I have loved thee with an everlasting love - אהבתיך עולם ואהבת veahabath olam ahabtich, "and with the old love I have loved thee." "Also, with a love of long standing have I loved thee." - Blayney. "But I love thee always." - Dahler. I still bear to the Jewish people that love which I showed to their fathers in Egypt, in the wilderness, and in the promised land. Can it be supposed, by any person seriously considering the context, that these words are spoken of God's decree of election in behalf of the Jews? Those who make it such, act most injudiciously on their own principle; for, how few of the Jews have ever given evidence that they were the children of God, from their restoration from Babylon to the present day! The words refer simply to their state as a people, most wondrously preserved by the providence and mercy of God, as a standing proof of the Divine authority of the Scriptures, and as an evidence of God's displeasure against sin.
Therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee - "Therefore have I lengthened out mercy to thee." - Blayney,
C'est pourquoi je t'ai conserve ma grace.
"Therefore I have preserved my grace to thee."
The exiles, who had not for a long time received any proofs of the Divine protection, are represented as deploring their state; but God answers, that though this may seem to be the case, he has always loved them; and this continued love he will show by bringing them out of their captivity. However creeds may fare, this is the sense of the passage; all the context proves this.
The love of God still yearns over the one who has chosen to separate from Him, and He sets in operation influences to bring him back to the Father's house. The prodigal son in his wretchedness “came to himself.” The deceptive power that Satan had exercised over him was broken. He saw that his suffering was the result of his own folly, and he said, “How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father.” Miserable as he was, the prodigal found hope in the conviction of his father's love. It was that love which was drawing him toward home. So it is the assurance of God's love that constrains the sinner to return to God. “The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.” Romans 2:4. A golden chain, the mercy and compassion of divine love, is passed around every imperiled soul. The Lord declares, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3. COL 202.1
The son determines to confess his guilt. He will go to his father, saying, “I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.” But he adds, showing how stinted is his conception of his father's love, “Make me as one of thy hired servants.” COL 202.2
The young man turns from the swine herds and the husks, and sets his face toward home. Trembling with weakness and faint from hunger, he presses eagerly on his way. He has no covering to conceal his rags; but his misery has conquered pride, and he hurries on to beg a servant's place where he was once a child. COL 202.3Read in context »
We should beware that we do not give place to doubt and unbelief, and in our attitude of despair complain of God and misrepresent Him to the world. This is placing ourselves on Satan's side of the question. “Poor souls,” he says, “I pity you, mourning under sin; but God has no pity. You long for some ray of hope; but God leaves you to perish, and finds satisfaction in your misery.” This is a terrible deception. Do not give ear to the tempter, but say: “Jesus has died that I might live. He loves me, and wills not that I should perish. I have a compassionate heavenly Father; and although I have abused His love, though the blessings He has graciously given me have been squandered, I will arise, and go to my Father, and say: ‘I have sinned, ... and am no more worthy to be called Thy son: make me as one of Thy hired servants.”’ The parable tells you how the wanderer will be received. “When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” Thus the Bible represents God's willingness to receive the repentant, returning sinner. 5T 632.1
But even this parable, tender and touching as it is, comes short of expressing the infinite compassion of the heavenly Father. The Lord declares by the prophet: “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” While the sinner is yet far from his Father's house, wasting his substance in a strange country, the Father's heart is yearning over him; and every longing awakened in the soul to return to God is but the tender pleading of His Spirit, wooing, entreating, drawing the wanderer to his Father's heart of love. 5T 632.2
With the rich promises of the Bible before you, can you still give place to doubt? Can you believe that when the poor sinner longs to return, longs to forsake his sins, the Lord sternly withholds him from coming to His feet in repentance? Away with such thoughts! Nothing can be more dishonoring to God than these ideas. Nothing can hurt your own soul more than to entertain such thoughts of our heavenly Father. Our whole spiritual life will catch a tone of hopelessness from such conceptions of God. They discourage all effort to seek God or to serve Him. We must not think of God only as a judge ready to pronounce sentence against us. He hates sin; but from love to sinners He gave Himself, in the person of Christ, that all who would might be saved and have eternal blessedness in the kingdom of glory. 5T 633.1Read in context »
But even this parable, tender and touching as it is, comes short of expressing the infinite compassion of the heavenly Father. The Lord declares by His prophet, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3. While the sinner is yet far from the Father's house, wasting his substance in a strange country, the Father's heart is yearning over him; and every longing awakened in the soul to return to God is but the tender pleading of His Spirit, wooing, entreating, drawing the wanderer to his Father's heart of love. SC 54.1
With the rich promises of the Bible before you, can you give place to doubt? Can you believe that when the poor sinner longs to return, longs to forsake his sins, the Lord sternly withholds him from coming to His feet in repentance? Away with such thoughts! Nothing can hurt your own soul more than to entertain such a conception of our heavenly Father. He hates sin, but He loves the sinner, and He gave Himself in the person of Christ, that all who would might be saved and have eternal blessedness in the kingdom of glory. What stronger or more tender language could have been employed than He has chosen in which to express His love toward us? He declares, “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” Isaiah 49:15. SC 54.2
Look up, you that are doubting and trembling; for Jesus lives to make intercession for us. Thank God for the gift of His dear Son and pray that He may not have died for you in vain. The Spirit invites you today. Come with your whole heart to Jesus, and you may claim His blessing. SC 54.3Read in context »
Jesus presented the Father as one to whom we could give our confidence and present our wants. When we are in terror of God, and overwhelmed with the thought of His glory and majesty, the Father points us to Christ as His representative. What you see revealed in Jesus, of tenderness, compassion, and love, is the reflection of the attributes of the Father. The cross of Calvary reveals to man the love of God. Christ represents the Sovereign of the universe as a God of love. By the mouth of the prophet He said, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3). HP 18.3Read in context »