Jesus, the Wisdom of God
Title: Love Is …
Subject: Love, Marriage, Intimacy, The church, Jesus Christ, Husband, Wife, Commitmen
Theme Text: Song of Songs 8:6 (NIV) Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.
Introduction: Few words have undergone such redefinition in our time as the word love. We must admit that love does not mean to our culture today what it meant when we were growing up. What used to be called lust is now called love and it does not matter whether or not it is legitimate or God blessed. What used to be called sin by both the Bible and the culture is now celebrated and even being endorsed by people who really do call themselves Christians. You have heard the refrain, what can be wrong with two people who just want to love each other? I will remind us all of the truth, Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV) 19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. This of course covers all the current controversies that are not controversies as far as the word of God goes. God has not changed His mind; His moral law is not up for a vote or discussion.
We all know that the world and its values have had a tremendous impact upon the church. People think nothing of living together and having children out of wedlock and rationalize it. Now I want to add that this is not the unforgiveable sin. These decisions always have consequences, and as I said last week, nobody gets to choose the consequences. Christ can does save and forgive.
However, it is one thing to be an unbeliever and practice these things but to claim to be a Christian and live like this is very dangerous.
What’s worse is when the church endorses or tolerates open immoral sin in its midst. The wisdom books have much to say about marital fidelity and marriage. The Bible has much to say about these issues of everyday life for the people of God.
What we see in our theme verse is the desire of the bride that her husband present her with an external sign of their Covenant combining of two separate individuals into a brand new person. She wants to know that she belongs to her husband alone. This reflects the true covenant nature of marital love and thematically is typology of the covenant nature of the union between Christ and His bride, the church. The message is clear do not ever forget me. Just wear this seal that I am on your heart. When I look at it I am reminded of your exclusive love, the fires of jealously are prevented and damage done to the union and our trust.
Is this the kind of God approved, church blessed love commitment we see today? Or do we see what I do in my private life is none of your business, nobody else thinks this is wrong. Let me assure you that as a member of this church it is our business. As a God appointed guardian of your soul it must be our business or we do not love you.
Read: Song 8:5-7
Theme Illustration: What do we read in the Song of Songs or the Song of Solomon? The Song is a love song meant in its original setting to be sung during the wedding feast that normally lasted seven days. This biblical wisdom literature is meant to be read and followed. Of any other area of life, do we need Gods’ wisdom than in married life? To ignore or simply reject this as wisdom brings its own set of consequences. This song was meant to be sung not preached. It does not preach well, excepting Charles Haddon Spurgeon who preached frequently out of the Song. This is wisdom concerning married life and our enjoyment of the physical side of intimacy as a type of the intimacy that we have with our bridegroom, Christ.
The Jews understood the marriage week as the process of two separate persons becoming one new person, a new creation of God. This is precisely the process of our own becoming one with Christ both individually and corporately 1 Corinthians 15:28 (NIV) When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. This song celebrates the full range of divinely approved intimacy to be experienced in Covenant love and marraige. In addition, as a type it presents a shadow or echo of the faithful covenant love of God for His people, between Christ and us.
Transition: This passage is the theme of the song, lifelong enduring love and commitment in a very exclusive way. AS such this kind of love:
- Leans on Your Husband, Song of Songs 8:5 (NIV) Who is this coming up from the desert leaning on her lover? Beloved Under the apple tree I roused you; there your mother conceived you, there she who was in labor gave you birth.
The who in this text is the young bride either remembering in aged retrospect on their life together or as a young couple. It can be both. The beloved is her husband. Most of this song is from the viewpoint of the bride. The speaker sin this passage are the daughters of Jerusalem who are witnesses to this marriage. Here are two ordinary believers who have just married and are returning home using wilderness language that Bible readers will recognize as pointing towards Israel’s wilderness journey. The home here is pictured, as the Promised Land, the Land of God’s blessings, is the home of the Bridegrooms mother. This is picture of the new couple coming into their own Promised Land of delights. Remember, this is divinely inspired and approved Scripture. Israel in many places is described as the wife of Yahweh.
Now what do the daughters of Jerusalem see? The new husband is bringing his bride home and she is leaning on his arm or chest in trusting contentment. It appears that they have just returned from their honeymoon. What we see is unfettered affection. It reminds me of the picture of the Apostle John resting on the bosom of Jesus in the Upper Room.
I we are not careful we will see this as our women’s liberation, role rejecting, husband diminishing culture has conditioned us. Where does her sense of contentment and protection originate? What is pictured here is her trust in his protection, provision, affection, and exclusive intimate love. She has the perfect right to expect this. They have become mutually bound together in a covenant promise in which they have become one according to Gods’ command, Genesis 2:24 (NIV) For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. This requires unquestioning, sole, and binding union, Living together and physical intimacy outside of marriage is sin, the Bible calls it fornication. Please do not call this love because it isn’t until there is this binding commitment, it is not love. This is what the Bible says about love, 1 Corinthians 13:6 (NIV) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. So whatever it is it is not love. And for everyone’s information I am not going to jettison God’s definition.
Our culture encourages women not to lean on your husband but creation makes that awfully hard. Remember this is fro believers only. So if you are young I remind you that the bible says that you must marry a believer. The husband must be up to this task. That is why a time is recommended to get to know one another’s strengths and weaknesses.
This picture typologically reminds us that the Church must lean upon Christ instead of the world. I am thinking of the hymn, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”. What does it say about a church that leans upon another boyfriend? We are to lean upon Christ, as the wife is to lean upon her husband. She should be able to lean upon his loving, affectionate, servant leadership. This is what it means to love your wife as Christ loves the church.
Ephesians 5:23 (NIV) For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior, does not say the husband ought to be the head of the wife, it says is the had o the wife,. This role cannot be delegated it is by divine appointment.
Therefore, husband leads in a servant way, do not be afraid to wash your wife’s feet metaphorically.
Transition: Another way that this passage teaches us about God approved love is that love is:
- Bigger than Two, Song of Songs 8:5 (NIV) Who is this coming up from the desert leaning on her lover? Beloved Under the apple tree I roused you; there your mother conceived you, there she who was in labor gave you birth.
The point here in this song is that their love is bigger than both of them are; that it makes them a part of a larger community to which they must realize that they have a responsibility and accountability. That is a word that the culture does not like hearing. The bride is speaking here, her husband’s mother’s house is where they first met, and love began to bud and flower. Their growing love was a family affair. Their love is not disconnected from the past of their parents. They are not two people disconnected from the rest of the human race, God has given them a creation mandate, become one and multiply and fill the earth, create a new family of God fearers.
In today’s culture, the family is seldom consulted and is not brought into the relationship. God’s wisdom is far removed from two people working a private arrangement to live together. They separate themselves from the families’ approval and the churches blessing. A faithful church simply cannot bless a sinful relationship.
The daughters of Jerusalem remind us that to every marriage there are witnesses. Why are they there? First, they are students. The believing community has responsibility to model for the younger people the God glorifying way to marry. There is an audience witnessing this and learning about God appointed ands God approved love. What a blessing it is to recognize the marriages in this church and the picture it paints of enduring covenant love to the younger generation.
Secondly, this reminds us at every wedding there is the photographer taking pictures recording the moment. There is the wedding party they do not stand alone; this new couple has a cheering section.
This is Gods’ order, first comes love, then comes marraige, and then comes the baby carriage.
Our relationship with Christ is not just Jesus and me. No there is something called the family of faith, the church. We live our lives in community. Our relationship with Christ is not private but personal. There is a big difference. Within the church, there are both students and witnesses. We are not unaccountable.
Transition: This marriage is going to last based upon one main thing, trust, so the bride says:
- Wear Your Seal, Song of Songs 8:6-7 (NIV) 6 Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. 7 Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.
The image here is of happy permanence as the bride sings to her husband this request, set me as a seal upon your arm and heart. That is her ways of saying wear your wedding ring and do not take it off. In the world of the Song, a persons’ seal was the symbol of his identity. Such seals were often made of precious metals. In the Scripture, this is often called the signet ring.
The wedding ring is a sign of permanence, commitment, and mutual exclusive belonging. The reason that she insists upon a seal is that his love is hers alone and rightfully belongs to her. This ring is as symbol of his commitment and helps keep her from the fires of jealously. She had he have a right to godly jealously. This jealously is the same jealousy that God has for His people. Never intentionally stoke the fires of jealousy. The passion that love brings is indeed as strong as death.
Love is such that if a person forsakes true love for wealth he or she is a biggest of fools. Love is much more than never having to say good-bye.
Conclusion: This points us to our exclusive relationship with Jesus Christ. He will not put up with rivals. We belong to Him and he has placed his signet ring over our hearts to indicated His eternal commitment, Ephesians 1:13-14 (NIV) 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory. This seal is not to remind Him but to remind us. This love is stronger than death it even overcomes death, 1 Corinthians 15:55 (NIV) “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
We individually and corporately have been promised to Christ. Our marriages are witnesses to the world and to one another of our unshakable commitment to Jesus Christ.
Beloved we cannot accept any other definition of love, God has set the definition and boundaries, John 15:13 (NIV) Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
- Song of Solomon 8:5 - 7