Friday, February 17, 2006

Song of Songs and the Plan of Salvation: Parallel Stories

You remember your days in Geometry, don't you? You know -- the class where the teacher and the books were all about circles, angles and lines? Well, that class -- that's where the real definition of the word parallel was made plain. Just to remind you, the word parallel is used to designate two or more straight coplanar lines that do not intersect. That is like two streets going in the same direction which never cross each other. Parallelism is useful in the study of geography, for it can help you see in three dimensions that which is one dimensional. As you look at the imaginary lines representing degrees of latitude encircling the earth, parallel to the plane of the equator, you are enabled to see the actual globe in your mind's eye. Have you ever looked closely at a world globe? Painted on the globe are the latitude lines I refer to. If one parallel latitude line is intersected and crossed by a longitudinal line, that longitudinal line is likely to cross the second latitudinal line as well, since both lines are parallel. This is much like parallel streets, where you have two streets going in relatively the same directions, when a cross street intersects one of those streets, it is likely to intersect both, because they closely parallel one another. When this occurs, it is said that both streets have parallel intersection points or cross-points.

The Song of Solomon is a story that beautifully describes in poetic form, the relationship between a man and a woman who are either courting, or more likely honeymooners. There are those who believe the story to be descriptive of how a man and his wife ought to love and desire one another. In other words, the S. S. story is held up as the ideal for married couples. Brought to view via language is a love which is passionate and blissful, but not without sadness and disappointment. The level of intimacy portrayed in the song is one that most of the world only dreams of. Yet, however beautiful and poignant this love poem is, it is not only about the ideal human marriage relationship; but is metaphorical of Jesus' passionate desire, and erstwhile unknown longing to be one with His Bride -- the body of believers who love Him with His gift of love (Agape). Yes, the S.S is a parallel story with the Laodicean Church of Revelation 3, and indeed as parallel stories go, it has its cross-points.

The first cross-point is the garden scene, where the Beloved desires for his “lover to come into his garden and taste its choice fruits” (Song of Solomon 4:16). This is reminiscent of the coming of the Lord to the Garden of Eden to visit His Beloved, in the home He had made for them. In the Edenic garden, Adam and Eve could eat of God’s “choice fruits.” But instead chose to taste the one forbidden fruit of the farthest tree in the garden. Unfortunately, this one act caused untold woe, and sorrow, separating the divine lover from His beloved. The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world is the cause for hope we now have to return to the Edenic garden in the New Jerusalem and once again eat of His choice fruits.

The second cross-point is friendship. The Beloved says of her love, “…this is my friend” Song of Solomon 5:16. Oh, that the married couples of this day would be friends. Many are caught up in playing roles based on worldly models and sinful concepts of sexuality. Instead of communicating they compete. Instead of completing each other, they tear each other down. If only they would listen to the advice of Paul in Ephesians 5, then they would have a better understanding of what God wants for and with them. You see the marital relationship is a picture of what God wants in His relationship with the church. God wants to communicate with us; He wants to be our friend. After all, Jesus is the “friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). Jesus said to His disciples, “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you” (John 15:15). It is an honor to be a servant, but to be a friend is a higher honor, one which God did not give lightly.

The third cross-point is found in Song of Solomon 5:2-6, which reads,

S. of S. 5:2 I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.
S. of S. 5:3 I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall
S. of S. 5:4 My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.
S. of S. 5:5 I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.
S. of S. 5:6 I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.

It is from this passage that Jesus quotes to His beloved Laodicean Church, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock” (Revelation 3:20). This vignette describes a dearly beloved young woman who is quite selfishly snuggling warm in bed, on a cold rainy night while her poor Lover is barred at her door. Forced to keep knocking, He remains outside, lonely, cold, hungry, wet, and obviously the One whose disappointment is beyond description. Unfortunately, just as the beloved young bride responded, “not now", we Laodiceans also respond to Christ's knocking in kind. Sadly, we do not want to be inconvenienced. We think we cannot (or more truthfully, will not) make sacrifices at this point in life. Sometimes Christ comes to us as the little ones that we should feed, give a drink, clothes or money to. And sometimes He comes to us as one who needs us to visit Him jail. Sadly, we leave our divine Lover knocking outside the door of our hearts without so much as a response -- we just ignore Him, hoping He'll go away. And He is so polite; He does not disturb us forever. He goes away. We have made our final decision, and He sadly respects it. He is too much of a gentleman to ever force us, but how great is the pain of His rejection. After He has left, He says of us that we knew not the time of our visitation, and that 'inasmuch as we have (not) helped the least of the brethren who required our assistance, we have (not) cared for Him (Matthew 25:40).

The fourth cross-point occurs in the place where we read in Song of Solomon that the groom is saying to his new bride, “thou art all fair, there is no spot in thee.” Paul cites this very verse when he speaks of Christ's bride -- the church, as being without 'spot or wrinkle or any such thing.' When we – the church, reflect His character of Agape, we too will be without stains, blotches or creases in our wedding attire.

The Song of Solomon portrays for us that passion with which a groom so greatly desires his beloved bride. It also parallels the passion with which Christ desires to unite with His bride -- the church. The intersecting cross-points of the Laodicean letter with the Song of Solomon's poetic love song are intended by Christ to stir us with same longing and desire for oneness with Him as He has with us. Friends, let's not disappoint Him any longer.

Raul Diaz & Maria Greaves-Barnes

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