“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (Jer. 8:20, KJV). In context, these words were spoken by people desperate for someone to deliver them from the consequences of their decisions. Some Bible versions even use phrases like “we have not been delivered,” “rescued,” and “we have not been helped” in place of the word “saved” used in the KJV. It seems people had recognized God’s power to help them (v. 14) but understood it was too late now (v. 15). Now, these people, God’s people, realize they had run out of chances. “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” What a tragedy!
I suppose there are no sadder words in the English language than “no hope.” They are used by Paul in Ephesians 2:12 when he describes the spiritual state of people who are outside of Christ. This is the way these people in Jeremiah’s day were! Though they were God’s children, they continued to reject God through idolatry (Jer. 8:2). They “hold fast deceit, they refuse to return” was another charge against the people (Jer. 8:5). In addition to these, we read of their stubbornness when we read of their rejection of “the old paths” in Jeremiah 6:16!
I understand that God extends a time of patience to allow people to see the error of their ways and repent (II Pet. 3:9; Rom. 2:4). God extended such patience to the Canaanites (Gen. 15:16). He did this with the Egyptians, allowing them not only 430 years to correct their error and adding ten more plagues as a means of giving the Pharaoh every last chance to free the Israelites. We have seen God’s longsuffering in other areas of life, and it was evident when He dealt with the Israelites during these years of the divided kingdom!
Yet, God’s long-suffering is not eternal. For example, there was a day when God shut the door to the ark, and none were allowed in (Gen. 7:16). Even in the parable of the ten virgins, the door was shut after a period of time, and five virgins remained outside of the wedding feast (Matt. 25:10). In Jeremiah 8, we see the people lament because summer is over and the harvest is past. In other words, it is too late now!
When we look in the New Testament, the urgency to become a Christian is apparent. After urging people to “save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40), Acts 2:41 says about 3000 were baptized when they gladly received the word. The language here leaves us with the understanding that they were baptized right then. They did not put it off. Again, when the Philippian jailor wanted to be saved, he was taken “straightway … the same hour of the night” to do it (Acts 16:25, 33-34). The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians and told them, “now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:2). The Hebrew writer also emphasized taking immediate action when he wrote, “today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Heb. 3:7-8, 15).
Procrastination has no place in the Lord’s plan of salvation. We have no lease on life and know not what might happen in our future (Prov. 27:1). Thus we need to take advantage of the “here and now” before it is gone. The Israelites learned the hard way what it means when the “harvest is past.” Don’t you make that mistake! Be saved today while you still can (Acts 22:16). If you need to repent and return to your Lord, your first love, then do it while the breath is in your body. You don’t know when your life’s “summer” will be ended!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Interruptions are frustrating, aren’t they? Interruptions might slow us down or even stop us from doing what we’d planned to do. Someone has said that we ought not to be so frustrated by interruptions. Perhaps it is that this is the time God wants us to slow down and reconsider our plans. I’m not sure we could say that’s true for every interruption, but perhaps this observation has some merit on occasions when God’s providence is at work.
Have we ever noticed that Jesus was interrupted a lot in His work? One such interruption came in Mark 5:21-43. After Jesus returned from Gadara, on the east side of the Sea of Galilee, He was met by a great crowd. Jairus, one of the rulers of the synagogue, fought the people to ask Christ to heal his daughter, who was very sick (v. 23). As Jesus traveled to Jairus’ house, a lady who’d been stricken with illness for 12 years came to Him and touched the hem of his garment for healing (v. 28-29).
Her act stopped Jesus. It interrupted the trip to Jairus’ house in that moment. Her action wasn’t unknown to Jesus. He is God and knows all (Jn. 2:25, 6:64; Acts 15:18; Heb. 4:13). His question to her wasn’t unlike the question God asked in the Garden (Gen. 3:9). His question caused her to stop and she confessed to what she had done when she interrupted Him (Mk. 5:33).
Notice Christ’s response to this lady. “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace and be whole of thy plague” (Mk. 5:34). This interruption did more than just stop Jesus. It allowed Him to do some vital teaching. In this account, He taught the apostles, and teaches us!
What does Christ teach us in Mark 5? He teaches us that the faith that saves isn’t merely a mental assent. If this woman had stood out of the way and merely stated her belief to others that Jesus could heal her, it would’ve done nothing for her. She had to act! James teaches us the same truth when he declares, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (Jas. 2:24) and “faith without works is dead” (Jas. 2:26)!
When we study this short but powerful interruption, we see a woman who definitely believed that Jesus is the Son of God. This is why she decided to go and meet Jesus. She fought the crowd (Mk. 5:27). She reached for Christ’s garment (Mk. 5:28), trusting that even to touch His garment meant healing. Later, she’d confess what she did (Mk. 5:33). Therefore, after she’d believed and acted on this faith by going to where Jesus was, fighting the crowds, and touching His garment, she then confessed her faith to Christ. In response, Jesus commended her saying, “Thy faith hath made thee whole” (Mk. 5:34).
Yes, friends, the faith that saves is the faith that obeys! It motivates us to act when we might not have acted otherwise. This is Bible faith! Do you have Bible faith? If not, why not? Without this, we can’t please God (Heb. 11:6). How do we get such faith? Faith comes by hearing God’s word (Rom. 10:17), and then this faith grows by being exercised (Heb. 11; Rom. 16:1-15)! What kind of faith do you have? Is it living or dead (Jas. 2:26)? Are we acting on our faith as the woman did in Mark 5, or are we too afraid?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Three times in the book, the Shulammite warns to “stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please” (Song of Sol. 2:7, 3:5, 8:4). Other versions translate this phrase as:
- “do not let love be moved till it is ready” (BBE).
- “never to awaken love before it is ready.” (CEV).
- “you will not awaken love or arouse love before its proper time” (GW).
This thrice-repeated phrase emphasizes the fact that there is a need for patience when those feelings of romantic love are kindled. Our world pushes our children to engage in the physical aspects of love at earlier and earlier ages. Instead of being concerned about the purity of thought and motive in life (Job 31:1; Matt. 5:27-28, 15:18-20; Phil. 4:8-9; I Tim. 5:2), and with no training to understand the difference between lust and love, our world encourages such acts and says the most important thing is to be mentally “ready” and have “protection.”
As I reflect on this passage, I am impressed with this woman. Though speaking of her love in such beautiful ways in this book (and he responds in kind), her attitude is not to look for the nearest bedroom or hotel room (Song of Sol. 4:12). Instead, she asks folks not to try to arouse something that is not ready to be awakened. In a society obsessed with sex, we need to be a people who respect God’s will on the subject and not arouse feelings until the proper time in life, and then express them in marriage to our spouses (Heb. 13:4).
When reading these three passages, let those who respect God’s law on marriage beware as well! What I mean is that there are some who would not do anything to commit fornication, yet they will marry someone when they are not really in love. Some marry out of convenience, perhaps to better their finances, or perhaps to leave an abusive home, or boredom, or simply out of the sense of “duty” (“This is what comes next in life.”). Is this you, dear reader?
Many are miserable because they married, not out of love, but convenience. Not love, but “duty.” Some were just desperate and thought the person who showed them any attention or admiration must be the “one.” If you respect God’s law for marriage (Matt. 5:31-32, 19:9; Rom. 7:2-3), then you recognize that this is the person you must live with for the rest of your days. Marrying for reasons other than love is not a Scriptural reason for divorce. Instead, you must figure out how to live with this person and hopefully learn to love him or her. Yet, this was not the best decision that could have been made! Single people, listen to the words of this smart lady in Solomon’s Song! Don’t arouse feelings when they are not mature yet! Don’t leave one problem for another! These feelings will blossom at the right time, and at that right time, there will be someone blossoming for you.
Lastly, let us make sure we do not mistake lust for love! This is yet another reason not to arouse certain feelings until they are ready. There is a great difference between lust and love, but sadly, some do not recognize the difference until it is too late. Whether they have sinned against God and their bodies by committing fornication (I Cor. 6:18-20) or have committed to a loveless marriage, nothing good will come from this. God is love (I Jn. 4:8), and the best definition of love is found in I Corinthians 13:4-8. Single people, look for someone who will share this with you as a spouse. Married people, live these verses!
Is there any doubt that this wonderful song belongs in the “wisdom literature” of the Old Testament? Much wisdom is revealed here. Let us hear and obey and be blessed (Rom. 15:4).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
(Note: If you have not read part 1 of this article, please read it first. It will help you to understand the applications I am making in this article. - JMJ)
After completing the article this morning, my mind continued to think about Solomon’s writing. As is common for me, my mind doesn’t seem to “shut off” easily! (ha) After writing about the Shulammite woman and her requesting that her love not be stirred up or awakened “til he please” (Song of Sol. 2:7, 3:4, 8:4), I began thinking about another application. As I stated in an earlier article, I am not convinced that Song of Solomon is a type/antiype of Christ, nor a “Messianic” song. I do think, however, that there are several places where applications can be made to Christ and the church when we consider the fact that God used the husband and wife relationship to describe this spiritual relationship (Eph. 5:22-33). I am always willing to study with anyone on this if you believe Solomon definitely had Christ in mind in this song.
Having said this, please go back and reread what the Shulammite said. I believe this is one of those verses where an application to Christ and the church can be made. The text in Solomon’s Song said she didn’t want her passions stirred until the time was right and proper. It is not that the passion itself was wrong, but it could be expressed in the wrong way if the time (before marriage) was not right. This statement caused me to think more about “timing” and how God has His timetable for things. Is it not fascinating to consider that an eternal being is concerned with time and has a “timetable” of His own?
I know God doesn’t count time as we do (II Pet. 3:8), but I also know things have happened at the “right time” with God! Think about the birth of Christ. Jesus Christ came to this world “in the fulness of time” (Gal. 4:4). He did not get here too early or too late. It is the same with the church, Christ’s bride. The church came into existence in the “last days” (Isa. 2:2-4). In other words, at the right time, when the right king was in power (Dan. 2:44-45), and when things had come to fruition as God wanted (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21)! In the case of God and His plan for Christ and the church, no one was going to “stir up” anything to change God’s plan. When the time was right, it happened perfectly!
We could include the fact that when God works providentially, then He is working things out at the right time. This was true with people like Joseph, Ruth, Naaman’s maid, Daniel, Hannah, Abraham, Esther, and a host of others. It is also true today. God has ways in which His will is going to come about. When this happens, it happens at the right time, regardless of whether or not it was our time!
When we think about the end of the world, remember Christ will return for His bride (the church). When He does, it will be at the right time. No man knows when this will be, but again, this eternal being, our Father, has said Jesus will come “as a thief in the night” (I Thess. 5:2; II Pet. 3:10), and when He does, He will return for His bride, and this world will end (Rev. 19:6-21). It is on God’s timetable and not man’s. No one will “stir up” God’s passions and make Him send Christ too early or too late!
Some try to guess as to when the Lord will return. It seems some have made predictions about His return almost since the time He left (Acts 1:9-11; I Thess. 4:13-5:11; II Pet. 3; Acts 5:36-37; Matt. 24:4-5; etc.)! Does anyone remember the bulletin boards and bumper stickers that were out some years ago that said, “If the Lord doesn’t come soon, He will owe an apology to Sodom and Gomorrah!”?
Let’s stop whittling on God’s end of the stick and realize that God won’t be “stirred up” but will make sure things are done right on time as He has always done. Let us, in the meantime, prepare for the Lord’s return by being saved (Jn. 8:24; Lk. 13:3; Rom. 10:10; Mk. 16:16) and remaining faithful to Him as a faithful bride would (Rev. 2:10; I Cor. 15:58). Let us spend time on earth growing (II Pet. 3:18) and maturing in the Lord that we will be ready for Him when He arrives. Let us prepare to hear those words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
In Solomon’s writing, we read, “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all” (Ecc. 9:11). In a world where many believe in “fate,” astrology, and predestination, we must remember that there are some things that are completely random and out of our control. “Time and chance” happens to people on this earth. Your decisions are not “written in the stars.” Your future is not fixed. You have choices to make and will suffer the consequences of your and others’ choices in this life.
On this earth, we see that there is such a thing as being at the “right place at the right time.” Folks are fortunate at times, having access to something or someone that others do not. “Timing” is essential in this life. Being one second early or one second late can make all the difference, sometimes! This is what Solomon was saying in that passage.
This is why in addition to being at the “right place at the right time,” one could also be at the “wrong place at the wrong time”! Someone may be at a place they ought not be or associated with people they ought not be (Ps. 1:1-3), and the results can be disastrous. Still, others can be at the “right place at the wrong time.”
Or they can be at the “wrong place at the right time”! Oh, the irony of life on earth! Yes, “time and chance” happens to all of us.
You can’t control your DNA, who your parents are, where you were born, or the circumstances of your childhood. Why were you born in this country, in this state, in this county, in this town, etc.? “Time and chance happeneth” to all of us!
We can look at circumstances and complain about what is fair and not fair, or we can get the proper perspective that Solomon has given us. “Time and chance” happens to us, but there are still some things we control. There are still some decisions we make that are truly ours.
What kind of decisions can we make that are not dependant upon “time and chance”? We can decide for ourselves whether or not we will be saved (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38-41; etc.). We can decide if we will resist or yield to temptation (Jas, 1:14-15, 4:7). We can control our attitude toward self and others. These are things we can control in a world filled with things that are unknown.
We make decisions daily in the hope that we will make the best decisions based upon our wisdom and experience. Yet, we can never account for the unknown. “Time and chance” continues to loom large in our lives. This is why we say, “if the Lord will, we shall live and do this or that” (Jas. 4:15).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs