Revelation 15

Vs. 1, “I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath is completed.”  The reference to “last” encompasses not just the seven plagues, rather all of judgment at this Revelation time.  The same believers who stood with the Lamb (144,000) are also here indicating that we now see how they are going to be victorious from our previous chapter.  The song they sing (vs. 3-4) is reminiscent of the song the Israelites sang in Exodus 15.  The seven bowls of wrath will be covered in the following chapter.  It’s important to be reminded that the smoke represents God and His authority over the wrath to come.

Regarding application…Wrath of God.  Vs. 7, “Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever.”  While both humans and God can express wrath, it is God’s wrath that is just.  Question: Why wrath?  It is God’s direct opposition to sin and evil (Holman’s Bible Dictionary).  This is not an easy concept to swallow and many harden their hearts to this reality.  One thing to bear in mind that if there was not wrath, there would be no need for salvation.  Jesus never would have had to come.  This is pretty humbling and we should not be so quick to misunderstand the wrath of God.  Thank the Lord Jesus for His grace upon us!

Habakkuk 3

Vs. 2, “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.”  Habakkuk ends his oracles with a song that helps conclude the prophecy concerning Babylon and God’s faithfulness to His people.  In the first section of the song (vs. 3-8), Habakkuk sings of God’s mighty power in His creation and how God showed his power in the exodus of His people out of Egypt.  I think  this is very important since we have a tendency to generally be unimpressed with life, “been there, done that.”  Habakkuk compares the LORD with a bowman readying his arrows (vs. 9) as judgment would come the wicked and God would save His people through the Anointed one (vs. 9-13).  The Anointed one (vs. 13), speaks a reference to Moses, though it could be looking forward to Jesus as God helps His people as an enemy draws near (vs. 14-15).  Lastly, Habakkuk rejoices (vs. 16-19) despite the tough times that are to come.

Regarding application…Remembering God’s Faithfulness.  Vs. 13, “You came out to deliver your people, to save your anointed one. You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness, you stripped him from head to foot.”  Question: How can we be faithful in the present and future if we don’t remember our past?  What a wonderful reminder!  As I was preaching in my Philippians series today, I asked the congregation to take time to remember how God worked for the good.  My favorite verse is Romans 8:28 and in this it challenges us to remember that God works for the good.  God is so good.  A 94 year old woman in the adult congregation testified about what a wonderful week she had thinking back at how good God is to her.  No matter what stage we are in, we can find encouragement looking back at the promises of God being fulfilled.  So as you start a new week, take time to remember God faithfulness so that you can already be praising Him as the week progresses.

QT – Song of Song 8

The Shulamite’s intense desire & love for her soon to be husband is obvious.  Vs. 1, “If only you were to me like a brother…”  She is saying she wished she had known him her whole life.  She charges the daugthers of Jerusalem once again not to give into the desires of the flesh before marriage (vs.4).  As the Shulamite and her love come from Solomon’s and now entering back into their village…the people wander who is this that would come back (vs.5)?  It must feel good to the shepherd who has finally brought her back to him…and to hear her say such wonderful things of their love (vs. 5-7).  As the wedding approaches, the women are curious and inquire to the beautiful Shulamite how she was able to keep herself so physically pure.  Would their daughters be able to do the same?  The wall (vs.10) represents strong will to be a virgin…while the door (vs.9)…represents promiscuity.  That’s why the Shulamite says she is a wall.  For a wall is hard to climb, while a door is easy to enter.  She realizes the King owns her land, but the king does not own her body (vs. 11-12).  The Shepherd is looking forward to the wedding celebration to end so he may finally be with his new wife!
 
Regarding application…Protect Your Heart.  While the wall & door analogy was specific to young girls and the protection of the purity…I believe the application can most definitely be applied today.  And not just with physically protecting yourself until marriage…but how about protecting your heart!  Do we keep a wall (spiritual protection) around our heart or do we leave it open for others to take?  Far too many young people today are giving away their hearts, giving away their virginity…only to find it never satisfies completely.  Our heart really only belongs to one person…not your spouse one day…but to Jesus our Bridegroom.  Of course, we can share our heart with others…but the owner of our heart must be Christ!  People who have a strong desire to be loved are often the people who give their heart and body away too easily.  Turn that strong desire to Jesus and let Him quench it with His love!  Stop looking for love in the wrong places.  When you finally experience that love worth receiving…than you can share that Love that’s worth giving!  Protect your heart, for it belongs to our Lord! 

QT – Song of Songs 7

Solomon and the women of the court continue to give praises about the beauty of the Shulamite woman.  Though, flattering…she is not impressed to the point that she forgets her true love…the Shepherd boy.  Upon finishing, the woman reminds everyone that she belongs to the Shepherd (vs. 10).  In this scene, it would seem that the Shepherd is found by the daughters of Jerusalem and enters the scene.  The Shulamite chooses her love…rather than the lust of Solomon and his riches!
 
Regarding application…Who Do You Belong To?  .This beautiful young Shulamite woman is a true rarity among women.  I believe beautiful people (on the outside) either men or women (espicially women)…have a much harder time trying to live a life for God.  Why?  Simply look at this story that unfolds before us.  The Shulamite woman is obviously adored by both Solomon and his women.  She could have easily been more than flattered and gotten a big head (to say it simply).  Yet, somehow she manages to remember where she comes from.  Beautiful people are treated differently back then and still today.  That is why I believe this story stands out among Solomon’s songs.  Because of the rarity of this woman and her love for her soon to be bridgegroom. 
 
Vs. 10, “I belong to my lover, and his desire is for me.”  When the world comes beckoning your name…Colleges, Careers, Relationships, etc…don’t ever forget who you belong to.  You are not just high school student, a Korean, an American, a basketball player…you are a child of God.  If we remember what this young Shulamite remembered…I believe we would live a life that brings joy to our true Bridegroom (Jesus!)  Jesus desires us….do you desire Him above all?  If you do…then live it, express it, display it…let your life be filled with the Spirit (Intoxicated not with this world, but with Jesus).  Let each day be a new day to spend with the Love (Jesus) of your life!

QT – Song of Songs 6

Here we have the Shulamite woman approached by the daughters of Jerusalem asking where is this man you have described (vs. 1).  She tells them where he may be, and the women go search for him.  In the meantime, the Shulamite woman is brought before Solomon and his many women in the palace.  Once again, I believe the way Solomon is speaking to her supports the fact that this true love of this woman is the Shepherd and not Solomon (vs. 4-9).  Also, why would the women inquire about where this man is, when everyone would know where King Solomon is?  Anyways…The women of Solomon’s recognize and acknowledge the Shulamite’s beauty (vs. 10).  Solomon then shares how he came upon this Shulamite woman in vs. 11-12. 

QT – Song of Songs 5

Here we see another dream that our young woman is having.  Some time has passed and we see her at home dressed for the evening when her love comes to visit her.  There is a knock on the door and he tells her who it is.  But she hesitates to get it, because she is already comfortable.  But, she finally gets up to open the door to him only to find he is gone now.  She once again braves the night to go searching for her love, but this time the watchmen beat her.  Special note: If she were Solomon’s wife, they would not have beaten her or she would not have dreamed such a thing…that’s why I believe Solomon and the Bridegroom are not the same.  As she pleads to the daughters of Jerusalem (who are not being very nice)…again it doesn’t make sense that she would go so elaborately in describing her bridegroom’s physical features when she simply could have said her love is the King himself.

Regarding application…Jesus Knocks.  Vs. 16, “…he is desirable in every way…”  Did she realize this at the beginnig of her dream?  Yes, but she was comfortable in her night clothes.  Obviously, she regrets not responding right away to her bridegroom’s plea outside the door.  But, through the loss of not having him and seraching for him…even being beaten & ridiculed…she realizes that nothing compares to Him!  Perhaps it would take tribulation for her to appreciate the relationship she had with the love of her life.  I wonder how many times Jesus has knocked and we have given excuses.  Revelations 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”  It would have been much better for her to respond sooner…and it would be much better for us to respond sooner.  Sometimes we don’t realize what we have until it is seemingly taken from us.  We complain about our family at times…we complain about our church at times…we complain about our friendships at times…but imagine if they were taken from you.  Let’s us not be people who don’t know what we’ve got till it’s gone.

QT – Song of Song 4

Vs. 1, “How beautiful you are, my darling!  Oh, how beautiful!”  Once again…this is either the young man or King Solomon himself.  Either way…this is most eloquent & beautiful song of the bridegroom.  Think of Jesus (our Bridegroom) saying things to the church (us) as you read this too.  Of course, we read on to see in detail how beautiful the young Shulamite woman is to her love.  While it seems a bit too frank…it is not meant to embarass, but to show the bridegroom loves evey aspect of his soon to be bride.  The sister allusion is simply because once a couple was married, they became like family.
Regarding application…Captured Hearts.  Vs. 9, “You have captured my heart…” (NLT).  Often we talk about preparing our hearts, giving our hearts, using our hearts, softening our hearts to God…But here we see the bridegroom (Jesus) tell us that we have captured his heart!  Think about it…we have captured God’s heart.  So much that He would send His own Son to save us.  It’s crazy to think that we captured Jesus’ heart.  Who me?  I’m a sinner.  I’ve done nothing but cause grief to God.  How could I have captured His heart?  Perhaps one day we will know…but to explain that would be to know God’s heart fully.  It’s one of those mysteries that will go unsolved this side of Heaven.  It’s kind of like a parent who has an unplanned child.  Though they didn’t plan this…their child captured their heart!

QT – Song of Songs 3

Note: Most scholars believe that this is a recollection of a dream she had.  Vs. 2, “I will get up now and go about the city, through its streets and squares; I will search for the one my heart loves.”  The young woman longs for her love, so she leaves the safety of her bedroom and goes into the dangers of the night.  Her love propels her to search till she finds.  When she finds him, they consummate their love (remember this is a dream) and she reinforces the fact that the daughters of Jerusalem should not engage in such a thing until marriage.  Then Solomon comes into the scene…with all his glory & splendor.  Those who believe Solomon is the Love of her life…they look at this as the Wedding procession.  Those who believe the woman’s love is someone else, look at this as Solomon’s attempt to win her over.
 
Regarding application…Never Let Go.  Vs. 4, “Scarcely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go…”  She was the picture of persistence and perseverance.  Sometimes we hear about love stories where the man (or woman) travels over mountains, lakes & rivers searching for the woman he loves (very romantic).  Of course, the love for that person and he desire to be with that person is overwhelming.  I’ve never been in a war, but I remember my father’s father (grandpa) who told me about some of his experiences during WWII as a young American soldier.  His desire to get back to Jasper & see Lucille was so strong that he helped him get through the war.  Brother & Sisters in Christ…that same desire that spurs on such action…is the same desire we should have when we seek out Jesus.  I held him and would not let him go…”  Wow..that’s actually very touching and powerful if you think about it.  An interesting phenomenon happens at retreats…sometimes we see the sad faces of those who don’t want to leave.  Why is that?  Because retreats help us see Jesus in a real way…in a way where the world doesn’t distort our minds and distracts us.  But our goal is to feel that not just at climatic moments (retreats, etc.)…but the everyday moments of our lives.  The Kry sings one of my favorite songs, “He Won’t Let You Go”….well perhaps, we should not let him go!  Let us search Jesus until we find him and then when we find Him…let us never let go!
 

QT – Song of Songs 2

Vs. 1, “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.”  In order not to lose you…I will try to explain the details of the verses.  The Plain of Sharon was famous for its flowers. The young maiden is saying, I am merely a flower of the plain. I am only one among a host of others.  But the young shepherd tells her no…you are a lily among thorns (the other girls do not compare).  The allusision to the apple is of a more physical desire.  The banquet hall is speaking of a celebration of love (wedding) and his banner is his protection & acknowledgement of his love for her.  The raisins & apples are once again referring to the physical union of a man & woman in love and in marriage.  She desires intimacy and to be close to her love.  She admonishes the women to not engage in such a relationship until marriage.  She envisions her love coming in a grand fashion over the mountains & over the hills to her with excitement.  Spring is near and the harsh winter is almost over.  She is excited to see the promise of a beautiful new year.  The foxes are speaking of those tough times or people who have caused grief.  Interesting that we are reading a love as Valentines Day is right around the corner.
 
Regarding application…New Hope.  Vs. 11-12, “See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.  Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.”  In Bette Midler‘s song, The Rose….”Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snow…lies the seed that with the Son’s love in the spring becomes a rose.”  This reminds me of how not everything is going to be given to us on silver platter.  Her love for her future husband was not an easy one.  There were times of seperation and tribulation.  But she was able to see the promise of a new spring.  The promise that though it has been tough, her love will keep her enduring.  Once again, we see the picture of Christ & His love to the church.  There are times when the season of singing and peace has come even in our own lives.  Our retreat is in exactly one week from now and it will be time for the new budding of hope and love!

QT – Song of Songs 1

Introduction:
The title “Song of Songs” means the “Finest of all songs”.  Solomon composed over 1000 songs, and this is the very best!  It is a book full of symbols and images, a book that requires maturity and spiritual discernment to appreciate and enjoy.  From a quick glance, the immature could distort the meaning of this book.  There has been much debate over the meaning of this song.  It will be very easy to look at this song from a human perspective.  Some like to avoid this book all together, thinking it is not appropriate.  However, we must remember II Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is Godbreathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”  This book is about true love within a marriage, it shows the love God has for His people, it is a picture of Christ the bridegroom and his bride the church, and it also portrays Jesus and the individual believer.  But most importantly it is a beautiful story of faithful love!!!!

Background:
In order for you to not be completely lost in translation…I’ll give a bit of overview =)   We have here a precious love story. It involves three characters: a lovely maiden, forced to work by her family, her beloved young man who has won her heart, who is also a shepherd, and King Solomon, who is known for his attraction to beautiful women.  While on one of his trips to examine his lands, Solomon meets the lovely maiden and takes her to his palace. There she can think only of her beloved back home.  She tells the women of the harem not to try to persuade her to forsake her true love.  She recalls her beloved and even has a dream about him. Solomon visits her to try to win her love, but she cannot forget her beloved back home. Her beloved sees her in a dream.  Again, the king tries to win her but the maiden refuses.  She is not impressed with the king’s wealth, spices, lands, or flattery. Finally, true love wins out and the maiden is set free. She flees to her beloved and is restored to her family again =)

Of course, this interpretation does not put Solomon in a very good light. But we already know he was not faithful when it came to marriage, and certainly it is not wrong to see him as a type of the world, trying to woo the believer away from her true love.  Keep in mind…Solomon could also be the lover.  Although I don’t agree with that interpretation.  Though is really is a minor point in the overall purpose of this book.

Song of Songs 1
In this chapter, we see Solomon has brought the young woman into his palace.  But she is only thinking of her love back home.  The other maidens in the palace (vs. 4) are amazed at such a love.  She looks at the fair skin maidens who lived a luxurious life and then at her blue collar life in the fields…she is dark from the sun.  She feels they are staring at her because she is so different than their background…her brothers forced her to work hard (kind of reminds me of Cinderella).  She thinks of her love back home & where he may be..and wishes she could be with him.  Then we see a dialogue that she perhaps is envisioning between her and her love back home. 

Regarding application…Vs. 2, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth for your love is more delightful than wine.”  Wine was a symbol of celebration and interestingly enough Jesus’ first miracle was turing water into wine at a wedding feast!  Jesus’ love for us more delightful than wine is basically saying His love for us should be something we are intoxicated with…better than money, alcohol, fame, fortune.  For example…some of the youth members recently went to a concert and the girls were gushing about how cute the boys in the band were.  But our reaction to Jesus every day should be so extravagant,  Do you have an extravagant love for Jesus?  Like the woman who poured expensive perfume on Jesus….we should pour out our own lives & responses to Jesus that lets him know He is our true lover who sparks the deepest emotions in our lives!