“Song of Songs”Wednesday, October 14, 2020
The Song of Solomon is often called the “Song of Songs” based upon the first verse of the book. The writing is somewhat enigmatic to us in the Western world because it uses rich, flowery imagery when we tend not to write in this manner much these days. Song of Solomon refers to geography many of us have not seen, and it uses a style of writing where the characters speak in monologue rather than dialog. We read of speeches by the “Chorus,” called the daughters of Jerusalem, the groom (more than likely Solomon, though some disagree with this), and the Shulammite (bride). While the groom and bride never really talk “to” each other in this song, their expressions of love and commitment are crystal clear.
Recognizing some of the difficult parts of the book does not mean this work cannot be understood. It can be understood when we make the time to read carefully, study the text, and apply it to ourselves. When we study, we will see that this song has applications not only between those two lovers but also with married people today. A cursory reading shows us the expression of marital love in this song, and such expressions are beautiful in context (Heb. 13:4). Additionally, folks have compared this text to Christ and the church for similar reasons. While I do not think this was a “Messianic” song, in the sense that the Bible does not contradict, and that all its teachings agree, there is no question we can find truths revealed here that reflect in Christ and His church. This is especially true when we consider the imagery of husband and wife used by Paul (Eph. 5:22-33).
When we read the inspired description “Song of Songs” in verse one, we know this is significant. Solomon wrote 1,005 songs (I Kings 4:32), and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (II Tim. 3:16-17; II Pet. 1:21-22), this song is described in superlative terms to tell us this is the most beautiful of Solomon’s songs.
If for no other reason than this, this book deserves to be read, understood, and applied (Rom. 15:4). This book does not mention “God” specifically, but neither does the book of Esther. This does not mean the song is irreverent, nor does it mean it is uninspired. God’s name is not mentioned, but God’s hand is seen on every page just like in the book of Esther. Furthermore, the groom and bride’s respect for God’s plan for marriage is apparent in this song. When we read this book, let us note the beauty of the language, let us allow our minds to dwell on the love of a husband and a wife and appreciate what God has given to us in this extraordinary book.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
"You Must Take A Stand"Monday, August 10, 2020
In the context of II John 11, we learn that whoever teaches false doctrine does not have fellowship with God (II Jn. 9). At the same time, it is not right for those who hear the false doctrine to accept the person and act as if nothing is wrong (II John 10). If someone bids “Godspeed” (KJV) or “Greets” (ASV, Darby, ESV, NET, RV, etc.) the false teacher, this person is just as guilty in the eyes of God. Other Bible versions use the terms, “participates,” or “sharing” for “partaker” in II John 11. I think this helps us understand what John was teaching. Not only is it wrong to teach false doctrine, but it is also wrong for those hearing false doctrine to stand by and allow it to be taught without opposition (II Jn. 10-11)!
The apostle Paul showed us the right response when he said that when Judaizers came in to “spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus,” they gave place “no, not for an hour” (Gal. 2:4-5)! Later, Paul would withstand Peter “to the face, because he was to be blamed” for the hypocrisy he perpetuated (Gal. 2:11). Paul would also write (by inspiration) a warning similar to John’s to the Romans. After listing the sins the Gentiles had committed through the years, he ends chapter one by saying, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Rom. 1:32). In other words, not only did the people committing the sins deserve death (Jas. 1:15), but those who approve of what is done (applaud, ISV; consent, ASV; delight, Darby) deserve the same punishment! This sounds like John’s warning in II John 11.
The stand taken by Paul and John while they lived, and encouraged in their epistles (Rom. 1:32; II Jn. 9-11), serves at least two purposes. One purpose is obvious, and that is to save those who are affected by false doctrine, including myself! Remember, to bid “Godspeed” means I am also partaking (II Jn. 11)! If I do not take a stand, or if I bid “Godspeed” to a deceiver, then many more will be deceived. The second purpose is closely linked to the first. This is that by standing, we are also trying to win the soul of the false teacher. When we stand opposed to someone because of his false teaching, we need to make sure and check our attitude. Is our response motivated by hatred of the person or the doctrine? There is a difference! If I am trying to win an argument, I very well may lose the soul. If I am trying to win someone’s soul, I will win the argument by default. What John shows me is that I not allow what some call “love” to silence my tongue! I must speak! I must warn!
Sadly, we live in a time when men are afraid of confrontation. We have a society that recoils at the thought of standing for the truth, but ironically is quick to criticize and belittle anyone who does! We are told that retreat is courageous. This is wrong. Christians in our time who claim to wear the armor of Christ (Eph. 6:11-19), tend to forget about the sword. Yet, the sword is a part of our armor! The sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:18) is not a defensive but an offensive weapon. With it, we take the fight to the enemy (II Cor. 10:3-5; I Tim. 6:12)! The sword is not for cleaning your fingernails, or picking your teeth! With the sword of the Spirit, we stand against “the wiles of the devil” and do not give submission, “no, not for an hour”!
When we read II John, we learn that we do not give “Godspeed” (greet, participate, or share) with false teachers as if to “go along and get along.” Remember, souls are at stake, and they are too precious to leave to the “wolves” (Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:29-31)! At the same time, standing against the wolves who teach false doctrines may open their eyes to the truth. This is our goal -- to bring lost souls to the Father (Jas. 5:19-20). When we do not partake or share with false teachers, we will cause them to stop and consider what they are doing. No, not everyone repents at this, but folks need to know where we stand. Let them be warned in love and truth (Eph. 4:15, 5:11). Let us stand with a pure conscious, knowing that false teachers will face God in judgment, having at least been warned. Who knows, but you are in the kingdom “for such a time as this,” and your warning might save a soul from death? One thing is certain: silence in the face of false teaching and pretending nothing is wrong will do nothing to remedy the situation, nor will it save a soul. It only makes things worse!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
A Reversal Of FortuneFriday, January 31, 2020
After Haman’s plans for killing the Jews, including Esther, were revealed (Est. 7:6), things moved very quickly. Mordecai’s enemy ended up hanging from the gallows he had made for him (v. 10). Not only this, but the ring Haman once wore was given to Mordecai (Est. 8:2). The position once held by Haman, Mordecai now held. The entire population of Jews, once oppressed, were allowed weapons and to have a fair fight against the Persians (Est. 8:11-12, 9:2-3). Yes, God in His providence caused a complete reversal in the plans of Haman “the enemy of the Jews.”
This is not the only time we read about this happening. When Jesus spoke about the eternal destiny of the rich man and Lazarus, we find another time when things were reversed (Lk. 16:19-31). Specifically, Abraham reminds the rich man, “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented” (v. 25). Upon analyzing the context, we see many “reversals” that took place between the rich man and Lazarus. Just like Haman and Mordecai, many things changed between them. I marvel at this because perhaps those five brothers he left behind thought of their brother as a godly man and one bound for eternal bliss. God knew what was going on “behind the scenes,” and this man got what he deserved. In reality, the rich man and Lazarus experienced a true reversal from what they had experienced on earth.
The most significant reversal of all was the reversal Christ performed when He made salvation possible through His death, burial, and resurrection (Matt. 26:28; Col. 1:14, 20; Heb. 9:28; I Jn. 2:2; Rom. 6:2-6, 16-18; I Pet. 3:21). Satan thought that he had won. He had succeeded in tempting the first people to sin (Gen. 3:1-6). They sinned, and we have had to live with the consequences on this earth ever since (Gen. 3:16-24). Satan then tempted Cain (Gen. 4:1-11), Abraham (Gen. 12, 20), Moses (Num. 20), David (II Sam. 11-12), and every other man and woman on earth (Rom. 3:23)! He succeeded in getting humanity to sin and to jeopardize their souls before God.
Satan seemed to be winning until Christ came to earth! At that time, we see a reversal taking place. Christ was tempted like others, but did not yield (Matt. 4:1-11; Lk. 4:1-13; Heb. 4:15). He “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (I Pet. 2:22). Furthermore, when He died, He did not die in sin but died to be a sacrifice for others’ sins (I Pet. 3:18). Where Adam brought death, we see that Christ brings life (I Cor. 15:22). Yes, a complete reversal is possible in Christ!
Are you ready for a new beginning? Are you ready for “light, and gladness, and joy, and honor” (Est. 8:16)? Spiritually, you can have these things by following the Lord and doing what He says. Become a Christian (Acts 11:26; Mk. 16:16). Live faithfully for the Lord (I Cor. 15:58), and you can look forward to Heaven (another reversal from life on earth) when this life is over (Matt. 25:34)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
What Occupies Our Time?Thursday, January 30, 2020
As we open the book of Esther, we read about Ahasuerus and the great party he threw (Est. 1:4-5). We also read about him choosing a new mate (Est. 2) and choosing a man to be his second-in-command (Est. 3:1). After this, we read little about the king. He was on the throne, doing the work of a leader, but where was he when the people needed him (Est. 3:15b)? He was satisfied to take a bribe from Haman and go about whatever work he deemed essential to the kingdom (Est. 3:9-11).
We know this because while the city was “perplexed” (3:15), and while Mordecai mourned at the gate (4:2), the king seemed to be so engrossed in other work that he saw none of this. In fact, Esther remarked to Mordecai how it had been a month, and even she had not seen her husband (Est. 4:11)! What was he doing that demanded he ignore his wife and the cries of the people for a month?
From the attitude shown by the king in Esther 5:2-3, his negligence was not because he was angry or had some grudge against Esther or the others. If I could conjecture, it seems he got so caught up in certain aspects of being a king that he ignored other parts that were just as important. Does this sound like a problem we have had in the past? Does this sound like a problem we are having right now?
In 21st century America, we have so many things vying for our time and attention that we cannot adequately deal with them all. Some of these are our own doing, while other things have been “thrust” on us. We need to learn to prioritize and put “first things first”! Sadly, this does not happen as it should.
When Jesus walked the earth, He told those who listened to His preaching to, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). He rebuked the Pharisees who “pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.” He said, “these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” (Matt. 23:23). In other words, the Pharisees faced a similar problem to Ahasuerus. They focused on the areas they deemed necessary and ignored other things that were just as important. Friend, look into God’s mirror (Jas. 1:22-25). Is this you? What occupies your time? What do you deem important?
It took Esther entering the king’s presence unannounced to wake him up to what was going on in His kingdom. What is it going to take to wake you up to the spiritual reality around you? Paul said it is “high time to awake out of sleep” (Rom. 13:11). If those people in Rome needed this message, how much more do we need it?
Are you awake to spiritual realities around you (II Cor. 4:18)? Are you a Christian (Acts 11:26, 22:16)? If not, why are you putting it off (II Cor. 6:2)? What is occupying your time? How are you doing as a parent? Your children are growing every day! Are you bringing them up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” or are you waiting until they get older (Eph. 6:4)? Have you taken the time to tell your children or to tell a close friend about Jesus yet (II Tim. 2:2; Mk. 16:15)? What is stopping you? What is more important than telling someone about the Lord?
Don’t become like Ahasuerus and turn a blind eye to what is going on around you, thinking that what you are doing is more important! You may be doing things you consider crucial in your life, but nothing is more important than making your life right with God and then teaching your children what God wants as well (Matt. 16:26; Eph. 6:4)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
The True Face of SinWednesday, January 29, 2020
Many today treat sin as nothing. Some tell us that sin is non-existent. Others treat sin as a fairy tale to scare children. Many people act as if they have “outgrown” sin, and they live their lives oblivious to the harm they are doing to their souls and the souls of others. Proverbs 14:9 declares, “Fools make a mock at sin ….”
When it was known that Haman’s law was in force, Mordecai “cried with a loud and bitter cry; he even came before the king’s gate … clothed with sackcloth” (Est. 4:1-2). He later told Esther how her life stood in jeopardy along with the rest of the Jews (v. 13-14). They faced death from a bitter enemy all because this enemy allowed his pride, envy, and anger to influence his decisions. Mordecai didn’t treat Haman’s actions as a joke or a fairy tale.
Sin is no joke (Prov. 14:9)! It is not silly, nor is it something where one gets a “slap on the hand” or has to sit in the corner to make things right. The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), and it is high time we realized how dangerous sin is! We see a picture of the horrible nature of sin when we read Mordecai’s response (Est. 4:1-2). He and his nation were going to suffer because of a man’s sinful action if something was not done quickly.
The same is true today. We stand in spiritual jeopardy because of sin (Ezek. 18:20). We have sinned because we have given in to our lusts and acted in ways we ought not (Jas. 1:14-15). What are we doing to correct the situation? Did we notice that after Mordecai cried, he got busy! We need to do the same thing.
Once we realize that we have sinned, we need to act to be free from sin (Rom. 6:17-18). I am impressed that in the New Testament when we read where people understood the heinous nature of their sin, they moved quickly to get out of it. They didn’t wait, but went “the same hour of the night … immediately” (Acts 16:33) to correct their error. This was not an accident but was the result of preachers telling them that they needed to act quickly (II Cor. 6:2). “Today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” is the message of the gospel (Heb. 3:7-8, 15)!
Do not wait until tomorrow or farther into the future. We have no lease on life (Jas. 4:14; Ps. 90:12). We must act quickly. The true face of sin is horrible. It is far worse than the physical death that Mordecai dreaded. Sin leads us to an eternal death where there is nothing but darkness, pain, and suffering for eternity (Matt. 22:13, 25:30; Rev. 14:10-11).
Mordecai hoped a change of the law might save them. In like manner, a “change of the law” (Heb. 7:12-14) has made all the difference for us. Since Christ died upon the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, we now have a way to become free from sin (Rom. 6:17-18). When we follow the Lord’s plan of salvation (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38), we can be free and do not have to face the consequences of our sin. The true face of sin leads us to an eternity away from the Lord in a Devil’s Hell. The remedy for sin is to be baptized and to remain faithful to the Lord (I Cor. 15:58). “Put on the armor of light … make no provision for the flesh” and enjoy the blessings that come in Christ (Rom. 13:11, 14; Eph. 1:3).
Christ defeated sin. Have you done what the Lord wants? The true face of sin is worse than anything you can imagine. Do not go to your grave in sin!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs