Exodus 34:6: And Yahweh passed over before him, and he proclaimed, “Yahweh, Yahweh, God, who is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding with loyal love and faithfulness.”
Genesis 32:9-10: Then Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, O Yahweh, who said to me, ‘Return to your land and to your family, and I will deal well with you.’ I am not worthy of all the loyal love and all the faithfulness that you have shown your servant.
Psalm 33:4-5: For the word of Yahweh is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice. The earth is full of the loyal love of Yahweh.
Ephesians 2:5: But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, and we being dead in trespasses, he made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are saved).
Jude 21-22: keep yourselves in the love of God, looking forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt.
I have been reading through the Bible this year, making my way through the Old Testament. Over and over again, I have been finding the Hebrew word khesed, loyal love. It is used 245 times in the Old Testament. As the video showed, one of the incredible qualities of this word is that it is hard to translate into other languages, as it has a lot packed into it. This is why our English translations come with a variety of words for it: mercy (Wycliffe), goodness (KJV), lovingkindness (NASB), love (NIV), steadfast love (ESV), and faithful love (CSB). It combines the qualities of generosity, affection, and enduring commitment all into one. The way we use our English word love, sometimes flippantly, doesn’t quite capture the luminous beauty of khesed. And no one in the Bible shows this character trait more frequently, fully, and fervently than Yahweh our God.
As we saw in the video, Jacob was a deceiver, schemer, and selfish person beyond belief. He was terrible to his own family. He didn’t deserve anyone’s loyalty, affection, or generosity. Yet, God promised him the same blessing he gave to his grandfather Abraham and father Isaac, that he would have a huge family that would be a blessing. After 20 years of scheming, he returned to his homeland with this prayer: “I am not worthy of all the loyal love and all the faithfulness that you have shown your servant.” Yahweh was committed to him in loyal love, not based on Jacob’s worth or commitment to him, but because of the richness of his khesed.
Another example of God’s loyal love was demonstrated in the very story our theme verse of Exodus 34:6 comes from. God had just delivered his people Israel from slavery in Egypt and brought them into a covenant relationship with him at Mt. Sinai. But Israel’s love was not loyal. They quickly cast him aside to worship a golden cow. God could have abandoned them, but after Moses interceded, he promised to forgive them and dwell with them. He told Moses in this verse that he abounds in loyal love, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin.
It’s good that God’s loyal love remained the same, because Israel remained the same; they would keep on abandoning the covenant. There was no enduring commitment from them in response to God’s loyalty. The prophets would call on this people to humble themselves before the Lord and return to him. Why? Because of his loyal love. Micah 7:18 says “Who is a God like you, forgiving sin and passing over rebellion for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, for he delights in khesed.” Though God’s justice would come as we examined in the last devotion, he would not abandon his people. His love is an everlasting love, an enduring love, a generous love. It would never give up.
The light of God’s khesed is shown to us in Jesus Christ, the radiance of his glory. Jesus chose 12 men to follow him, men he knew would abandon him or even betray him. But he was loyal to them in every way. When he saw the sinners, the broken, the outcasts, the ones who couldn’t repay him if they tried, he rushed to them with generous spirit and tender affection. In the ultimate display of khesed, he endured the cross and died in the place of sinners like us who are just as unworthy as Jacob and his descendants. The apostle Paul wrote that we are dead in our trespasses and sins, deserving of nothing but the wrath of God (Ephesians 2:1-3). But God’s character of loyal love was abundantly generous as he is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4). The Greek word for mercy is eleos. When the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek, they used the word eleos 221 times to translate the word khesed. It is no stretch then to believe Paul had God’s loyal love in mind here. He wrote that God’s rich khesed and great love was shown to us when he made us who were dead in sin alive together with Christ. He passionately told the Romans that nothing would ever separate us from this generous, affectionate, forever loyal love from God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
Consider these words from the modern hymn by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa:
How vast the everlasting love of God,
How sure and faithful as the morning.
This love so great for us could never fail
Nor end, for it had no beginning
How strong the Father’s beating heart for us,
What mercy runs to meet the sinner.
As rivers yearn to reach the lowest place,
His grace shall flow to me forever.
O, the everlasting love of God,
It shall ever be my song
So immense and free; more than life to me!
The everlasting love of God
Brothers and sisters, we are in the arms of a Father’s love that endures, never gives up, and supplies us with an abundance of forgiveness and grace. But this is not something we simply receive; it transforms us and compels us to have the same kind of loyal love for others. His character must become our character. Jude 21-22 says: “keep yourselves in the love of God, looking forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt.” There’s eleos, coming from Jesus to us and flowing through us to others. Let’s examine our hearts in light of such commitment. Do I have a love that is loyal to the bride of Christ, the church? Does my love fade when others fail? Do I only extend love to those who give me something of worth in return? Looking beyond the church, do I have a generous, affectionate, loyal love to those who are still dead in their sins? Do I pray for them with fervent commitment in my heart? Do I show them the riches of God’s khesed as I share the gospel of Jesus? If our answers are no, then may we look again to the cross of Jesus in this Lenten season and meditate on his enduring love for us. May we seek his khesed to kindle our hearts, burning again in loyal love for him and others.
Additional Resources for Loyal Love
- BibleProject Podcast: The Loyal Love of God
- “The Everlasting Love of God” by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa
Music Resources for the season of Lent: