We are blessed and honored to have one of my favorite people on the planet join our show: Pastor Tommy Nelson of Denton Bible Church in Denton, TX (DentonBible.org). Anyone familiar with my own story is familiar with Tommy. The tapes that were given to me regarding the Book of Ecclesiastes that God used to pull me to His kingdom were from Tommy’s ministry.
Now, I believe that the Song of Solomon should be taught in every junior high school across our country. Let the parents opt in or out whether or not they want their kids to hear God’s take on love, sex and marriage. Then, the kids can go to the typical class and learn how to put a condom on a banana. And, the best teachings that I’ve heard regarding the Song of Solomon come from Tommy.
According to Tommy, the book sets forth God’s perspective on male-female attraction, courtship, passion, honeymoons, sex, conflict, romance and fidelity to the end. Over the course of eight chapters, the book walks you all the way through the continuity of marriage. But it doesn’t do it via a lecture series, but rather it lets you watch the relationship between Solomon and his wife in and ideal relationship – not one built upon trade relations like so many of his wives and concubines, but the girl that he truly loved.
Over the years, though, I’ve noticed that hardly any pastors are brave enough to tackle this oh-so-important bit of scripture. Or, as Tommy puts it, the text is often “disinfected” by making the husband Christ and the bride His Church – as is often allegorized in other parts of the Bible. In some ways, the reason why most pastors are afraid of teaching the book literally is because it just might say what it says. You see, we’re often afraid of dealing with things head on, but God will do just that!
Never, on Tommy’s most romantic or holy of days, he has never measured up to the Song of Solomon. It sets such a tremendously high standard for gentleness, love, submission, purity, passion – everything that husbands and wives should strive for. If you look at the scriptures closely, all women want a man like the one described in Song of Solomon and all men want a woman described in the book’s pages. It just makes sense that God would have something of utmost value to say about the most important relationship on the planet earth – not to mention the most passionate drive (the sex drive) on planet earth.
And, we’re not just talking about the “be fruitful and multiply” part of the relationship between husbands and wives, but almost more importantly: the aspects of creating a home filled with peace, honor and joy. Without the ability to conduct a home, you’ve got a whole lot of nothing, no matter what else you may have.
Now, when we look at the canonization of the Bible, it’s believed by many that Solomon actually wrote Ecclesiastes in his later years, when he as able to take a step back and observe the world; and he wrote Proverbs in the middle of his life as he was gaining wisdom; and he wrote the Song of Solomon early in life when marriage was more paramount to him. No matter the order of when each book was penned, he knew that it was important for his nation to learn how a home should be run. It really doesn’t matter how mighty a nation may be, if its homes are bereft of God’s will, then the nation simply won’t stand.
And speaking of standing on shaky ground, Tommy is often confronted by atheists who tend to ask the same questions: How can a good and loving God allow evil to occur, to continue, or even originate; and what purpose does evil serve? How can errant men write an inerrant Bible? (The answer to this question is: they can’t. They must be super-intended men who were overshadowed by God’s Spirit who were then able to do what they normally could not do on their own.) Atheists also often ask: Why is there a hell? Aren’t all religions the same, or why could one be mutually exclusive from the others? (This is actually an incredibly faulty question: Buddhism is an atheistic religion; Hinduism is a naturalistic religion where god is the creation; Zoroastrianism is a religion where good an evil are co-equal like Darth and Luke in Star Wars; Islam has one god that is not a trinity nor personal nor even knowable and man must earn or work his way toward god. And then you have Christianity with the infinitely personal God who is Trinity and therefore eternal and personable, who provides atonement – where God, Himself, dies for the sins of the world, so that mankind can be saved by faith.
Getting back to the first question, it’s illogical to question the existence of God based on the existence of evil, because without God, there is no standard to measure evil against. It’s like typing a thesis on why you don’t believe language. It’s impossible because you need what you are assuming doesn’t exist.
I believe that a person’s worldview all begins at their own appointed “starting point”, because you can’t leap to asking “Why is there evil” until you establish where it all began. For me, I view Genesis 1:1 as the starting point: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Every bit of what I believe is true begins there. However, atheists hold that there was no beginning, no starting point, no mind, no creator – just nothing and something came from nothing. And then over time, plus chance, all that is around us came to be. As I see it, this creates a very wide fork in the road, especially in regards to ethics.
I guess Tommy puts it best in describing their search for beginnings and meaning: They’re searching for Jesus without coming through the Bible. Even Communism was attempting to establish Christian ideas without Christ in the picture. But the truth is that you have to have a universal and absolute point of reference (i.e., God = goodness), otherwise all other arguments are pointless.
Switching gears a bit, Tommy also did a series on Genesis. It’s an incredible set of over 30 CD’s, but anyone seeking truth should check it out. Just one example of the truth and wisdom that he pulls out of the Bible’s first book is the genesis of government:
In Genesis 1, you’ve got creation. In chapter two, you’ve got man. Then you’ve got the occurrence of evil and redemption in chapter three. Then in chapters four and five, you’ve got the origins of civilization, along with the beginnings of art, science and agriculture. Then, with the great flood, you’ve got the fact that God will deal with evil. Following that, you’ve got the origins of distinct nations and races with the Tower of Babel.
But, it was after the flood, when God says, “We’re going to do something to try to restrict the evil of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood (a murderer), by man shall his blood be shed (justice).” And that was the origin of government. It’s based upon the dignity of the image of God in man. Now, flash forward thousands of years, and our own inalienable rights of life and liberty, our ability to bear arms, to make money and generate capital, to speak our minds and have freedom of press – all these ideas are simply reflections of the Bible put into pithy terms by Mr. Madison and his pals.
All this to say, you can’t have a working framework unless you have an interpersonal God who must speak – or the assumption of a God who is actually there and who has made Himself known to man. The Bible is how God has done this, beginning with Genesis 1:1. This says that in the beginning, there was a person, God, who made something out of nothing (created) and called it the heavens and the earth. Without this verse, we are without the beginnings of time, space, matter, origins, and order. You see, the Bible actually does speak of science and the beginnings of all these things. It also speaks of morality. The Bible states that man was created in the image of God, a design of how he is to treat others, and a basic human dignity by which he is to be treated.
This all boils down to the fact that man will know God in three ways: his creator, his Savior and his Judge. The first is put upon us, but we each get to make a choice of how we encounter the other two.
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