Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, March 2, 2024
Shabbat Shalom,

Unique Emotional Agape for the Jewish People
By David Harwood

God has a special love (agape) for the Jewish people. (Isaiah 5:7; 63:9; Jeremiah 31:3, 20; Hosea 14:4; Zephaniah 3:17; Romans 11:28). 

Each Jewish person is loved. In Isaiah 5:7 agape conveys the fondness God has for each of them. Heaven’s WarLord has a treasured vineyard and every individual who comprises that vineyard is treasured like the entire plantation.

For the vineyard of the Lord Sabaoth is the house of Israel, and the person of Judah is the beloved (agape) new plant. (Isaiah 5:7a LES)

This verse is found towards the beginning of Isaiah’s oracle. The theme of God’s agape for Israel continues towards the end of his prophecy. Isaiah 63:9 is a dynamic verse describing Israel’s experience of God’s agape.

Not an elder or a messenger but he himself has saved them, because he loved (agape) them and spared them. He himself ransomed them and took them up and exalted them all the days of old (Isaiah 63:9b LES)

Here, we read that God’s agape for Israel motivated Him to personally deliver and continually show Israel mercy. Agape for His beloved motivated Him to ransom and care for them.

In Jeremiah the eternal nature of God’s agape for Israel is proclaimed. It is the reason Adonai drew them to Himself. This is a deep emotional agape that motivates His compassion. He feels a unique love for Israel.

The Lord appeared to him from afar: “I have loved (agape) you with an everlasting love (agape); therefore I have drawn you in compassion. (Jeremiah 31:3 LES)

Later in the chapter the nature of this agape is described by the Lover. When we read Jeremiah 31:20 we find that His agape is likened to the wholesome, powerful attachment and delight a father has in his son.

Ephraim is a beloved (agape) son to me; a child to revel in. For because my words are in him, I will surely remember him. Therefore I hurried for him; I will surely take pity upon him,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:20 LES)

The everlasting agape God has for Israel is likened to a father’s powerful love that motivates him to rescue his child. Agape is an emotion.

Look at our next verse: Hosea 14:6.

I will love (agape) them openly, because my wrath was turned away from him. (Hosea 14:5b LES)

God is not embarrassed by the over-the-top agape He has for Israel. He loves in a way that corresponds to a free-will offering, not a covenant obligation. He removes judgment so His people can experience His love. This agape will be demonstrated through the healing of Israel in the sight of the nations.

The eschatological promise of Israel’s restoration is trumpeted by Zephaniah.

The Lord your God is among you; the Mighty One will save you. And he will bring upon you the festivity and renew you in his affection (agape), and he will rejoice because of you in delight as in a day of festival. (Zephaniah 3:17 LES)

Deliverance is promised. A spiritual refreshing is prophesied. Why? Because of His agape for His people. It is likened to a joyous feast.

In closing, please read Romans 11:28.

Concerning the Good News, they are hostile for your sake; but concerning chosenness, they are loved (agape) on account of the fathers— (Romans 11:28) 

The agape God has for Israel is described as the overflow of His amazing, affectionate, loving loyalty to the patriarchs. So, at the end of this meditation we find ourselves reviewing a reason for God’s agape for His people. In the Torah we find He has a unique love for Israel because of His unique love for their fathers. Agape is motivated for a reason: that which the lover finds lovely in the beloved.

God loves those who are His own and He has a unique agape for Israel.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
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