(Song of Solomon 5:1-16)
“I have come to my garden, my sister, my spouse;
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice;
I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey;
I have drunk my wine with my milk.
Eat, O friends!
Drink, yes, drink deeply,
O beloved ones!
I sleep, but my heart is awake;
It is the voice of my beloved!
He knocks, saying,
Open for me, my sister, my love,
My dove, my perfect one;
For my head is covered with dew,
My locks with the drops of the night.”
I have taken off my robe;
How can I put it on again?
I have washed my feet;
How can I defile them?
My beloved put his hand
By the latch of the door,
And my heart yearned for him.
I arose to open for my beloved,
And my hands dripped with myrrh,
My fingers with liquid myrrh,
On the handles of the lock.
I opened for my beloved,
But my beloved had turned away and was gone.
My heart leaped up when he spoke.
I sought him, but I could not find him;
I called him, but he gave me no answer.
The watchmen who went about the city found me.
They struck me, they wounded me;
The keepers of the walls
Took my veil away from me.
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
If you find my beloved,
That you tell him I am lovesick!
What is your beloved
More than another beloved,
O fairest among women?
What is your beloved
More than another beloved,
That you so charge us?
My beloved is white and ruddy,
Chief among ten thousand.
His head is like the finest gold;
His locks are wavy,
And black as a raven.
His eyes are like doves
By the rivers of waters,
Washed with milk,
And fitly set.
His cheeks are like a bed of spices,
Banks of scented herbs.
His lips are lilies,
Dripping liquid myrrh.
His hands are rods of gold
Set with beryl.
His body is carved ivory
Inlaid with sapphires.
His legs are pillars of marble
Set on bases of fine gold.
His countenance is like Lebanon,
Excellent as the cedars.
His mouth is most sweet,
Yes, he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved,
And this is my friend,
O daughters of Jerusalem!”
Warm greetings to all! Tomorrow, Deacon Minsoo and his wife, who have been working in the Seoul Church, will arrive here and start carrying out God’s work together with us. God has saved us from all the sins of the world through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and we all know that we must carry out God’s work by faith trusting in His righteousness. So let us work diligently, trusting that God will bless our overseas missionary works by faith. Today’s Scripture reading comes from Song of Solomon chapter 5.
With Whom Is Our Lord Working Now?
We believed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit to receive the Lord’s heart into our hearts. The Bible says that the Lord carries out His work through those of us who have received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Let’s all turn to Song of Solomon 5:1 here: “I have come to my garden, my sister, my spouse; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk.”
Here, our Lord is telling us that He has saved us out of His love, and He is also saying that it’s through such people as us that all the people of the world are delivered from all its sins. Put differently, God is commanding His servants to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to everyone in the world and save all who believe in this gospel. It’s very important for us to grasp this point.
We need to realize here that God carries out His work through those who love Him, those who have received love of salvation from God. The Song of Solomon, which comes from the Old Testament, contains neither a single sentence nor even a single word on Jesus Christ. However, when we read the Word of God written in the Song of Solomon, we can see just how much God loves His servants. The Song of Solomon is written in such a way that enables us to reach a clear understanding of our relationship with the Lord. So, when we ruminate on this Song of Solomon, we can all find even more spiritual strength.
Our Lord entrusts His work only to those who have received the remission of sins. Accordingly, God’s servants work by trusting in His righteousness. They carry out God’s work filled with the Holy Spirit. What, then, does God want to achieve through His servants living on this earth? He wants to bring the remission of sins to everyone, and, of course, He wants to entrust this work to only those of us who have received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Because of the Blessings That God Has Given Us…
It’s written in today’s Scripture passage: “I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk.” This passage is all spoken to God’s workers who have received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The myrrh here refers to prayer, implying that we ought to work tirelessly and find our strength in carrying out these tasks from the forever-unchanging gospel of the water and the Spirit and the Word of God. The spice here refers to our prayer, the honeycomb to the Word of God, the wine to the Word of life, and the milk to the bread of God. It means that the Lord works through us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Not just anyone who wants to carry out God’s work can actually do so. This is open to only those who believe in God’s love and His Word.
You and I are carrying out God’s work, but we couldn’t have done this unless we were saved from all our sins in the first place. None of us can do God’s work unless the person himself is saved from all his sins. After all, how could anyone who has not even been saved from his sins carry out God’s work? If we were to attempt to do God’s work without having been washed from all our sins, we would be daring to do something that we shouldn’t even think of doing. No sinner can ever do God’s work, for it is not man’s work. Those who try to do God’s work according to their own fleshly desires will be cursed by God. When anyone who is not approved by God tries to do God’s work, this actually constitutes a grave sin, and therefore such people are liable to receive terrifying punishments. So, when a sinner tries to carry out God’s work, he is actually carrying out his own work, not God’s work.
Like this, only those who have received the remission of sins can carry out God’s work, and invariably, they all in union preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Why is this so? It’s because only those of us who have received the Lord’s love and His salvation can bear witness of the true salvation the Lord has granted to the human race. It’s because the Lord has raised only us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit to be the witnesses who can spread the righteousness of the Lord. Fulfilling this role as the witnesses of the gospel of the righteousness of the Lord is what it means to be carrying out the Lord’s work.
Therefore, what you and I are doing right now—that is, spreading the gospel of the water and the Spirit—is precisely God’s work. The Lord is fulfilling His will through those who are carrying out His work. Through these workers of God, countless people all over the world are now coming across the gospel of the water and the Spirit. As a result, people throughout the whole world can now be saved by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit just like us, and be blessed to do God’s work in their lives.
From this we can all realize that the work of God we are doing now is indeed the righteous work approved by God, and with this realization we can find the strength to rise up to the challenge. Unfortunately, however, many misguided Christians nowadays are still trying to do God’s work without even believing in His righteousness. Far from glorifying God, such people are in fact blaspheming God’s name and glory. Therefore, to please God, it’s absolutely indispensable for us to first believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and then to carry out God’s work.
In What Ways Does the Lord Entrust His Work to Us?
When the Lord works with us His servants, we can see that that He makes us work by relying on our faith and prayer. To emphasize it once more, remember that the Lord works through His servants’ faith. As we carry out the Lord’s work, we can actually see that the Lord’s work unfolds when we pray to Him and work by trusting in His righteousness. Let’s turn to verse 2 here: “I sleep, but my heart is awake; It is the voice of my beloved! He knocks, saying, ‘Open for me, my sister, my love, My dove, my perfect one; For my head is covered with dew, My locks with the drops of the night’” (Song of Solomon 5:2).
This passage implies that the Lord does not work unilaterally. Instead, the Lord works when we offer our hearts to Him, pray to Him, rise up to the challenge by faith, and believe that He will indeed work in our lives. It’s when the Lord hears our prayers that He gives us spiritual strength each time we pray to Him. What kind of work, then, does the Lord want His servants to do? He wants them to carry out the forever-unchanging work of salvation.
That’s why the Lord had come to this earth, took upon all our sins once and for all by being baptized by John the Baptist, shed His blood to death on the Cross, and rose from the dead again and thereby saved His believers at once. So, whenever we carry out God’s work, we must pray to the Lord with all our hearts and faith. Our Lord works in our lives when we divulge our situation to Him and ask Him for His help, just as the children turn to their parents in times of need.
The Lord listens to His servants’ prayers and works for them when they preach the forever-unchanging Truth of salvation. God’s servants work like this to save the strangers’ souls because the Lord has already saved these people’s souls from all their sins. That’s why we are able to carry out God’s work. You and me alike, we are all carrying out God’s work by faith. But, despite what we have done so far, there still is much more to be done for God’s work.
I don’t know how you perceive me, but for my part, I want to help you bear even more fruit of salvation as you serve the work of righteousness. But, I want to help you in a way that bears the most fruit while lessening the physical labor that can be very taxing to your body. Put differently, I want to lead you in carrying out God’s work. When war is waged, the army is divided into different parts to perform different functions: some troops fight at the frontline, while others provide logistical support from behind. My responsibility is providing logistical support to you, making sure that the bread of life is delivered to you continuously.
It’s absolutely important for us to seek God’s help when we carry out His work. And it’s also absolutely indispensable for us to work by faith, trusting in God completely. We must have the belief that God is our Groom and Shepherd who helps us. I can’t emphasize enough just how important it is for our hearts to have complete faith in God and His righteousness. Whatever it is that we do for God’s work, as long as we do it by trusting in the Lord, the Lord will be with us always. However, the Lord cannot help us unless we trust in Him. That’s why it’s so important for us to work by believing in God and His righteousness no matter what. All of us ought to be able to glorify the Lord with our faith.
How Is Our Beloved Lord Compared to the People of This World?
Of course, our beloved Lord is far superior, for He is far more powerful, truthful, just, and merciful than anyone beloved by the people of this world. Let’s turn to Song of Solomon 5:9 here: “What is your beloved More than another beloved, O fairest among women? What is your beloved More than another beloved, That you so charge us?”
Indeed, Jesus Christ, His Father, and the Holy Spirit, in whom we all believe, are the one and only true God, incomparable to all the false gods in this world. He is the Savior of the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. This is what the Bible is saying in Song of Solomon chapter 5. The question posed here is this: when we compare our beloved God to the false gods loved by the people of this world, who is the better? The false gods worshiped by the people of the world are not even comparable to our Lord. The gods believed and worshiped by the people of the world are not the true God. Our beloved Lord, in contrast, is the Savior who has delivered the entire human race from all the sins of the world.
By sacrificing Himself to resolve the problem of our sins for us, our God has brought true salvation to all of us who believe in this sacrifice. God’s love is forever lasting, so long as we do not betray Him. Moreover, our Lord is capable of loving us wholly and perfectly. If the Lord didn’t have such capability to bestow on us such amazing mercy, then He would be a fraudster pretending to love us only to betray us in the end. But our Lord does have this merciful heart and power to have fulfilled our salvation forever. The Lord not only loves us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but He is also able to love us to the end. This is who our Lord is.
It’s written in Song of Solomon 5:9: “What is your beloved More than another beloved, O fairest among women? What is your beloved More than another beloved, That you so charge us?” My fellow believers, the one whom we truly love is Jesus Christ and the Triune God, and this God cannot even be compared to any false gods. In Heaven or on earth, in this temporal world or in the everlasting dominion, there is no one who is higher than the Lord. There is no deity who is more exalted or perfect than our Lord. No one is more truthful than our Lord, and therefore no one deserves our love but the Lord. That’s why we are able to preach the righteousness of Jesus to those who remain ignorant of the Truth. It’s because our beloved God is supreme. It’s because our beloved God can deliver all those who still remain unredeemed from all their sins. It’s to this Lord that we entrust these lost souls.
We are of those who pray to God. We can pray to our God for the sake of our family members’ souls as well as countless people all over the world. So we seek our God’s help through our prayers. Our beloved God is truly Almighty. And just as our Lord cherishes us all, so do all the saints and God’s servants love our Lord.
Let us turn to Song of Solomon 5:10-16: “My beloved is white and ruddy, Chief among ten thousand. His head is like the finest gold; His locks are wavy, And black as a raven. His eyes are like doves By the rivers of waters, Washed with milk, And fitly set. His cheeks are like a bed of spices, Banks of scented herbs. His lips are lilies, Dripping liquid myrrh. His hands are rods of gold Set with beryl. His body is carved ivory Inlaid with sapphires. His legs are pillars of marble Set on bases of fine gold. His countenance is like Lebanon, Excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet, Yes, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, And this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem!” This can be interpreted as something that the Lord is saying when He sees us believing in and serving the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Strictly speaking, however, this is how we see our Lord.
Those Who Do God’s Work Are Truly Beautiful and Precious
The righteous live blessed by God according to His times. I am working together with all of you who have become God’s children. We have all been carrying out the Lord’s work tirelessly, but the more time goes by, the more I consider ourselves fortunate. We’ve been fortunate to spend so many hours working like this because what we have served so far is God’s gospel rather than just any human being. Moreover, it’s God’s wonderful blessing that we are able to carry out His work in this age and time without being tied down just to meet our basic needs. When we look at the people of this world today, we can see that they are struggling just to make a living and survive. Even if some of them are rich enough to belong to the upper class, their lives are still miserable.
I recently held a revival meeting in Seoul, and on one of those days I woke up very early in the morning, around 4 or 5am. Unable to go back to bed, I took a walk around the area, and I saw so many people going about briskly at such an early hour. I could tell that Seoul’s reputation as a giant metropolis was well deserved. All those people couldn’t have been out in the streets at such an early hour for no reason; they must have been either heading home from a night shift or going to work first thing in the morning. I came to appreciate even more just how happy we were to do God’s righteous work without having to worry about our basic needs.
It’s easier for us to appreciate something when a comparison is drawn. Students, workers, and businesspeople alike all work so hard because they are struggling to meet their basic needs of life. The competition is fierce. So many people are so fiercely competitive like this because they know that otherwise they will fall behind, become failures, and even turn into homeless people. For us, in contrast, the basic needs are all taken care of, so all that we think about is the Lord’s righteous work and finding a way to preach the gospel to even more people. It’s such a wonderful blessing that we can live for this work without having to be worried about anything else. This life that we are leading is so wonderful and so blessed.
Some of you might disagree, thinking that it’s too hard to carry out the Lord’s work. But, even if you were to live out in the world trying to make a living, you would face at least as much hardship. In other words, trying to make a living in this world is in itself a difficult struggle. Are you struggling now? I’m sure many of you actually feel this way, thinking that the Lord’s work is too hard. But, in my view, everyone works at least that much.
After Encountering the Righteousness of the Lord and Being Born Again by Believing in the Gospel of the Water and the Spirit, I Could Not Carry out the Lord’s Work for a While
In those days I held a secular job, and I had to leave home by 6am in the morning to get to my workplace. To do so, I had to get up no later than 5am. I needed at least an hour to have breakfast and get ready for work. And I worked until 8pm in the evening. So I worked over 12 hours a day. For this work, I got paid only about $40 a day. This was 20 years ago. At that time, I was not happy with the money I was being paid for my work. I felt that my salary came nowhere close to reflect the amount of work I was putting in. So I got disillusioned about working for someone else.
I thought it would be better for me to start my own business in the industry. I had it all figured out, from getting the necessary license to opening the first store and even expanding the business under a franchise. I thought I could easily make a lot of money if I started my own business. It was not because of greed that I wanted to make a lot of money, but it was because I wanted to serve the Lord’s gospel. I thought I had to make money first before being able to serve the Lord.
However, the idea that I could serve the Lord with the money I made proved to be nothing more than an illusion. Yet, despite this, everything went just fine as God opened the way for me, and thanks to this I have been able to serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit to this very day. It’s not so easy to make money. It’s actually very hard. However, we are so fortunate that at least we don’t have to worry about putting food on the table or a roof over our heads. It’s all because the Lord has blessed us so that we would be able to serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Are you worried about meeting your basic needs for food and shelter? If you carry out God’s work, all your basic needs will be met as a matter of course. God told us that whatever we do, whether we eat or drink, do all things for the glory of God; moreover, He also told us not to worry about such things. This has actually happened to us. All this Word has been fulfilled to us. As we carry out God’s work, when we compare our lives to the lives of the worldly people once in a while, we can appreciate that we have been tremendously blessed. It’s all because of our Lord’s unquestionable superiority. Our beloved Lord is indeed majestic. He is the Master of this whole universe.
Do you really understand the scope of this universe? Scientists say that the stars we see now were not a solid mass from the beginning, but they materialized into their current form from a huge mass of gas. And these stars continue to fragment. Once formed, stars don’t last forever, but they are destroyed in time. So this universe is filled with countless fragments of dead stars, yet the existing stars remain in their orbit and order is maintained in the universe.
I used to be quite fascinated and puzzled by this even though I am not an astronomer. There used to be another puzzle for me, one that’s more earthly. In many parts of the world, especially in Korea and other Asian countries, people revere their ancestors. In Confucian societies people go to great lengths to take care of their ancestral graves. As a child, I used to wonder why there weren’t as many graves as they should be given the countless number of people dying every day. This was a confounding puzzle for me. But, one day, while hiking on a hill with a public cemetery nearby, I found the answer.
Some of the graves in the cemetery were not maintained, showing that they had been abandoned for a long time. Some graves even had trees growing on top of them. These graves were abandoned graves. From this I realized that although people revere their ancestors and even worship them with offerings, in the end, it’s usually just the immediate descendants that care about their dead ancestors. Two, three generations down the road, the ancestors are all forgotten, so much so that even their graves are neglected. As a result, old graves fall into disrepair and eventually disappear naturally, lessening the demand for burial sites. Nowadays cremation has become more common, so there is probably even less need for graveyards.
That’s how I found the answer to this puzzle. This had been a vexing question to me as a child. In my childish mind, the world should have been full of graveyards, given the fact that people continued to die every day while the physical space remained constant. Yet this was not the case, so it made me wonder. Did any of you have a puzzling question like this? I don’t know about you, but I did, so people used think I was a strange kid whenever I raised such questions. Anyway, I now know the answer to my puzzle: There are a lot of abandoned graves in this world.
My fellow believers, our Lord is indeed the one and only true God, supreme and incomparable to any of the false gods worshiped by the people of this world. We are loved by such a Lord, we are carrying out such a Lord’s work, and we have become such a Lord’s brides. That’s why I keep saying that we are so happy. We’ve been so blessed that words cannot describe just how happy we are. Sometimes, we hear depressing news from around the world. Even so, we are still happy because the Lord is with us. Although the world is indeed a depressing place, because we have the Lord next to us we still have hope.
Recently the economy has been mired in a deep recession. The global economy has been hit by the worst crisis in over 80 years, but despite this, we must continue to preach the gospel. Indeed, thanks to God, we will continue to spread the gospel. We have far, far many more things to thank God for than to be disappointed or feel despondent.
In closing, let us all pray together: “Lord, strengthen our faith and bless us. Keep us safe and healthy over this holiday season. And protect us in all the things that we do to support Your gospel ministry. In Jesus’ name we prayed, Amen.”