Because |Christ loved His Church and gave Himself for it,| we seem unable, from our natural selfishness, to rise above or beyond the thought of ourselves.
We, naturally, fill our own vision and see nothing beyond ourselves.
The thought that Jehovah said of Israel, |Yea, he loved the people,| does not enter into our minds for a moment. Gentile hatred of the Jew, added to our own natural selfishness, quite cuts out the Jew, not only from the Old Testament, but out of the Apocalypse also.
And yet is it strange, with the repeated assertions which Jehovah makes of His love for Israel, that not only should Israel be passed over by Bible-students, but this love actually taken from Israel and appropriated to the Church; depriving Israel of God's love and blessing, and leaving for them only the judgments and the curses.
And yet we have such passages as these concerning Israel:-
Deut. vii.7,8. |The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people. But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you,| etc. (See also Deut. vi.37; xxiii.5, etc.)
Hos. xi.1,4. |When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt... I drew them with the cords of a man, with bands of love.|
Isa. xliii.4. |Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee.|
Jer. xxxi.3. |The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.|
And the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, says (Isa. liv.10), |For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy upon thee.|
We are quite aware that these passages are all appropriated by the Church to itself; and, therefore, we can hardly expect them to be received in evidence that the words in Rev. i.5 are not the words spoken by the Church. But we must be content to leave the matter here. |These are the true sayings of God:| and if people will not believe what God says we can hardly expect them to believe what we say.
Of course we can make an a fortiori application of these words; but that is quite another matter. If Israel can say, |unto Him who loveth us,| how much more can we say so according to Eph. v.25, Acts xx.28, etc.? But we are dealing now with interpretation; and we must rest content with simply stating that, by interpretation, these Old Testament passages speak of Jehovah's love to Israel, and not to the Church. And, this being so, the words in Rev. i.5 may we be spoken by the godly remnant of Israel, as they will afterwards be the language of the whole People.
We would further anticipate, here, what belongs properly to our exposition of chap. ii.4: The first charge brought against His People in this book, viz., |thou hast left thy first love.|
What is this, but what Jehovah calls, in Jer. ii.2, |the love of thine espousals,| and in Ezek. xvi.8, |the time of love.| Read the whole of Ezek. xvi. and Ex. xix.4-6, and say whether we have not here the true key to Rev. ii.4.
But, before we leave this expression, we must give the correct rendering of the whole verse (i.5), according to all the Critical Greek Texts and RV. (referring our readers to our further comments in the exposition below).
Unto him who loveth us (it is the present tense, (...) (agaponti) loveth, and not (...) (agapesanti) loved; for Jehovah's love for Israel is an ever-present love, yea, it is |everlasting|) and loosed us (past tense, (...) (lusanti) loosed, and not (...) (lousanti) washed) from (...) (ek) from or out of; not (...) (apo) away from) our sins by (not |in|) his blood.|