In this season, God is calling the church to return to our first love. God is jealous for our hearts. The Holy Spirit is passionately committed to seeing the First Commandment in first place in our lives. As a body we are responding to this word by remembering His love, repenting of all the things that we’ve allowed to stand in the way of love, and renewing our commitment to keep the First Commandment in first place.
The Apostle John tells us in 1 John 4:19 that “We love [God] because He first loved us.” I believe one of the great needs of the church in this hour is to understand and experience this “first love” – God’s love for us.
As we grow in our understanding of God’s fiery affections for us – even in our weakness – our hearts are expanding to love Him more in return. Too often we have turned the walk of faith into an intellectual ritual instead of an intimate relationship. But God is a God of passion and desire, and His passion and desire burn for us, his bride.
Song of All Songs
I love the verse in Luke 24:27 where Jesus appears to two of His followers on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection. The two travelers did not recognize Him while they walked and talked with Him.
Then verse 27 says, “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded [explained] to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”
Wow! What would it have been like to hear that “sermon?!” Jesus pointed to Himself in all the Scriptures! The question I’ve asked myself many times is, “What did He say when He got to Song of Songs?” Did He just skip over that one? Did Jesus simply leave that book out of His amazing Christological survey?! Surely not. Jesus taught about Himself from the Song of Songs!
The Song of Songs is a beautiful, 3,000-year-old Hebrew love song. This passionate work of art expresses the beauty of married love and intimacy between a bride and bridegroom. Its verses have graced millions of wedding invitations ever since. It is widely considered one of the greatest literary pieces in human history.
But Wait, There’s More
For nearly the first 1,900 years of church history, the Song of Songs was one of the most written about books of the Bible by the scholars, theologians, and authors. However, the primary interpretation of the Song for all those years was allegorical. In other words, until the last 100 years or so, the primary way that the Song of Songs was interpreted was that it was a picture of Christ and His bride.
God has packed the Bible full of marital language to describe His relationship with His people, but no place more than the Song of Songs.
Paul gives us a clear example of this in Ephesians 5. After talking about natural marriage for 9 verses, he flips the whole conversation on its head. He says, in essence, “I know you all think I’m talking about natural marriage between a man and a woman, and I know this is going to be very mysterious to some of you, but I’m actually talking about Christ and the church.”
In other words, natural marriage was given to us to be a picture of a greater spiritual reality – Christ’s relationship with His bride.
The Greatest Song Ever Written
So, this greatest of love songs is not simply about natural marriage. It is an exquisite picture of the love between Jesus and His church – you and me.
In it we see the undying affections of Jesus, the tender leadership of Jesus, the indescribable beauty of Jesus, as well as principles related to our own spiritual growth.
In this song we see the journey of the bride as she grows from sincere, yet immature, love to faithful, mature love – walking in deep intimacy and full partnership with her Beloved. This journey is at times hard, and even sometimes painful, but is gloriously worth it in the end as she arises out of the wilderness, leaning on her Beloved in whole-hearted love.
Bride Made Ready
Revelation 19 tells us that before the Lord returns, the bride will have “made herself ready.” I believe the readiness of the bride is related to her growing and fully functioning in her bridal identity as a mature lover and partner of Jesus.
Mature love walks in bright righteousness, whole-heartedness, selfless sacrifice, and boldness. This is who we are. This is what the Holy Spirit is working in the bride even now.
On October 20, we are going to begin a series entitled, Love’s Great Adventure – Encountering Jesus in the Song of Songs. We believe that the Lord is going to do a deep thing in our lives over the next month or so.
Let us join together in this great adventure as we encounter the ravished heart of Jesus in the greatest song ever written.