“For God so loved the world…”
We are so used to this passage from John that it may hardly even register with us as being remarkable. But if we add another passage, the impact grows:
Then I was by Him, as a master workman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in His habitable earth; And my delight was with the sons of men. (Proverbs 8:30-31)
What’s the message of this Workman (believed by many to be Jesus) who was there at creation? His delight was in us humans! Now let’s add a passage describing the governor of Judea at the building of the second temple:
Zerubbabel’s hands have laid the foundation of this Temple, and his hands will finish it, so that you will know that the LORD of the Heavenly Armies has sent me to all of you. For who has despised the time of insignificant things? They will rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. These seven lights represent the eyes of the LORD, which are looking throughout all of the earth. (Zechariah 4:9-10, ESV)
Wow, the God of heavenly armies was delighted in what a man was doing on a practical level for His Kingdom! All three of these passages point to the amazing fact that the Creator of the world, the Creator of the universe loves us and takes delight in us and what we are doing in line with His will.
Have you done God’s will this last week? Perhaps you’re saying, “Well, I wanted to, I asked for help to, I think I did. I do remember messing it up a bit, though.” God sees the work of your hands, the work of your minds and mouths. It is important, and more than that, delightful to Him!
The picture in my mind is of the delight I take in my sons and daughters and their work, but I am sure that when He delighted in the sons of men and His eyes rejoiced to see the plumb line in the governor Zerubbabel’s hand, that delight and that rejoicing was on a whole different scale than mine.
How great is God’s rejoicing? What is it like to hear Him laugh? When He is delighted, is that just a little bit happy? No, I’m sure we don’t have anywhere near the capacity to take in God’s delight. I suspect we humans have all kinds of wrong or small ideas about it. Like little children, we often see ourselves in distorted ways. At various times, we see ourselves better than we really are, and at others as hopeless losers, or all shades in between. And I suspect that our view is only partially correct at best.
When we are in the “Woe is me! I’ll never make it!” mode, He sees the perfect work of Jesus covering and transforming us. When we are in the “Look at me, I’m such a holy and good guy, better than my selfish and sinful neighbor,” He probably winces a bit as He hands us the medicine bottle called humility. And if we knowingly and deliberately disobey Him, He is not happy with us, but He still loves us and will do what He sees is best to correct us. He delights in us at the stage we are in, and is for us, not against us.
This leads beautifully into one of my favorite passages about the Sabbath:
If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, and the holy of Jehovah honorable; and shalt honor it, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in Jehovah; and I will make thee to ride upon the high places of the earth; and I will feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it. (Isaiah 58:13-14, ASV)
In essence, I think He is saying, “Do you want a really wonderful Sabbath? Then let go of your small plans and words, and I will give you the ride of your life. As a result, you will find that because I delight in you, you will delight in Me, and we will have the best time ever!”
Sounds delightful to me; let’s do it! And let’s not miss out on the full impact of that familiar passage about God’s love for the world: it’s our world today that He loves, including you and me and that sinful neighbor.