Summary: This sermon deals with the reality of God’s Presence having been allowed to be shoved out of the workings of the church and not very much is said about it.
Scripture: Songs of Solomon
Title: “His Former Presence”
Introduction: One of the saddest things I can think of is to have the “Presence of the Lord” to depart from someone. To have once had the vibrant “Presence of the Lord” at work in your life and then for it to be gone.
It was common among the Jews to regard this book as an (1) allegorical (romantic) song of God’s love for His “Chosen People.” (2) Also, Christians have seen it as a picture of “Christ’s Love for the Church.” (3) Plus, it is seen as a description of the “Believer’s Relationship to His Lord.”
Here in this Scripture God’s betrothed Lover and Bride has become too COMFORTABLE! She refuses to open the door because it is not CONVENIENT. The COST of INTIMACY seems too high. The DISCOMFORT of it all has bred an APATHY that urges us to move too SLOWLY and CASUALLY when our “Beloved” knocks at our heart’s door. Ominously, the knocking stops—in alarm we finally rouse ourselves like Solomon’s lazy bride. When we finally run to the door to unlock it, all that is left is the “Fleeting Fragrance of Where He Used To Be.”
“I opened for my lover, but my lover had left; He was gone. My heart sank at His DEPARTURE. I looked for Him but did not find Him. I called Him but he did not answer.” (Song of Solomon 5:6 NIV)
Samson discovered this horrible experience when he played around with sin too long, fell asleep and got the hair of his head shaved off and broke the “Power Covenant” with the Lord. And he didn’t even know it until he was confronted with his “enemies.” (“And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.) Judges 16:20
Another time in the Scriptures was when Israel lost the “Ark of the Covenant.” The wife of one of God’s servants was having a baby and when she heard the “Ark” had been lost and she died giving birth. But, as she was dying, she said to name the baby “Ichabod” which means, “The Glory is Departed.”
Do you ever listen to Christians talking about how it “Used to Be?”
“Years ago, I remember having such great services and souls being saved in revivals.”
I. A CONTENTED CHURCH. (Individually & Cooperatively)
a. Churches of our day find themselves in the SAD state of being “Overly Contented.” – (The Church consists of every born again Christian)
b. God’s betrothed Lover & Bride has become too COMFORTABLE.
c. She REFUSES to OPEN the DOOR because it’s not COVENIENT. “But I said, ’I have taken off my robe. Should I get dressed again? I have washed my feet. Should I get them soiled?” (Songs of Solomon 5:3) NLT
d. The COST of INTIMACY is too HIGH! – We may find ourselves barren as David’s wife Michal was. (Could it be that David was never again intimate with her?)
e. The CHURCHES of our day are MOVING too SLOWLY & CASUALLY when God begins KNOCKING at the DOOR or our HEARTS.
f. The DISCOMFORT of it all has BRED an ATTITUDE of APATHY within the Church.
II. WHEN THE KNOCKING STOPS.
a. In our Scripture reading we see the Bridegroom seeking the ATTENTION of His “Beloved, the Church.”
b. God is LOOKING for a “person”, a “church”, and a “city” that will hear His “gentle knock” and open the door for Him.
c. It was to the lukewarm church of Laodicea that Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come into him….” (Rev. 3:20)
d. The Holy Spirit is shopping for the NEXT OUTBREAK.
e. Ominously, the knocking stops—in alarm we finally rouse ourselves like Solomon’s lazy bride.
f. When we finally run to the door to unlock it, all that is left is the “Fleeting Fragrance of Where He Used To Be.”
III. THE UNOPENED DOOR.
a. In 5:2 of Songs of Solomon we find the “Bridegroom” standing on the OUTSIDE of the door knocking and trying to get in!
b. Why would the door of His own house be LOCKED?
c. Could it be that He has given away the “KEY?” -- Jesus told the apostle Peter, “I am giving you the “Keys to the Kingdom” – Whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth is loosed in heaven” (Mt. 16:19).
d. How often do we sit in a POWERFUL move of the Holy Spirit only to let Him leave without responding to His PROMPTING?