The Holy War (3)

Sung Psalm 18:28-35 (another war Psalm of David)

Read Exodus 14

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This was the first holy war and as with every “first mention” in Scripture there are important lessons that point towards future events.

The mighty Egyptian army, well-equipped and baying for blood, pursues ill-equipped, doubting, depressed Israel as far as the Red Sea.

Many miraculous things happen:

  • God hardens the heart of Pharaoh and the Egyptians to make them pursue. Having already been the subject of God’s miraculous judgements common sense would have dissuaded them! This was paradigmatic of future hardenings in Deut.2:30 and Josh.11:20.
  • God by a look, first hinders their progress, and then engulfs them.
  • The presence of the angel (Christ) in the pillar of fire and cloud distinguishes between pursuers and pursued.
  • God uses the instrument of an East wind and Moses’ rod to open up and then close the sea.

This is THE Old Testament picture of redemption in Jesus Christ in which the people of God are redeemed while simultaneously his enemies are destroyed.

Song of Solomon 8:3-4

His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me.

Moody Stuart speaks of the Holy One sustaining and comforting his own people with his own “everlasting arms” beneath her. He sees this as a holy resting with the Spirit revealing Jesus as the one object of desire, the one ground of hope and giving joy unspeakable and full of glory in an unseen Christ, whom having not seen, we love.

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up nor awake my love, until he please.

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MS sees this a  season of “walking in the fear of the Lord” and the comfort of the Holy Ghost, of consolation, spiritual liberty, and spiritual fellowship in which the joy of God’s salvation teaches transgressors his ways and the church grows. I have heard others allude to the delights of physical love pictured here, one reason why this book has been politely skipped over by more prudish commentators and teachers!

Song of Solomon 8:2 (cont.)

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Moody Stuart has something further to say about this spiced wine which is worth reading: “The King gave to the Bride the solemn cup of betrothing, before he departed to the hill of frankincense (Calvary); and the Bride calling on him to return, promises that she will have prepared for him the cup of her covenant vows. The cup already filled was the King’s, and he gave it her in covenant pledge that he would return for the marriage. But it was rather his pledge to her than hers to him, for the Bride was not yet ready (Rev.19:7). Till he come again she shows forth His pledge (The Lord’s Supper), and in so doing pledges herself; still it is his cup of covenant rather than hers, his love, his death, his blood, his seal till he come.

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But when he comes to dwell in her mother’s house for ever, when he comes to be seen face to face in the flesh, as her Brother as well as her God; then she is also ready with her full and everlasting response, then she presents to him her full covenant pledge, and gives to him her wine-cup filled with the juice of the pomegranate, her solemn pledge of everlasting marriage to the Lamb.” (The spices are only mentioned in the King’s presence  as he returns from the mountains of spices with them, and then she presents the spiced wine to him in person). This will be fullness of joy for Bride and Bridegroom! (Heb.12:2Jude 24).

Song of Solomon 8:2

    I would lead thee, [and] bring, thee into mother’s house,

…. The general assembly and church of the firstborn is mother to the church visible, to particular churches and believers, where they are born, educated, and brought up; for which they have a great affection, as persons usually have for the place of their nativity and education. And here the church desires to have Christ with her; either to consummate the marriage between them, Genesis 24:67; or to have the knowledge of him spread among her relations, those of her mother’s house, who belonged to the election of grace; or to enjoy his presence there, with great delight and pleasure: the act of “leading” thither shows great familiarity with him, great love and respect for him, a hearty welcome to her mother’s house; and was treating him becoming his majesty, great personages being led, Isaiah 60:11; all which is done by prayer, in the exercise of faith: and the act of “bringing” denotes on her part the strength of faith in prayer; and on his part great condescension; see Song of Solomon 3:4. Her end in all was, as follows,

 

[who] would instruct me;

meaning her mother; the allusion may be to a grave and prudent woman, who, taking her newly married daughter apart, teaches her how to behave towards her husband, that she may have his affections, and live happily with him: the house of God is a school of instruction, where souls are taught the ways of Christ, the doctrines of the Gospel, and the duties of religion; nor are the greatest believers above instruction, and the means of it. Some render the words, “thou shalt,” or “thou wouldest teach me”; meaning Christ, who teaches as none else can; he teaches by his Spirit, who leads into all truth; by the Scriptures, which are profitable for instruction; by his ministers, called pastors and teachers; and by his ordinances administered in his house; where the church desired the presence of Christ; and might expect instruction from him, being in the way of her duty; and to hear such marriage precepts, as in Psalm 45:10. In return, the church promises Christ,

I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine, of the juice of my pomegranate;

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or, “wine of my pomegranate”; of which mention is made in Jewish writings and by other authors : there was a city in the tribe of Dan, called “Gathrimmon,” Joshua 21:24; the winepress of the pomegranate, or where they made pomegranate wine. Spiced wine was much used by the ancients, and in the eastern countries like the wine of Lebanon, Hosea 14:7: sometimes it was a mixture of old wine, water, and balsam; and of wine, honey, and pepper. Now these sorts of wine being accounted the best and most agreeable, the church proposes to treat Christ with them; by which may be meant the various graces of the Spirit, and the exercise of them in believers; which give Christ pleasure and delight, and are preferred by him to the best wine; see Song of Solomon 4:10. With the Hebrew writers, pomegranates are said to be a symbol of concord.

 

Contentment

In Philippians 4:11, Paul declares, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

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How can he say this?

Firstly discontentment is sin and leads to sin! “Covetousness, pleasure madness, discontent, complaining, self-centredness, entitlement etc.”

Contentment is demanded by the Sovereign Creator.

“Hebrews 13:5, Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have.” God “knows what we need and what is good for us, and he demands contentment from us.”

“One of the greatest ways we can show contentment is submission to the will of God for our lives.”

Contentment is given by a Gracious Saviour

“Contentment is a grace, a gift graciously given with Christ to the believer.”

Our contentment is in God alone.

“Christian contentment, then, means that my satisfaction is independent of my circumstances.”

(Our) “contentment is in the sufficiency  of Christ. (We can say),”I can do all things—both being abased and abounding—through Christ” Phil.4:13.

“However, as Paul says, contentment was something he had to learn.”

Contentment is learned in the school of trials.

“When one learns to be content, the comparing, the covetousness, and the complaining stop.” Because we acknowledge God puts everything in our lives.

“Christian ambition is to live my life to its fullest potential for God’s glory.”

“How true are the words of Augustine, ‘Thou hast made us for thyself O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

All quotations from article in Beacon Lights Magazine October 2016 edition by Rev. Rodney  Kleyn. 

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                               Further Reading: The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs. http://www.preachtheword.com/bookstore/contentment.pdf

 

 

Song of Solomon 8:1

    O that thou [wert] as my brother,

…. Or, “who will give thee as a brother to me?” an usual form of wishing, Deuteronomy 5:29, Psalm 14:7. The church here not only requests that Christ would be like a brother to her, but appear to be really one, and to act the part of one towards her; with whom she might as freely converse (in public) as brother and sister may . We ought never to be ashamed to make open profession of our love for Christ—MS). Several Jewish  writers own, that the King Messiah is intended here; and in such a relation Christ does stand to his church and people, by virtue of his incarnation, Hebrews 2:11,17; hence many of the ancients take this to be a wish of the Jewish church, for the coming of Christ in the flesh; and also through their adoption, he and they having one Father, John 20:17; and by being of a like nature, disposition, and practice, Matthew 12:50; as well as on the score of love and friendship, Proverbs 18:24; and this relation Christ fills up, by the intimacy and familiarity he uses them with; by his compassion on them, and sympathy with them, in all their afflictions; by the help, aid, and relief, he gives them; by his condescension to their weaknesses, and by his great love and affection for them.

As a further description of him as a brother, it is added,

 

that sucked the breasts of my mother;

 

which may denote the truth and reality of Christ’s incarnation, being a sucking infant: and the near relation of Christ to his people, being a brother by the mother’s side, reckoned the nearest, and their affection to each other the strongest: by her “mother” may be meant Jerusalem above, the mother of us all; and, by her “breasts,” the ordinances, of which Christ, as man, partook when on earth, and now may be said to suck, as formed in the hearts of his people;

[when] I should find thee without;

 

or, “in the street”; in public ordinances, where Christ is to be found; or outside of Judea, in the Gentile world, where, after his coming in the flesh, his Gospel was preached, the ordinances administered, and he was there to be found; or in the most public place and manner, where she should not be ashamed to own him, his truths and ordinances, before men;

I would kiss thee;

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not only with a kiss of approbation, Proverbs 24:26; but of love and affection, of faith and confidence, of homage and subjection, of worship and adoration; see Psalm 2:12; this is an usage with relations and friends, brothers and sisters, at meeting; hence one refers this to the time when the saints shall meet Christ in the clouds, who will be admitted to the nearest embraces of him, with unspeakable pleasure, and enjoy him to all eternity;

yea, I should not be despised;

for taking such freedom with Christ, her brother. Or, “they would not despise me”; neither men nor angels, for such an action, and still less God, the Father, Son, and Spirit; which she might conclude from the relation between them, it being no more unseemly than for a sister to use such freedom with an own brother, even in the street; and from the reception she had reason to believe she should meet with from Christ: who would not turn away his face from her, when she offered to kiss him, which would occasion shame and blushing.

The whole expresses her boldness in professing Christ, without fear or shame, in the most public manner.

Song of Solomon 7:13

 The mandrakes give a smell,

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The word is translated “love-apples” an allusion to mandrake roots being an aphrodisiac which word “dudaim,” is here used, the generality of interpreters and commentators understand by it mandrakes; and so it is rendered by the Septuagint on Genesis 30:14; Mandrakes contain deliriant hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids and the shape of their roots often resembles human figures, they have been associated with a variety of superstitious practices throughout history (Wikipedia); but it is questionable whether the same plant that is known among us by that name is meant, since it is of a strong ill scented and offensive smell;  It appears Christ here speaks of his church, the people of God, with  their fragrancy, being clad with the garments given them by Christ, which smell of myrrh, aloes, and cassia, and are anointed with the savoury ointments of the grace of the Spirit; whose prayers are sweet odours; and their works, with their persons, accepted with God in Christ: or rather the graces of the Spirit in lively exercise may be meant; such as those lovely flowers of faith, hope, love, repentance, patience, self-denial, humility, thankfulness, and others;

 

and at our gates [are] all manner of pleasant [fruits];

 

in distinction from the mandrakes and flowers in the fields Genesis 30:14; and in allusion to a custom, in many countries, to garnish the posts of the door of newly married persons with branches of trees, and fruits, and flowers; and at other festivals, besides nuptial ones, which made it inviting to enter in: and these “all manner of pleasant [fruits]” may denote the plenty, variety, and excellency of the blessings of grace, and of the graces of the Spirit, believers have from Christ; and of the doctrines and ordinances of the Gospel, which are for their use; and may be said to be “at our gates,” as being ready at hand, in the hearts of saints, and in the mouths of Gospel ministers; and open and visible, held forth to public view in the word and ordinances; and which are administered at Wisdom’s gates, the gates of Zion, where they are to be met with and had. And which are new and old; denoting the plenty of grace and blessings of it, of old laid up in Christ, and from whom there are fresh supplies continually: or rather the doctrines of the Old and New Testament; which, for matter and substance, are the same; and with which the church, and particularly her faithful ministers, being furnished, bring forth out of their treasure things new and old, Matthew 13:52;

[which] I have laid up for thee, O my beloved;

Assuming Christ is speaking of the above fruits, they are the blessings, promises, and doctrines of grace,  brought forth and made use of at proper times and seasons,  for her own use and benefit, and of all believers, yet in all for the honour and glory of Christ, the author and donor of them. Respect may be had to a custom with lovers, to lay up fruits for those they love; at least such custom may be compared with this. Or, laid up meaning to come in glory—compare with Ps.31:19II Tim.4:8, I Cor.2:9-10, things laid up for god’s people when they enter the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem (Rev.22:14). How great the goodness laid up for God’s people! (Anon).

Faith to be healed.

Acts 14:8-10 “And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked: The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.”

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He had faith to be healed! Where on earth did that come from? Answer— it was given him as a supernatural gift from God. Presumably he already had faith to believe the gospel of gracious salvation through Christ but this was something extra. I Corinthians 12:9-10, “To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles;” There were three supernatural gifts exhibited here: first the man’s faith, second the ability of Paul to perceive he had that faith and thirdly Paul’s gift of healing and of working miracles.

     Do not go looking for this kind of faith today. Do not think you can drum it up from within or somehow speak healing by a presumptuous announcement. God has ordained medical science to help alleviate mankind’s suffering. God can and does heal in answer to prayer but supernatural faith to heal immediately and completely a congenital deformity is something else!

Meditation for Thanksgiving Day

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Ephesians 5: 3-4 “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

Godliness with contentment is great gain. Contentment and thanks giving, the result of God’s grace in a believer, are the exact opposite of the lusts mentioned in these verses which are basically unrestrained desires for things forbidden or that you cannot have namely immoral sex, fantasy and porn, more material things which will never satisfy, and the desire to impress by wicked obscene jokes.

Adapted from “Giving Thanks” by Rev. James Slopsema, Standard Bearer Nov.15th 2016.

Standard Bearer is arguably the best biweekly spiritual publication available anywhere: Standard Bearer

Why should I join the purest church?

You can and SHOULD be able to distinguish between a true church, a false church and the various grades in between.

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They are distinguishable!

Herman Hoeksema taught that believers ought to join that church which most clearly manifests the three marks, where the preaching, sacraments and church discipline are faithful to God’s Word. He added that those who leave a faithful church for a less faithful church to that extent leave Christ, for Christ’s spiritual presence in a church is marked by faithfulness in its preaching, sacraments and discipline. Hoeksema writes,

… it is my conviction that everyone is conscience-bound to join himself to the purest manifestation of the church of God …

Is it a great sin to unite oneself with a church other than that which is, according to one’s conviction, the purest manifestation of the true church?

It is; for, by doing so one knowingly cooperates with those forces that always tend to the development of the false church. A church need not be wholly false and corrupt to justify separation from its fellowship. Every church is false in the measure that it departs from the Word of God, corrupts the sacraments, and becomes lax or perverse in the exercise of Christian discipline (Ready to Give an Answer, pp. 37-38).

Further reading