Deliverance: Ahava, Love - David Mitts
The core of the Gospel is love. We all know the classic salvation scripture of John 3:16.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (Joh 3:16)
We know that not only does God love the world but also that God is love.
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1Jn 4:8)
If our salvation is based on knowing God, then learning to love is essential.
The new covenant is marked by intimacy with God.
Because finding fault with them, He says: "BEHOLD, THE DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD, WHEN I WILL MAKE A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH—NOT ACCORDING TO THE COVENANT THAT I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS IN THE DAY WHEN I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT; BECAUSE THEY DID NOT CONTINUE IN MY COVENANT, AND I DISREGARDED THEM, SAYS THE LORD. FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS IN THEIR MIND AND WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. NONE OF THEM SHALL TEACH HIS NEIGHBOR, AND NONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, 'KNOW THE LORD,' FOR ALL SHALL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST OF THEM TO THE GREATEST OF THEM. FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR UNRIGHTEOUSNESS, AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE." (Heb 8:8-12)
The key to knowing God, who is love is knowing love. Let’s take a look at the ancient Hebrew for the word, love.
Love is ahavah in Hebrew. It is developed from the ancient root “ahav”. Hav is made up of 3 letters, the “aleph, the “hey” and the “bet”.
The term ahav in Hebrew means, "to give." True ahava, true love, is more concerned about giving than receiving. Being the center of someone's attention isn't love. And love isn't about getting some feeling or fix. Ahava is about giving devotion and time. Giving is the vehicle of love. YHWH so loved the world that He GAVE His only Son. Meaningful relationships have mutual giving. Love may focus on receiving, but ahava is all about giving. There is a difference. Consider that the Hebrew word "ahava" is not an emotion but an action. It is not something that happens "to you" but a condition that you create when you give. You don't "fall" in love - you give love!
Returning to the letters, aleph, the “a”, is the first letter of the aleph-bet, where we get the word alphabet. In Hebrew the letter also is a numerical relationship. As the first letter it is the symbol of opening the rest. It is the word picture of an ox which pulls the plough or brings along the rest of the “word”. It is the symbol for strength of power. Love is power of God that opens all possibilities in this world. Without His love, all would be dead cause and effects.
The next letter “hey” is the word picture of revelation. It is numerically, number 5 and like the 5 books of Moses, it is a revelation of God and of His love. The actual pictograph is of a man standing with his hands lifted open palmed, the symbol of surrender. Our salvation is a surrender of our own lordship to the Lordship of Yeshua which is an act of love.
The third letter of the root is the “bet”, which is numerically the symbol for the number 2. The purpose of love is to bring two into one. The universe was created not for one but for 2. The two becoming one is the sign of love.
““I am no longer going to be in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, so that they may be one just as We are.” (John 17:11)
In covenant love the two become one flesh, one identity, distinct but complementary. Yeshua spoke of this:
“and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND HIS MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’? “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no person is to separate.”” (Matthew 19:5-6)
The “bet” is also the symbol for the entering into a house.
Love then is the composite word picture of the power the reveals the dwelling place of oneness and the establishment of the house. When love is directed first to God, then a beit, a house, is built to sustain His presence.
We were recently asked how do you keep the romance present in your marriage? There are many things that are part of that answer but the key is to have He who is love at the center of our house.
Ahav, the root of ahavah is the Hebrew word for giving. This means love is not at all about a feeling that we feel but about actions we take.
God “gave” Yeshua for us. God also gave us the “Word”, Torah in Hebrew. The Torah was written on our hearts, the organ of love. Paul said it this way:
“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the Law. For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the Law.” (Romans 13:8-10)
Ahavah, the power that reveals in surrender the way into the dwelling place of God, the heart and the power to make us one, echad, is the fulfillment of the Torah of God. The Torah is summed up in ahavah, which is expressed as loving our neighbor as ourselves. Loving our neighbor as ourselves is about giving our time, energy and resources to our neighbor in the same way we would want to be treated ourselves. This is the power that reveals in surrender, the way into oneness.
Yeshua described this:
““I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. “By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another.”” (John 13:34-35)
Love isn’t a feeling first, it is actions that create or demonstrate a reality, a noun, which then evokes a feeling. It manifests as deeds, motivated by a state of being, that then generates feelings. When you reverse the flow to feelings, actions and then being “in love”, you prioritize the most fickle and volatile essence, feelings over all else. Therefore, people fall out of love. The whole idea is fallen.
Ahavah, love is the true goal of the entire relationship with God. But it isn’t about a feeling, it’s about actions that reveal a heart that is surrendered to the reality of oneness.
““You shall therefore love the LORD your God, and always keep His directive, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments.” (Deuteronomy 11:1)
You see it isn’t when you feel like you love God that you follow His directives, statutes, ordinances and commandments. No! You demonstrate your love by following Him, serving Him with your whole heart. This then generates the feelings.
Like in a marriage, you learn what is pleasing to your spouse. This is the beginning of true intimacy, “knowing one another”. Then you give your heart enthusiastically to support them in what is important to them. The result is the activation of feelings of joy. John describes it this way:
“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever follows His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says that he remains in Him ought, himself also, walk just as He walked.” (1 John 2:3-6)
“In Him” is love. It is “ahavah”, the power that reveals the intimacy, the secret places of the heart, expressed in surrender by giving our hearts, minds, and bodies to “keep” or protect that which is sacred to God and to those who we ahavah. This is about actions.
Yeshua described “ahavah” this way:
““Just as the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you; remain in My love. “If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love. “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:9-11)
There is no shortcut to this! You cannot go from just obedience to love. Let me repeat that. You cannot go from obedience to love. What do I mean by that? Pure obedience is not love, it is slavery.
Love comes from intimacy, the speaking and listening that produces, “knowing” the one we say we love. It is when I truly “know” you and what your heart craves as an expression of your uniqueness that I can joyfully surrender to that and bring my actions into a joyful surrender.
Thus we can truly see how this ahavah comes full circle back to the sh’ma. It is by opening our heart through listening and speaking, pillow talk with God that we can truly surrender in to the ahavah, the giving that brings life to our relationship with Him and through Him to all our relationships.
Activation: Since the shema opens up the ahavah, let’s ask and listen to the Lord about what He would like to see in our lives as an expression of an increase in His ahavah.