In a vision, as Daniel was facing one who appears to be the Son of God, his strength failed him. He fell prone to the ground – flat on his face. In this position and condition, he was forced to focus on the words which the Lord gave to him. And then an angelic hand effortlessly lifted him from the ground and set him on his hands and knees. At that point the angel addressed him as: “Daniel, a man greatly beloved.”

This was not the first time, nor will it be the last that one of God’s holy angels, called Daniel “greatly beloved.” In chapter 9 it was Gabriel who called Daniel “greatly beloved.” “At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.” And then again toward the end of chapter 10, we hear the same angelic voice saying, “O man greatly beloved, fear not; Peace be unto thee; be strong, yea, be strong.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you and I could hear some angel speak those words to us? What is involved in such a declaration? What do these words mean?

Let’s begin with the Hebrew word.
“Greatly beloved” is one word in the original language, whereas we might think of them as two. Perhaps the first lesson is that in the language of God there is no difference between “greatly loved” and simply “loved” or “simply loved.” In the Lord’s relationship toward his elect people, there are no levels of affection or nearness. To be loved by God is to be “greatly loved.” The nearly sinless Daniel is no more loved than the terribly sinful David. For you to be loved by God is the greatest thing that could ever happen to you. There is nothing that you can do to improve that particular relationship and there is nothing that God will ever do. That doesn’t mean that you can’t hurt your fellowship with God, but you cannot corrupt His love toward you.

The Hebrew word which is translated “greatly loved” sheds some light on that divine/human relationship. It is “chemdah” (khem-daw’) and it might surprise you to learn what its root meaning is. The first two definitions for love in my English dictionary are: “A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.” “A feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person with whom one is disposed to make a pair.”

God’s definition is different. “Chemdah” (khem-daw’) is found 25 times in the Bible and it is translated “pleasant” nearly half the time. Then it is rendered “desire,” “beloved,” “goodly,” and “precious.” The word seems to suggest what God’s love does rather than what it is. Daniel was “desired” by the Lord because the love of God made him “precious,” “pleasant” and “goodly” in His sight.

That is a wonderful thing to let settle in our hearts and minds. If the Lord loves us, it doesn’t matter whether we are cute, handsome, ugly or even grotesque, He sees us as “pleasant” and “goodly.” It doesn’t matter if we are rich as Solomon or as poor as church mice, crippled like Mephibosheth or as productive as David, God’s loving heart looks upon us as “precious.” God’s love begins in His sovereign grace and it is an expression of that grace.

The Bible teaches us that God’s love is SOVEREIGN and UNINFLUENCED.
If a person doesn’t have his heart filled with the Word of God, when he attempts to talk about God’s love he is like a three-year-old trying to talk about nuclear physics. He is like a gorilla trying to play a piccolo. Without a Bible to guide us we are so clumsy, we’ll not even come close to being in tune with the mind of the Lord.

For example, despite what some people think, God is NOT obligated to love everyone. That seems to the first place where most natural men begin to get intellectually derailed on this subject. As we saw in Romans 9, “It is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” There are probably no more clearly stated and yet vehemently denied scriptures in the Word of God. There was once an average family into which twin boys were born, but God loved only one of those twins. Despite all the rhetoric, human logic, and theological contortions, God does not love everyone. He is sovereign in dispensing His love; it goes where and to whom He wants it to go. It is either confusion, heresy, or both, to wear a bumper sticker that merely says, “Smile God loves you.” While that is true in part, it is only an half truth, and the omitted side is the heavier half. There was no “Smile, God loves you” sticker on the bumper of Noah’s ark. If the Lord loved those drowning people, as He did Noah, He would have saved them. There are billions of Esau’s in this world, but there are only thousands of Jacobs and Daniels.

“Yes,” someone says, “but Daniel was a good boy.” No sir, God’s love is not influenced by such petty things as our estimation of people’s character. There is nothing in any person which activates God’s love towards him. What saith the scriptures? Deuteronomy 7:6-8 – “Thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. 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 out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” God didn’t love Israel because they were richer than all the rest of the world; or wiser, or more polite, generous, kind, forgiving, faithful, merciful or worshipful. He loved Israel because He chose to do so. Exodus 33:19 – “And God said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.” And this doesn’t apply only to nations, like Israel – it is true of God’s love no matter how it is dispensed. I John 4:19 – the only reason that any human being loves God, is because He first loved them. There is nothing good in any nation, tribe or individual which should make God love any of us.

And it is impossible to buy or earn the love of the Lord, or later to begin to be worthy of God’s love. Yet it is a sin for US not to love the Lord. Jesus himself said that the first of all the commandments is that we should love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls and minds. Jesus asks the personal question: “Do you love me?” Just because we do not and cannot love God, despite the command to do so – that is not God’s fault. It is our fault through the sin of Adam. And yet the command remains.

Another thing about God’s love for Daniel was and is INFINITE and ETERNAL.
Those are characteristics of every aspect of God’s love. “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” – Jeremiah 31:3. Everything about God is infinite and superlative. No astronomer has peered farther into space than the Creator of that space – the universe. No scientist or engineer has come up with a microscope that can see more minutely than God’s sees. No man or body of men can lift things which the little finger of the Lord can lift. God does all things infinitely more powerfully than any man. But more than these sorts of things – there are the intangibles – which are expressed as concrete. For example, no one has ever hated as much as the Lord hates. There is not a sin on earth which the most righteous and clear-seeing human hates more than God hates it. There is no holiness or purity found in man which begins to compare to the holiness of God. And there is no love of any kind which equals or exceeds the love of God. The true expression of God’s love, whether to Daniel or to any other saint is – “thou art GREATLY beloved.” He is before all things, and behind all things, above and below all things in every possible way. Everything about Him must be exactly the same as He is.

Do you recall Romans 8:38-39? “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God’s love is eternal and not even the strength of death can break, steal or corrupt it. Life, of course, includes everything that our few years on earth can throw at us. For some people, life involves the threat of hurricanes and tornados, but such things do not disprove or disrupt the love of God. Life can mean attacks upon us from disease and accident, but these things don’t disrupt God’s love. Life often means the hatred and even the love of other people, but neither stanches the love of God. Life sometimes necessitates dens of lions, but Daniel was still “a man greatly beloved.” There is not any creature, on earth or in heaven, that can separate us from the love of God. Nothing that man can devise, or things now made that can break the bond of God’s love. And even though some of Daniel’s prophecies tell us that wicked men will even strive to stifle God’s love, or at least the knowledge of God’s love, they will all fail. Nothing can break God’s eternal love towards those whom He has called.

Taking that a step further, God’s love is IMMUTABLE.
Before our kids were born, Judy and I lived in Lethbridge, Alberta. Southern Alberta and the city of Lethbridge are places that know winter. For example, in the winter before we moved away, we had over 36″ of very wet, heavy snow fall in one day. Besides that, Lethbridge knows arctic temperatures that Spokane can only imagine. And the wind doesn’t ever seem to stop blowing during the winter. Just to the west of Lethbridge in the Crowsnest Pass, engineers have erected hundreds of wind generators, because it is guaranteed that their investment will pay off through the incessant wind. Lethbridge has a river that runs beside it, called the Old Man. The winter that we spent in Lethbridge was cold enough to freeze that river. Then in the spring at the time of break-up chunks of that ice, dammed up and brought the flow of water to a halt. Here was a mighty river completely blocked by a temporary dam of its own creation.

A bullet can be stopped by a piece of special glass, because of physical laws that God created and man has learned. A car can be stopped by less than a square foot of rubber, because of the laws of physics. And yet there is another law which says that God’s love cannot be stopped, slowed, molested or arrested. God’s love is not only infinite, but powerfully immutable. There are no distortions and no degrees in God’s love. Glass can’t stop it, walls of ice can’t dam it up, no system of shoes and breaks can slow it down. It can never run cold. I’ve seen dozens of people apparently overflowing in love, marry, but then their ardor began to cool. God’s love can change only as He changes, and that, of course, is impossible. Malachi 3:6 says, “I am the Lord, I change not.” We might interpret that to say, “I am the Lord, my love never changes or fails.” If you should pick a daisy out of the garden of God and pluck out its petals, it is not – “He loves me, He loves me not, He loves me, He loves me not.” With God, the pattern is, “He loves me, He loves, He loves me…”

However, God’s love is absolutely HOLY.
Human love can be one of the most destructive forces on earth. This is because even our love is rooted in sinful hearts. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Human love is often misdirected – as in the love of money, which is the root of all evil. Human love often demands sinful things in exchange for its pleasures. Human love often displays its corruption by spoiling its object.

But the eternal love of God cannot do such things, because it is as holy as the Lord Himself is holy. Don’t be angry with God when He refuses to ignore your sin. “Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto as unto children, whom the Lord loveth he chasethenth and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.” Don’t think for a moment that God’s love will allow you to get away with wickedness. God’s love can’t be used to soothe a guilty conscience or hide a wicked plot. It is holy, just as He is holy. So be ye also holy, in every aspect of your life, out of love for the Lord.

Of course we cannot speak of God’s love without noting that it is GRACIOUS and SACRIFICIAL.
A love that does not give cannot be true love. Ladies love to be told that they are loved, but they would rather see the fruit of it than just the words of it. Gifts and sacrifices are evidence of God’s love.

Can you picture God sitting at ease with self-satisfied disinterest in the people whom He loves? For example, can you imagine Him loving them, but permitting them to loose their salvation? Impossible! The Lord loved Daniel and that is one reason that Gabriel was sent to comfort him. God’s love cares. James 1:5 reminds us that the Lord is a God who giveth, and giveth, and giveth. John 3:16 – God has loved creation since He created it, and, in fact, even before it was created. He loved it as he looked upon it in Genesis 1. He showered upon it the tokens of his love for the last six or ten thousand years. But two thousand years ago He presented the highest of all tokens of love. “God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”

Don’t get confused and think that John 3:16 and Romans 5:8 declare that Jesus loved and died for the sins of every person in the world. If He had loved the world in that way, then there wouldn’t be a single soul in Hell. John 3:16 says that out of love God sent his son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Love sent my Saviour to die in my place. Don’t speak of my God as a God of disinterest and cruelty; a bully and ogre. Yes, He is a holy God, avenging sin upon multitudes of this race. But God so loved His creation that a Saviour was provided to rescue a remnant of those sinners.

Daniel was one of those sinners. And because the Lord loved him, he loved the Lord in return. And he often spent moments, days and even weeks in mourning and repentance before the Lord. Plus, he had a practical, explicit faith in the Lord.

Lift up your eyes and see the great love wherewith God loved us, when men dead in their sin hath he quicken together with Christ. Think of these verses and what they teach about the love of God. Realize that one of the primary motivating factors of the crucifixion of Christ was divine love. And humble yourself before that love – repent of your sin, put your faith in Christ, and vow to love the lover of your soul. Dare to be a Daniel.