The Steadfast Love of God
How does the Bible define steadfast love? We are going to look at what the steadfast love of God is, and look at the covenants and promises God gives us in his Word. This is how we protect ourselves against false ideas that creep into our hearts and minds.
My husband, Shawn, and I have worked at Snowbird for many years and love this town and ministry. Here’s a little story.
Our youngest son, Zeke, joined our family when he was five days old. On the first Friday of school, he was supposed to bring his favorite book to storytime. When we adopted Zeke, a friend of ours gave us a book called the “Little Blue Truck.” I have read that book to him about 1,000 times, so this was his pick for storytime. I picked him up from school that afternoon and said, “Hey, how did storytime go?” He put his hands on his hips and said, “Teacher didn’t read it right.”
Later that night, we read the book and I realized I put an elderly African-American grandpa’s voice to the “Little Blue Truck.” I said, “Zeke, I think you like this book with a little bit of soul.” I didn’t think a thing about it. On Monday, Zeke asked right into the school, kicked the door open, and said, “Ms. Heiten, you didn’t read my book right.” She said, “Oh really? How did I not read it?” “You gotta read it with a little bit of soul.”
She didn’t know what to do with this kid.
God’s Steadfast Love Permeates all of Scripture
We cannot read the Bible with our own voice. The world wants to redefine what God means and what He says in its own voice. God graciously reveals parts of His character to us as we seek Him. As you learn more about the steadfast love of God, consider things you believe about God that might not be in line with Scripture. The steadfast love of God is visible from Genesis to the end, richly permeating the Scriptures. It is a resounding theme of His goodness, kindness, love, mercy, and care for us.
“I’ll give thanks unto the Lord for He is good. His steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands from the east and from the west, and from the north, and from the south.” – Psalm 107:1-3
What is Steadfast Love?
So, what does the word “steadfast” mean? Let’s define it:
A steadfast person is someone committed, devoted, dedicated, dependable, reliable, steady, constant, trusting, firm, and unwavering. The steadfast love of God is strong, dependable, and beautiful in every way. The Hebrew word for this steadfast lovingkindness is “hesed.” God uses this word over 200 times in the Old Testament.
Here is Moses’ interaction with God after receiving the Ten Commandments:
“The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” – Exodus 34:6-7
Part of God’s character is His mercy, grace, steadfast love, and kindness. “Lovingkindness” is a tender consideration towards others.
“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations.” – Deuteronomy 7:9
That word, “compassion,” is also interchangeable as mercy or forgiveness shown toward someone who is within one’s power to punish or harm. Mercy is usually worn down by the unworthiness of its objects. But, God’s mercy for me is not affected by my behavior.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end.” Lamentations 3:22
While I was yet in sin, He had mercy for me.
Hesed is the devoted love, promised within a covenant. Hesed is a love that is willing to commit itself to another by making its promise a matter of solemn record.Dale Ralph Davis (2 Samuel: Out of Every Adversity)
I was dead in my trespasses and sin, but God chose to show me mercy, kindness, and love in a covenant form. Strength, steadfastness, and love are all essential components to understand the purpose of hesed.
Every Characteristic of God is Important
If we talk about God’s love but leave out His wrath, what do we accomplish? Sometimes, as a parent, you need to be kind and sometimes you need to implement discipline. Hesed implies personal involvement and commitment to a relationship beyond the rule of law.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)
“The love of God was made manifest among us. Not that we love God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sin.” (1 John 4:10)
Do you feel it? That’s the love side.
Let’s look at Job 38.
Rember Job’s story? He’s going through a really, really hard time. Job lost his family and everything he once had. His friends have mocked him, and his wife has told him to curse God and die. He’s had enough and asks God why all of this is happening.
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man, and I will question you and make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the Earth? Tell me if you have understanding. Who determined its measurement? Surely, you know. Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who is in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb? When I made clouds its garments and thick darkness its swaddling bands, and prescribed limits for it, and set bars and doors, and I said, thus far you shall come, and no farther. And here your proud waves be stayed.” – Job 38:2-11
A lot of times, we approach the Lord with an “if I do this, then He’ll do this” mentality. We take out our spiritual checklist:
If I read my Bible, serve in Sunday school, or do this with this person, then He’s going to be happy with me.FALSE
But God’s hesed love is like the perfect marriage vow, “Till death do us part.” Thick or thin, rich or poor, forever.
A hesed vow that God makes with His people is not transactional, but deeply relational. It’s a covenant made between God and His people, and it’s likened unto a marriage vow, not a business transaction. – John Piper
Steadfast Covenants and Promises
Look at what these Old Testament covenants point to.
The truth is, we see them almost immediately in Genesis. If you want a further study on this topic, I highly recommend reading The Steadfast Love of God by Lauren Chandler. She says we see the creation story and the culmination of that in the covenant that God makes with Adam. If Adam obeys, he will prosper, but if he doesn’t, his path will lead to death.
Let’s look at this first covenant:
“The Lord God took man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it, and the Lord God commanded the man saying, you can surely eat it, you may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat. For in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.” – Genesis 2:15-17
God started this covenant with Adam with the condition of obedience to obey this rule. Free will was issued at this moment. Not long after, the fall happened. This covenant was broken. However, the covenant of grace was immediately issued in Genesis 3. God made a new promise to all of mankind: One day Eve’s offspring, the fulfiller of this covenant, will crush the head of the serpent.
The covenants reveal God’s steadfast character.
Adam failed. Noah was a drunk. Abraham slept with a slave girl to help God out. David murdered his loyal soldier after a heinous act of adultery, then refuses to raise and discipline his own sons and chaos ensues. Solomon sought fulfillment in all things which would draw his heart from the only thing that would not be meaningless. In all these covenants, God’s position does not change; there must be a righteous branch.
The reason we study these covenants is because we see biblical proof that God’s job description does indeed include the responsibility to withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly and to work for those who wait for Him and turn to Him.John Piper
When God makes a covenant, He reveals His own job description. He’s not going anywhere. He is kind and loving, not willing that any should perish. (Matthew 18:14; 2 Peter 3:9)
God Does Not Change
God’s Word points to Jesus from Genesis through Revelation.
“…for all the promises of God find their yes in Him.” – 2 Corinthians 1:20
Sometimes when we walk through times of hardship or frustration, we ask ourselves: “Why is this happening to me?” We become so fixated on our surroundings and on ourselves, we lose sight of His character.
God is for us, in all things.
He is plotting the course—for our good and the glory of Jesus Christ.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28
This life is not about me. It’s about God’s glory. If you press into Christ, your heart and story become beautiful. The Father’s love covers your mess. If things are good right now, give Him glory. If things are hard right now, study His character. Sometimes He is a provider, sometimes a healer, and sometimes aFather.
Instead of asking, “Why, God, are you doing this to me?” We need to ask: “Okay, God, who are you? Who are you to me in this moment?”
God’s Love Protects Us Against the Enemy’s Schemes
So, how can we be confident to keep trusting God’s steadfast love towards us? Let’s go back to Genesis 3. The serpent said to the woman:
“Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?'”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'”
But the serpent said to the woman, “You shall not surely die, for God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be open, and you will be like God knowing good and evil.”
You know the story. Eve ate the fruit and gave some to her husband. Their eyes were opened and they knew they were naked. But notice what God actually said in Genesis 2:15:
“You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but the tree of knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat from, for in that day, you shall surely die.”
Eve added words to what God had said. Because of this, Satan knew he could persuade her. Satan responds by undermining God’s authority, and the woman was hooked.
Chandler notes that satan doesn’t have a new bag of tricks, he uses the same old schemes. Here’s how it happened.
- Pretends to be Eve’s friend.
- Prompts her to question what God said and what He meant by it.
- Appealed to her desires.
- Provoked her to take matters into her own hands.
- Plan always leads to death.
We must stand guard against the schemes of the devil. We, as women, are easily swayed by other things. It’s a part of our character. We like when something is pretty or delightful. However, this can be our downfall if we don’t put ourselves under Godly counsel, keep a daily check on ourselves, and surround ourselves with a good church and sound Biblical teaching.
Guard against getting caught in the “independent lady” mentality. There is a point when we must be submissive to someone such as God, my husband, or a local church body.
Trust His Truth
We must trust Jesus. When our personal desires don’t align with Scripture, we must change our desires, NOT God’s Word. We cannot justify our feelings to bend the truth.
My feelings are not God, God is God. My feelings to not define truth, God’s Word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. Many times my feelings are out of sync with truth. When that happens, and it happens every day in some measure, I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings. But rather, I plead with God, purify my perception of your truth, and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with your truth, not my truth.John Piper
When bad things happen, we must cling to who God is, not on our terms, but on His words.
Respond Women’s Conference
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