Most of us have some idea of the nuances of the various Greek words for love. There have been sermons and books written on the subject. But, before any of the Greeks ever said anything about love, the Hebrew Bible was describing the love of God with the word “ahav.”
In many ways, ahav describes the typical, every day love that we all experience. However, the word itself indicates that a special relationship exists. It describes a closeness that surpasses all of our other relationships.
Abraham loved Isaac, even though there was Ishmael. Isaac loved Jacob, even though there was an Esau. Jacob loved Joseph even though there were eleven other brothers.
“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age.”
And so it goes. There are relationships that we all have that surpass all of the other relationships in our lives. These are the things that we love. This is what ahav is all about. It comes from a root word that means “to nurture” or “to completely devote yourself to something.”
It’s not a feeling or an emotion but an action that is motivated by a desire for someone or something. It is driven and brings with it a commitment. Thus we have marriage vows and covenant relationships. Those are born out of this deep, personal love.
The “ahav” love of God compels us to step into a relationship with Him that changes us. We were created for this. It causes us to live better lives, be better men and women, do greater works and think greater thoughts. The Love of God purifies and cleanses us and makes us become what we were designed to be.
That’s why the men and women of the Bible were normal people who became great after committing themselves to God. It is the power of God’s love at work in them.
“The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.”