“Where in the Bible is the actual word love found for the first time?” I guess I hadn’t ever thought of that question until a friend asked me? He had attended a powerful Easter service and the pastor had addressed this topic. So now I am asking you, “Where do you think the word love is used in the Bible first?” Don’t be tempted to read ahead, but rather start with a mental search through the beginning chapters of the book of Genesis. Did you guess God’s interaction with Adam and Eve? Surely you find it there with the creation of man and woman? Nope, keep going! Noah and God’s salvation story with the ark? Sorry, not there either. Maybe when God called Abram to be the Father of all Nations in Genesis 12? You’re getting close but not quite. You have to journey all the way to Genesis 22:2 to find the word love for the first time:
“Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love and go to the region of Moriah (present day Jerusalem). Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
Are you as blown away as I was when my friend pointed this out to me? God kept the word love sacred until the perfect time to unleash it in this story of amazing sacrificial love. As I went back and read through Genesis 22 the picture of a father’s love for his son, a son’s love for his father and Abraham’s amazing love for God gripped me. Here you have a triad of love that goes beyond what my puny mind can conceive.
This amazing and well-known story in Scripture is a divine set up that Father God wanted His children to ponder for centuries. A painful text that always begs the question in my heart could I have done this if I was Abraham? I freaked out when I lost my son in the parking lot of Sea Word (Blog Post March 17), my only son whom I love so much, I can’t even think about doing what God called Abraham to do. But Abraham loved God and believed God would provide another sacrifice some how, some way, and he obeyed (vs. 8). And as you may recall just as Abraham was ready to give up his “only son,” whom he loved dearly, a voice from heaven stopped him and provided a perfect lamb as a substitute for Isaac (vs. 10-13).
Fast-forward 2000 years and the story of Abraham and Isaac resembles another story of a Father who loved us so much that He was willing to give up His “only Son,” (John 3:16). The authentic love and genuine heart of God the Father demonstrated a love beyond human vocabulary. It can be best demonstrated on Mount Moriah where Abba Father did not intervene and allowed His perfect, beloved Son whom he loved for all eternity, to die as our substitute for every doubt, fear, lie, broken promise and ugly, awful sin you and I have ever committed.
As I pondered Genesis 22 this week I was excited to share this with you. God set it up so that the first place the word love was used in the Bible was between a father and a son and this earthly father was willing but was stopped from thrusting the knife into the heart of his “only son.” But our Abba loved each of us so much that he allowed nails to pierce His precious perfect son’s hands, he allowed his son’s feet to be imprisoned on a cruel cross in order to liberate my hands and feet so that we can run into His forever arms of love. The Father has given us the greatest of all pictures of sacrificial love on Mount Moriah! And he calls us to receive this love and experience eternal life which is to know the Father and the love given through Jesus’ His son (John 17:3).
The passion for Oceans Ministries is to make the love of the Father known I can’t help but see how this is the heart beat of our Father God. Here is a prayer that Jesus prayed for us, keeps praying for us, and He invites us to join Him in this prayer:
“Father…I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them” (John 17:25-26).