podcast

The Greatest Love Story Never Told (Song of Solomon)

The Song of Solomon is often overlooked in Bible studies for a variety of reasons. First, it’s located in the middle of the Old Testament. Secondly, the imagery of passionate romance depicted in the book can seem awkward for groups with young children, or groups with both genders. Thirdly, and possibly the biggest reason, is that the book can be difficult to understand.

Even the great Bible expositor Charles Haddon Spurgeon expressed difficulty in interpreting the Song of Solomon when he said the book could only be understood by the “initiated,” and that the book stood in the middle of the Old Testament like the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, whose fruit you cannot eat unless you are brought by Christ past the cherubim with the fiery sword. Apparently, Spurgeon was incapable of simply saying, “This book is hard.”

Spurgeon song of solomonSong of Solomon is often preached as a book about marriage. However, Spurgeon believed, as do many other Bible teachers, that Song of Solomon is an allegory for the love Christ has for His people.

It’s with that context that we examine the book, Song of Solomon. The Song of Solomon can be divided into three parts… the romance, the wedding, and the marriage. Each mirrors a stage in our walk with Christ. The romance, where Christ loves us regardless of our station in life, and draws us to Him. The wedding, where we repent and commit ourselves to Him, and the marriage, where He takes us to our eternal home. In each of these parts, we can see the passionate love that Christ has toward us.

In the beginning of Song of Solomon, we see the romance develop between the Shulamite woman and King Solomon. In Verses 1:5-6, the Shulamite woman notes that she is black, that she keeps vineyards for others, and her mother’s children were angry with her. The fact that she is black indicates that she has spent her life in hard field labor. She has not known luxury, nor has she been able to preen or care for herself. While she says that she is comely (she looks good,) her body shows the effects of her life of hard labor.

She also says that she has not kept her own vineyard, which means she has no vineyard. She has no wealth, she has no assets.

She is hardly a bride suited for a king. In Old Testament times (as well as medieval times, and even modern times), royalty married those who could bring peace or prosperity to their kingdoms. Alliances, trade agreements, and even mergers were orchestrated through royal weddings. The Shulamite woman can offer none of these.

Yet, despite her destitute situation, King Solomon loves her. In Verse 2:4, the Shulamite woman says, “He brought me to the banqueting house. His banner over me was love.”

This is a Cinderella-type story if there ever was one. King Solomon not only loves the Shulamite woman, and cares for her, but he brings her to the banquet. There’s a banquet, a ball. The creme de la creme are there. And King Solomon has this Shulamite woman on his arm, is introducing her to every one, and his proud to be in love with her.

It means a lot that King Solomon makes this romance public. He loves the Shulamite woman. She is the object of his love, and he is driven by his love to care for her. She is not a scandal to him, and he is not ashamed of her.

This is a mirror to how Christ loves us. He loves us in spite of the fact there is nothing we can do for Him. He loves us in spite of the rejection we suffer at the hands of others. He lifts us out of our hopelessness and takes us into His kingdom, where we can know love, care, and be provided for.

In Chapter 3, we see the wedding. In Verse 3:11, the Shulamite woman tells the daughters of Zion to “Behold King Solomon,” who has been crowned with the crown of his espousals. Also in chapter 3, we see that King Solomon takes the Shulamite woman to His bedchamber, which is surrounded by 60 of the best fighters in the king’s army.

The espousals, the wedding, is the union of King Solomon to the Shulamite woman. The marriage union is an eternal union never to be broken. This is why marriage is so sacred to God. It provides a picture of the love between the Lord and His people.

Being married to King Solomon, the Shulamite woman would never again know fear. She would sleep in the safest place in the kingdom, and the king would never put her out.

Likewise, when you are a child of God, when you know Christ as your Savior, you are in the safest place in the universe, because nothing can get to you without going through God first. And God will never turn you away.

Jesus said in John 5:24, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee. He that heareth My words, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.”

Basically, if you know Jesus as your Savior, you will never need to fear God’s wrath, and you will never come into condemnation. You are safe, and the Lord will receive you into His kingdom.

Finally, in Song of Solomon, we see the marriage.

No marriage is perfect. All marriages endure hard times, conflict, and sometimes estrangement. Thus, in Song of Solomon 5:2-8, we see such an occasion arise between the Shulamite woman and King Solomon. The king has come to her door, but she has just gotten ready for bed, her coat is put off, and she has washed her feet, and she doesn’t want to get messy. So, he leaves.

How often does the Lord knock on our door, but we are too busy with the day to day things of life to answer His call? How often are we preoccupied with the things of this world to answer God’s call on our life? How often do we put off doing something for the Lord because today is not a convenient day?

We miss our Bible devotional time, and our prayer time because we are too busy. We refrain from giving to the church because we have a lot of financial plans and obligations. We do not surrender to the ministry God has called us too because it would disrupt our current lifestyles. Then one day, we find ourselves apart from God, wondering why He is silent, and distant.

He knocked. We couldn’t be disturbed. Therefore, the fellowship was broken.

The good news is that there is reconciliation. In Verses 6:1-3 we see the reconciliation between the Shulamite woman and King Solomon. When we repent and turn to the Lord, He forgives, and we are reconciled to Him.

Closing out the Song of Solomon, we see a beautiful sight. In verse 8:12, the Shulamite woman has her own vineyard. The woman who had no vineyard in chapter 1 now has a vineyard of her own. She lives happily ever after, with Solomon.

Likewise, those of us who wonder this earth without a home, those of us who know Christ as our Savior, will one day have an eternal home.

In John 14:2-4, Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.”

If you know Christ as your Savior, He has prepared an eternal home for you in Heaven. The day is coming when He will return and take you to that eternal home, and you will be with Him forever.

Even so, come Lord Jesus.

As Solomon loved the Shulamite woman, so Christ loved us. Will we receive His love by turning from sin and trusting in Him? Or will we spurn His love in favor of the sins of this world. Each will choose for himself or herself. How will you choose?

Contentment in Christ

The book of 1 Timothy is a letter from the Apostle Paul to a young preacher named Timothy who would taking leadership over one of the strongest churches ever organized under the Apostle’s ministry. Ephesus was a Gospel-driven, doctrinally sound church, which, despite its strengths, still had a tendency to drift from the Gospel.

So, in writing 1 Timothy, the Apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to stay Gospel-focused, to turn from minute, petty teachings, to keep the peace by unifying the church under the Gospel. Timothy was to teach the people to be Gospel-centered.

In the final two chapters of 1 Timothy, Paul gives instruction on what the Gospel-centered life looks like, particularly in how we relate to others. Chapter 5 deals with those who are impoverished and destitute, and Chapter 6 teaches us how to handle our wealth in light of the Gospel.

The simple message of Chapter 6 is, (1) don’t be driven by greed, (2) look forward to the return of Christ, and (3) invest in the Lord’s work. However, if you look at these teachings in relation to the Gospel, they take on a whole new meaning.

In the above posted sermon, preached at Life Point Baptist Church on Feb. 10, 2019, we will study how God wants us to find contentment with Him, how we are to look forward to the Lord’s return, and how our limited time left on this earth should impact our financial priorities.

Life is More (Revelation 3)

As we continue our study in Revelation on The Point, it is important to remember that the book is really a letter being addressed to seven individual churches in Asia minor. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared to the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos, where John was incarcerated for his ministry in Ephesus, to give him the word to deliver to those seven churches.

The Lord’s purpose in appearing to John and giving us the Book of Revelation was three-fold. (1) He appeared to remind us that He is returning. (2) He appeared to give us hope by reminding us of His return. (3) He appeared to warn us to correct the sin in our lives in preparation for His return.

It’s important to keep this context in mind, as many theologians make the mistake of treating Revelation like some artifact found by Indiana Jones. Instead of considering it as direct communication between Jesus and seven individual churches, they look for mysterious codes hidden within the text that will unlock some deep truth that will give them a special insight into the future of the human race. This is how cults get started.

With the understanding that Revelation is merely a letter dictated by the Lord (or His messengers) to seven individual churches, we can reject the notion that the letters to the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3 somehow symbolize seven ages, or seven different classifications of churches. Instead, we can simply look at what the Lord has to say to those seven churches, and learn from it.

So, in Chapter 3, we see three letters written. One was written to Sardis, one to Philadelphia, and one to Laodicea.

Sardis had all the appearances of a church that thrived. They were reaching many. The church was growing. In modern times, their programs would have been working. Jesus told Sardis that they had a reputation that they lived, but were dead (Rev. 3:1). He added that their works were not perfect before Him (Rev. 3:2), which could mean that they did things with impure hearts, or that they had wandered from truth. Either way, they were warned to “strengthen the things which remain (Rev. 3:2)” and “Hold fast and repent (Rev. 3:3)” so that they would be prepared for the Lord’s return.

This teaches us that life is more than our reputations. It doesn’t matter what people think of us as much as it matters what God thinks of us. Therefore, we are to do all things according to His truth, and obey His calling on our lives, regardless of what others think.

Philadelphia was a good, faithful church. Notice that the Lord offers no correction to Philadelphia, as none is needed. Instead, He praises their faithfulness and promises that their suffering will not be in vain. He then encourages them to stay the course.

This teaches us that life is more than the pain we feel right now, and that the Lord sees our suffering, and will reward our faithfulness. Continue in your faith. You will not be disappointed.

The final church mentioned in Revelation 3 is the church at Laodicea. Many preachers have preached that the church of Laodicea is symbolic of the modern church age, where we have become so prosperous and lazy that we are no longer making an impact for the Lord. While some may point to the modern, American contemporary church as the fulfillment of this text, the Christian in Southeast Asia who is being tortured for his faith is nowhere close to being an example of a Laodicean Christian.

Those who say that the modern church is a fulfillment of the Laodicean church age have an American-centric view of Christianity, and have disregarded the plight of the majority of Christians around the world, who have been sentenced to poverty, imprisonment, slavery, and torture as a result of their faith.

That being said, the words Christ spoke to the Laodiceans should be observed by the American church, and any church that has grown lackadaisical. The Lord wants to be an active part of our lives, and He wants us to stand for something.

This teaches us that life is more than our material wealth. Life is about what we do for Christ. What are you doing for Christ?

The overall lesson from Revelation 3 is that we need to prepare for the return of the Lord by recommitting ourselves to Christ and to let our faith in Him propel us through our day to day lives. As we move forward into the book of Revelation, “things get real.” Are you prepared to meet Christ?

 

Consider Your Ways (Haggai 1)

Haggai’s prophetic ministry took place after the Babylonian Captivity of the nation of Israel was coming to a close. People began to trickle back to Jerusalem, having secured enough provision for the journey home.

As Jerusalem slowly began to be repopulated, the people began rebuilding their homes, businesses and streets, all while the Temple remained in ruins. Seeing his house remain ruined while everyone else’s was being rebuilt prompted the Lord to say, “Consider your ways.”

In calling the people to consider their ways, God called them to consider their priorities, their worship, and their faith. The lesson is as relevant to us today as it was in Haggai’s day. We all need to consider our ways, to make sure our priorities are in line, that our worship honors God, and that our faith is in tact.

The above-posted episode of The Point will bless you with encouragement.

The Blessing and the Call

The book of Ezra records the efforts of the first two groups of exiles returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. They were ordered by King Cyrus to take on the reconstruction project.

In looking at the proclamation issued by Cyrus in chapter 1, we see how God blesses us and expects us to use our blessings to further His Kingdom. We also see how God works through the situations in our lives to transform us and reach others with the Gospel. We learn how blessed it is to be used in God’s overall plan.

Furthermore, we see the need for God to spark a revival in our land by stirring the souls of many and calling them into His service.  This is the first part of a 10-part series entitled, “We Build,” being taught on our radio show, The Point, and Sunday mornings at Life Point Baptist Church.

Who? Me? Dealing with doubt on “The Point.”

 

When we pray to God to work out situations in life, often we wish that He would just wave a magic wand and fix things for us. Sometimes He does. Other times, He calls us to be part of the solution. That’s when things get daunting, just as they were for Moses when God called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

Meet God

 

When Moses approached the burning bush, God called out to him from the midst of the bush, telling him to take off his shoes for he was standing on holy ground.

At that point, Moses met the God he had trusted since childhood. All throughout Exodus 3, Moses sees the attributes of God on full display.

First, Moses saw the awesomeness of God, as He appeared in a burning bush that was not being consumed by the fire.

Secondly, he saw the life of God, as God described Himself as the eternal “I AM” who was still the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as they had entered eternity with him after passing on this Earth.

Thirdly, he saw God’s deliverance, as God told Moses that He had come down to deliver His people from the bondage of Egypt.

Lastly, he received God’s call, as God directed Moses to be the one to lead the people out of Egypt.

From this, we learn that God is to be revered, that He is the source of our life (both eternal, and Earthly), that God delivers His people and responds to their prayers, and that God works through His people to accomplish His mission.

Want more? Check out the above-posted podcast.