Mutual Possession

The Song of Solomon is an intensely devotional book. It is also a prophetic book in that it describes for us the relationship between the believer and Christ, the ‘Beloved’, with an intimacy which looks forward to the relationship between the believer and Christ in the New Testament. It expresses for us with a wonderful intensity the happiness of the one who is RightWithGod through Jesus Christ.

The bible describes the relationship between Christ and the believer in many ways. But there is one which is particularly amazing, and that is, mutual possession, a two-way possession. Putting this in simple language, Christ possesses us and we possess Christ.  The  idea is present in many places in the bible, but in the Song of Solomon it is stated twice by the believer, with amazing confidence.

The first of these occurrences is in Chapter 2, verse 16: “My Beloved is mine, and I am His”; the second is in Chapter 6, verse 3: “I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine.” The happiness underlying these words in inescapable. The believer in this case is female. If there is a reason for this, it is that women are usually better at expressing their love than men, but there does not have to be any particular reason.

In this relationship of mutual possession, there is no coercion or oppression, as there sometime is in  possessive relationships between human beings. There is here a willingness and gladness on both sides to be possessed.  Human beings, by nature, are afraid of such a relationship. This fear tends to persist even after conversion, and must be forsaken, and replaced with a wholehearted and glad surrender to the total Lordship of Jesus Christ. Holding back in this matter is a cause of much unhappiness and lack of assurance among christians. True happiness lies in the relationship of “My Beloved is mine, and I am His”.

There is another amazing aspect of this. That is that, if there is this mutual possession, then He accepts her as His. He is not ashamed to own her as His own. The altogether righteous One is not ashamed to own a sinner as His own property, even His special treasure.

What is the explanation of such intense love on the part of Christ for His own? It is that He has loved her from the beginning, and purchased her. The believer is bought at a great price: nothing less than the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. He knows what that price was in a way that we cannot. But the result is  that He now looks on every one He has purchased as an exceedingly precious possession.

The believer, on the other hand, is so aware of her own sin and unworthiness that she cannot understand how Christ could ever love her so much that He paid such a price for her. Not only so, but He is not ashamed to own her as His possession. The result is that she loves Him more than ever. He is truly and intensely her Beloved.

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The Grenfell Tower Fire.

It has been a painful experience to watch the pictures and reports of the Grenfell tower fire. It is heart-rending to think of what these people went through. This is intensified by the speed at which things happened, going from normal everyday life to unspeakable tragedy in fifteen minutes. Dozens of precious human beings going to meet their God and Maker.

Our thoughts are with those who are bereaved, and those injured. There is no doubt that the rescue and medical services, as always in our beloved country, have given their all to help, and we thank God for them, but the circumstances were such that they were limited in what they could do. Questions again arise as to the wisdom of housing people in high-rise flats at all, even though it seems to be a necessity in modern life. Certainly, more needs to be done in order to make these blocks safer. Some of the safety deficiencies in the Grenfell tower surely demand investigation, and we are thankful that our Prime Minister has ordered a full-scale investigation, and we hope that it will be thorough and as speedy as possible.

Meanwhile, as christians, we must not detach ourselves from this catastrophe, but be involved as far as we can, in prayer and deep thought about what has happened. We must seek the face of God in prayer for the bereaved and injured, and also for the investigation itself. We do not have all the answers, but we do have some.

The question on the lips of many at such a time as this is, ‘why did God allow this to happen?’ Our answer must stand firmly on the ground that God is God, and that therefore He controls all that happens. So, we have to answer, ‘yes, God did allow this to happen, but as to the ‘why’, we have to turn to the bible to understand the basic factors involved in God’s government of this world. The best place for us to go is to the first two chapters of the book of Job. The picture there is quite clear. There is God who rules over all, and there is Satan who cannot refuse any opportunity to do evil, but cannot make the slightest move except as God allows him. Satan, because of his evil nature, will always take such an opportunity to do harm, and take it to its limit; but he cannot go beyond the limit set for him by God, not even by the slightest amount.

The result of this is that, although we live in a fallen world, we do not live in a world of total evil, but in a world of controlled evil. All one needs to prove this to oneself is to thumb through a newspaper, and ask the question, what is the picture of the world that one sees? The answer is that it is not a world of total evil, but one of controlled evil. The fact is that we have never seen a world of total evil, and we never will in this life.

So the amazing thing is not that catastrophies such as the Grenfell tower fire occurred, but, how rarely such things happen. This is because, when man fell with the tragic consequences, God did not abandon the world He had created, but still rules it according to His perfect wisdom.

May this be a time for us to bow the knee before the God of all power.

 

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The Recent Atrocities

It is not easy to comment on the recent atrocities in London and Manchester, yet one cannot be silent. Things like the death penalty used to be a deterrent to the taking of a human life. Some say that we should restore the death penalty for murder. I would be in favour of its restoration, not because I believe it would deter these atrocities, but because the bible calls for it. It is not a duty of the individual, but a duty of the state.

Immediately after the flood, God made a covenant with Noah, which has never been rescinded. In Genesis 9: 6, we read “Whoso sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made He man”. Every human being is precious because, among other things, he or she bears the image of God. Although the bible teaches us to be kind to animals, especially those who help us in our daily work, there is no prohibition on taking the life of an animal, because they are not made in the image of God, and are not morally responsible. For them death is the end, and there is no after-life. On the other hand,, man is made in the image of God, and is held morally responsible by God for all his actions. Every human being must give an account of themselves on the Day of Judgement: “Every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).

Sadly the death penalty would not help to deter the present terrorist groups, because their religion makes certain promises to them if they die in Jihad. Jihad basically means Struggle, or Holy Struggle, or Holy War, or War Against the Infidel. The latter meaning is applied by Islamic Terrorist groups to War against Western Society. However the Day of Perfect Justice is coming and they will not escape, but for them, as for us “Every one of us shall give account of himself to God”. There will be no escape

However, we can pray. We must pray for those who have suffered injury, and for the bereaved. Their pain and heartache is incalculable. We must also seek to obey the command to “Pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44), however difficult we find it.

As I write this, polling is under way in the United Kingdom. One of the big issues facing any new government will be its obligation to defend our citizens. It is very important to be clear that the State is, under God, given responsibilities much wider that the individual. This is clear from Romans 13: 1-5 which describe to us our responsibility to submit to the power of the State and the responsibility of the State to fight against evil. Verse 4 describes to us the responsibility of the ruler to take up the sword against evil: “For he is the minister of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him who does evil”.

There is no doubt that the intelligence services and the police have done a good job. The speed of the police response in the latest London atrocity was amazing. However, the Police must be strengthened and given more powers.

Also questions must be asked of Islam itself. Is there something fundamental to Islam which leaves the way open to the kind of brutality and murder which has been perpetrated in different parts of the world in the name of Islam?

There are also questions that we must ask regarding our own nation. For example, are we under the judgement of God because of our moral decadence? I have no doubt that the answer to that question is, Yes. We, as christians, must seriously seek the face of God, pleading with Him to bring us to national repentance, and return us to righteousness.

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Holiday Thoughts

In Psalm 95:1, we read, “O come let us sing unto the Lord: Let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation”. Why? Because that Rock is Christ. Why ‘Rock’? Because He is utterly dependable, making our salvation unspeakably secure.

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