What the Bible says about
(From Forerunner Commentary)
Song of Solomon 5:1-10
Verse 2 begins a dream sequence. The woman is not really sure what is happening. Is it really happening? Many of us have experienced a simlar thing while in bed and dreaming, but the dream seemed so real that we wondered whether it was reality.
What is real when one is half asleep? The mind is still fogged by a state of drowsiness; it is simply not focused. Solomon presents this "dream" like this because many times, when we are fully alert and focused on what we are doing, much of what we are or think about is restrained or contained. But when we go to sleep, the mind begins to release the things the will has kept submersed. The subconscious begins to express itself when nothing restrains it.
This young lady is finding out that her love is not as deep and true as it needs to be for a successful marriage. She lies unclothed on her bed, which is reminiscent of the Laodicean: "wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked" (Revelation 3:17). Her feet are washed; her work for the day is over, she thinks. She will not stir herself to do what is disagreeable to her at this most inconvenient time, even though her lover is standing at the door, knocking (Revelation 3:20). She delays responding to him, unsure if she is dreaming or not.
She finally begins to respond positively in verse 5, but it is too late. This is reminscent of the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-12). The cry of the bridegroom goes out, but some do not have enough oil, causing them to respond too late to the bridegroom's voice. It is very interesting that oil of myrrh is mentioned both here and in Matthew 25.
In verse 6, she is struck with guilt and remorse for not having responded to his offer of love. She begins calling out for him and seeking to find him in the city.
The watchmen patrol the city, which represents the world. What is happening in the city, out in the world? The Tribulation! "The watchmen that went about the city found me. They struck me, and they wounded me: the keepers of the walls took my veil away from me." The stolen veil is a symbol of being shamed.
The watchmen are worldly people. They see only with their eyes, and thus they cannot see the deep and earnest repentance and yearning that is now within her. They do not see her as the bride, but as a woman—a common woman of the streets, which is why they beat her. They see her as a prostitute. So, without even bothering to find out who she is, they persecute her, tearing some of her clothing from her. Remember that clothing symbolizes righteousness in the Bible.
In verse 8, she turns away from the people who are persecuting her, represented by the watchmen, to the daughters of Jerusalem, from whom she would expect to receive sympathy. She hopes that they might relate to what she is going through. She asks them in her agony to try to help her to find her love, Christ, but we know that He will be gone for the 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation.
The daughters of Jerusalem respond with a question, "What is he like? Tell us about him, we don't know who he is." She begins in verse 10 to describe him. What she is doing, of course, is making her witness before the world. The Protestant Evangelical churches would say that she is giving her testimony of her beloved, of what he is like. She describes him in the most glowing of terms. Here, because of the theme, it has to be done in physical terms, but we understand that He is not just physically attractive. She also describes what He is spiritually to these people. She is complementing the preaching of the Two Witnesses (Revelation 11:3-12), through her own personal witness, while she is in tribulation.
The point of all this is that it will be this way for some, but it does not have to be this way for anyone. If she had given of herself to him when he was courting her, this would never have happened. We are being courted by Jesus Christ right now. We are being led toward a marriage—the marriage of the Lamb to the church of God.
If she had really been working on yielding to Him—developing her relationship with Him—she would have known His love for her and would have made any sacrifice for Him, no matter how inconvenient. This is what Jesus teaches in the series of parables beginning in Matthew 24 after the Olivet Prophecy.
John W. Ritenbaugh
A Place of Safety? (Part 3)
In "Are You Drinking of the Master's Cup?" (Forerunner, March 1999), the author tells of an ancient Hebrew tradition: When a young man and woman were to be betrothed (engaged) for marriage, the groom poured wine into his cup and invited the woman to drink of it. The choice was hers: If she drank from it, she was considered betrothed to the young man. She was agreeing to experience all the things that his life entailed, the good as well as the bad. When the woman drank of the cup, she drank of the marriage covenant and accepted it. Paul refers to this when he tells the church in II Corinthians 11:2: "For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."
As Jesus sat at His last Passover with His disciples, He poured wine into His cup and blessed it, telling the disciples, "Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:27-28). By literally drinking from His cup, they each accepted the terms of the New Covenant. It was a symbolic betrothal or engagement of the church, the Israel of God, to Christ. This is part of what we commemorate with each Passover service—our spiritual engagement to Christ, which will culminate with the marriage feast after He returns (Revelation 19:9).
Before we were called out of this world, we all walked according to the course of the world (Ephesians 2:2-3). We were the sons and daughters of disobedience, conducting ourselves in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and mind. We drank from the cup of Babylon by ingesting a false religion and the culture around us that God says is filthiness (Revelation 17:1-6; 18:1-6).
This is why God tells us to come out of Babylon—so that we do not share the sins in her promiscuous cup and the consequences that God promises He will pour out upon her.
Formerly, we were slaves to sin and its consequences. Now, under the New Covenant, we drink from Christ's cup and agree to His terms. This frees us from the death penalty of sin as well as making us responsible to remain faithful to this spiritual engagement.
Paul warns us that God is jealous toward His people, and that they must choose to whom they will be loyal: "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?" (I Corinthians 10:21-22).
It is plain that we must make a choice: We either drink of the cup of Christ and remain faithful to our commitment, or we drink of the cup of demons and the sinful system they rule. These two cups are mutually exclusive. We cannot have both!
If we have drunk from Christ's cup, can we continue to sip from the cup of this world's culture or its false religious system? Can we drink of His cup, accepting His proposal for marriage, and still have intimate interactions with Babylon? Even in our morally debased secular world, this would be grounds for nullifying that covenant of future marriage.
David C. Grabbe
Strange Women (Part Three)
According to tradition, when a young Hebrew man and woman were to be betrothed, the groom poured wine into his cup and invited the woman to drink of it. It was up to her. If she drank from it, she was considered betrothed to him. If she did not, no marriage would take place. Paul tells the church in II Corinthians 11:2: "For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. ForI have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." When the bride drank of the cup, she drank of the marriage covenant or contract, accepting it.
Understanding this symbolism, it is no wonder that Jesus tells His disciples in Matthew 26:28, "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." As we drink of His cup, we accept His invitation to be betrothed to Him and to be forgiven of our sins so we can be like He is—sinless, spotless, and without fault in His presence at the Marriage Supper.
Yet it means far more! Remember that "drinking the cup" meant to accept whatever that cup represented. When the mother of James and John approaches Jesus with her request to have her sons sit on each side of Jesus when He came into His Kingdom, Jesus replies with a question:
But Jesus answered and said, "You do not know what you ask. Are you [James and John] able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They said to Him, "We are able." (Matthew 20:22)
They do not take the cue from Jesus that they may have to drink more than they care to swallow! They answer affirmatively before they realize what Christ's cup contained. Jesus continues in verse 23:
So He said to them, "You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on my right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father."
What happened to them? James the son of Zebedee was the first apostle martyred, early on by Herod (Acts 12:2). Though John was the longest-lived of the twelve, apparently living nearly 100 years, he certainly suffered greatly at the hands of persecutors. Not only did he spend many years in exile on the Isle of Patmos, one tradition says he miraculously survived being boiled in oil! Beyond this, he had to watch the church disintegrate through apostasy and persecution.
Part of what Jesus' cup entails is suffering. When we drink of His cup, we are saying we are willing to suffer with Him and experience with Him whatever He ordains for us. We symbolically pledge that we are willing to walk down the same path He walked, with similar consequences.
We do not just drink the wine at Passover—we drink "of the cup" of Passover, meaning we are proclaiming our willingness to share in similar trials as Jesus did. We proclaim we are willing to endure whatever He has appointed for us as our lot.
We are also identifying ourselves with Him exclusively: We are cupbearers to the King of kings and to Him only. Psalm 16:5 says, "O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; you maintain my lot." The Eternal is our cup! Do we grasp the meaning of this? We cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). We cannot simultaneously identify with Christ and Satan. Our lives, our actions, our words, our thoughts, continuously announce which is our father, God in heaven or Satan. Drinking of Jesus' cup means to live His way of life and renounce Satan's ways.
Are You Drinking of the Master's Cup?
Jesus and His Father give us a guarantee of His promise to marry us. On the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2), fifty days after Jesus' resurrection, God sent a "deposit," the "earnest" of the Holy Spirit—the guarantee of the full payment to come later, when we are changed from flesh to spirit. There may be more here than some realize.
The Greek word for "earnest" is arrabon. When taken in the context of our understanding of a glorious wedding coming, it is a word packed with meaning. Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words comments:
Originally, "earnest-money" deposited by the purchaser and forfeited if the purchase was not completed, [arrabon] was probably a Phoenician word, introduced into Greece. In general usage it came to denote "a pledge" or "earnest" of any sort; in the NT it is used only of that which is assured by God to believers; it is said of the Holy Spirit as the divine "pledge" of all their future blessedness, . . . particularly of their eternal inheritance.
Then comes this final sentence: "In modern Greek arrabona is an 'engagement ring.'" Of course! It makes so much sense. When Jesus asks us to drink of His cup—and we do—He follows by giving us a sign of His pledge: a kind of engagement ring, an earnest of His Holy Spirit! All this happened on the likely anniversary of God's proposal to Israel, the Day of Pentecost, about the time Boaz and Ruth pledged their troth.
Will You Marry Me? (Part Two)
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