W W W W  World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page   Contents Page for this Volume  What is New



Chapter Seven


    THE FLAMES OF LOVE and the


'I was a Husband to them” (Jeremiah 31:32)

Song of Solomon 8:6-7  



"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."

There is much nonsense spoken about the 'jealous God' image which is to be found in the Old Testament. The figure is that of a husband. This is explicit in Jeremiah 31:32 in terms of the covenant which despite its old and new phases, is still the everlasting covenant (as in Isaiah 24:5); for all is to be fulfilled, and nothing is annulled (Matthew 5:17ff.). The word of God, like Himself, endures forever (I Peter 2:22ff.).

Is a figure of speech to be made into an idol and then abused ? Is the fact to be ignored,  that jealous husbands are, properly speaking, those who do not appreciate the illicit attentions of would-be lovers who seek to seduce the spirit and perhaps the body of the wife, for whatever purpose, as though the family were not a sacred, set-apart spiritual unit ? THEY may guess wrong; but in the Bible, the case is always and only where the adultery actually exists! whether in mind, spirit or body. Ezekiel 23:22-25 shows the Lord ‘setting His jealousy against’ an errant ‘wife’, in a judicious act, not a mere flow of unsubstantiated feeling.

He can be jealous for His land, seeking to void and avoid its pollution WHEN this threatens to become pandemic! He can be ‘jealous’ for Jerusalem, meaning keen to deliver her, whom foreigners oppress. It is a metaphorical terms for a zest and zeal to deliver, keep pure, watch over and guard in her perfect estate, the one on whom His love is set, who has received Him freely, from infestations. With God, there are no limits to this love; but His word guarantees His ways.

There is about love a certain reality, like that of faith and hope. It operates, like the human body, in a manner that is its own. Some 'love' is possessive, meaning that the joy and security of the possessor of the object of 'love' is such that there is more interest in himself/herself than in what is loved. It becomes a mere means. To the contrary, LOVE, biblically, does not seek its own (I Cor. 13:5). It is to give, not get, to appreciate not enslave, and rejoices in the truth. If you violate it, like freely letting blood from your body, you are like one seeking to induce heart disease. To do so is not merely emotionally and pathologically, but also psychically barren and morally an abasement. Divorce, except for adultery, is like coals of fire to burn all bonds, and liberate lava. Our land is overrun with anti-love lava! more sulphurous through lavish abortion.

If then in a figure of speech, the Lord - who is a Spirit - is LIKE a husband then His love is LIKE that of a husband, except that the bodily and limited character is to be replaced by a spiritual and unlimited character (as in Romans 8:38-39). GOD is to be loved with ALL the heart and soul and mind and strength (Deuteronomy 6) or not at all (Luke 14:27ff.). Christ said that unless you were willing to forsake all, you could not be His disciple. In the parable, the man gave all to buy the field of treasure (Matthew 13:44). If to you Christ is not the centre of unsearchable riches, those of God, then you are in a different religion (Ephesians 3:8).

When therefore the God of your creation, information, attestation, meaning and being is mentally made into something less, an equivocation, then a certain 'jealousy' applies. Interpreted outside the obvious metaphor, it means that there are derangements of the mutual enterprise which the life of the Creator in the creature has when one is converted, or should have, if merely apparently converted. The facility becomes futility; the sacred fire becomes a consuming one, and the passion of purity is apt to become the lava of lust of one kind or another, bodily, mental or spiritual.

When therefore, in Song of Solomon 8, we read this,

"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.

it means that in the love of Creator-Redeemer for the lost and now redeemed sinner, there is the desire for the Lord have a seal, or imprint of the redeemed and formerly lost one, on His heart. On the Cross, this was somewhat literally fulfilled, in the hands and feet; and we read with appropriate relish these words from Deuteronomy 32:10ff. -

"He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.

"As an eagle stirs up her nest, flutters over her young, spreads abroad her wings,
takes them, bears them on her wings:
So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him."

THE APPLE OF THE EYE is the lens. It is sensitive, essential, focally involved, tender, alert. A seal upon the heart ? yes, for NOTHING shall separate from the love of God for those who are not just nominally, but also phenomenonally His - that is, so in virtue of the operation of regeneration (Titus 3:3-5, Romans 8:38-39, II Timothy 1:9ff.). THUS is the Lord's sensitive keeping and guarding of His chosen ones, for whom He lay down His life (John 10), exhibiting the extreme surrender FOR the extreme surrender. Love, it is like that. It sets a seal upon the heart of the sinner redeemed in it (Ephesians 1:13-14), providing a warranty for life, received by faith as it is given in grace, a delight to the soul and a balm to the spirit

This then is the imagery and the actuality involved. There is far from anything repugnant in it; for in love there is a mutuality that does not die, but is living in its togetherness and grace, so that its very absence is a source of some of the worst frictions and fractions, diffractions of the light of the eye and the joy of the heart, that afflict this generation and spoil the next, as it suffers from those fractures frequently seen in divorce. Divorce ? it may be physical, but also mental and spiritual. It may be against spouse, but against Creator also. Its scope is multipartite, partial, brutal, inveterate.

In this allegory of the Song of Solomon, where as shown elsewhere (The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 11), the bride represents the Christian or the Church, therefore, we see the fact. Play with God, be involved in ephemeral feelings and not solid trust, in seeking to GAIN from him more for yourself, instead of FINDING in Him the very spring of life, as you worship Him, then there is a certain vehement flame which can become involved precisely as in Hebrews 12:25-29. The watered garden, that might have been, can become the volcanic ash that is.

Of course, better things are hoped. Thus in Song of Solomon Ch. 5, there appears that delightful movement from careless love and jaded feeling to slighting of the Lover, the ‘Husband’ who moves away; and this leads to a sudden search for lost intimate communion, which after much in trials, is met with restoration, but not before there is an outpouring of love and seeking, yearning such as the heart made anew in truth, at last comes to desire with a spiritual surge.

All scripture is of one piece, from one Mind, and is to be mutually interpreted as on one legal document. God's mind does not vary, though to the lustful mind of man it may seem so. Purity and love and truth are irreducible and if you want the temporary, the merely temporal, the light-hearted and the pleasurable recourses, to have your head and be your own judge, then fine: forget about God, for indeed you have done so already.

Then you are like the unimpassioned suitor, the marriage of convenience citizen, if not despised by those who love, then pitied.  



As for 'jealousy' in the imagery of the Song of Solomon being as 'cruel as the grave' - when you interpret this into direct meaning, it becomes the point that love can produce duties, mutually, that can lead to death, and its rupture is a kind of death already. On the positive side, it DID lead to the death, the cruel death of Jesus Christ, who paid for its purity in His becoming sin for us, a sacrifice for sin which substitutes His life for that of the sinner. The saved soul  in love is thus bound to Him as gaining not only a love of this order, but a life through its divine exercise.

It likewise, as you see in Fox's Book of Martyrs, can lead to the death in persecution (as with Peter and Paul) of those who love Him, something Christ foretold concerning Peter as seen in John 21. Some soldiers for their king and country will willingly die; how much more do those who genuinely love the Lord become willing to die if need be:


not as a mere obstinacy of delusion, but in the grace of truth,


not in killing others but in enabling truth to continue, despite molestation,
through courage and testimony (as in Revelation

Thus in Revelation, the saints overcome the works of the devil by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and did not love their own lives, even to the point of death. Love is like that  -       

                      "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."

In such love, George Mueller gave up the thrust of his life to the care of orphans, so becoming one of the most dramatic, dynamic illustrations of the power of God as repeatedly and in documented history, he continually gained support for his extensive works, in ways starkly miraculous.

God likes the care of orphans, the love of mercy and the dedication of service, provided it is not an excuse for idolatry. In that, false gods are sated by these actions as works to satisfy them, rather than there being graces to adorn the free Gospel of God; for nothing atones for the use of cohabiting idols, like false lovers: for love is strong as death, and floods cannot drown it. With God, this is yet more sure than is the DNA as command; for it is central to the ONLY GOD, the Creator and Redeemer for those created in His image, where truth and peace find favour, and rebellion is as distant clouds, where people bomb each other. 



Thus there is an endurance about love, the love of God, where it is a fruit of the Spirit (as in Galatians 5). You see that in Revelation 12:12 with 12:15-16, as the epic adventures of those who love God are, in image, like those who escape from the floods pouring from the mouth of the devil, seeking to envelop and scare them. Yet the earth swallows up that flood, as God in His mercies lets those who do not fight with violence for Him, find their relief in His care.

We count them blessed, says James, who endure, and he refers to Job, who in showing that the love of God is not a mere self-interested computation - 'you get more this way' - but an intensity of the spirit which is of its own kind, not a derivative, thus rebukes the devil's leer and sneer. Indeed, Job suffered so much that he came near to rebellion, though trimming his own wings repeatedly. It was from his lips that the immortal Job 19 passage so well known in the Messiah of Handel, comes to light. Though his very body be destroyed while he suffers, YET HE WILL SEE GOD and that from his own body, not that of another, his very EYES will see Him, and that as REDEEMER on this earth! Faith speaks with eyes unaverted, seeing its object clearly.

So has love revealed what Christ has made more manifest, in breaking death FOR man, that is, for all who receive Him as love does. And how in faithfulness that needs no ‘jealousy’ is this done ? It is a reception without admixture of any others, both in and of the Lord Himself: it does not manufacture gods made up by the mind of man, idols of thought for idylls of imaginary peace. How long is man to continue to strive with such infantile issues as this, trying to subvert God in order to give man a nice time. Rebels can imagine another government, but this is far from making peace with the real one.

But as to the God who is, whose Gospel is the REASON why such a race as this is permitted so much as to exist any longer, while saints are being made and lost souls one (II Peter 3:9), He is available on call IN HIS NAME, through the REDEMPTION in Christ Jesus. Ignoring HIM is blaspheming God and traducing logic. To imagine that God is interested in having such a vast litany of hatred as now exists in this world, between His creatures, such vile violences and vicious thoughts, such inane contentions and evil inventions and intentions and their mergers, is to imagine He tolerates lying against His truth and injustice against His arrangements, stealing and theft, caricatures including those of Himself to mislead the many, and that instead of love, He is sating some feeble-minded lust to hurt. Such a God CANNOT exist, for the one who depends on nothing and so does as He will, cannot lack or need anything, for if He did, limits would be imposed on Him, so that the body in question would not be God at all, but an idolatrous invention.

The true God has made His love clear. It comes amidst disciplines for the race of mankind, and a world subjected to sufferings in the futility into which man has taken himself: lord of creation is it ? who is not even lord over himself.

The God of peace has made it available, but not in terms of ludicrous imaginations, slandering Him as if He had NOT shown the greatest imaginable love, and verified it beyond all measure, only to have it rejected and His name assailed by those whose imaginations sail like flying scrap paper, reading to stick onto any surface that will let them land.

(cf. Light Dwells with the Lord's Christ
who Answers Riddles
and Where He is, Darkness Departs

Love ? The love of God : it is as strong as the grave and waters do not quench it. It lasts. Its solicitudes are endemic, like a spring from within the heart, and as God is love (I John 4:7ff.), so as the promised spiritual spring arises in every converted heart (cf. John 4:14ff.), does the love of God which is shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:5ff.), a containing atmosphere.

This works because it is true: it is costly to have (God paid much at Calvary and indeed in preliminary preparation -  Matthew 20:28, Hosea 13;14); and it is costly to use (since love does not seek its own). Without it, the world is very much as it is.

Some people are called 'impossible personalities', but this world is reaching this level at the corporate level, a corporicity it seems more and more bent on blowing up as North Korea taunts with atomic power, Iran vaunts with it, Taliban appears lusting for it in Pakistan where it makes peace in order, it seems, the better to make war, taking over a whole district and reducing women in it to the unthinkable duress on that half of the race,  that is associated so often with sharia law. The Sudan is heir to the murder routine on Southern Christians, China tells people to look past Tiananmen, that flight for freedom with prisoners still incarcerated because of it, though it was decades ago, and urges them to be productive, as it produces away, but with what heart for those who look for man  as more than producer! The world steams in its violence to truth and mankind and towards the Creator, and it gluts with its vices as it ignores the grace of God.

But love is not like that; and indeed, as you read the life of Christ in practice and I Corinthians 13 in principle, you see another life, another kingdom, another grace and another world, which this one has failed to approximate, being rather ready to inundate its surface with affliction blindly imposed and readily forced upon it.

The love that does not lie, that does suffer willingly for the God whose it is, that is thankful for mercy and shows it, that rejoices in the truth of the Creator who redeems, in Him who does NOT sit back in a turmoiled, tardy world as if God were an implacable onlooker, but  came to it in incarnation as an implacable sacrifice to enable free restoration to Himself: this is the issue. Divorce from this and affiancing to hell comes in stages: first in observable judgments on the earth such as  Revelation depicted and newspapers attest, then in the spiritual disintegration of the rebels as they rove unruly, or sedate inert, and finally in judgment. It is as if they cannot rest unless they make this earth approximate their own judgment; and yet God waits till the ripe time, gathering now here, now there new saints for eternal life. Such is the love of God. He has paid and now He applies.

In Communion, we Christians eat the symbols of the body which with delight offered itself, despite the pangs of impending sacrifice, and drink the token of the blood, which no token itself, spilt not in surreal but in sacrificial splendour, the divine for the human, first humbling Himself to BE human in format! His love is no symbol, though in symbols it may be seen.

Without this love, mere wanderers, people might as well call it a day for spiritual adventures. Love for its part rejoices in the truth (I Corinthians 13:6). It has no interest in giving it up, which alone has  hope for man, and holds the key to his distorted personality.

There is no divine love without truth, none that endures and is worthy before God of that name; and there is in truth, a focus in love as in mercy (Micah 7:19ff.); and born of God, the man or woman of God seeks and desires fervently to show just such qualities. Love, it is like that. It is not on parade but it works in fidelity.