November 2020
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Glimpses of Our God

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Lesson 12: “Love Stories”

Our Sabbath School lesson asks: “How are we to understand the loving side of God?” Perhaps the most obvious examples, as our quarterly points out, are memorable marriages in the Bible. These marriages begin with Adam and Eve, and end with the most glorious marriage event in the history of the universe: the marriage of the Lamb and His Bride.

Adam and Eve: In each of these memorable marriages (or “romances” as our quarterly puts it) there is a key principle which, if we will receive it, brings healing and stability to every marriage. Beginning in Genesis we read: “… the Lord brought [Eve] to the man [Adam].” This is not suggesting that one should go to sleep and then the Lord will–presto–bring you a wonderful spouse all ready to be yours. The common sense idea is that you ask for, you trust, you expect, you wait for the Lord to lead the two of you together. The lesson from Adam and Eve is that the Lord God takes an active, personal interest in your life. Let Him do the leading and your union will be lasting.

Believing that God loves you is an important first step. You can’t live if you think He is mean or unfair or cruel; believing Satan’s lie about Him is the sure path to eternal sorrow. Jesus comments on their marriage when he says, “What God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matt. 19:6, NKJV). The “glue” that will hold a married couple together is their conviction, their faith, that “God has joined [us] together.” God is a loving heavenly Father who above all else has in mind your true happiness; and in His infinite wisdom He sees and knows that such happiness lies with your being faithful to the “wife [husband] of your youth” (Mal. 2:14).

The Bible story about marriage from the beginning is love; God created us to love and to be loved in devotion that lasts forever. So, thank you, Adam and Eve, for this lesson in happiness.

Abraham and Sarah: Their marriage was to result in seven grand blessings for the world, most of all, that “in you all families [homes, marriages] of the earth shall be blessed [made happy]” (Gen. 12:2, 3). Abraham and Sarah were called to be the world’s most understanding father-in-law and mother-in-law! But their own happiness was a long time in coming. We’ve all read the story, but when the blessing finally came with the birth of Isaac, it was just in time to save them from the bitterness that old-age marriage-failure can bring. Abraham humbly repented of his sin with the comely younger woman, Hagar, which was more than just infatuation, but the darker sin of deep heart-unbelief in God’s promise that he and Sarah should have a son. Sarah repented of her anger against God. (We know this because Hebrews 11:11 tells us that “… she judged Him faithful who had promised.”) The truth in this marriage is: believe the promise that God gave you of happiness in your marriage; that believing will give you happy and peaceful endurance and a rich reward that indulgence with a third party could never bring you.

Isaac and Rebekah: Our lesson also mentions this couple, the happiest marriage we read about in the Bible, which culminates in a tantalizing glimpse of their lasting love, when we read, “he [Isaac] loved her” (Gen. 24:67).

Jesus Christ and His Bride-to-Be: There is a hidden love story in the Laodicean message that few seem ever to have discerned. Somehow it eluded our pioneers, and our eyes have been too “holden” ever since to see it.

The lady in Song of Solomon 5:2-7 who had gone to bed early and was annoyed by her Lover banging on her door represents the remnant church, which has resented (in our history) the urgent appeals of our Lord to surrender to Him as a beloved surrenders at last to her husband-to-be.

The Greek of Revelation 3:20 reads something like this: “Behold, I have taken My stand at the door and am knocking, knocking. If a certain one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will have intimate fellowship with him.” This is a clear allusion to the story in the Song of Solomon, where in verse 5:2 Solomon says: “I sleep, but my heart is awake: the voice of my Beloved knocks at the door …” Although some say the Song of Solomon is nowhere quoted in the New Testament, here it is in the Laodicean message by our Lord Himself!

It was in the history of 1888 that our Lord “knocked” as a Divine Lover seeking entrance at the door of His Bride-to-be. Can we not sense how Christ “the Lover” hoped against hope that she would respond? But Ellen White said afterwards, “The disappointment of Christ is beyond description” (Review and Herald, Dec. 15, 1904).

What is distinctive about the Christ whom we are to love and proclaim to the world? Ellen White says of the 1888 message:

“On Sabbath afternoon many hearts were touched, and many souls were fed on the bread that cometh down from heaven. … We [she and A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner] felt the necessity of presenting Christ as a Saviour who was not afar off, but nigh at hand” (ibid., March 5, 1889, emphasis added).

Clearly this is an allusion to the Christology that Jones and Waggoner presented that made Him “nigh,” that brought Him truly near as our “kinsman” who came “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” “tempted in all points like as we are, “yet without sin.”

Note how Ellen White clearly ties in the Song of Solomon with the results of the 1888 message:

“The Christian life, which had before seemed to them [the youth] undesirable and full of inconsistencies, now appeared in its true light, in remarkable symmetry and beauty. He who had been to them as a root out of dry ground, without form or comeliness, became the chiefest among ten thousand [SS 5:10], and the one altogether lovely” (ibid., Feb. 12, 1889).

It is a love story indeed–the most poignant ever penned. It breathes the same hope of ultimate reconciliation and reunion as does the Laodicean message. Such a hope is worth dying for, and worth living for. Whether our own poor little souls are at last saved and we get to Heaven to bask in our rewards–this is not at all important. What is important is that the deeply disappointed Lover and Bridegroom-to-be receive His reward, that He at last receive as His Bride a church which is capable of a true heart-appreciation of Him.

“Everything in sacred history proclaims there has been a terrible delay in the second advent. All that the human mind can comprehend in a union of true love between a man and woman has been thwarted in the experience of Jesus. If there was anything more that He could do to win His fair one, He would have done it. And so the delay continues … until the Bride hears the knocking at the door and repents of her harlotry. But with all the tragedy of this, she will repent and she will be ready for the marriage of the Lamb. This marriage need not be delayed further. It must come for the prophet has said, ‘These are the true sayings of God. … Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus’ (Rev. 19:9, 22:20).” [1]

–Compiled from the writings of Robert J. Wieland
[1] Donald K. Short, “Really–Is There No Delay?”, 1997.