What is the Love of God?

What is the Love of God?

Going from the Old Testament to the New Testament, nothing changed regarding the way God wants man to love Him. What changed was the method of payment for sin. God wanted the children of Israel to obey His Commandments out of a sincere, heartfelt love for Him, while payment for sin was accomplished through animal sacrifices. He presently desires that all who hear the Gospel will love Him just as He showed His love for all of mankind by sending His Son to pay for the sins of the whole world. God has always wanted to have a relationship with man that was based on His love for man and man’s love for Him. God has always desired the love of mankind. He first loved us and gave Himself for us out of love. When we return to God, the love that God has for us, by accepting His offer of forgiveness for our sin through Jesus Christ, brings us into an intimate personal relationship with Him that will forever continually grow and prove to be worth more than all the riches of the entire universe.

Question: Does Scripture show that God was wrathful in the Old Testament and then gracious and merciful in the New Testament?

Answer: Some people actually think this way. However, it ignores what we learn about God’s character in the Book of Jonah. Scores of verses can be quoted from the Old Testament which testify of God’s mercy, but none seem to illustrate it quite the way that the Book of Jonah does.

Jonah 4:1-3: “But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, ‘Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.’

Jonah 4:10-11: “Then the Lord said, ‘You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?’

This should be of no surprise since God also said: “‘For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.’” (Malachi 3:6) So, when God judged the Amalekites, Canaanites and Sodom and Gomorrah, they must not have repented like Nineveh had, and hence their own choice condemned themselves.