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. (Jeremiah 31:3)
Whenever I hear words like ‘everlasting,’ my mind seems to conjure images of mountains as a kind of frame of reference to help me understand. I think of soaring, majestic mountain peaks that tower above the world, kissed by the sun and cloud, with their feet planted firmly in the earth. I think of rock, of permanence, of strength, and of lasting endurance. Mountains seem to epitomise the concept of ‘everlasting.’ While it’s true that even they are being slowly eroded by wind and water in miniscule but relentless wearing away, they will nevertheless stand long after we are gone. Generations from now, others will look up and see the same mountain looking very much the same as it did eons before. But mountains also present a wonderful ‘bonus perspective’ to help us understand God’s everlasting love.
God’s everlasting love is so much more than lasting forever.
We live in a structured, ordered universe governed by natural laws such as the progression of time. Despite fiction to the contrary, man cannot physically go back in time. Even the Bible reminds us that the past is just that – passed – and that we shouldn’t look back. Yesterday is over, it is finished. This is an ingrained reality which we cannot alter and which is absolutely true, but it also colours our interpretation and perception of things. Our understanding of what God’s everlasting love actually means is usually limited by the limitations imposed by the natural world we live in.
What this means is that when we think of God’s everlasting love, it’s usually in the present-future tense. God loves me with a love that will last forever. It’s all too often a ‘from this point on’ interpretation that focuses on the truth that His love for us will never cease, that it will always remain, even until the ‘end of the age’ to us a biblical expression that sums up ‘forever.’ As we cannot realistically conceive an end of the age, to us, this represents forever. We may be able to stretch our imagination a little further back to include the cross as proof that God loved the world, and make the logical leap that the world includes us, but this doesn’t fully expand our understanding.
God is spirit, and that changes everything.
The fact that God is spirit means that He is not limited by the natural laws within which we live. That’s the first crucial truth to take hold of when seeking to understand God’s everlasting love for us. He exists outside the natural laws that govern our universe. In fact, our universe and all its laws exist only because He put them there, and because they are held in place by His will – the point being that He is so much bigger than everything, and has sovereign control of it all. God, because He created it, can do what He wants with it. While He has chosen to interact with us in this mortal world, He exists outside of it.
The ‘place’ where God exists is eternity – and ‘eternal’ is just a fancy word for forever or everlasting. God is, in essence, eternal. He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of all things. For eternity to end, God would have to cease to be. Wow. That’ quite a revelation, isn’t it? If we want to full grasp the significance of God’s everlasting love, we need to first grasp this powerful truth because it lifts us out of our limited human understanding.
With God, everlasting includes past, present, and future.
This is where it gets mind-blowingly wonderful. Because eternity and God cannot really be separated, everything about Him is also rooted in the concept of eternity. Today’s verse, if read carefully, provides a very clear frame of reference that defines the everlasting love of God. Note that it occurs in the past tense – I have loved you with an everlasting love. It doesn’t say ‘I will love you.’ That is implied, of course, but the particular focus is on the past. Our instinctive assumption would be to qualify this with things like ‘from when I was born,’ or ‘while I was still in the womb.’ But that is not what God is saying here. His statement is way more powerful than that.
What God is actually saying is that He loved us from the beginning. What beginning? The beginning of everything – of creation, of the world, of time, of life. God loved us from the beginning of eternity – even from the beginning of Himself which essentially means always, because God ‘was.’ He doesn’t have a date stamp. Grab hold of this. It’s a truth that will transform who you are in Him and your life in and relationship with Him. Yes, God’s everlasting love will be exactly the same at the ‘omega’ of eternity, but what’s really significant is that it was there at the ‘alpha’ of eternity.
We should never limit God’s love to what we can easily understand.
This amazing truth is fundamental to living in the revelation of the love of God. It is not incorrect to understand the spiritual truth that God’s love will endure forever. His is an everlasting love. This includes today, here and now, our entire lives, and eternity thereafter. There is much to discover about the practical reality of how God’s love works in our lives, and we’ll get there, but before we do, we must expand our spiritual understanding to grasp a phenomenal truth that will radically change our perceptions of God, of His love, an of our identity in Him.
That truth is that God loved each one of us before anything else even existed. To help us to take hold of this in meaningful way, consider the practical implications. First, while we existed physically in this world from the moment of conception, God knew us long before then. His breath is in us, so He is in us. Our life is the physical outworking of supernatural knowledge – we existed in the mind and spirit of God right from the very beginning.
Everlasting love radically changes our perspective.
What this means is that the love God has for us now already existed before anything else. It existed in God in eternity. It also means that we are, essentially, the ‘product’ or outworking of that love. Our life is a gift of everlasting love, a gift of the creative love of God which gave physical form to the person He already knew. It means that our conception and birth is not an accident. It means that the time and place is not random. It means that we are a living testimony to the startling truth that each of us is created and birthed according to an eternal blueprint which God knew intimately – every detail – from the very beginning of eternity.
This provides insight into the truth that the cross was the physical outworking of the agreement between God and His Son from the very foundation of the world. This agreement was based on the everlasting love of God for every single person whom He knew intimately and completely from the very beginning, from even before time ‘happened.’ When the Bible tells us that ‘God so loved the world,’ it includes every single human being – the world – and it defines the everlasting love that existed for every single human being before the world was even created.
We don’t deserve God’s everlasting love, but it remains the same anyway.
Consider this final life-changing truth. God loved us from before time, because He knew us before time. But knowing us included our weaknesses, sins, failures, mistakes, and rebellion. These did not alter His love for us. Even knowing all this, He still created us lovingly, and proceeded to draw us to Him with lovingkindness. He put in place the plan of redemption – the cross – before we had even been born so that we would have a way back.
To grasp the magnitude of the revelation of God’s love, and its power to work and transform our lives, we need to take hold of the powerful truth that it is an everlasting love. It’s not a ‘generic’ term, a kind of blanket assurance, but a very specific and personal declaration to each and every single human being. It’s a declaration of the extent of His love for you and for me. It’s a love which finds its beginning and end in a God who has no beginning or end.
Understanding the everlasting love of God will change your perspective and your life.
There are so many Christians still struggling, who haven’t yet fully taken hold of the eternal truth that God loves them beyond measure. Their relationship is clouded with confusion and even guilt. This is, I believe, is because they’re stuck in the place of seeing ‘everlasting’ as what is yet to come. To everyone, and especially those who have never really known the real love of God in a personal and intimate way, I give this encouragement.
Today, take hold of this truth. Memorise this verse and ask Him to write it on your heart. Meditate on it constantly. Remind yourself that before anything began, you were there in God – known by Him and loved by Him to the point that He was willing to die so that you would have the part of eternity that is still to come with Him. Make the choice, today, to live in the absolute truth that you are not a random conception without value or purpose. Who you are was part of God and still is. He knew your errors before you made them and before He made you, but that has not altered the truth that He loves you.
Take hold of eternity. It is the only real truth. This world is temporary, the trip and not the destination. And God, who loved you then, still loves you and will still love you with an everlasting love. Nothing you do or fail to do will change that.
Gracious Father, we come to You, humbled by the magnitude of what You have shown us. Help us to set our confusions and distractions aside and focus on this truth today. Inscribe it on our hearts, and quicken it within us by the power of Your Holy Spirit so that it would bring life and transform our thinking. Help us, Lord, to see Your truth as it really is, and stir up our faith to begin to live it from this point onward.