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AN ARMY WITH BANNERS

THE BRIDE IN THE SONG IS SOMETIMES

SINGULAR, AS WHEN HE SAYS:

MY DOVE,

MY SISTER,

MY ONLY ONE.

INDEED, HE SEES YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL,

KNOWS YOUR NAME,

EVEN HOW MANY HAIRS ARE ON YOUR HEAD.

BUT OH, HOW HE LOVES HIS CORPORATE BRIDE!

SHE IS AS BRIGHT AS THE SUN,

FAIR AS THE MOON,

AND AS AWESOME AS AN ARMY WITH BANNERS.

ARTIST: TANKRED
ARTIST: TANKRED

EVER SINCE THE FALL WE HAVE BEEN AT WAR

WITH THE ENEMY WHO COMES

TO STEAL, KILL, AND DESTROY. 

CHRISTIANS ARMED WITH THE SHIELD OF FAITH,

THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT,

AND THE HELMET OF SALVATION HAVE PREVAILED

WHERE OTHERS HAVE RETREATED.

IN GROUND-BREAKING RESEARCH,

CHRISTIANITY TODAY (PDF OF ARTICLE)

GIVES PROOF OF THE PREVAILING OF GOD’S ARMY.

IT IS CHRISTIANS WHO HAVE BEEN WILLING TO FIGHT DISEASES THAT COULD TAKE THEIR LIVES FROM:

THE BUBONIC PLAGUE IN THE MIDDLE AGES

feat_plague-1440x564_c

TO EBOLI TODAY

ebola22IT IS CHRISTIANS WHO KNOW MAN IS MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD, NO MATTER HIS OR HER  RACE, GENDER, OR AGE. THEY HAVE FOUGHT TO OVERCOME THE SLAVERY OF AFRICANS,

esclavos.bf68752ab5e6c23096dcc68444967093

TO THE SLAVERY OF GIRLS AND WOMEN,

girls-caught

TO THE NEGLECT OF THE AGED,

AND THE ABORTING OF BABIES.

IT IS CHRISTIANS WORKING TOGETHER

WHO HAVE FOUNDED THE VAST MAJORITY OF

HOSPITALS

HOMELESS SHELTERS

ORPHANAGES

UNIVERSITIES

AND PRISON MINISTRIES.

IT IS CHRISTIANS WHO HAVE BROUGHT DEMOCRACY TO COUNTRIES SUFFERING UNDER CRUEL DICTATORS.

SOME FAIL TO SEE OUR FOE AND HAVE TAKEN THE FOLLOWING OUT OF OUR HYMNALS — BUT OH, WE WRESTLE NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD, BUT AGAINST POWERS AND PRINCIPALITIES — AND WE MUST TAKE THESE LYRICS TO HEART.

ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS

 

army-with-banners-wordsWHEN THE LATE JUSTICE ANTHONY SCALIA SHOCKED A JOURNALIST BY EXPRESSING HIS BELIEF IN THE DEVIL,

HE HIMSELF WAS SHOCKED, SAYING:

Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil?”

Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil! Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil.

THE ONLY WAY WE CAN FIGHT VICTORIOUSLY IS BY BEING AT PEACE WITH ONE ANOTHER SO THAT WE CAN FIGHT, NOT ONE ANOTHER, BUT OUR FIERCE ENEMY.

Sunday Icebreaker

  1. What stood out to you in the above and why?

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study

2. Solomon was a man of peace and under his reign the Kingdom was united. Two outstanding cities, known for their beauty, were Tirzah and Jerusalem. Find three ways the corporate bride is described in Song of Songs 6:4.

After Solomon’s death, the kingdom divided. Why? Solomon disobeyed God and fell prey to the enemy, marrying foreign wives. This apostasy led to the divided kingdom. Tirzah was capitol of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and Jerusalem was capitol of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. They were often at enmity with one another, bringing destruction to these beautiful cities and to their people.

map-Israel_and_Judah-rm-g-01

3. With this understanding, I tend to agree with James Hamilton’s interpretation of Song of Songs 6:5-10. He sees the description of the bride here as evoking the beauty of Israel’s history when she was at her best. See if you can find in this passage descriptions of places in Israel that also evoke times of God’s blessing. (I know this is challenging and you can listen to Hamilton later — but try on your own first!) 

RETURN, RETURN, O SHULAMMITE

4. Read Song of Songs 6:13.

In this passage the word translated “return” (shuvi) is used four times in a feminine imperative verb form. This verb form is used in only a few other places in Scripture, such as when Hosea prophesies that one day his adulterous wife (representing Israel and us) shall say:

 

I will go and return to my first husband,

For it was better for me than than now.

Hosea 2:7

With this understanding, what do you think God is saying here to His corporate bride?

This is the first time she is called Shulammite. The root letters of Shulammite are sh-l-m, which would “immediately connote to a Hebrew reader the notion of shalom, “peace, well-being.”She is also the counterpart to Solomon (Hebrew Shlomo – again from the same root.) They are “Mr. and Mrs. Peace.” Because they are one with their God, they are also one with each other and with their sisters and brothers. Together, in peace and perfect harmony, they dance. She is both a woman and a city, like the new Jerusalem (Jerusalem has the same root letters in Hebrew: Yerushalym). One day, Revelation tells us, she will come down out of heaven, “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

5. With this background about the name Shulammite, what insight might this give you into “her dance between two armies?”

These last chapters are challenging so I may be afield here, but I think God is calling, as Jesus did in John 17, for peace within the corporate bride, for us to love each other and give grace to each other so that we might overcome the real enemy. 

6. Thoughts?

Right now we are at war. Voice of the Martyrs reports that last year the martyrdom of Christians (7,000) doubled from previous years. ISIS is targeting Christians.

In America, the political scene has been the rudest and crudest I’ve known in my lifetime, and even the political candidates who are Christians have been caught up in trading insults instead of ideas.

Christians are discouraged. Many feel it is the end times. I confess to all those feelings.

Last week, however, God breathed hope into me when I had dinner with a godly couple. Jeff frequently does medical missions in Honduras and is struck by how much more vibrant the church in Honduras is than the church in America. I told him I’ve seen the same in prisons. Their vibrancy always makes me feel lukewarm.

Women in Faith Dorms established by Discipleship Unlimited in Texas
Women in Faith Dorms established by Discipleship Unlimited in Texas

There is no doubt that suffering refines and can cause us to “Return” to Jesus like nothing else. Jeff asked, “Why are Christians in America giving up? Why aren’t they praying for revival? It was the word I needed. How I need to “Return, Return, O Shulammite.” Revival is what can help us overcome our differences, give grace, and work together to fight our REAL ENEMY.

pfr_head_image

7. Comment on the above.

A movie based in a true story shows the power of revival to unite. Watch this clip: Woodlawn:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyR8JyEKcKk

8. (You can answer this privately.) Where is God calling you to repent and to return to Him? 

9. How could you better pray for revival for the corporate Bride? 

 

Thursday-Friday Sermon

Jim Hamilton Song of Songs 6

8. Comment on the above. 

Saturday:

9. What is your take-a-way and why?

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72 comments

  1. I was struck by the picture of the army! I envision my face in one of them and ready for battle against the enemy.
    As I prepare for church this morning I am reminded once again of the importance of the Body of Christ- local and global. United we stand, can stand, will stand! It challenges my heart to share the excellencies of my Beloved (from last week’s study) to my brethren and after all, “the cross of Jesus goes on before” in the holy war that we are fighting here on earth.
    With everything that is going on around us, it can be easy for me to get discouraged. For my faith to be weakened. It is good to remember that God’s army will prevail. I need to be vigilant. I need to pray more. I need to remember that my Beloved is also the Great Warrior. Exodus 15:3

  2. “Christians collectively make a difference in society.” I would say I have many more things to say about the Christianity Today article but it blew my mind and brought me to tears. Woodberry’s dodged determination was surely a God-thing! I have had a growing love for statistics (those who know me would be shocked :-)) and this article just made me love it more. God is a God of numbers and the minutiae.

    1. Bing!  “God is a God of numbers and the minutiae.”  Like the book of Numbers??  Sorry, I couldn’t resist!  I also couldn’t resist looking a bit at the naming of the book of Numbers….and found there was a bit of controversy there….but the Greek translation of the book title is “Arithmeo”, from which we get our word “arithmetic”!  Fascinating.  I love that you shared that those who know you would be shocked at your growing love for numbers and statistics – my college major was Economics…..and I had to chuckle thinking that no one I have met in the past 20 years or so would ever believe that one!!  🙂  

  3. Dee, thanks so much for the Christianity Today article. It took a while to read but it is very encouraging and runs counter to secular views prevalent that Christianity has ruined tribes and nations. It’s good to get the “big picture”! From my overseas experience in the 1960s as a child, and again as an adult in the ’80s, I saw that impact. Missionaries ” 19th century conversionary Protestants” did make a huge positive impact! May there be more like them today!

    1. Diane – your “boots on the ground” perspective on missionaries is invaluable!  I so love that what you saw in the trenches was encouraging in that respect!  But yes, oh, “May there be more like them today!”…..and praise God there are some, there are some.  🙂  “Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”  (Matthew 9:38).  What a good reminder of that you brought to us, Diane.  Thank you.  

  4. 5. The dance between two armies, or two camps.  Makes me think of the Christian life, individually or corporately, as taking place between two forces.  The forces of good and the forces of evil.  We live out our lives in that place being pulled between them.  But the Word says that we cannot please two masters, so while our lives place us there, we need to be choosing continually to be aligned with God and the forces of good.
     
    6. We are at war, and the war is heating up.  The book of Revelations tells us that as time draws to a close, it gets much worse.  The darkest comes before the dawn, and as we pray for His return we are in essence praying for that final battle to come.  
     
    7. Pray for revival?  O, yes.  And pray that the church would choose her Lord and Savior over everything else.  We need to quit looking for the culture or politics to save us and start acting like the redeemed we say we are.  That is not to say don’t vote or be involved, but for me to recognize very day that the sin in my life needs to be addressed by me today, and every day.  “I know my sin, and my sin is ever before me.”
     
    8. I will not share specifics, but as I pray about my besetting sins, the answer I’ve heard from God is that I’ve not yet resisted to the point of shedding my blood.  I haven’t been willing to resist sin to that level.  Forgive me Lord, and bring me to that level of willingness.  Is it that big of a deal?  Jeremiah says if you’ve run with men and they’ve worn you out, what will you do when you race against horses in the thickets by the Jordan?  I believe it is a big deal to God, that He wants to make a gift of it to me, to make me ready for what may come in my future.  And as I pray for myself, that is also how I pray for revival in the church.

    1. Mary – in your answer for #8 you have shared a favorite Scripture of mine….”If you have run with the footmen and they have tired you out, then how can you compete with horses?”    You make such a good point that our “little sins” ARE a big deal to God!  I think of the “little foxes” in our SOS study….how they have the potential to completely ruin the vineyard when we choose to think that they are “no big deal”.  You have me thinking hard here…….

  5. “THE ONLY WAY WE CAN FIGHT VICTORIOUSLY IS BY BEING AT PEACE WITH ONE ANOTHER SO THAT WE CAN FIGHT, NOT ONE ANOTHER, BUT OUR FIERCE ENEMY.”
    This reminded me of a 10 min. clip from Russell Moore called “What Can Fighting Superheroes Teach the Church?” He talks about the Batman vs. superman movie–super heroes at war with one another, and he says that as long as there is not a fundamental difference, we need to be able to have differences of opinion but be able to say at the end of the day, that ultimately we’re on the same team. 
     
    I taught kids Sunday School this morning and the lesson was on Ezra–leading the people of Jerusalem to repent and towards revival. I was struck again by their weeping over their sin, and Ezra and Nehemiah tell them not to grieve, but rejoice “This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 
    It is encouraging to know that our repentance brings about renewal of our hearts, revival of our soul, and the strength of the Lord’s joy!
     
    Side note–we really enjoyed Woodlawn, and I would encourage watching the behind the scenes footage as well. 

    1. Lizzy – “It is encouraging to know that our repentance brings about renewal of our hearts, revival of our soul, and the strength of the Lord’s joy!”  Oh, that is a VERY good word straight to my heart today!!!  And you even met me here this morning as you spoke of Nehemiah – I am getting ready to begin a study entitled “Nehemiah:Rebuilt and Rebuilding” by Kathleen Nielson (of Redeemer Church in NYC).  I’m so hungry for studying this portion of God’s Word.   You could not have known how your entry here would spur me on (hard weekend behind….  🙁    ) but the Spirit surely helped me through your words.  Our God is SO amazing!

      1. oh Jackie–I am praying for you right now. I still have been regularly lifting up you & Jes–so sorry about a hard weekend. I have heard the Kathleen Nielson studies are incredible! Praying for a hope-filled day for you~

  6. What stood out to you in the above and why?

     
    The article about Woodberry is pretty eye opening; have you posted it before? I feel like I have read it before but was completely struck again with his findings. I am amazed that people I know personally are living in remote places on this earth to spread the Word. I have no desire to travel anywhere anymore because of what is transpiring in our world. I suppose the offenders have succeeded in their ploy to make me afraid. I also wish my children would not travel. Unfortunately, I have stubborn kids, and my youngest is taking a trip to Europe in the late summer for his school. Joy; more for me to worry about…..
     
    I guess I have mixed feelings about the missionaries; proud that they did/do what they did/do, confounded that they will leave their families for years at a time for people they don’t know, fearful that they will be murdered, amazed in their faith, and sad for their loved ones they leave behind. I don’t understand missionary work at all. Does that make me a bad person? I believe in God and I believe we here in America could use some missionaries to spread the Word as well. I find it sad that in our own country we find atheists and such more and more everyday. Christianity is being threatened here. We are more of a rarity these days.

    1. Oh Laura – It seems to me that you are just expressing a mother’s heart!  Everything within us longs for peace and security and safety for our children and grandchildren…..a longing that I believe Jesus placed in our hearts, for it is true Shalom  (perfect wholeness) that one day those of us who love and follow Jesus WILL experience fully and eternally!  But until then….as Jesus told us (John 16:33), “…in this world you will have trouble; but take heart; I have overcome the world.”
       
      I think the simple answer for a missionary’s perseverance would be the LOVE OF CHRIST!!  🙂  (see 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 where the apostle Paul explains that the love of Christ controls them as they push on to see the world reconciled to God through Christ).  And we can never forget Jesus’ last earthly words to his disciples (us) in Matthew 28:19&20:  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son of of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”   A VERY readable and guileless book that I would recommend is “Kisses from Katie”.  It is unforgettable and convicting to see the way in which this teenager walked out her faith in Christ and her understanding of His Word!  

  7. 2. Solomon was a man of peace and under his reign the Kingdom was united. Two outstanding cities, known for their beauty, were Tirzah and Jerusalem. Find three ways the corporate bride is described in Song of Songs 6:4.
     
    She is beautiful, lovely, and majestic.

  8. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
     
    That the corporate bride is like an awesome army with banners. This makes more sense to me now after thinking about the examples Dee gives above of how Christians have battled in His name, helping the diseased that no one else wanted to touch, founding hospitals, orphanages, universities, and homeless shelters. While those things are good to do, now I am seeing that it’s so much more; namely, it is battling the enemy who would steal, kill, and destroy. There is a woman in my Sunday school class who founded an orphanage in Ghana and she is there now. She spends several months each year with these children.
     
    2. Solomon was a man of peace and under his reign the Kingdom was united. Two outstanding cities, known for their beauty, were Tirzah and Jerusalem. Find three ways the corporate bride is described in Song of Songs 6:4.
     
    The corporate bride is beautiful as the city of Tirzah, lovely as the city of Jerusalem, and majestic as troops with banners.

    1. Susan – I love how you shared about the woman in your Sunday school class founding an orphanage in Ghana!  A family from our church is leaving this summer for medical missions in Togo (an African country in great need….mentioned actually in the article that Dee posted above 🙂  )….and as he spoke to us last week he shared about the death of the head surgeon in this new hospital – from Dengue fever I believe it was- just last month.  As we looked at the photo of this vibrant man with his wife and four sons (teenagers) it really hit home that the cost has always been great.  His widow and sons plan to stay and minister in Togo however.    This surgeon had been the key mentor for the Dr. from our church along this several year process of preparation and his death is a terrible blow on many, many levels.  On the surface, this “anti-blessing” seems incomprehensible – but our precious brother who is going with his family took the opportunity to remind us that the mission is CHRIST’s and God is sovereign!  

  9. 3. With this understanding, I tend to agree with James Hamilton’s interpretation of Song of Songs 6:5-10. He sees the description of the bride here as evoking the beauty of Israel’s history when she was at her best. See if you can find in this passage descriptions of places in Israel that also evoke times of God’s blessing. (I know this is challenging and you can listen to Hamilton later – but try on your own first!)
     
    “Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Gilead” – I read that Gilead was a mountainous region east of Jordan, the “hill of testimony”, and the people were “nomadic, pastoral people”. I think goats are pretty good at rock climbing? Goats could handle the rocky, mountainous terrain.
    I’m not sure if there are some references to Solomon’s temple? I read a little bit about how he built it and materials he used. There was a lot of quarried stone, and carvings of flowers and fruits in the wood used in the interior of the temple. Her “teeth”, or references to being “unique” and the “only daughter of her mother” – not sure if this is the temple.
    Tirzah, I read, was a delightful city and also had a beautiful palace.

  10. 1.  What stood out to you in the above and why?
     
    That the hard places in our lives and in the world are where Jesus really SHINES!!!  Well, He shines always and eternally, but you know what I mean.  Reading your excellent list…..hospitals, homeless shelters, orphanages, prison ministries…..I could not help but think of Jesus’ words:  “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  The article you posted absolutely blew me away!  I cannot wait to read it through again and tuck it away for possibly sharing with others!  It thrilled me so to see how this demonstrates the corporate bride of Christ working together…..in the history of Protestant missions around the world, but also in the unique gifting that we each have and how the Lord knits us all together.  As others have pointed out, “statistics” isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of missions….but Woodberry’s role as a faithful and meticulous researcher – and what can only be God’s sovereign hand in bringing his research to a place of prominence in secular research journals – is nothing short of staggering!! I would never have guessed how moved in my spirit I could be by “statistics”!!  

  11. also ….Dee, I appreciate your boldness in bringing the hymn, “Onward Christian Soldiers” before us here….and reminding us of it’s critical truths for our lives.  I think that hymns in general have suffered terribly during the reign of the “seeker friendly megachurches” in our culture…but one like this?  Off the boards.  Too controversial it would seem for churches who prize relevance to the culture above all else.  

      1. Dee – I regretted speaking so “generally” here after I posted about the hymn!  I was speaking from my own personal experience for many years at one such mega church – and this hymn, as well as others, was indeed considered too troubling.  The Lord had planted me in the ministries of Lay Counseling and Women’s Bible Study there….NOT the Worship team….so I had no input!!  Still, so grievously, it was a bellwether of the way the wind was blowing in that local body …..further and further from the whole counsel of God.  It broke my heart.  (It also changed my perspective a bit on non-denominational churches……many are wonderful I’m sure, but I have come to value the oversight that a denomination can provide…..)

  12. 4. With this understanding, what do you think God is saying here to His corporate bride? 
     
    I think he is saying we will eventually return to Him, who loved us first.

  13. THE ONLY WAY WE CAN FIGHT VICTORIOUSLY IS BY BEING AT PEACE WITH ONE ANOTHER SO THAT WE CAN FIGHT, NOT ONE ANOTHER, BUT OUR FIERCE ENEMY.
     
    I think because we haven’t taken satan seriously we aren’t discerning when he is active in the body-and he is. If we aren’t discerning then how can we turn when we hear his deceitful whispers. satan does want us to fight one another instead of him. It’s so deceptive for he knows our idols and prays on that..it is sickening. I am SO grateful He is alive and that He gave us His Holy Spirit inside who gives us red flags. I’m grateful for Dee writing this post and for believers like Scalia who remind us about who we should really be at war with. I need reminders too.  I can’t help but think this is why satan is attacking my boys right now-but it took us meeting with our youth pastor for God to open my eyes. The closer we draw to Jesus-and He is drawing me in through SOS-the more he attacks and says, see, he doesn’t love you-he doesn’t ‘have’ your boys after all..the sweet part is this trial drove me to seek encouragement and counsel from our youth pastor who immediately saw satan was active and he bought my son the Screwtape Letters by C.S. lewis..God is giving satan enough rope to hang himself..instead of backing away from God, satan’s activity brought us closer to our youth pastor and together we are an army fighting satan via pressing into God, praying for my son and His overflow out of us loving him. My son may or may never turn but I have been encouraged by Dee and by our youth pastor to give him time, pray for him and love him.
     
    I have to be SO careful not to fall prey because I can. I have been SO impatient with legalism in other solid churches and I can be so lacking in Grace! It is horrible..I even keep my distance from friends who are over focused on morality.  I forget I too was once legalistic and God was longsuffering with me lavishing me with mercy and grace.
     
    2. Solomon was a man of peace and under his reign the Kingdom was united. Two outstanding cities, known for their beauty, were Tirzah and Jerusalem. Find three ways the corporate bride is described in Song of Songs 6:4.
    -As beautiful as Tirzah
    -Lovely as Jerusalem
    -Majestic as troops with banners
     
     
     
     

    1. Rebecca – a beautiful, powerful post, a feast for my eyes and weary bones this morning.  “instead of backing away from God, satan’s activity brought us closer to our youth pastor and together we are an army fighting satan via pressing closer to God, praying for my son and His overflow out of us loving him.”  Pressing in and pressing on – in the good company of our brothers and sisters!  You can sing Dee’s chosen hymn this week with a full heart!!!   🙂  Your post also reminds me of Wanda’s sharing last week of how she went, broken and hurting, to a pastor in her church she had only known for a year…..and finding herself blown away by the love, the compassion, the entering into her heartache in true solidarity.  Just this week I have returned to the book of 1 John to try to continue on in memorizing that gem (Twila, I am NOT!!  I struggle much with memory work….  🙁  ).  And oh, the LOVE of Christ that flows out of the precious aged apostle John …..”We love because he first loved us.”  Such love within the body of Christ will not escape the notice of our enemy!!  But Jesus has told us that “….I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  Amen.  

    2. Rebecca, this is indeed a powerful post. I wish your son was not going through such a trial, but if it is driving him to the Lord, then it is worth it. It is so encouraging to see it driving you to the Lord. I so appreciate your testimony.

  14. 5. With this background about the name Shulammite, what insight might this give you into “her dance between two armies?”
     
     
    I suppose ose she is a peacemaker between the two?

      1. ?

      2. Doesn’t that mean we, the bride, need to be peacemakers as well? Who are our “armies” then?

  15. 7. Thoughts about revival?
     
    I think we live in such a politically correct world that we don’t know what we stand for anymore. It is sad. For example, the church I grew up in (Methodist) has, in my opinion, forgotten its doctrine for things of this world. They are about appearances not substance. The things of this world are not all acceptable according to the Bible. People don’t like to be uncomfortable, and the Bible can make one feel that way if you are not wholly in the spirit. They justify their behavior in the good name of Jesus but are unwilling to change because it feels good to them.
     
    it is hard to be a Christian and we live in a society that doesn’t like hard anymore. Regular people aren’t concerned abuut faith. People who have been incarcerated and who live in a low economic situation can take the risk believing because they don’t have anything to lose. Regular folks stand to lose their friends, relatives, reputation, stuff and comfort of this life. I don’t see a revival of those who are non believers but possibly within the faith itself. 

  16. 9. How could you better pray for revival for the corporate Bride? 
     
    I will pray for revival. I have never done this before. I see that Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC is holding a day of prayer (April 16) for people in “the city” to come to Christ. Nancy Demoss Wogulmuth has also always prayed for revival for as long as I have listened, which is going on about 10 years now. I will try to have hope; it is hard.

    1. I too was noticing that there are very few responses this week. I think the idea of church unity is a hard concept for most people. There are so many and diverse churches out there that we cannot conceive trusting each other. Satan certainly has seemed to have succeeded [for now] in dividing the church and lessening its power as a result. We do need to pray for revival.
       
      Also I am interested in the idea that the Shullamite woman’s dance is a dance of peacemaking between the two armies. Hmm! That could be! My reading prior to this thought said that she should not be dancing – that it was improper for some reason. As a result, I am just now “getting” how this passage in Song of Songs could be about the church and unity.

    2. i don’t think it’s the content, Dee, I’m even answering the questions!! Lol! I think it’s probably that people are busy with life. Aren’t some people doing 2-3 studies? I will say that I am in a funk myself these days; the devil is prowling in my mind. I wonder if others are feeling this way too?

    3. I can only speak for myself, Dee.  But I have not been able to be present this week as I’ve been extraordinarily busy, going through some difficult health issues and navigating some deep emotional waters.    I glanced at the lesson on Monday but decided it was best for me to not even begin because I knew I could not do it.     I am simply trying to stay in balance and keep hanging on to Jesus this week.  I don’t have the wherewithal to dig in.      I will be back, but maybe not in earnest, for a few weeks.  

    4. Dee-There are a few questions that might be. I think #3 would be hard for most but you can simplify it-you are a master at that. Making the harder questions a bit more simple but not over simple giving room for the Spirit to move, and you could divide this lesson into two weeks giving more time to get through the questions for I feel this chapter is SO important to get-and I love your questions here. 

  17. “THE ONLY WAY WE CAN FIGHT VICTORIOUSLY IS BY BEING AT PEACE WITH ONE ANOTHER SO THAT WE CAN FIGHT, NOT ONE ANOTHER, BUT OUR FIERCE ENEMY”
    Wow I think I need to copy this and keep it in front of me as we do pray for unity very regularly in my prayer group.
    I think many people have a hard time thinking of the battle part. Just today on one of the Christian radio programs the topic was on how many will fall away when persecution gets greater.
    Revival needs to begin in the church in each of us individually. Lord I want a revival in me!

    1. ?

  18.  I saw Woodlawn when it came out last year. It’s an awesome movie and I would suggest others see it if possible.  Is it on Netflix? 

  19. I spent a while on #3 yesterday morning and I don’t think I will have an in depth answer but what made me stop was to know that Gilead was the place where the balm for healing sickness and bringing comfort originated and it is used throughout scripture as a metaphor for healing sin and restoration. So when I see this in the Song in this verse it makes my heart soar. Did anyone else come up with some more from that passage? I would love to hear!

    1. Rebecca – precious.  Malachi 4:2 is another “favorite” that dovetails here….”But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.  You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.”  What a day that will be!  

  20. Just chiming in that I am just following more quietly these days, partly as Laura said, I have some other studies I’m spending time on (including a desire He’s put in me to actually try to “get” the OT as I read it in my daily rdgs!), also some personal things God is growing me through and by nature I’m not really a share my heart online person–(that just sort of happened over the years here!) But I love following along and gleaning from you all–and  I’ll agree too with Rebecca that #3 is a little challenging! I am going to look more at it today & hope to listen to the sermon. 

  21. Amen Lizzy to a deeper understanding of the OT!!  Me too!!  For instance, I just finished Judges this morning….and about the only thing that kept me “going” through that was knowing that “Ruth is coming!!”(and the story of Ruth and Naomi and Boaz is clearly set in the time of the Judges!)….I began to realize that I needed to “see” the horrors of our sin in ways I shrink from BEFORE I could appreciate the wonder of redemption anew….and the book of Ruth is going to shower me with the Gospel!!  But along the way I did slow down and dig just a bit throughout the book of Judges to find glimpses of the Gospel even there.  🙂  And I’m preparing to lead some close friends through this study on Nehemiah that you commented on earlier – VERY excited about that one!  
     
    And Dee, I don’t think the questions are too difficult.  In fact….I know I have mentioned before that I feel like God has gifted you ENORMOUSLY in the quality and consistency of the kinds of questions you challenge us with!!!  I think He shines through your teaching gift in that very area!!  Our fellowship through the Spirit and the Word here on the blog is so VIBRANT and real.  Something I never would have believed possible prior to these these past few years!  Nonetheless, sometimes for a week or two – or an even longer season – the Lord reins me in and reminds me of my need to focus on the flesh and blood relationships in my home, on the farm here….in my church….!!  That has very much been the case of late, though I have tried to chime in as I can.  And sometimes I find that I can actually spend more time on the study at the END of the week, such as a Saturday morning, than the beginning.  It’s so good that you are willing and even eager to examine “changes” that you see in light of discerning the content of your faithful offerings….but I think that the responses that are coming back here are reflecting many things OTHER THAN the quality of your questions!  We sure do love you….and my life is different because of the time I’ve been blessed to spend here!  

    1. Dee-This is an amazing book! You have taken several years to carefully craft it before the Lord. I respectfully disagree for while it is challenging I don’t think it is over challenging..for me it was just question #3 this week. I think you are great at simplifying the more challenging passages and maybe we can help in that as we go along. I think it is a beautiful follow up to Idol lies..Jesus freeing us from our idol’s Lies..and then Song of Songs-coming away with Him- His love melting us to rest in His comfort, approval and control, I agree, it will be controversial but God can move in powerful ways..Jesus was controversial among the Pharisees and still is…I believe He really wants us to experience His Love in the Song!  That is where revival starts! 

    2. Dee – I would add my amen to Rebecca’s response in it’s entirety!  I ALSO would not discount the “smaller number” – God never has!!!  🙂  Recently in my OT reading I was struck again with how God winnowed down Gideon’s men….from 32,000 to 300!!!  “Lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘ My own hand has saved me.'”  Ouch.  It really hit me at the time that I read it how it’s easy to SAY that “it’s not about numbers”, but MUCH harder to live it out!!  

  22.  
    The sermon definitely helped me connect the dots! I am only in Joshua in my OT reading but gaining deeper understanding there is helping me see the fuller picture here—the history of Israel and the way it models us, as the Bride of Christ. A few short notes from the sermon–
    prov. 28:13— Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
    God shows deeper aspects of his love as we experience His forgiveness–God’s grace rains heaviest on those who feel the lowest. 
    The King’s love for the Bride causes her to repent and convinces her she should seek Him.
    Leading up to chapter 6, His knocking does not get her up–she rejects Him, but He leaves a blessing. She changes her mind, she seeks Him and cannot find Him. The watchmen punish her, she continues to seek. She tells of what makes Him so special to her.
    6:2–she says He has gone down to His Garden–earlier she has been His garden, but here it is talking about a literal place. 
    She is prompted to go down to the Garden as she reflects on what He means to her, what He has said to her. The Bride is not in front of Him now but she is reflecting on things He has already said to her. 
    v.8-9–our knowledge of the historical Solomon’s threatens to taint our reading of the Songs. But the King is telling her she is like what the people of Israel represent, the dream of Joseph. 
    v. 11-her resolve, she goes to the Garden to look at the blossoms of the vine, to see if they had budded. In Ch. 2, the vineyards are in blossom, in Ch. 4–fruit in season, Ch. 5-He eats the fruits… but now she is not sure what her refusal of the King has done to her relationship–have the vines budded? What is the season of their love? Is more time needed before they can enjoy the fruits again?
    v. 12-as soon as she moves in the direction of the Garden, He sweeps her up. So as soon as she first rejected Him, He began to prepare the way for her return. 
    v. 13-she has been welcomed back, all is in bloom, and she is encouraged to be with the King. He acknowledges His beauty, and His joy at having her back. 
    The King represents the Lord, the Bride represents Israel. Israel came out of Egypt and entered a marriage covenant with the Lord, He was their Husband. He leads them through the wilderness, they come into the land of blessing. In v. 2-11, Solomon comes out of the wilderness, like the Lord did, to enter the land. Moses had told them they would break the covenant, then they would repent and seek the Lord and be reconciled in a new covenant. So the Bride in the Songs, rejects the Lord just as Israel rejected the Lord. The Bride (Israel) is punished. She begins to seek the King, to return to the land of promise, the Garden of Eden. She recalls all of His beauty, seeks Him and finds Him.
     

  23. 9. What is your take-a-way and why?
     
    He loves us so much, that even when we turn away from Him or do not go to the door—He has filled the earth with reminders of Himself, with the myrrh on the key hole. We are surrounded by evidence of His presence and His love, wooing us to repent and return to Him.Thinking of that first Garden–they sinned and instead of repenting when God finds them, they try to cover themselves, they cover the parts that most reveal their identity, their core selves—trying to hide their sin, hide their shame. We so try to cover our shame ourselves, but deep down we know we can’t, it doesn’t work. Only the One who has no shame, Who offers to take ours and give us His righteousness instead. And so here,He woos her with reminders of His love for her and as soon as she does repent for not answering His knock, He begins to lead her back to the Garden. When He sees her, He does not shame her, He welcomes her into His arms. We repent and He is there to sweep us up, to place the ring back on our finger, to kill the fattened calf.

  24. Lizzy, what a marvelous take-away. I need to read and re-read it and apply it to my deepest heart! What a treasure you are! And you have convinced me once again to try to find the time to listen to the sermon. It sounds like one that draws imagery and parallels that I would never get on my own. I don’t recognize Jim Hamilton’s name – who is he?

    1. Diane, you are always so encouraging to me–thank you. Jim Hamilton is a Pastor at Kenwood Baptist in KY. I first heard of him from searching for commentaries on the Songs, he’s written a really good one. I posted one of his articles on it a while back. The sermon was slow for me at first (but I am spoiled with excellent preaching on Sundays!), but then it really pulled it all together for me. Love to you and much prayers~

  25. 3. With this understanding, I tend to agree with James Hamilton’s interpretation of Song of Songs 6:5-10. He sees the description of the bride here as evoking the beauty of Israel’s history when she was at her best. See if you can find in this passage descriptions of places in Israel that also evoke times of God’s blessing. (I know this is challenging and you can listen to Hamilton later — but try on your own first!) 
    A. Speaks of prosperity…
    … during the early years in the promised land
    Flock of goats descending
    Flock of sheep from the washing
    …During the reign of kings
    Temples …like pomegranate
    …many kings and queens and virgins (unlike the latter conquest of Israel by others where kings and queens were exiled)
     
     These are hectic days at school. Dee, I love how you have helped me go deeper in the Scripture. I pray your soon to be published book will be a blessing to others like me who has not plumb the depths of the Scripture in the Song of Songs.

  26. With this understanding, what do you think God is saying here to His corporate bride?
    Perhaps God is saying, “I am waiting for your return to me?” I will be patient for you to come to repentance. 

  27. 9. What is your take-a-way and why?
    How this book Song of songs is making more sense to me. It has been a challenging journey. I have found my heart to be more in love with Jesus and have felt a deep regret for making too many reasons not to “open the door” to my Beloved. So thankful He has left me a gift of myrrh. To me myrrh is a composite of the sufferings that have come to my life every now and then to remind me of where my heart really is. I love Hamilton’s parallelism and I am getting it! Jesus is asking me to return to Him. To enjoy Him while I live this earthly life and to await the “reversal of the curse of Eden ” 7:10

  28. Dee,   I am sorry I just haven’t been around this week.    Every day has been jam-packed with many responsibilities.     The week has been a blur!    I feel bad, now that I stopped by here and find that you are trying to analyze and make decisions about this study and your book on the basis of attendance this week.   I can only speak for myself, but it isn’t the content that kept me away this week.   I checked in a couple of times to look, and just didn’t have time to do anything then.   I kept saying to myself that I would get back here to the blog, but it just didn’t happen.    Now I am feeling even more guilty!    

  29. The sermon – thanks for the info on Jim Hamilton, Lizzy. And I loved the part of the sermon where he draws the parallels between the king and bride with God and the people of Israel. Fascinating!

  30. To the dawn of a new morn after contemplating to resign ones life a faith since birth enemy at my life since a little ones age angry baby sitters rejection from all even family the filth of satan has been in my and our lives through media radio and paper every church suffer from friendly fire. Your sights for the foe should be outward not inward.  We are fallen creatures we cannot rely on human kind for salvation or freedom  unless able to see clearly an to be motivated in good work directed by his spirit,  yes giving up to resign of one self fallen then through his work n spirit of faith comes in the understanding of christ holy spirit which only interceded for us in prayer to the father of heavenly lights whom gives graciously to whom in faith ask. Yes, step a new day is on us see his light in you no matter not able to bath.  In his good pleasure we shall be lavished with his gift of goodness grace and mercy.   Let’s all stop realize what’s around us an see him in our image. Genesis says, see they are like us.  Glory to. God christ our God an lord he regines out the news Revival across this land we call earth

    Raise your banners for his power shown through us his light a city on a hill set upon a stand to give. Christ light for his glory on his creation.

    Redemption is at hand he won when he rose from the dead not one has completed his banner over death

    Michael archangel of his glory power an majesty hold the chains and locks to bin the enemy and his angels reserve for them forever.

  31. Praise the Lord, for your post, I just was searching for an answer in defense of an attack within the body regarding flagging during worship services. I am incouraged because my response was the same as you have outlined here. God bless your ministry.