Love Stories

Love Stories

Scripture: Jeremiah 31:3
Date: 03/30/2012  Lesson: 12
Love is an attribute of God, but it also is who He is. God is love. "we cannot overestimate God's love, nor exhause the depth of it. But perhaps there is one aspect of His deep love that is not duly regarded, God as a romantic." Sabbath School lesson
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Welcome to central study hour at central Sacramento seventh day adventist church in Sacramento, California. It is by divine appointment that you are joining us to worship, to sing, and to study God's Word together. A special welcome to you that are joining us in the studio. A very, very special welcome to you that join us every week to study God's Word together through television, radio, live on the internet all the way across the world and around the planet - we can study together. What a beautiful thing technology is.

I invite you to get out your hymnals and sing with us - we have no song sheet this morning. I have one name for hymn #448 and that is my son ethan because he said, 'mom, let's sing that one.' So he's the request today and it's hymn #448 - 'when shall I see Jesus' and we will sing all three verses. If you have a favorite hymn that you would like to sing with us on a coming presentation, I invite you to go to our website at saccentral.org. There you can click on the 'contact us' link and you can request any hymn in the hymnal that you would like to sing with us and we will be sure to get that sung with you and for you on a coming presentation. Our next hymn this morning is hymn #456 - 'my Lord and I' and we will sing the first, the second and the last verses - #456.

Let's bow our heads for prayer. Dear Father in Heaven, we thank you so much for the privilege that we have to walk with you, to talk with you, and to work with you - to do your work here on earth so that you can come and get us soon. We're so looking for the day, Lord, when we can look at you face to face - when we can hear Your Words right out of your mouth. We just so look forward to the day where we can spend eternity with you. So Lord, as we study now, prepare our hearts, prepare our minds to be better witnesses for you and better representations of who you want us to be.

Please be with Pastor Doug as he brings us Your Words and we just thank you for all your blessings. We pray these things in your name, Jesus, amen. Our study will be brought to us by Pastor Doug Batchelor and he is the senior pastor at Sacramento central church. Good morning. Happy Sabbath everybody.

And I want to thank our musicians for singing and playing and for you singing along with them. Welcome to our class - both here at Sacramento central - and a special welcome to any visitors we may have here today and I want to welcome our class that is studying with us through internet or satellite television or maybe some cable channel and we're glad that we can get together like this from week to week and open God's Word together. In a moment we'll get to our lesson. A couple of quick things I want to share. We have a special free offer for you and if you ask for this we'll send it to you.

It is a book by Joe Crews called, 'down from his glory' - and all you've got to do if you don't have this and you'd like a copy is call the number - -study-more - that translates to 866-788-3966 - ask for offer #154 and we will send you 'down from his glory '. That's assuming you don't already have it. After you read it, please share it with someone - it's a wonderful book about the incarnation and it touches a little bit on our lesson today. Another important thing I want to share - we're about to study lesson #12 in our quarterly and that means we're about to enter a new quarter and - for those who are here in our class, you know we sort of are three weeks ahead of most of the world in our study time so we can record it and we put in the subtitles and edit the program and send it to the different stations - but we're getting ready to enter into a new quarter and I'm looking forward to this - it's going to be 'evangelism and witnessing'. This is something that amazing facts and central church are very passionate about and I'm going to be looking forward to that study - so I just wanted to get you a little 'heads up' as we near the home stretch with our glimpses of God, we're preparing for the new quarter.

And today's lesson is lesson #12. I'm going to be talking about love stories. You're going to be getting some glimpses of God from His Word - looking at a spectrum of stories that tell us about how God loves. Confession time. That always gets everyone to look up - when you say that.

When I talk about a subject like this, I just - I really don't feel worthy because I always think if I loved God better I'd serve him better. You read about the love of God and it is such an exquisite, perfect, sublime subject that I just want to issue a disclaimer right here at the beginning - I'll share what little I know with you and, hopefully, you already know more but we're really on holy ground when you talk about the love stories in the Bible. Now, we're not just talking about romance love stories, though we will talk about that, but we're going to be talking about love and the principle of love, love relationships - some right love relationships, some wrong love relationships - and see what we can learn about God from these stories in the Bible - there's plenty of them - and a lot of verses we're going to consider. We have a memory verse. The memory verse is from Jeremiah 31:3 - I always like if you can do your best to say that with me - Jeremiah 31:3.

Are you ready? "the Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: "yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you." God loves us with an everlasting love and it's with lovingkindness he draws us. Now, right out of the gate here, I'm going to have somebody read a verse for me. Who has 1 John - we gave out some verses - somebody has John 4, verses 8 and 9. I don't know who was given that slip. "He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent his only begotten son into the world, that we might live through him." Two verses. Love found three times in those two verses. And, of course, that very famous phrase, 'God is love.' The essence of who God is is love. And so, it's telling us that the best manifestation of God's love is that he sent his son into the world. So, if you want a glimpse of God's love, what's the best picture of God's love? That Jesus came into our world.

Now, as we talk about the love stories in the Bible, I also want to make something clear - you know, you always say this with some trepidation - but not all the love stories are romantic love stories. When you think of two friends in the Bible who loved each other, who do you think of? Jonathan and Saul - and it's a prominent story - I said that wrong - thank you for correcting me - jonathan and David - that love story - I was thinking about jonathan and his father Saul - that was different. Jonathan and David are one of the great love stories in the Bible. You find this verse in the Bible after jonathan is slain, David writes this poems about how the mighty are fallen and it says, 'I am distressed for you, my brother jonathan; you have been very pleasant to me; your love to me was wonderful, surpassing the love of women." Now, there's always somebody that's going to want to read the wrong thing into that, especially with all the political spin people put on the idea of two men that might have a platonic love for each other - but biblically, there's nothing wrong with that. Do you have friends you love? Can you have friends that you really love, you really resonate with, you really get along with.

But today, you're almost afraid to say - if they're the same sex and you say, 'I really love them' - I mean, you know, people just have made it all seem weird. But biblically, there's nothing wrong with that and, you know, that is in itself a love story. But let's go here to Genesis chapter 2 and we're going to look at one of the first and prominent love stories in the Bible. Somebody look that up for us - Genesis 2 - let's have someone look up Genesis - over here - Genesis 2, verse 23. Genesis 2:23, "and adam said: 'this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.

'" When adam loved eve, was it a form of self-love? Because, it's kind of like loving your ribs. It says, 'she came out of man'. Woman from the womb - or out of man. You know, Paul says that a man that loves his wife loves his own flesh. Doesn't he say that? Really, if you love your spouse you love yourself, because - it's like they used to say, 'if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

' And so sometimes the best thing that you can do for yourself is make sure your spouse is happy and then everybody's a little happier. Now, think about it. Have you ever talked about - let's talk about romantic love. When a person is single and they're contemplating a partner for life, they've got in their mind the perfect ideal. Why wouldn't you have the perfect ideal? I mean, if you're going to dream, dream big, right? You've got that perfect ideal in your mind.

And some get closer than others to finding their perfect dream spouse person. I've heard some wonderful stories of romance and love and then, of course, you hear some that aren't as wonderful. But when God made eve for adam, how perfectly was she prepared for what he would have looked for? He didn't even know what he was looking for because he had nothing to compare it to. He couldn't get on a singles website, could he? You see adam surfing the web, looking for a wife - 'I don't know what a wife looks like. I've never seen one before, but I'm going to try and find a wife.

' And what are you going to type in? How many legs does a wife have? I mean, he had never had a wife - remember he had found mates for all the other animals but there was no human mate out there. So he had no idea. But who did know what he needed? So when God made eve, he made the perfect wife - so to speak. I mean, everything he might think of romantically, and everything he might be missing in his mind - his personality - that would challenge him would be completed in eve. And so, you are going to have your hands full finding an example of a couple that must have loved each other more than adam and eve because they were perfectly designed for love for each other before there was even sin.

So how perfect would that be? But yet, it never says that adam loved eve or eve loved adam. But is it safe to assume they did? I think so, because God was love and they were made in the image of God and so that first marriage there was probably perfect love between adam and eve until sin came in. Have you ever thought about that? The perfect husband. The perfect wife. Don't you wish you could see a photograph? I mean, all we've got are these artists' conceptions and many of them are sort of fanciful.

But it's going to be something when we get to heaven - we can play back that divine video and see what adam and eve looked like and see the expression on adam's face and - when he first saw eve. And, of course, it'll be the g-rated version because they'll be clothed with robes of light as they were back then. What does the word 'romance' mean? It means to court or to woo romantically; to treat with amorous ardor - ardor being love or chivalrousness. So, adam was perfectly attracted to eve. Now, we're going to look at a few biblical romances and see what we can learn from these things.

I want you to go with me to the book of Ruth. We're going to jump around a little bit and I'm not doing this chronologically, so don't think, 'oh, but Pastor Doug, you missed this one and this one and this one.' Maybe I did miss it, but be patient - maybe not. The book of Ruth - now, in the book of Ruth you find a love story and there's actually several marriages. You've got a couple of widows - three widows in the book of Ruth. And so there's some tragedy there, but then there's also healing because there's a love story.

Now, who are the two characters that ended up getting married in the book? Just find out a little more about them. You've got Ruth and boaz. And boaz means strength in the Bible. Boaz is related to judah - he comes from the tribe of judah - and evidently he's related to one of those spies - you remember when - you remember when the spies were sent out by Joshua and one of them took rahab into his house - I mean we're guessing that - we don't know that for sure, but she got - rahab got married, we all know that. There's a good chance she married one of those two spies and it's possible his name was salmon because it tells us that salmon and rahab had boaz who then ends up marrying Ruth and has obed.

But you hear about this - now, Ruth is not Jewish, she's a moabite. Boaz may have lost a first wife - he's an older man - he had no children, he had no wife. We don't know if he was married once and his wife died or what happened, because he does actually say 'why have you not gone after a younger man?' What does that imply? That he's maybe an older man. All right. Ruth chapter 2, verse 5.

When they're gleaning - and, by the way, this love story happens in a harvest - "boaz says to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, 'whose young woman is this?" Now, in Bible times, when they were harvesting fields, you had the ones who owned the field who had their servants who went out and reaped and they got all that - they cut the grain by hand and they stacked up - they always missed a little or some heads fell off and then the poor people would go behind the reapers - they were allowed to glean - get the stuff that they missed. And so when boaz sees that there's this woman who's out there gleaning - and she wasn't the only one - you read on in the story - but she caught his eye. And one way you know that is he's asking his servant 'who is this woman?' - Whose young woman is this?' In other words, is she a servant of another land owner or, you know, is she part of someone's family? Go to Ruth chapter 2, verse 8. "Then boaz says to Ruth, 'you will listen, my daughter, will you not?'" - Again, he must be a little older, he's calling her daughter - "you do not glean in another's field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them.

Have I not commanded the young men not to touch you?" - In other words, 'you're safe here. I'll make sure the other harvesting servants - that the men don't bother you.' And sometimes they would give a hard time to the poor people that would glean. He says, 'you can stay with the young ladies that I've got that are gleaning.' - He's showing a concern and a care for her. He's got an interest. "If you're thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn" - 'you don't have to draw your own water from the well, they'll draw it.

Because you work out there all day out there in the sun and you have to pull up these heavy - like five gallon buckets of water - it was a lot of work back then. He said, 'I'll have the young men draw the water. You get to drink what they draw. So he's watching out for her. And by the way, what does a woman represent - I've asked this a hundred times but some are always watching for the first time - in Bible analogies and symbols? A church.

And in this story, boaz was like a type of God and he's watching out for his future bride, you might say, talking about making sure she's got water from the well. Does that make you think about Jesus and the woman at the well? There are a lot of love stories in the Bible that take place by a well. Who else finds a wife by a well? Moses finds zipporah by a well. Jacob finds rachel at a well. How is the wife of Isaac picked? It's at a well.

And so that always has some modern application. That means, if you're single you need to hang around by the water cooler, right? So he's, again, making sure that she gets water. And then you read in chapter 2 of Ruth, verses 14 to 16, "now boaz said to her at mealtime, 'come here, and eat of the bread, and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.'" - So, is he concerned about her - making sure that she's fed? During lunchtime you don't owe the gleaners anything, but he's letting her eat as though she's one of the servants. "So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed parched grain to her; and she ate and was satisfied, and kept some back." - She had extra - "and when she arose to glean, boaz commanded his young men, saying," - listen to this - "let her glean even among the sheaves," - in other words, 'don't let her get just the stuff that you drop, but let her glean among the sheaves, the stacks - "and do not reproach her. And also, when you're out there gleaning from the bundles, let some fall purposely for her; that she may glean.

" So here they're out there - just to give you the picture - you know, you gather an armful of grain and then you take your scythe and then you cut it and you put stacks - and you lay the stacks out like this and sometimes the heads fall off and you miss some and they're going like this - they're cutting some and they're going, 'a little for Ruth.' And they're cutting some 'and a little for Ruth.' And so, they're making sure that she has some. Why is boaz going through all this? Well, for one thing, she could go to any field she wants but he's a little smitten with Ruth and he's saying, 'you stay here.' He's taken an interest. He's also heard - he's been asking around and he hears she's a virtuous woman and she's made a commitment to watch out for naomi. She's left her homeland because she doesn't want naomi to come back a widow with nobody to help support her and he said, 'she's got integrity. She's got concern.

She's a virtuous person.' And he was attracted to her. And so, by the way, David the king is a descendent of Ruth - David was part moabite, which is why when Saul was trying to kill David he sent his parents to live with the moabites. Jesse was very old at that time and David's mother. He knew that he was at least related to the moabites and there was some safety there. Anyway, so here you've got a love relationship there and finally he proposes and they get married and they have a son named obed who becomes a great-grandfather of jesse and a great-great-grandfather of David.

Did I get that right? Grandfather of jesse, obed's father of jesse great-grandfather of David - anyway, they're related. Then you go to the story of Jacob. Genesis 29:18-20. Somebody look up for me Hebrews 6, verse 10. Who has that? I just want to find that - we've got a hand now - hold your hand up - is that the one you've got? Hebrews 6, verse 10? Yeah, okay.

We'll read that in just a second. I want to read about Jacob here for a minute. Genesis 29:18-20, "now Jacob loved rachel." - One of the few times you hear in the Bible that they loved their wives. By the way, it says more often in the Bible 'husbands love your wives' than it says 'wives love your husbands'. Did you know that? Because it comes more naturally for wives.

Husbands have to concentrate and so Paul commands the men more. It says, "Jacob loved rachel; and so he says to laban, 'I will serve you seven years for rachel, your daughter.'" - That's a long courtship, but I like what it says here - "and laban said, 'it is better that I should give her to you than that I should give her to another man.'" - 'You're at least, you know, related and you have some things in common.' - "Stay with me.' So Jacob served seven years for rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her." Now how many of you, if you found the girl of your dreams that you loved, and you realized that you had to work seven years before you could marry her, would feel like it's only a few days? Wouldn't you feel like that's a long courtship? You know, in America we believe in kind of instant gratification - everybody wants everything right - right when they want it they want it. We don't want to wait too long in line at a shopping mall. We want our food fast. We want it microwaved.

And people don't court very long in marriage. In a lot of the world, when people figure out who they're going to marry, they might have that in their minds and have it settled but then the families say - especially in the east - they say, 'you must first finish your education. You must begin to work. You need to have some money in the bank. You need to have a down payment on a house.

Then we'll talk about the wedding date.' And so, there was always a sense of there was some preparation, there was a dowry, there was some responsibility. It wasn't like, 'hey, I like you, you like me, let's get married.' But this was someone that was worthy of working for because he needed to be able to pay a dowry for her and he had no money - he left home empty-handed, you remember? He just had a stick in his hand. He said, 'well, I'll work for seven years.' But you know what I especially wanted to emphasize? How long did it seem? Did Jacob do hard work? Have you read about what - how he describes his work? When he talks to laban later in life he says, 'I was freezing at night from the cold and burning in the day from the heat. My sleep went from my eyes. I stayed awake watching them to protect them from bandits and from predators and' - he says it was pretty hard taking care of those sheep.

But the part of that 21 years that he worked for laban - that first seven years when he - all he could think about was rachel, it says it didn't seem like anything then because he was so excited because of love. When you love is work easier? When you are working for someone you love, is it easier? Was he working for rachel? I know it seems like he was working for laban. He wasn't working for laban, he was working for rachel. He was trying to earn rachel. Isn't that what he was doing? And he was so excited.

All right. Now I want you to read your verse, kathleen. Hebrews 6, verse 10. "For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love, which you have shown toward his name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister." You are a labor of what? (Love) how should the Christians' service and labor be? A labor of love. You know, I've often thought, 'Lord, I sure wish I could love you more.

' Because I'd like to think about any service I give for God, while I'm waiting for Jesus to return, I'd like to be able to think it only seemed like a few days because of the love that he had for him.' Yeah, I'm talking about me and Jesus. That anything you might do, any sacrifice you might make, any work, any self-denial you experience in this life, it might not seem like anything because of the love that you have for the Lord. Wouldn't that be the key? To just love him better and everything else gets easier from there on. How does that happen? I've said it many times, but I'll say it again because it's still true. The better you know him, the more you'll love him.

The more time you take reading His Word, communing with him in prayer, the better you know him, the more you love him. The more you love him, the easier it is - the more delightful it is to serve him. I think all of us should have that relationship that Jacob had when the work that he did during those seven years for rachel seemed like nothing. You wonder about how the second seven years felt when laban pulled a fast one on him and now he's working for leah, who he didn't bargain on. He has to work another seven years for a wife that he didn't ask for.

That must have been the harder of the two. I just think there's a lot of analogies there I don't have time to go into. And then the Bible talks about God knows we're really only going to be happy when we love what we're supposed to love, and that's loving him. If we love something that we're not supposed to love - can sometimes people choose to love the wrong thing? Have you ever seen anyone get into a wrong love relationship and you knew right out of the - right from the beginning, 'this is not going to end well'? Parents sometimes see that and they say, 'oh, please, no.' 'Oh, but he's tall, dark, and handsome. I can't resist.

' And you say, 'oh dear, please think about what you're doing.' And they can't see it. So sometimes it doesn't end well when that happens. That's because they're making a bad choice. What if you love somebody that God says in His Word that you shouldn't love? But you say, 'but I feel it. It's love.

Follow your heart.' You know, that's what hollywood tells us, 'just follow your heart.' And that must be right. Nonsense. Sometimes you might feel a strong powerful attraction - you can call it love if you want, but if God's Word says it's wrong then you better not follow your heart. And you better follow His Word. All right.

Kings 11:1 - you're wondering where I'm going with that - "but king Solomon loved many foreign women." Did that end well? What happened as a result of loving women that did not love God? They loved other Gods. Did they end up turning his heart away from God? 'Oh, but you should follow your heart Solomon.' He was so wise. But, you know, you can find in the Bible there's examples of the bravest men, the strongest men, the wisest men - when they didn't choose to love right they got into trouble. So we need to make sure that we don't let anything come between us and God or it becomes an idol. We're loving the wrong thing.

Are we commanded to love? Why would you - if love is a feeling can you command anyone to love? Can I command you to feel something? So if God commands us to love, maybe love isn't just a feeling. Maybe love is a choice. Otherwise, how can you be punished for not obeying if you have no choice? But he's commanding you to love him and that means he's commanding you not to love the forbidden things. Is this making sense? Solomon loved the daughter of pharaoh, women of the moabites, ammonites, edomites, zidonians and hittites, and it went on and on until he ended up with a kaleidoscope of what - wives? 300 Concubines? Or 700 porcupines and 300 wives? I forget - but it doesn't matter at that point. Now - then you've got another example - some people - have you ever heard of love turning to hate? My mom and dad got divorced when I was three.

And when I got a little older I remember asking mom - you know, every kid that goes through that - you're eventually going to wonder - 'well, you got married, did you ever love each other?' Because by the time I started figuring out what was going on, mom and dad could not speak together peaceably. And even years later, when Karen and I got married in this church, and my mom and dad were here, I wasn't nervous about marrying Karen, I was nervous about my mom and dad being in the same room. Very stressful. They would not take pictures together even after their being divorced for 30-something years. 'No, I'm not standing next to her for a picture.

' So I asked her one day, I said, 'did you ever love each other?' She said, 'yeah, but sometimes love turns to hate.' You ever heard that? It's in the Bible. Here's the story. Samuel 13:1, "after this, absalom The Son of David had a lovely sister," - now, first of all, when you think about this lovely sister tamar - how lovely? Well, you ever seen a family that just had beautiful kids - every one of them was beautiful? David's wife that was - I think it's maacah - anyway, the mother of absalom - she must have been really attractive because it says absalom was so beautiful 'from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot he was perfect' - symmetrical, beautiful, handsome - he had a sister just as beautiful. So much so that absalom's brother amnon fell in love with his sister - or step-sister - half-sister. And he was smitten.

Amnon was so distressed over his sister tamar, he became sick - so in love that he was lovesick. It might have been what you'd call an infatuation. You ever have a crush on a teacher or anybody at school when you were little? Don't have to answer. But she was a virgin. That means he couldn't, you know, he couldn't even have an affair or anything inappropriate because, you know, she had integrity and it was improper for amnon to do anything to her.

Here is this the King's daughter - a virgin - waiting for the man that would pay an enormous dowry for her and you remember how much David had to pay to marry Saul's daughter? He had to kill 100 philistines and he ended up killing 200 for Michael. So amnon's in love with his sister - and I know you're thinking this is incestuous - and it was - but it wasn't as bad back then because you could legally marry a half-sister at least at the time of Abraham. By the time of David they were still sort of allowing it - little later in the story tamar actually says, when amnon rapes his sister - she says, please don't do this - if you speak to my father he'll allow you to marry me. So that tells you that it wasn't that out of the ballpark as it is today. But he just thought he was going to die if he didn't have her.

So you know what he does - I'm not going to read the whole story. He deceives her into coming in - he claims he's sick because someone's trying to poison him. He says, 'dad, you know, I don't know who's trying to poison me because I'm a crown prince - someone's trying to kill me - I don't know who it is but I trust tamar - can she come and prepare my food in front of me?' And so, that's why that request is made. So she comes into his chambers and the door is shut and she makes these biscuits and everyone else is sent out and then he rapes her. She pleads with him and then afterward - immediately afterward - notice what it says - he says, 'all right, go on out.

' She says, 'what?' She says, 'you know, now, obviously, we have to get married.' There was a Hebrew law that if two people did this then you had to pay an extra fee but you had to marry the gal. And it says, "amnon hated her" - I'm now on verse 15 - 2 Samuel :15 - "amnon hated her exceedingly, so the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he loved her. And he said to her, 'arise and be gone!'" And she said, 'what you're doing to me now is worse than what you did when you raped me. It's amazing sometimes, how people that love each other and they think they just can't live with each other - that after awhile and something goes wrong - and they find out that they're not what the illusion was or someone's been hurt and they can't forgive - or whatever the reasons be - all of a sudden it turns to such bitterness. And divorce attorneys see this all the time.

And it's really hard on kids when they see that. How different is that from God's love? If we're unfaithful to God, does he then hate us? That leads - the reason I shared the story of amnon and tamar in the order I did is now I want you to go to the story of Hosea in the Bible. Hosea chapter 3 - this is in the minor prophets - Hosea chapter 3, verse 1, "then the Lord said to me, 'go again, love a woman who is loved by her lover and is committing adultery.'" Why would you want to go pick a wife who is committing adultery? Or someone who is acting like a harlot or a prostitute? Just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel - are you still reading there? Hosea chapter 3, 1-3? Now, all through the Bible we're getting glimpses of God and his love here. Does the Lord tell us something about his love and how he treats his church? How he loves his church? 'Husbands love your wives even as Christ loved the...church.' The new Jerusalem comes down dressed as a bride for her husband out of heaven. And so, when you look in the new and the old testament about how Jesus loves his church, even though the church is sometimes unfaithful, we're getting a picture of how he loves us.

So, after the church has been unfaithful, does God's love turn to hatred like it did with amnon? No. He says, 'go again' - I'm back in verse 1 - Hosea chapter 3 - "go again and love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other Gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans." That was just part of their worship - they'd bring these raisin cakes and put it before the statues. "So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver," - she was being auctioned, evidently - "and one and a half homers of barley. And I said to her, 'you will stay with me many days; and you shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man - so, too, I will be towards you.'" In other words, 'I will forgive you - even though you've got this past - I will love you and I want - I will be faithful to you. You will be faithful to me.

' You know, one of the reasons, I think, that the story of mary magdalene is in the Bible - you know, it never calls mary magdalene a harlot. We always kind of use that vernacular - and it may be that she was. It simply says, 'there was a woman in the city who was a great sinner.' And people sort of just read into that, 'what was the sin?' But it's probably true. And it said she had seven devils. And Simon said, 'don't let that woman touch you for she is a sinner.

' And so, you've just got all these references and some wonder, 'was this the woman caught in adultery?' In John chapter 8 - was that mary magdalene? In any event, what's amazing is, even though she may have had that kind of reputation - she definitely had seven devils, whatever that was - who was the first person that Jesus tells to announce his resurrection? It's mary. Who is the one who seemed to have the greatest devotion? Who wanted to sit at his feet? Who was there at the cross? Who was there anointing his feet in the house? She was devoted. She adored - she worshiped Jesus. She's a type of the church. But I think it's interesting that she had a reputation for gross sin or immorality and yet he loved her and he forgave her and then he gave her a work to do.

Does that say something about God's love for us? You know, you look in Revelation and it's a very interesting picture - you've got one woman in Revelation 12 who is the perfect picture of God's bride and she's also - she bears the promised child. She's that woman who's God's church - twelve stars above her head, clothed with the sun, standing on the moon - she is the bride of Christ - the devil hates her. And you have the antithesis of her in Revelation 17 - another woman who is called a harlot and she is the mother of harlots. You know why? Because they were once faithful to Christ, but instead, now she commits fornication with the Kings of the earth. Instead of the King of Kings in Jesus, she's now become preoccupied with the religions and the politics of the world.

Instead of the vertical love relationship, her first love relationship is now the horizontal one with the - like I said, the pagan Gods and the governments of the world. It's just an interesting contrast between this woman, who's clothed with light representing the bride of Christ and this other woman who has now become unfaithful - she and her daughters. And God's got this forgiving love. Is it inappropriate - does that mean God isn't jealous when we're unfaithful? Somebody read for me Exodus 20, verses 5 and 6. Now, I didn't give this to anybody - you just - anyone who's willing to read it - hopefully you're in the first five or six pews.

We've got somebody? Exodus 20 - you're going to read that for us, verses 5 and 6. And, does God ever get jealous? Is jealousy a bad emotion? Well it can be, right? Have you ever known someone that was kind of handicapped with jealousy? And I've seen some relationships where it's just - they're not - they're just paranoid with jealousy. But jealousy - if God has jealousy, is it a bad thing? Go ahead and read that for us now, Exodus 20, verses 5 and 6. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of The Fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments." You know, I'm not an oprah winfrey watcher, but I - someone forwarded a youtube clip to me where she was making fun of the Bible really being a picture of God because she said, 'God is too big for jealousy. So you can't really trust the picture of God you find in the Bible because it says that God is a jealous God and why would God be jealous? God's not like that.

' And I thought, 'oh how sad, she misunderstands love.' Because it is entirely appropriate when you have a commitment of love for somebody, that there should be a loyalty and if you give that love to, not just someone else, but the enemy, is - does God have an enemy in this world? Then is it appropriate for him to feel a sense of betrayal and treachery when he dies to save us and we give that love that we owe him to an enemy? Is it inappropriate for a groom to feel betrayed when he has married a wife and taken these vows of fidelity to find out that she ran off during the honeymoon with the best man? Shouldn't he feel jealous? Or, if vice versa, shouldn't she feel jealous? That's - is that normal? Wouldn't it be abnormal if they didn't feel betrayed? So, God is saying, 'look, I love you. I'm the God who saved you from the land of Egypt. I saved you from these Gods that had no power. For you now to give love to them after I've shown you that I'm the living God, I feel jealous about that. I am jealous for your love.

I don't want you to give it away to the enemy.' - That's normal. By the way, we're made in God's image, so it's not that God learned jealousy from us - we learned jealousy from him. Does that make sense? Now, there's a twisted selfish kind of jealousy, as I said, and I've seen people that were so insecure in their love relationships that this - I knew this one fellow and we were working together, and his wife just kept showing up at the worksite because she was so afraid that he was having an affair - and I was working with the fellow, I knew him well, and he wasn't, but she was home watching soap operas and everybody on these soap operas were all cheating on each other and she began to superimpose this behavior on her husband and it just wrecked their relationship - they're not together anymore. But he - as far as I knew - he never cheated on her. But she was consumed with sort of a - an unhealthy kind of jealousy - and you've seen it with husbands and wives too.

Now, what does happen though, suppose that husband and wife get married, everything's okay, and then one cheats. Is it normal then for the spouse to feel an element of suspicion after that? Doesn't it take a long time to have restored trust? So when God says, 'I'm willing to freely forgive you and trust you again' - that's supernatural. Because as humans it is not easy. But God says, 'when you come to me, in spite of your betraying me and your sins, I'm willing to forgive you and love and trust you again.' That's what he's saying through the story of Hosea. We're running out of time, but we have more love stories.

I don't want to spend all my time talking about the wrong love stories, but I've got one more - misguided love - Samson. Judges 14 - "then his father and his mother said to him, 'is there no' - he said, 'you know, I found this woman among the philistines it's just - oh, she's the whole package. You gotta get her for me mom, dad.' And mom and dad say, "is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all of my people," - 'you know if you're not going to at least marry the danites, are there anyone from the Israelites that you must go get a wife from the uncircumcised philistines?' - And Samson's response to her was "get her for me, for she pleaseth me well." Like amnon, he was infatuated. 'Gotta have her. She's going to make me happy.

' Oh yeah? Judges 14, verses 15 and 16. He tells a riddle at the wedding and he promises that everyone's got to pay him or he has to pay them depending who figures out the riddle. Well all of the wedding guests - these philistines - they don't want to pay Samson - they're gambling at the wedding - that doesn't go well, I don't recommend it - and they say to her "entice your husband, that he might explain the riddle" - now, back then, they had taken the vows, but they hadn't had the honeymoon yet, and so, that didn't happen until after the seven days - or the feasting - and they said, "entice your husband or else we will burn you and your Father's house with fire. Did you invite us to this wedding in order to take our possessions? Isn't it so? So Samson's wife wept on him, and said, 'you only hate me! You don't love me. You posed a riddle to The Sons of my people, and you've not even explained it to me.

' And he said, look, I've not explained it to my father or my mother." But she stayed after him and finally he told her. She told them. And everything went backwards with the philistines after that. Again, still same character - Judges - somebody look up for me Judges 16:4 - who's got that? All right. Right over here.

Judges 16:4 - you know, Samson, he had a lot of love, but he kept going - he kept looking beyond his own people. Does the Bible say do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers? And there's some examples in the Bible, because the Lord's trying to remind us of something. Go ahead, please. "Now, afterward it happened that he loved a woman in the valley of sorek, whose name was delilah." So here he falls in love again with another philistine and did that end well? No. Judges 16, verse 15, "then she said to him, 'how can you say, 'I love you' when your heart is not with me? You've mocked me these three times, you've not told me where your great strength lies.

" So again, he was betrayed and, you know, there's something here - there's something here also about Samson as a type of Christ - you know, he was tied up and handed over to the enemies by his own people, Samson was - was Jesus tied up and handed over to the pagans by his own people? And the last thing Samson does is he stretches out - he's filled with the Spirit and he stretches out his hands and he gives up his life - he sacrifices his life - something like - something like Jesus. But who was it that turned Jesus in? The church. Isn't that right? Wasn't it religious leaders? His bride, so to speak. And that's what happened with Samson here. Corinthians 6:14 - I already read this to you - I quoted it - "do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.

For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'and I will dwell in them and walk among them, and be their God, and they will be my people.'" So the Lord wants us to choose to love in the right places and with the - you know - what's appropriate and outlined and approved by the Bible. Talking about God's love - there's a lot of metaphors in the Bible, Isaiah 49, verses 15 and 16 - what's the greatest love that we know of biblically? Well, when you think of God's love, what metaphors does the Lord use to tell us about his love? 'For God so loved the world he gave his' - child. The love of a parent for a child. Why do you love your children more than other people's children? I mean, if you're a Christian you're supposed to love everybody.

Is it normal to love your children more? Why would you love your children more? I mean - but it's hard to explain. Is it genetic? Is it chemical? Why does - I mean, even in the animal kingdom a bear will lay down its life to save its cubs but not necessarily another bear's cubs. Something that we're wired - it's this natural love for children. Isaiah 49:15, God says, "can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on The Son of her womb? Surely they may forget, and yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.

" God tells us that his love for us - it's like the love of a mother for its baby. You know, I was sharing a story, I think last week, with a lady that was so busy with her packages that she was unloading and she put the baby on the roof of the car and got all her groceries put away and drove off and left the baby on the roof. Fortunately, someone in the shopping - in the parking lot caught the baby as it slid off the roof. And how do you think she felt? Can a woman forget her child? Yeah, they may forget, God says, 'surely they may forget' - it happens. It's rare - 'but I will not forget you.

' Now, when we're talking about love in the Bible, there's one book in particular that's sort of a love story in the Bible. Which book is that? Song of Solomon. Why don't you turn there really quick? Somebody read for me song of Solomon chapter 8, verse 7 - did somebody get that? We've got a hand right here. Mike has that. Song of Solomon chapter 8, verse 7.

This is a wonderful book. By the way, The Song of Solomon, it is really a story of Christ and his love for the church. It is a beautiful story. Many believe that it was the love story of Solomon - it talks about the shunammite - you remember David, when he was getting old, they found a beautiful virgin shunamite named abishag that kept David warm but he never knew her - she was still a virgin - and it's believed that Solomon actually wanted to marry her - that this was the beautiful shunammite - and whether it's true or not, it's hard to prove, but it was a shunammite in both cases. Love is found 36 times in the Song of Solomon and - why don't you read for us Song of Solomon 8:7? "Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it.

If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised." When a person really loves, how much will they pay? You'd give everything. And if you say, 'look, I know you really love your child, but I'll buy them from you.' Oh, we hear every now and then about parents that sell their children because there's such poverty in the family and you wonder, 'how can you do that?' And God says, 'what an insult that you would think that you could buy my husband or buy my wife - I love them.' You know how people make a lot of money? They kidnap somebody that someone else loves. And it happens - it might be a husband. It might be a wife. It might be a child.

And God says that he loves us like that. And then finally, does Jesus believe in romantic love? What's the first miracle of Christ? He's at a wedding feast. He approves of that love. Just like he was there at the wedding of adam and eve, he's there at this wedding at the beginning of his ministry to tell us that he approves of and he loves this love - it's a type of his love for us. We are out of time, but I want to remind our friends who tuned in along the way, we have a free offer for you.

It's offer #154 - 'called down from his glory' written by Joe Crews and we'll send it to you. You just call the number on your screen. That's 866-788-3966. God bless you until we study together again at Sacramento central Sabbath school.

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