I finally submitted Deep Calls Unto Deep - How to respond to the Passionate Love of God to the publisher this week. It is about the Song of Songs in the Bible, a book that intrigues most Christians with it's love story and evocative language, but leaves them with the question, "Why is this book in the Bible?"
I believe most teachers avoid teaching on The Song because they really don't know quite what to do with it, afraid of offending some in their congregations, or dulling down the language and meaning so much that it becomes a misunderstood story. The truth is that the Song of Songs is the picture of the greatest love story there has ever been. It is the love story of God and His people.
This week I read an article in our local Ahwatukee Foothills News insert for seniors written by Rabbi Dean Shapiro, spiritual leader of Temple Emanuel of Tempe,AZ, entitled the Gift of Torah. The title intrigued me and I was thrilled to read this passage. "The Torah is the symbol of the love shared between God and the Jewish people. Because Shavuot marks the night that symbol was given, the Kabbalists taught that it is our marriage night as well. We study into the night to achieve a mystical union with God. Just as Ruth bound herself to Naomi and her tribe, so do we bind ourselves, over and over again, to our God and our Torah".
The rabbis and ancient Jewish leaders have understood this love story for centuries. That is why it is in The Old Testament of our Bible today. Continuing the revelation in The New Testament, Jesus is quickly recognized as the Bridegroom who has come for His bride.
Being a person who learns best pictorially, I have to see it first. I am a born romantic and need to get involved with the story. For me, the history of a place or event makes so much more sense when I can insert myself into that situation.
For example, learning about a place like Ephesus cannot compare to walking down a 2100 years old Roman boulevard with parts of marble pillars lining the street, a colossal Roman building around the corner, and coming upon an ancient marketplace now covered over with grass and weeds. I can almost hear the sounds of people shopping, children playing, and soldiers clomping down the street while people scatter to get out of their path. I listen for Paul, the apostle, standing somewhere is this large city center, gathering a crowd as he preaches the Good News. I read a part of his book to the Ephesians as I stand here. I now am in that crowd.
That's how I see the Song of Songs. A collection of conversations that give us a picture of a growing, responding, hesitant love is painted on the pages of this book. A young woman learning to love the love of her life. But that's only part of the story. The other part of it is the royal lover, who gently teaches her of his love for her and what their marriage-covenant will produce.
Without the vibrant and sometimes erotic descriptions, I cannot really grasp the scene. Jesus uses this same teaching technique over and over...speaking in parables, using the vernacular and local life experiences of his characters to teach an eternal lesson. He paints a picture for us...places us in the scene. I guess it's my artistic nature that responds so passionately to these scenes. I RELATE. I CAN FEEL THE EMOTION. I RESPOND WITH EMOTION. I OWN IT!
That's why I wrote this Bible Study. I didn't want to interpret every one of the word descriptions
and dull down their impact. Yes, as in Jesus' parables, there are deep lessons in these word pictures. The words are a poetic vehicle, not meant to be sexual, but to arouse our passionate love, to fire up our heart to produce powerful fruit. I want to have my emotions aroused. I want to feel God's love for me. I want to respond to that love emotionally, as well as spiritually. I want to love Him with a passion so great that I will do anything for Him...even give Him my whole life. Then maybe my life will accomplish something really special and important...for the Kingdom of God.
Just this morning, I saw a small window of blue sky in the otherwise dreary grey overcast, a promise of the bright sun-lit day to come. God is always giving us signs of His love and faithfulness to us.......if we are looking. That is what this blog is all about. Are we looking? And what did we see, hear, smell, or feel that our loving Creator put in our path? Why does He do that? Do we really want to connect that close with His affection for us? So many questions. Let's exhange some of them, and share our own sightings!