Sermon #7 Series: Song of Solomon
Title: “Winter Is Past”
Text: Song of Solomon 2:8-15
Readings: Office: Paul Harries Auditorium: James Jordan
Subject: The Time And Means Of True Revival For Christ’s Church
Date: Sunday Evening - June 14, 1998
Tape # U-73a
(Song of Songs 2:8-15) The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. (9) My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, showing himself through the lattice. (10) My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. (11) For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; (12) The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; (13) The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. (14) O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. (15) Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.
The things which are seen are types of the things which are not seen. The works of creation are pictures to the children of God which represent the secret mysteries of grace. God’s truths are apples of gold, and the visible creatures are baskets of silver. In the verses before us, we have a picture of revival. It is a time of joy, refreshing, and singing. It is like springtime after a long, dreary winter. Here we see the Lord Jesus Christ coming to his church. By his word, by the manifestation of his presence, by his power, and by his grace, he brings a time of refreshing to his own beloved people. The title of my message is - “The Winter Is Past.” O Lord, may it be true. Grant to us now a time of refreshing and increase.
I recognize that we are living in perilous times. We are living in the midst of the greatest religious apostasy ever known. It appears that the time has come when God has sent men a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, because they received not the love of the truth.
This modern day, man centered, man exalting, man pleasing, God debasing, God hating religion, which seems to engulf the entire world and all religious sects, is the greatest religious deception this world has ever known. I do not know, but it seems to me that we are living in that period of time, just before the end of time, when Satan will be loosed for a little season to once again deceive the nations. It appears that the world, by-in-large, has accepted the doctrines of antichrist.
· Religious ritualism - Papists and Protestants
· Self-righteousness - Moralisms
· Free-willism, - Easy-believism, - Fundamentalism
Any religion that is man-centered, any religion that has for its foundation man’s will, man’s works, or man’s rights, any religion that promotes the honor, dignity, and pride of man, any religion that pampers and cultivates self-righteousness, self-esteem, and self-worth is antichrist. I realize that we are living in terribly perilous times.
But I also believe that we may be experiencing the greatest true revival in history. Right “smack-dab” in the middle of this worldwide apostasy, I see more men preaching the true gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace than at any other time we know of in history. I am not talking about religious hirelings who discuss the doctrines of grace over coffee but dare not preach them in their pulpits. I am talking about men who boldly stand up on their hind legs and tell out God’s truth.
It appears that Christ is again working mightily in Zion. I hope that I am not deceived, but so far as the church of Christ, in its universal aspect is concerned, I can almost hear the Savior’s voice - “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing birds is come, and the voice of the turtle dove is heard in our land.” I do not want to be presumptuous. Yet, I do not want to fail to recognize the hand of God’s providence and his grace upon us.
Proposition: In his wisdom and grace, the Lord sends upon his church some long, cold winters; but he also sends the springtime of revival to his beloved people.
Anyone who reads the history of Christ’s church, with half an eye open, will recognize that she does have her ebbs and flows, her winter times and her spring times. Often it seemed as if she would be frozen out of the earth. Ungodliness, heresy, and error have prevailed at times. At other times she has been fruitful, triumphant, and majestic under the reviving influences of the Holy Spirit.
· The Dark Ages of Papacy
· The Reformation
· The cold winter of Rationalism
· Puritanism and the Great Awakening
· Free-willism, emotionalism, fundamentalism (Finney)
· In these days it seems that God has given us another time of refreshing
Divisions: Tonight, I want to show you how it is that our Lord brings revival to his church. Revival is not always a sudden burst of divine power upon the church. It is much more than a temporary emotional stirring. True revival is simply the communion and fellowship of Christ with his people. It comes by degrees, by the gradual manifestation of Christ himself. Let’s look now at these verses and see what steps our Lord takes in coming to his people.
1. The Lord himself comes to his people (vv. 8-9).
2. Christ calls us to himself (vv. 10-13).
3. The Lord communes with his believing people (v. 14).
4. The Lord gives us a loving admonition (v. 15).
I. First, THE LORD JESUS GRACIOUSLY COMES TO HIS PEOPLE (vv. 8-9).
(Song of Songs 2:8-9) The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. (9) My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, showing himself through the lattice.
It is our responsibility to seek the Lord and call upon him. But revival comes when he comes to us. The fact is we will never truly seek him and call upon him until he first seeks us and calls us. If he turns us, we shall be turned. If he calls us, we will run after him. Here we see the Bride rejoicing in the approach of her Beloved (Psa. 80).
A. She hears him speak. - “It is the voice of my Beloved.”
It is Christ calling to his church to tell us that he is coming. No one but Christ can speak to the heart; and no voice but his can make it burn. We are his sheep. We know his voice.
1. He speaks to us through the preaching of the gospel.
2. He speaks to us by his Spirit.
3. He speaks to us personally.
B. She sees him coming. - “Behold, he cometh.”
The eye of faith looks for Christ, anticipating him. This may very well be taken as a prophecy of our Lord’s first coming in the flesh. The incarnation of Christ, to suffer and die as our Substitute, was the hope and expectation of the Old Testament believers. Abraham rejoiced to see his day, and was glad. The nearer the time came the more clearly they saw. Those who waited for the consolation of Israel with an eye of faith saw him coming and rejoiced in God’s salvation. They had heard him say, “Lo, I come.’ And faith responded, “Behold, he cometh!” (Psa. 40:7-8). Look at how our Lord came to redeem us -
1. He came cheerfully and with great speed.
He came leaping and skipping over the mountains like a deer, as one who was pleased with the work before him Our Lord’s heart was in the work of redemption (Isa. 50:5-7; Lk. 12:50).
(Isaiah 50:5-7) The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. (6) I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. (7) For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.
(Luke 12:50) But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!
2. Christ came to remove the difficulties that lay in the way of our salvation and to triumph over our enemies.
He came “leaping over the mountains.” The powers of darkness, our own sins, and the terrible curse of God’s law had to be overcome. But before the determination of his love, these mountains were brought low.
3. Christ came suddenly and soon after the promise was given.
God’s people thought that the time between the promise and the fulfillment of the promise was very long. But it was not. One day the promise was given, and four days later the time came. At the appointed time Christ came. The due time was the best time.
(Romans 5:6) For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
(Galatians 4:4-5) But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, (5) To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
a. This is true regarding our Lord’s visitation with his people today.
His time is the best time. He has withdrawn himself, but for a small moment. At the appointed time, he will return to us in everlasting lovingkindness (Isa. 54:7-10).
(Isaiah 54:7-10) For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. (8) In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer. (9) For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. (10) For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.
b. This is also true regarding his glorious second advent.
He says, “Behold, I come quickly.” Faith responds, “Behold, he cometh!”
C. When Christ comes to revive and refresh his people, he graciously reveals himself to our hearts.
“He standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, showing himself through the lattice.’
1. This was the condition of the Church in the Old Testament.
Christ was with them, but they did not clearly see him.
a. He stood behind the wall of the law.
b. He showed himself through the windows and lattices of their sacrifices and ceremonies.
2. In a sense, this is the condition we are in as long as we are here upon the earth.
Now we see him through a glass darkly. This body of flesh is a wall which stands between us and him. But soon we shall see him face to face.
3. Particularly, these words describe our condition as believers when we are under a cloud. Christ is always near; but sometimes he is out of sight; he does not reveal himself to our hearts.
a. The wall that stands between us is a wall which we have erected. The wall which separates us from Christ is “our wall,” our sins (Isa. 59:1-2).
(Isaiah 59:1-2) Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: (2) But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
Christ stands behind our wall as One who is waiting to be gracious, ready to be reconciled, willing to forgive (Rev. 3:20). See Hosea 14:1-4.
(Revelation 3:20) Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
(Hosea 14:1-4) O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. (2) Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. (3) Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy. (4) I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.
b. He graciously looks in at the windows and shows himself through the lattices. - To comfort us - To break us - To make us open to him.
The windows and lattices by which he shows himself are the ordinances he has given us.
· The Reading Of His Word And Prayer.
· The Preaching Of His Gospel.
· The Singing Of His Praise.
· The Bread And Wine Of The Lord’s Supper.
II. Secondly, once Christ has come to us and revealed himself, causing our hearts to burn for him - HE LOVINGLY CALLS US TO HIMSELF (vv. 10-13).
(Song of Songs 2:10-13) My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. (11) For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; (12) The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; (13) The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
Would to God we were all keenly sensitive to our Savior’s voice. Let us be like Abraham, Samuel, and Isaiah, ready to hear his voice, ready to obey him, ready to do his will.
A. In all of our frames and circumstances, Christ’s love and attitude toward us is unchanged. His chastisements are the chastisements of a loving heart.
He calls us his love and his fair one. Our Lord’s love for us is immutable. It is in no way dependent upon us.
My soul through many changes goes;
His love no variation knows.
In his eyes, we are always fair and lovely, because he has made us so.
B. Christ calls for us to arise and come away with him (vv. 10, 13). See Ephesians 5:14.
(Ephesians 5:14) Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
With tenderness and earnestness he urges us to come to him.
· Arise from your bed of slothful indifference.
· Come away from your carnal amusement and worldly care.
· Come to Christ - “To whom coming.”
C. Then the Lord presses our hearts to come to him (vv. 11-13).
1. “The winter is past.”
Our long, hard, bitter winters will not last for ever. They will pass away. But spring would not be so pleasant if it did not follow winter. The winter is past for now; but it will come again. So we must make provision for it now.
2. The time of fruitfulness and singing has come.
When Christ comes and makes himself known, his people rejoice, and sing, and bring forth fruit.
NOTE: One of the old writers said the serpents are driven away by the smell of grapevines. I don’t know about that. But I do know that the old serpent is driven away when our True Vine puts forth his tender grapes.
3. This picture might easily be applicable to many things.
· Our Lord’s First Advent, The Dawning Of The Gospel Age.
· The Conversion Of Sinners.
· The Revival Of Christ’s Church.
· The Great Resurrection Day.
III. We see then that in reviving his people, Christ first comes to us, then he calls us to himself, and thirdly, Our All Glorious Christ COMMUNES WITH HIS BELIEVING PEOPLE (V. 14).
(Song of Songs 2:14) O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.
In the most gentle and loving tones, Christ speaks to the hearts of his people. My friends, God always deals with his children graciously, in love and tenderness. Listen to the loving description he gives of those who put their trust in him.
A. The Church of God is compared to a dove.
· For Beauty
· For Innocence
· For Humility
· For Faithfulness
· For Peace
The church is his dove. He owns her and delights in her. She can find no rest except in him. Sooner or later she must return to him even as Noah’s dove returned to the Ark.
B. The church is a dove, hidden in the clefts of the rock, Christ Jesus.
The believing soul may not always be sensible of Christ’s presence. But he is always sensible of his souls need; and he takes refuge in the wounds of that One who was smitten in our stead.
“Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee!”
Sensing our need for Christ, every believer will find a closet in the secret places of the stairs to seek the Lord. Our love for and communications of love to Christ are not things which we make a public spectacle. Public passion is cheap, demeaning, and disgusting. Believers, those who love Christ, poor out their hearts’ passions to him in the secret places of the stairs.
C. The Church of God, you and I are the objects of Christ’s peculiar love and tender care.
All that our Lord does for us, or to us, or allows to be done, he does because he loves us. In his eyes, we are lovely. He delights in us.
1. He wants to see our faces turned toward him.
2. He wants to hear our voices calling upon him (Heb. 4:16).
3. He wants to commune with us and us with him.
My soul, what can I say! The Son of God delights to have worthless worms as we are! He does truly love us!
Has he come to you? Have you heard his voice? Have you seen the Lord, showing himself through the windows and lattices of your own soul? Has he driven away your long winter and made your soul to sing? I know that some of you have been made to rejoice in his love.
IV. Now, in the last place, OUR LORD GIVES US A LOVING ADMONITION (v. 15).
(Song of Songs 2:15) Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.
The admonition which he gives us is to guard against and suppress those little foxes which destroy the tender vines and would disturb the peace of his beloved dove.
A. This is a charge to every believer to suppress their own sinful nature.
Those evils of our nature which seem little in our own eyes must be avoided, for the good of Christ’s kingdom.
B. Those little foxes that destroy the peace of God’s church must be taken out of the way.
· Doctrinal Error
· Schisms And Divisions
There is a peculiar responsibility upon our shoulders as a Church. The Lord has greatly blessed us.
1. Look at what he has done for us.
· He has taught us the gospel.
· He has revealed himself to us.
· He has given us an unusual opportunities.
· He has allowed us to be useful to many around the world.
· He has given us eighteen years of blessedness.
2. Let us arise and follow him, diligently performing the work he lays before us.
· Watch out for those little foxes.
· Cherish Christ.
· Publish his honor.