Rabbi Schneider - Following God up the Mountain
Some of you can identify with the fact that when you were a brand new believer, you just felt so embraced by the Lord. It seemed like little miracles were happening in your life all the time and God's presence felt so near. But sometime after walking with the Lord for a length of time, whether it was a month or a year, whatever, all the sudden, it's seems like some of that closeness that you were feeling began to seemingly drift away and you began to experience some struggles. That's what's happening now in our journey into divine love through the Song of Songs. The Shulamite bride is going into a transitionary period, where previously she was just basking in her lover's presence in the shade under the apple tree as described in the Word.
Now what's happening is she suddenly sees the King Jesus is no longer with her under the apple tree just lying there in His luxuriant, beautiful presence. Now all of a sudden she looks he's not there. He's on top of a mountain up there in the distance. So that's where we pick up now in chapter two, verse eight. "Listen! My beloved! Behold, he's climbing on the mountains". Suddenly, he's not here. He's over there. He's up on top of the mountain. "He's leaping on the hills"! And then he says to her in verse 10, "Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along".
So gets the scene once again. She had just been leaning her head on his bosom. She had just been feeling blessed. She had been brought into the king's chamber, just having an aesthetic experience of intimacy and divine love. Just bathed in His nearness. Some of us have felt this before. Bathed in his shalom. The arms of the Lord had just been around her. She felt it emotionally. Now, all of a sudden, she sees that he's up on this mountain over here. It's no longer her laying on the ground just basking in the feeling of His love. Now all of a sudden she's called to a challenge. He's up on top of the mountain up in the distance, and he says to her, "Arise now, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along. You've got to climb this mountain now to stay near me".
So let me read it again. Verse 8, "Listen! My beloved! Behold, he's coming, climbing on the mountains, leaping on the hills"! And then in verse 10, he says to her from the mountaintop, "Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along". It's time now to follow me into the climb of this mountain. He continues, "For behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have already appeared in the land". This time of just being refreshed, it's over. "The time has arrived now for pruning the vines, the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land. The fig trees have ripen". And then at the end of verse 13, once again, "Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along". So in order for you and I to mature in grace, the Lord has to bring us through some challenges. He has to put mountains in front of us that need to be climbed.
I remember years ago, about 16 years ago, I was going through an extremely difficult challenge in my life. I mean, it was really an emotionally big challenge for me. And right in the midst of going through this really difficult time, I was ministering in a church, not my own congregation, but another church somewhere. I was just ministering there one Sunday, and we had a Sunday morning service and a Sunday evening service. After preaching the Sunday morning service, having lunch, I came back for the evening service and one of the congregants came up to me, she gave me this piece of paper, she said, "I felt like the Lord gave me this word for you". And I open up the piece of paper, and the piece of paper said, "It's time to go up the mountain. You're ready".
Now I had not been preaching on the Song of Songs, so this was totally out of the blue. But that's what was happening. The Lord was saying, "You know what? I've immersed you, I've strengthened you in my love. Now I put in front of you a mountain. You're ready. It's time to climb the mountain with me". And it was a difficult journey. I mean, it took me like over a year to get up to the top of this mountain. But I was transformed in the process. And that's what's happening because, beloved, the Song of Songs is a prophetic shadow of our journey in divine love. And so if you're not going through a trial now, you will in the future because our life is a series of experiencing times or refreshing, like the Shulamite bride experienced in chapter 1. And then God brings us to a trial that we be established in our faith.
The Bible tells us that when we go through trials, difficulties in our life, we should actually thank God and rejoice about them. Because even though they're hard, it's God's way of perfecting us and establishing us. In other words, if life was always easy, our roots would never grow deep. But when we cling to the Lord through difficulties, the roots of our faith are established so that we come to a place where we gain a peace that's unshakable. Listen, the trials are necessary.
So if you're going through a trial right now, don't waste it. Don't just complain about it and look to find a way out. Rather thank the Lord for the trial because of what He's going to do in your life by going through the trial as you cling to Him. You see, your trials are God's opportunities. Many of you know that the plants, the trees that are the most sturdy are those that grow in the harshest climates. Why are trees that grow in the harshest climates the most sturdy? Because the roots of the tree have to go so deep for them to receive the nourishment that they need. And the same is true with you and I. So thank the Lord for your difficulties and your challenges, because it's through those difficulties and challenges that you mature and you gain a peace, beloved, that will carry you forward when you face further trials for the rest of your life.
Your power, the Lord said, is perfected when you cling to Him in your weakness. And so the Lord speaks to her and says, "You know what? You're going to grow through this". And then He describes her journey as being one that's in the secret place. He says to her, "Oh, my dove, in the cleft of the rock, in the secret place of the steep pathway, let me see your form, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your form is lovely". Just a couple of things here. The Lord is calling upon her to come forth, not to shrink back, not to lie down in her bed defeated, but to cry out to Him, to come forth. And he encourage her once again by telling her how beautiful is "Your form," he said, "is lovely".
Let me read it again. "Oh, my dove, in the cleft of the rock..." What's the cleft of the rock? It represents the place that Moses was when he called out to the Lord from the cleft of the rock, the place where the Lord revealed Himself to Moses. And he says to her, "You're in the secret place of the steep pathway". In other words, our relationship with the Lord, those of us that truly have an intimate relationship with Him, it's a secret place that we come meet with Him from. And the way to truly follow Jesus it's a steep pathway.
I can tell you myself after following the Lord, beloved one, for more than 40 years now, the journey has been longer and more difficult than I thought it would be. In my early years, I just wanted to know what's the one thing I need to do, Lord, so that our relationship can be forged, and I can experience your blessing for the rest of my life? I just wanted to find out, what do I need to do, God, to get it over with so that it will be sealed in our relationship? But what I learned is, it's not just one thing, it's not just one act, but rather it's daily, Jesus said, we pick up our cross to deny ourselves and follow Him. So it's a steep pathway. It's a long mountain. It's a high road and it takes a lifetime to be transformed.
And so once again the Lord says to his lover, "O my dove, in the cliff to the rock..." That secret place that represents Moses crying out to the Lord, where He revealed Himself to Moses. Then he goes on, "You're in the secret place, in the secret place of the steep pathway". Listen, "Straight and narrow," Jesus said, "is the way that leads to life. And few there'd be that find it. And broad and wide is the way that leads to destruction and many that take it". The path to intimacy with the Lord is a steep path. It's a narrow path. Every day we wake up, we set our course to love and follow Him through all the little act of the day. We choose to put Him first. And then He says, "Let me see your form, come forth now. Don't get weary, don't grow weak, don't become passive, but come forth".
So if you're in a difficult place right now, God is calling you out of passivity. He's calling you to overcome being discouraged. He's calling you to overcome feeling like you're gonna give up. He said, "Let me see your form. Let me hear your voice". He wants to hear you cry out to Him. He wants to hear you cry out to Him. He wants you to come out of despondency. "Let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your form is lovely". So I want to encourage you right now, rejoice in your trial right now because God is using it to accomplish something in you that could not be accomplished without it. The Scripture tells us that the temporary trials, beloved, that you and I go through are not worthy to be compared with the eternal glory that these trials are working in us. So the conversation continues now. And the bride calls out to King Jesus, to King Solomon as a shadow of King Jesus, and she says, "Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom".
Now, of course, she wants this intimacy with the Lord but she finds these little things that are going on in her life that are like stealing her joy and like hindering the relationship. Listen again. "Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom". What does this mean? There are certain things in your life and my life, they seemingly are little things but they're hurting, are fully coming into our own in Jesus. They're hurting our relationship with Him. They're getting in the way. They're little foxes. Maybe for you it's your addiction to social media. You love Jesus, you love Him passionately, but you're constantly reaching for your phone to check who texted you. It's a little fox. It's taking you out of your relationship with the Lord. Maybe it's TV, maybe it's the internet. Whatever it is, it's a little thing seemingly, but it's taking you out of the steep pathway. It's robbing you of all the Lord wants to do in your life.
Maybe you're too concerned about what other people think about you, you're spending so much time worrying about what people think about you. It's something that needs to be taken captive. And so she's praying to Yeshua for help. "Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom". So right now I want to ask you, what is going on in your life that is taking you outside of the place that you need to remain in to fully come into your own in Jesus, to fully open up to Him so that your garden could fully blossom before Him? Maybe it's an addiction to food. Maybe it's a toxic relationship that you're having with somebody. Whatever it is, if I'm speaking to you right now, I want to ask you just to take a moment, lift that thing up to the Lord and say, "God, this is getting in the way in my life. It's hurting me. Father, I'm always checking my text. Always looking at social media. I'm too caught up in the news. I'm too involved in these relationships. I'm too concerned with what people think about me".
Whatever it is, just lift that up to the Lord and say, "Lord helped me to bring this thing captive. Help me to catch this fox because it's hurting me while I'm blossoming before you". Just take a moment. And then the dialogue continues. "My beloved is mine, and I am his..." If I can grab my page here. The pages are sticking together. I'm too old-fashioned to preach off my phone. I still love my Bible here. One of the challenges with my Bible is my eyes have gotten so bad, the only Bible that I can read is this giant print Bible. And so this thing is like five pounds. This thing is like seven pounds I'm holding here. The conversation continues, beloved, as we close out chapter two and verse 17. And she says to this, she says, "Turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle," listen to this now, "or a young stag on the mountains of Bether".
What's going on? Remember we began today's lesson by talking about that the journey of the Shulamite bride, who's a shadow of you and I, begins with her just feeling totally immersed in the love of God. She said in chapter 1, "The King has brought me into his chamber". And then we've gone through chapter 1 and most of chapter 2 by her just adoring her bridegroom and talking about the experience that she's having in his love. And then suddenly we saw that the storyline shifted. And she saw suddenly that King Jesus was no longer with her under the apple tree, where she was basking in shade. But suddenly his presence had lifted and she saw him, he was up on top of the mountain.
And he said to her, "Come along now, my darling, it's time. It's time now. The rain has come and gone, the winter is past, the figs have blossomed, it's time for you now to leave where you're at. Come out from under that apple tree. I want you now to climb this mountain. Because the place that you're going to have intimacy with me now, it's not going to be under the apple tree anymore. If you stay there, you're going to find out that I'm not going to meet you there. Where I want you now is I want you to climb this mountain. I'm on top of the mountain". But what did she do, beloved? She refused to go. She refused to go. She didn't want to do it. She didn't want to conquer what it was that the Lord had given her to conquer. And so she says this to him, "Turn, my beloved..." she's asking him to look away. "Turn away. Don't ask me to do that. I'm not going to do that". "Turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle, or a young stag on the mountains of Bether".
Now, the Hebrew word "Bether" that this mountain was called means "separation" or "disjunction". So basically, she was saying to him, "I can't do that, Lord. I can't conquer that thing. I can't go up that mountain. Just turn away. Don't ask me to do that. It's a time," she said, "of separation and disjunction because I can't do what you're asking me to do". And we're going to find as we continue next time that when she refused to conquer what the Lord was asking her to conquer, when she refused to leave that place of comfort to go up that mountain, she ended up experiencing disjunction, separation, just as that Hebrew word "Bether" means. Yeshua was on the mountain of Bether. It became the mountain Bether because it became a place of separation.
Let me ask, beloved friend, what is the Lord speaking to you about that you're refusing to yield to Him in? What is it? Where is He asking you to surrender to Him? What fear is He asking you to conquer? What relationship has He asked you to break off? What relationship may He be asking you to change? What is it that He's asking you to do in terms of changing how you're taking care of your body, perhaps what you're eating, but you've refused to obey? What has He asked you to do with your time and talent and treasure in terms of honoring Him with your finances, serving Him in the body in some type of serving position? Maybe it's even being a bolder witness. What is the Lord asking you to do where you're not yielding to Him?
When you and I know that the Lord has put His finger upon something in our life and we say no to Him, you know what happens? Bether takes place. Separation takes place and we lose a sense of fellowship. I want to ask you today in the love of God to repent of that thing right now and get on your knees and say yes to God in that area where you've been resisting Him. And as you do, beloved, and follow up your yes in your heart with an action step, you're going to be brought into intimacy, once again, and you'll be brought to a greater height than you've ever been brought to before.