What does it mean to fall in love with God? How much does God love each person? How are we made to be in relationship with God, wired to love him and be loved by him? How can God keep pursuing us even when we reject him?
Bible Gateway interviewed Van Moody (@Van_Moody) about his book, Desired by God: Discover a Strong, Soul-Satisfying Relationship with God By Understanding Who He Is and How Much He Loves You (Thomas Nelson, 2018).
How is God’s love for the people of Israel described in Ezekiel 16?
Van Moody: The love of God is on display all through Ezekiel 16. In verses 1 through 14, God is referring to the love he displayed by choosing to make Israel a special people and his treasured possession (Exodus 19:5-6) and God did this through Abraham who, before meeting God in Genesis 12, was an outsider and an idol worshiper.
Many people key in on the verses of judgment in Ezekiel 16 and misunderstand God’s heart here because they don’t understand that in the Old Testament, in particular, God behaved in line with the covenantal agreements he had with man at that time. God establishes a Grant Covenant Relationship with Noah (Genesis 9) and Abraham (Genesis 15), and God offers a Grant Covenant Relationship to Israel. They reject it and opt instead for a Kinship Covenant with God that’s based on rules (Exodus 19 & Deuteronomy 5). We know these rules as “The Law.”
The heart of what God is speaking to in Ezekiel 16 is that the Israelites had broken the Kinship Covenant that they had agreed to. Verses 59 and 60 are the key to understanding God’s love in Ezekiel 16.
“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will deal with you as you deserve, because you have despised my oath by breaking the covenant. Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you” (NIV)
The covenant God made with them in the “days of their youth” was the Grant Covenant God made with Abraham. The “everlasting covenant” God points to prophetically is the New Covenant we now have through Jesus Christ, which is a Grant Covenant. A Grant Covenant is not based on works or laws; it’s based on belief; faith (Genesis 15:6, Ephesians 2:8-9, Hebrews 11:7).
God’s love is on full display here! Even though the Israelites had failed to uphold the Kinship Covenant (Law), what God says he’ll remember is the Grant Covenant with Abraham that existed for 2,847 years before the law came into existence, and what God is pointing to is the New Covenant with Jesus that also is not works based.
How is the entire Bible God’s love letter to us?
Van Moody: God’s heart for humanity and love for us personally is on display throughout all of Scripture. All 66 books of the Bible reveal Gods’ unyielding love for us in unique and captivating ways. From Adam and Eve to Abraham, Moses, Israel, Joshua, David and most importantly Jesus, all of these figures and the stories surrounding them point to one thing: God’s love for us.
What does it mean that God is love?
Van Moody: Love is the fundamental essence of who God is (1 John 4:8). Everything that God does flows from the heart of who God is. We understand this concept as it relates to God’s omniscience, omnipresence, and his omnipotence. Likewise, we must also follow this concept as it relates to the love of God in light of 1 John 4:8, John 3:16, Romans 2:4, Romans 5:8, 1 Corinthians 13, Ephesians 3:17-19, 1 John 3:1 and so many other Scriptures.
Explain the cycle in your book: love is given, love is rejected, love is accepted.
Van Moody: What Scripture reveals in a variety of ways is this intriguing cycle of God extending his love to us, and often that love is rejected; and ultimately for some people that love is finally accepted. Even for those who have not yet received God’s love and may be at the rejection stage of this cycle, God’s love is still being extended towards them. His love was given for them through Jesus on the cross.
How are actions a proof of love?
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (NIV)
Explain your statement in the book, “God has always wanted relationship, not rules.”
Van Moody: From the very beginning, we see this with what God established with Adam and Eve. You also see this with the way that God interacts with Noah, Abraham, and David. We see this in ultra-high definition with Jesus. In addition to the theological clarity God gives us, historically there was an estimated 2,847 years before the law came into existence and only around 1300 years with the law until Jesus came. There was more than twice as much time without the law as there was with the law. Moreover, how we relate to God now, through Jesus Christ, is not based on rules; it’s based on relationship.
How does the entire Bible point to Jesus as the way?
Van Moody: All of the Bible points to Jesus. Every Old Testament book points to Jesus through types and shadows. Every major Old Testament figure is pointing to something and someone greater than themselves, and that is Jesus. The Old Testament is Christ concealed, and the New Testament is Christ revealed. Jesus was there with God in the beginning, and everything culminates with him (Psalm 40:6-8, Hebrews 10:7, Luke 24:25-27, Revelation 13:8).
What do you hope Desired by God will do in the lives of its readers?
Van Moody: I hope to give the reader a fresh and accurate picture of God as someone who loves them and desires with all his heart for them to know who he really is so they’ll fall in love with him and return the powerful feelings of love he has for them. When you understand the height and depth and breadth of God’s love for you, then you can return that love and move forward into a fresh, new life, with a new perspective. I believe the reader will gain a more accurate understanding of who God is, how much he’s in love with humanity, and the life-transforming benefits of accepting and living from God’s radical love.
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Van Moody: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8) I love this verse because of how it succinctly shows us the heart of our Father. It also reminds me that God’s love requires nothing of us, but will change everything about us.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App and Bible Audio App?
Van Moody: I love these tools and use them often! Keep up the fantastic work you’re doing! Thank you also for including The Living Bible as one of your translations.
Desired by God is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Van Moody serves as pastor of the Worship Center in Birmingham, Alabama, and is the author of Desired by God: Discover a Strong, Soul-Satisfying Relationship with God By Understanding Who He Is and How Much He Loves You, The I Factor: How Building a Great Relationship with Yourself Is the Key to a Happy, Successful Life, and The People Factor: How Building Great Relationships and Ending Bad Ones Unlocks Your God-Given Purpose. He is on the board of Joel Osteen’s Champions Network, is a member of Dr. Oz’s Core Team, and is an associate trainer in Japan for Dr. John C. Maxwell’s EQUIP leadership organization. Moody, his wife, Ty, and their children, Eden Sydney and Ethan Isaiah, live in Birmingham, Alabama.
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