at me when I would tell them about seeing Jesus. I got tired of the looks from others and just stopped sharing it.”

 

I was amazed to be reminded of the truth of the Holy Bible! What Jesus has done since the beginning of time, He is still in the business of doing! Jesus is personally showing up in the lives of those who desire to please God and radically changing their lives for His glory and their good (Romans 8:28)! If you have some extra time sometime, flip through these examples in Scripture of Jesus inserting Himself into creation both before and after His time of being wrapped in human flesh, to edify the believers and turn strangers to God into friends of God through personal revelation (Genesis 18:1-15, Exodus 3:1-22, Exodus 33:1-23, Exodus 34:1-35, Psalm 16:1-11, Psalm 49:1-20, Psalm 110:1-7, Isaiah 6:1-8, Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, John 4:1-54, John 20:1-31, Acts 2:1-47, Acts 7:1-60, Acts 9:1-31, Revelation 1:1-20, Revelation 19:1-16, Revelation 22:1-21).

 

8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” –Hebrews 13:8 (NASB)

 

I have always looked up to this most amazing woman of stouthearted faith. She has always given a solid, godly testimony with her life through all these years. I thank God for her (Philippians 1:3) and trust that God will use her story to edify others as well. May you be encouraged in the name of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ!

 

“ 12Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.14For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.” Hebrews 13:12-14 (NASB)