Monday, March 31, 2014

A Note To The Image Of God Called Woman (4) - Part 5


By: Adom Ofori-Asenso
March 25, 2014 

This final note will address the last four bullet points and I pray the Holy Spirit grants us divine wisdom, interpretation and understanding of the Holy Scriptures. The remaining points are as follows:
  • In Song of Songs where Solomon wrote about the most beautiful of women having her cheeks beautiful with earrings and neck with strings of jewels (Song of Songs 1:10-11)

  • In Ezekiel 16 where God gave an allegory of dressing Jerusalem in jewelry (Ezekiel 16:9-13)

  • The parable Jesus gave on the prodigal son where his father put a ring on his finger upon his return (Luke 15: 22),
  • The misinterpretation of 1 Timothy 2:9 and 1 Peter 3:3
Song of Songs in the Bible is credited to King Solomon. This book of the Bible is full of allegory (*1. a story, poem, or picture which can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one. 2. a symbol*)which calls for wisdom in its interpretation. In Song of Songs 1:10-11, Solomon writes; "10 Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck with strings of jewel. 11 We will make you earrings of gold, studded with silver". We need to understand the context and background to these two verses. First of all, verse 9 which precedes verses 10 and 11 reads: "9 I LIKEN you, my darling, to a mare harnessed to one of the chariots of Pharaoh (NIV). // 9 I have COMPARED thee, O my love, to the company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots (KJV)". This preceding verse gives us insight that the earrings and strings of jewels are symbolic. The mare (*female horse; NIV*) and company of horses (*KJV*) obviously does not mean the author was talking about a horse. He was likening this to a woman, bride or lover to the horse in Pharaoh chariot; meaning this woman, bride, or lover is bought at a price and set apart for noble use. To this effect, this woman, bride or lover is graced with wealth (spiritual or physical) which is symbolized with the earrings and chains on the 'MARE' (NIV) or 'COMPANY OF HORSES' (KJV). It will therefore be misleading to hook onto this verse to justify your use of jewelries.

Our next scripture is Ezekiel 16:11-13a which many teachers have also interpreted to justify the use of jewelries by Christian believers. The Bible is very explicit on Ezekiel 16 as being 'AN ALLEGORY OF UNFAITHFUL JERUSALEM'. The Oxford dictionary defines an ALLEGORY as 'a story, poem or picture which can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one'. The dictionary goes further to give synonyms as; a parable, analogy, metaphor, symbol, emblem. Therefore Ezekiel 16 cannot be interpreted directly as God putting jewelry (bracelets, necklace, nose rings, earrings and crown; see Ezekiel 16:11-12, *NIV*) on His people and as such, a pleasing practice to God. Those who justify the use of Jewelries with this particular verse will even frown on christian believers adorning themselves with nose rings. A direct interpretation will also mean God is pleased with nose rings; but is this the case? Also this particular verse was addressing both males and females in Jerusalem and as such a direct interpretation should also justify the use of jewelries by men. Yet, most christian believers will allow women to wear jewelries using this verse and frown on men wearing jewelries. This indicates the inappropriateness to directly translate Ezekiel 16 to justify the use of jewelries. Bearing in mind that Ezekiel 16 is an allegory and a direct interpretation is quite misleading, it is therefore necessary to depend on the Holy Spirit to grant understanding to this particular chapter. The use of Jewelries in Ezekiel 16, was a figure of speech/metaphor/allegory God used in his message to the people of Jerusalem through the prophet Ezekiel to indicated how much he had blessed them with so much wealth in all dimension they can think of or imagine (*that is the meaning of the metaphor used : the pagan practice of putting on jewelry in any part of the body you can think of; from the arm to the neck, nose, and ears is synonymous to the full measure of the great wealth God had blessed His people*) . Yet they remain unfaithful to the Lord with their detestable practices (Ezekiel 16:1-2).Thus the jewelries used in Ezekiel 16 is a metaphor/allegory and does not mean the wearing of jewelries pleases the Lord.

Now we will look at the parable of the lost son in Luke 15: 11-31 where Jesus mentions the use of ring (Luke 15:22 "But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.'"). First of all, we should understand that a parable is "a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels (Online Oxford dictionaries)". Therefore, a parable is an illustration and as a such, a direct translation may be quite misleading. In this parable, Jesus was using the typical culture (though not pleasing to God) of the people he was ministering to, to translate a spiritual lesson to them. In the culture of his audience, the putting on of a ring from a father to a son signifies an everlasting bond or unity between them. Thus Jesus was using that scenario to imprint in the minds of his audience, the restoration of a relationship, bond or unity when a lost sinner genuinely repents of his wicked ways and returns to his maker (God). A synonymous scripture is spoken of by apostle Paul in the book of Hebrews 6:13-16 "13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.”[a] 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument". In Hebrews 6:16, Paul's makes the statement; " People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all arguments." Hooking directly unto this verse will mean God approves of swearing but is this the case? Certainly not! That is why it is very much necessary to interpret scriptures in full context and not in isolation.The swearing mentioned here by apostle Paul was an illustration to depict the certainty of God's promise to Abraham (Hebrews 6:13-15). These verses also teach us that God can swear because there is none greater than Him but his creation cannot swear because God has commanded so (James 5:12 "Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear--not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple "Yes" or "No." Otherwise you will be condemned" and Matthew 5:34 "But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne".

Finally, we will look at the last two similar scriptures; 1 Peter 3:3 "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes" and 1 Timothy 2:9-10 "I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate, hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes". These scriptures teaches women to exhibit modesty or moderation in adorning themselves. The misinterpretation of these scriptures lies in the fact that this modesty or moderation does not cut across all the highlights made (hairstyle, jewelries and clothing). Interpreting these scriptures in full context, the moderation or modesty is not applicable to the jewelries because God has made it known to His children that the putting on of jewelries is an adornment that is displeasing in His sight (Kindly refer to previous notes for scriptural references). Let me give you a real life example to broaden our understanding. For example, a mother advises her daughter entering the university not to make dressing, partying and chasing after married men her way of life on campus. This statement does not mean the daughter cannot dress or put on clothing or attend parties. Of course she will. However, the caution is with the choice of clothing which she is being encouraged to be decent. She can also attend parties but is being cautioned to avoid wild ones. However, chasing after married men is a big NO! NO!

So we realise that, she can engage in the other two with modesty or moderation whiles this modesty or moderation is not applicable to the third advice which is 'chasing after married men'. Also, the fine/expensive clothes mentioned in both scriptures does not mean it is a sin to wear beautiful or costly clothes if one can afford them. Modesty in clothing simply means decency and should not be equated to haphazard dressing or clothing. Women can also style/braid their own hair. Elaborating one's hair style is what is seen in going beyond stying/braiding one's own hair by adding extensions in braiding to exhibit that which is not or changing one's hair type through perming, weave-ons among others. It is my prayer that God opens our eyes to grasp this divine understanding of His word.

The final note on this series will be delivered to draw the line between LEGALISM and HOLINESS/GODLINESS.
All glory to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.