On a recent summer evening in the foothills below Jerusalem I stood under the chuppah wedding canopy with an Israeli princess bride and her prince charming. The chuppah is just about my favorite place to be in the universe. Why?
Because there we experience the holy presence of God manifested in the coming together of two lives. It is the power of union in love. God chose to make this combination the vehicle for the creation of new life! This should not escape our notice.
So, what does this have to do with our relationship with God?
“I know your works … you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent.” – Revelation 2:2-5
This is a serious assessment, even a rebuke, from Yeshua. I often picture the Lord’s description of our loss of first-love as a spouse who is faithful, hard-working, consistent in all duties, yet the fire in his/her eyes for the loved one, has gone out.
What is “First Love”?
What is “first love?” I well remember meeting Connie. It was totally amazing. This wonderful woman almost perfectly matched the vision I had for life. My attraction to her was irresistibly magnetic. Has it been like that every day since? No. We get bogged down in the duties of life and become irritated, impatient and unappreciative. We have to admit that at times, through our nearly 49 coupled years, we’ve been present but not together! If we do not fan the flame, we take our spouse for granted. But under the wedding canopy? Never.
The Book of books is incredibly focused on true marital love, often as a parallel to our relationship with God. The entire history of mankind begins with a wedding: Adam and Eve. The end of the Holy Scriptures is also a wedding–the marriage supper of the Lamb. The entire books of Song of Songs (2:4;16) and Hosea (2:19; 3:1,4a,5) seize this theme. God says that He is Israel’s husband (Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 31:31). Yeshua highlights the command to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and strength as the most important of all God’s commandments. In the New Covenant the Congregation of Messiah is His Bride (Ephesians 5:23; Revelation 21:2).
OK. So What?
The Revelation passage about first-love is addressing an end-times deficit (Matthew 24:12 “… the love of many will grow cold“). Matthew 25 pinpoints the urgent need for our lamps to be full and burning when the Bridegroom comes. This is a NOW message. Our coming King is warning us that the natural tendency will be to passively “coast.” He’s exhorting us – not only to be vigilant, but to be passionate, giving first place to our love relationship with Him.
I want to suggest a couple of steps to fan our heart’s flame for the Lover of our soul and not just “get by.”
■ Take stock. This honesty is crucial in our relationship with the Lord. “Search me and know … (Psalm 139:23).
■ Fan the flame by responding fully to His love initiative. He loved us first. Be creative in spending time with Yeshua. Converse with Him. Take walks together. Read His words as if listening to your beloved speaking words of love and affection to you, and you back to Him.
The outcome will be a delight for you and for the Bridegroom. And your life will impact many (Psalm 51:12,13).
This article originally appeared in Oasis newsletter, August 2017, and reposted with permission.