We had been looking at the various degrees of intimacy which God illustrates through wonderful metaphors – almost sacraments, in His Word. We are his “workmanship” – from the Greek “poema”, his listening and learning “sheep”, his obedient “child” and beloved “bride.”
The last two images of relationship lead us to the intimate embrace of the Father receiving back His repentant son, but also to the passionate embrace of the Bridegroom for His Bride.
I suddenly began to wonder in whose embrace I was in?
For many years I had been cultivating a growing experience of the “Father heart” of God. Like the son in Luke 15:20, I had learned to receive grace, provision and restoration in the loving arms of my Heavenly Father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
But it was harder for me to feel the tender touch of the Bridegroom. I had discovered something of this a few years previously when I realised that my heart needed to deeply submit to the love of God. This submission is still leading me on a journey of discovery – limited of course by the now/not yet tension of experiencing God’s Kingdom in this fallen world, a journey of intimacy into the embrace of the Beloved.
“His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me.” Song of Songs 2:6
“But who is embracing my soul?” I wondered. The Father or the Bridegroom Jesus? That’s at least 2 embraces in one God!
I found a measure of answer in coming back to a Trinitarian God. God is indeed three in one. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You have the Father and you have the Heavenly Bridegroom Son Jesus. The Holy Spirit applies their embrace to our heart in the appropriate context.
The context of intimacy with the Father leans more to that of Provision – The Father knows what you need, He provides for all creation, He sacrifices the fattened calf, the Isaac, the redemptive ram – He is Yahweh Jireh, my loving Provider.
We see the Holy Spirit bringing this intimacy to Christ Himself at His baptism in Luke 3:22 –
“…and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
The context of intimacy with the Bridegroom is very much with a revelation of the resurrected Son. The Beloved in the Song of Songs is no “pièta” at the bloody foot of the cross. She is an ecstatic worshipper, enthralled with the beauty – as was John in his Revelation vision of Christ, of an eternal King. Compare Song of Songs 5:10-16 with Revelation 1:13-16 – Obviously the earthly Solomon is no match for the truly divine but the key here is to fall in love with the vibrant, eternally living love in Christ which transcends all things.
The context is that of Passion as the Holy Spirit once again applies this intimacy to the heart of the Church – both individually and universally, as she cries out for the Bridegroom in Revelation 22:17 –
“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
We indeed tread on holy ground as we explore such things. Both “embraces” are important, but it seems that there may well be a whole new paradigm to discover in the embrace of the Bridegroom Son. For example:
A passionate view of mission.
The Father/child paradigm, as in Matthew 21:28, says “Son, go and work…”
The Bride in Song of Songs 1:4 doesn’t need asking: “Take me away with you – let us hurry!”
A passionate view of identity.
1 John 3:1-3 talks about how the Father has lavished His love upon us calling us “children of God.” Such hope calls us to “purify ourselves” in Holy obedience.
The Bridegroom’s perspective on His Beloved Church/Bride – she with no stain or wrinkle, takes us into a whole new dimension concerning our identity.
“All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” Song of Songs 4:7
As the Prodigal son I have the privilege of “metanoia”, thinking again and turning back to the Father. The essential component of repentance is often found in our prayers and liturgies. We beat our breasts and say, “I have sinned…I am no longer worthy…” Luke 15:18-19. All very necessary and edifying this side of heaven. But while genuine repentance is useful, beware of getting locked into a repetitive ritual of superficial religious repentance which brings no lasting change and no living hope.
And if heaven should suddenly invade our human space? If the Holy Spirit applied the Bridegroom’s embrace in the midst of our everyday encounters? What might we pray?
“I am faint with love.” Song of Songs 2:5
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