Sometimes reading the bible feels like scrolling through God’s camera roll. A great deal of the pictures are of Jesus, and He’s wearing different outfits or standing in different settings. A lot of them are like selfies, nearly the same picture but for slight changes in angle and lighting. I can imagine Jesus scrolling through as well, and liking what each one reveals about Him, so He shared them all in His book.
One of my recent favorites of these series of holy selfies, if you will, is a description in Song of Solomon and Revelation. They share a lot of the same language and have a similarity in tone. In keeping with my metaphor, they look like the same picture except in one Jesus is looking at the camera because He is looking at us, and in one He is looking ahead because He is looking at the joy set before Him in the final works of salvation and redemption.
Song of Solomon 8:6-7 NKJV:
“Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave; its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised.”
You might be saying to yourself, hang on, this is talking about love, not Jesus. In one sense, that is true. It is the Shulamite describing the love she has experienced with her Beloved. In another sense, the whole book is about Jesus’ love, pursuit of, and relationship with the church. In which case, it is the Bride of Christ looking at Him and describing His love. To describe the love of Jesus is to describe His heart, and to describe His heart is to describe Him.
At face value, this sounds pretty violent. The key words are: death, cruel, fire, vehement; it’s unquenchable, un-killable. It cost everything and yet was despised. I mean, vehement actually means passion that is strong and violent. How is this love? How does this show a picture of Jesus?
If the church is the Bride of Christ, then sin and death are villainous kidnappers who stole her away from Jesus. In Hosea we have a description of what the redeemer of Israel will do to their oppressors. Or we could read it as a prophetic picture of what Jesus will do to death: “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes.” (Hos. 13:14 NKJV)
Christ the redeemer is as strong as, and stronger than death. He will destroy death without pity. Jesus knew what it would take to redeem us along with Israel. It would take the cross. His love is as strong as death, even death on a cross. His love is stronger, because on the third day, He rose again in resurrection power. His jealousy for His people sparked a fiery zeal that death would call cruel, and the grave would call violent.
So yeah, I would say that Song of Solomon’s description of love is a description of the strong love of Christ that caused Him to pay the ultimate price, to give all of His wealth for us, even when some despise Him.
Revelation 1:13-16 NKJV:
“One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to His feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in the furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters. He had in His hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and his countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.”
In Revelation, John hears Jesus speak to him, and he turns to see Jesus. But it’s not the Jesus he knew when they spent three and a half years in ministry together. This was the resurrected Jesus preparing to deal the final death blow to Death. To plague it unto destruction, just like He promised in Hosea.
Again, this description includes fire. It’s in His eyes, it’s polished His boots, and the expression of His face is shining like the sun. Which, by the way, is a flaming ball of fire that has the gravitational pull strong enough to hold 8 planets in orbit. The vehement flame that caused Jesus to look at us and say, I’m going to pay it all in Song of Solomon 8, has now consumed Him and transformed Him into the Lion and the Lamb who is worthy to finish the job.
The many waters that tried to quench love in Song of Solomon 8 is now the sound of His voice. Jesus speaks and it is unquenchable. His word is un-killable, it will not return to Him void. When He speaks a word of rebuke, His enemy is vanquished by the two-edged sword of His word.
Jesus is looking ahead to the final battle that is about to begin, as described in the book of Revelation. He is looking ahead to the final fulfillment of every promise His people have carried and prayed into over millennia. He’s looking at us, the Bride of Christ, reunited with Him, The Beloved, and it has created an expression that is like the sun.
When I look at this picture of Jesus, I feel the gravitational pull of that expression, it pulls me ever closer to His love and His heart. I feel the heat of His fiery love fill me and transform me like silver in the refiner’s fire. The fire of Jesus’ love sparks a fire in me, a zeal for Him. Until I too, with the Shulamite, say to my Beloved: Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal upon your arm.