Tag Archives: John 14:15

Rise Up, My Love (268): Sealed and Safe

Song of Solomon 8:6 “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm:” What is a seal? It is something that stands as a visible confirmation of a finished transaction. In a way, it is a contract. It bears the impress and often the image of the contractor. Here are some enlightening points gleaned from Tenny’s invaluable Biblical encyclopedias:
* “The earliest method, as far as one knows, to distinguish a person’s property was by use of the seal; this kind of seal has been found in Neolithic settlements in Mesopotamia.”
* “The earliest seal developed from an amulet and therefore maintained some of the amulet’s magical power. The seal would deter anyone from breaking open the sealed object for fear of the evil that might overtake him.”
* “Though the principal use of seals was for signing documents, they were also used to make safe for shipment jars containing valuable papers or goods.”
* “The unbroken seal was evidence that the merchandise was intact upon arrival” (1).

Wow! Let’s consider Tenny’s commentary in spiritual terms. In 2 Corinthians 1:22 we are told that God “hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” In Ephesians 1:14 and 4:30 we are told that the Holy Spirit himself is the seal…that we have been sealed by “the Holy Spirit of promise” until “the day of redemption.” God is the contractor; he has contracted us to himself in love for our redemption, and he has sealed us with his Holy Spirit of Promise…which bears the impress and image of our invisible Creator, revealing his nature to us and guarding us until the day of our complete redemption, payable upon our death!   Notice also that the seals possessed some assumed “magical” powers which would deter tampering lest evil overtake the one who opened the seal. God’s power is not “magical;” it is beyond magic and imagining…God is all-powerful—omnipotent! It is absolutely correct that every man should fear to tamper with one of God’s elect children…to attempt to “open” or defile his bride! Consider the awesomeness of the judgment that will befall you should you become entangled with sin yourself or attempt to ensnare another believer in a web of sexual immorality or any type of sin. Woe to us for even allowing our minds to wander!

Yet, from time to time we are tempted, and then, with the songwriter of “Come Thou Fount,” our hearts cry out: “Prone to wander—Lord, I feel it—prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart—O take and seal it. Seal it for Thy courts above.” “Set me (the Lord Jesus) as a seal upon thine heart.” We are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. All we have to do is open the eyes of our hearts and see the seal that is there. Make the spiritual reality more real than the physical reality.

No wonder the Israelites used to carry Scripture portions on their foreheads and their arms. They were making God’s commands literal realities. Can we do less? We do not typically walk around with Bible verses on us (although I always keep a Bible in my purse), but we can keep our love for Jesus as a seal upon our hearts by memorizing and meditating on his Word. “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Perhaps Solomon’s father, the man “after God’s own heart,” modeled a worthy example of how to set the living Word as a seal upon our hearts in Psalm 119:11: “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.”   As a last point of spiritual parallelism, note that the seals were used to make jars safe for shipment, and an unbroken seal signified that the contents of the jar had arrived intact. What a beautiful picture of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives! Not only is he our seal, but he is also the one who provides for our safe conduct from this world to the next, serving as guide (John 16:13), teacher (John 14:26), and comforter along the way (John 15:26), bearing us up on eagles’ wings to bring us safely to the Father (Exodus 19:4)!   Are you familiar with the way eagles teach their young to fly? Eagles build their eyries (nests) very high in the tops of tall trees near water or on high cliffs in the mountains. When the parent perceives that the eaglet is prepared to fly, he will push the fledgling out of the nest, immediately diving beneath him as the young bird flaps and struggles to fly. If the eaglet is unable on the first attempt to learn to use its wings to support itself and fly, the parent will literally soar up underneath his fledgling, bearing it up on his own wings so that the young eagle doesn’t dash itself to pieces on the rocks below. In the same way, our faithful, loving Holy Spirit bears us up on the wings of his love as we struggle to learn how to fly spiritually through this world.

Oh, Lord, thank you for the wonderful seal you have given us in the person of your Holy Spirit! Thank you for his ministry in our lives! Thank you that he bears us up on eagle wings to bring us safely home to heaven and you!

(1) Merrill C. Tenny, ed. The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Corp., 1977), Vol.5, 322.

Rise Up, My Love (214): Beautiful Shoes on Beautiful Feet

beautiful-sandalsSong of Solomon 7:1 “How beautiful are thy feet with shoes, O prince’s daughter!” I first began meditating on this verse during a communion service after just returning from taking the youth from our chapel on a mission trip to the “hills and hollers” of West Virginia, where we worked among the destitute of Appalachia…one of the poorest areas of our country. Thirty-four children had come to the Lord in our vacation Bible school programs, thousands of items of clothing had been given away, hundreds of dollars of food distributed to needy mountain folks, the missionaries’ house painted, and the gospel sung out in open air concerts. In thirty years of Bible study, the obvious never hit me! Our Lord was pleased with his bride for working out in the vineyard “with shoes on.” As the bridegroom begins his last great exaltation of the bride, he begins by commenting on her feet with shoes on.

Nowhere else in the Song is her clothing mentioned as praiseworthy. It is her body he admires so intensely. Bare feet are always considered more sensual and attractive, so why does Solomon praise her for wearing shoes? Because she has just returned from gathering fruit for him…from a labor of love which required her feet to be “shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). This “daughter of peace,” wearing the shoes of peace, had been gathering the fruit of peace in the mountains and valleys, and her Lord praised her. “Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:6-7)  beautiful-feetIn the bride—the body of Christ—feet may be beautiful…but how much more beautiful when they are adorned by the shoes of the gospel of peace! The word for feet is pa am which is elsewhere translated “steps” and may refer not so much to the physical form of her feet as to where she’s gone and what she’s doing. As one poet wrote, “Beautiful feet are those that go, Quickly to lighten another’s woe” (–L.M. McPhee, The Romance of the Ages).

It is interesting to note that the first time the bridegroom eulogizes his wife’s beautiful body, which is in chapter 4, he describes her from her head down, focusing first on her eyes, which are the gateway to her heart and love. It is the love he sees in her eyes that first arrests him. Now he describes her from her feet up, focusing first on her actions—the fruit of their love. As the bride of Christ, it is our love and devotion that Christ always desires first, and later on, as we become more like him and learn to move (dance) at the impulse of his spirit, he delights in our service. But still, it is always our love that most arrests and captivates him. Do we love Him with all our heart and soul and mind and strength? Are we aware of how much He loves us? Are we serving him with all our heart and soul and mind and strength?

“If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).