The Power of together
Love changes everything
Song of Songs 8:6-7
With Peter Veysie
George Methodist church
14th February 2021
8am and 10am
It’s valentine’s day and so happy valentine’s to you all. Just a little background to St Valentine
Saint Valentine (Italian: San Valentino, Latin: Valentinus) known as Saint Valentine of Rome was a widely recognized 3rd-century Roman saint, commemorated in Christianity on February 14. From the High Middle Ages his Saints’ Day has been associated with a tradition of courtly love. He is also a patron saint of epilepsy.
Saint Valentine was a clergyman – either a priest or a bishop – in the Roman Empire who ministered to persecuted Christians.He was martyred and his body buried at a Christian cemetery on the Via Flaminia close to the Ponte Milvio to the north of Rome, on February 14, which has been observed as the Feast of Saint Valentine (Saint Valentine’s Day) since 496 AD
There are a number of martyrdom stories associated with various Valentines connected to February 14, including an account of the imprisonment of Saint Valentine of Rome for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire in the third century.According to an early tradition, Saint Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his jailer.Numerous later additions to the legend have better related it to the theme of love: an 18th-century embellishment to the legend claims he wrote the jailer’s daughter a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell before his execution;another addition posits that Saint Valentine performed weddings for Christian soldiers who were forbidden to marry.
I am not sure if you are anything like me but I love a good love story. Deb and I are often on the same page when it comes to movies and we are drawn to both period and love stories. Some of them which have been really powerful are Penguinbloom, The Notebook, Love Actually and then some of the series movies too that you sometimes have to watch with one eye.
The bible is filled with love stories and one of the most famous is the story in Song of Songs. It is filled with quite romantic and yet challenging stories of Solomon as a young king and his peasant lover.
But before we go there let’s take a look at 5 love stories in the bible and how love does truly change everything sometimes for the better and othertimes for the worst sadly !!!!
1. Adam and Eve – Love begins in a garden
Not feeling on the same level as the other prospective companions that God had given him (birds and livestock aren’t great conversationalists), Adam was in need of a woman. To make his new friend happy, God put Adam under an early general anaesthetic and performed emergency surgery – extracting a rib, and creating, from that rib, a woman.
The two of them were happy to walk around the Garden of Eden naked with God , not fearing any judgement. That is, until the serpent talked Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. Being a good wife, she offered some of her fruit to her husband who ate it. Almost immediately afterwards, the two of them became incredibly self-conscious about the whole nakedness thing and threw together some fig leaf garments to cover their modesty.
God, understandably, wasn’t happy.
This, to me, sticks out like one of those instances of love where nothing matters but the two of you. Adam and Eve were completely blissful and needed nothing but each other’s company. The introduction of the knowledge of good and evil was their downfall… they became self-conscious and less comfortable with each other (needing the fig leaf cover-up).
The challenges around covering up are still with us today and there is a deep need for authenticity openess and honesty but sadly Christians still love to cover up and put on a show as if nothing is wrong !! It’s God’s desire for us always to be in the garden with Him but when we step out of the boundaries we know that something is going to go wrong. The more personal our relationship is with God, the more personal and intimate our relationship will be with others.
2. Abram and Sarai
The story of Abram and Sarai reminds of the fact that if we are faithful and trust Him even if we don’t know where we are going, he will lead us to promise and will use us even in our old age !! It is so easy to give up on the journey, but God calls us to keep going and not to give up too easily.
God, in the end, rewards Sarah’s actions with fertility and she gives Abram the heir he so desperately sought in Isaac.
3. Isaac and Rebekah
After the death of his wife, and seeing his son alone, Abram orders one of his servants to go and obtain a wife for his son from another town, so that Isaac isn’t forced to go with a Canaanite girl. Armed with expensive jewellery, the servant finds Rebekah, whose appearance was prophesised by God (added to the fact that she offers the servant and his camels some water), and requests she join him in becoming Isaac’s new wife.
His is so key that as they arrive back, Rebekah catches a glimpse of Isaac praying, and covers herself in a veil. Isaac brings Rebekah immediately into the tent where his mother, Sarai, died and marries her.I find this so profound and I wonder if we as men take seriously the call to be faithful in prayer and the practise of spiritual disciplines. I think it’s also important for us also to be role models to young men.So often I hear young woman asking where the good men are. I know that there are many in our church and I thank the good Lord for all of you.
Rebekah was a strong woman and she stood shoulder to shoulder with Isaac.Every man needs a woman in his life to keep him on the straight and narrow, be it his mother or partner or friend– Isaac found his person in Rebekah. I find that Debbie is a strong woman and keeps me on the straight and narrow but not only that she is my mentor, encourager and cheerleader and we all need people like her. Find your person !!!
4. The Jacob, Rachel, Leah love-triangle
This is a bit of a messy story and reminds us of the fact that marriage is not always perfect and can be messy but God restores and uses every circumstance that we have been through.
Jacob, son of Rebekah, was sent to take solace and find a wife with his Uncle Laban in a distant land. Here, he met his cousin Rachel who he considered beautiful in form and appearance.He was so in love with Rachel that he pledged to work for his Uncle Laban for seven years in return for her hand in marriage, but this labour felt like days to him such was his love for his cousin Rachel.
After seven years of hard labour, the day came when he could finally marry the love of his life, Rachel. With the bride concealed under a veil, the wedding went without a problem and the marriage was consecrated that night! The following morning, however, wasn’t quite as good. It turns out Laban had actually put Leah under the veil and deceived Jacob because, apparently, it should always be the older child that marries first. Jacob was rightly angry, and vowed that after his wedding week was finished, he’d take Rachel for his wife as well! (Although he did have to work a further seven years…)
After that, it became like a competition for the two sisters to see who could give Jacob the most children – Leah taking the lead by giving Jacob four boys. The sisters even threw their respective servants at Jacob to up their tally (surrogates were well within the rules). In the end, God blessed Rachel and she produced Joseph, who became Jacob’s favourite. One nil to Rachel.
Although the story is relatively complicated, the message is clear: work for the one you want, and in the end you’ll be rewarded with something incredible.
5. Ruth and Boaz
Read the story in Ruth 1:16-18
Ruth, a widow and full-time carer of her mother-in-law, Naomi, took up work with Naomi’s relative, Boaz. Ruth providing for the mother of her deceased husband was seen as a noble by Boaz, and he looked upon her favourably – despite the fact she was a “foreigner”. Boaz cared for Ruth, and sent her to work in a field full of young women to ensure that the young men didn’t assault her.
Ruth sleeps with Boaz (no hanky-panky) and is told that, should she not find a “redeemer” that Boaz himself will “redeem” her. A potential redeemer comes, but is put off when Boaz tells that Ruth is part of the deal; apparently he was only after the land and not a woman on the side. Therefore, Boaz takes Ruth as his wife and with it inherits her land – thus keeping it in the family.
What does this show us about love?
Boaz has Ruth’s best interests at heart, and does all he can to ensure that she remains safe. Indicating that true love is about protecting, caring and supporting for the one that you love.
Do we have a person that we love best interests at heart ?
6. A powerful closing love story between Jesus and us.
I close with the powerful picture of the ultimate story of love and that is our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The scripture from Song of Songs 8 although it speaks of a relationship between a man and a woman can also speak to us about our relationship with the Lord.
From verse 6 “Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
7 Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of one’s house for love,
it would be utterly scorned.”