The Strange and Wonderful Miracle of Feeling Loved by God
One thing I am sure of intuitively: God’s ways are higher than my ways. Which means: If he reveals through the Bible his ways of loving me, they will certainly be jarring.
The ease with which the human race presumes to tell God how he should love is breathtaking. There is only one way to know how God loves me: Listen to what he tells me, and believe him.
One of the things he tells me in the Bible is that he loved Israel from all eternity in a way differently from the way he loves the other nations. And then he tells me that there is a true Israel made up of believers in the Messiah Jesus, whom he has loved from all eternity in a way differently from the way he loves other people. This is jarring.
Different from All the Nations
Both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, God is bent on telling us this. Like a prince telling a filthy, bloody foundling: You are mine, I love you like I love no other. I will raise you, cleanse you, and marry you (Ezekiel 16:1–14).
God told Israel in exile, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jeremiah 31:3). Behind all the divine acts of love in Israel’s history lay the eternal love. She was loved before she was.
“It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lᴏʀᴅ set his love on you and chose you, . . . but it is because the Lᴏʀᴅ loves you” (Deuteronomy 7:7–8). He loved her differently from all the nations because he loved her. It was not a response to her. It was before she was.