As the apple tree is among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. I delight to sit in his shade and his fruit is sweet to my taste. --Song of Songs 2:3

This banner represents Jesus as our Bridegroom. It speaks of his love and tenderness and is an invitation to the intimacy of the bridal chamber of the King. "Arise my love, my fair one, and come away" (S.S. 2:10).

BACKGROUND: The background is hand-loomed pure silk. It has an iridescent quality caused by the arrangement of the threads. The warp (lengthwise) threads are blue and the woof or weft (crosswise) threads are red. This combination speaks a beautiful message of the union of the earthly with the heavenly manifested in Jesus (blue is the color of His heavenly origin; red is the color of the earth). This fabric also expresses the description of the bridegroom in S.S. 5:10: "My beloved is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand."

EPAULETS: These symbolize strength and authority. The tenderness of the Bridegroom is not weakness, for there is no weakness in the Lord. "I will love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold" (Psalm 18:1,2). The pearl and silver tassel on the epaulet reminds us of the reason for the Bridegroom's authority. The pearl is the symbol of beauty through suffering. Jesus established His victory over sin and death through the agony of the cross. "And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:8-11).

TREE: The words, "My Beloved" form the trunk and branches of an apple tree, the symbol of redemption. Silver is the color of redemption and it represents Jesus, our Kinsman Redeemer, who has purchased us for his bride ("Spread your garment over me since you are a kinsman-redeemer", Ruth 3:8. The spreading of the skirt was a sign of the act of marriage). In the metaphor of the apple tree, the Bridegroom spreads his branches for the bride. The letter outline and fringe are a wine color suggesting the intoxicating intensity of His love. "Let him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth, for your love is more delightful than wine" (S.S. 1:2).

FRUIT: Nine mature apples are on this apple tree to represent the nine graces-the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). They are blue (the color of grace and heavenly origin) and silver, because Jesus is the embodiment of the fruit of the Spirit in all its fullness. He is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control. "I delight to sit in His shade and His fruit is sweet to my taste" (S.S. 2:3b).

CROSSBAR: The crossbar supporting the banner is dark wood to suggest the rafters of the bridal cottage. "The beams of our house are cedar and our rafters of fir" (S.S. 1:17). Jewish wedding custom was that the bridegroom would take time to prepare a honeymoon cottage and make it perfect and ready for his bride. He would often build it himself and lovingly decorate it, perfume it with spices and myrrh, and store up special foods and delicacies for her to enjoy after the wedding. "He brought me to his banqueting table, and his banner over me is love" (S.S. 2:4). What a beautiful picture of Jesus, our Bridegroom, who said, "I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). And what a place! Earlier in the verse, he says, "In my father's house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would not have told you."

It was also customary (and still is to this day) for the bride to know the season when the wedding would occur, but not the exact time. The bridegroom would choose the time and he and his friends would come unexpectedly and *** the bride away, often while she was busy shopping or doing some other routine chore. How closely this parallels Jesus description of His own coming! "That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come" (Matthew 24:39b-41). And in the story of the five wise and five foolish virgins, they fell asleep waiting for the bridegroom, awoke at the cry, 'The Bridegroom is coming!', and the five foolish virgins set out to buy oil for their lamps. The scripture then says, "But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the Bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet...Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour" (Matthew 25:1-13).

CURTAINS: These suggest the canopy or chupah still used as a part of the Jewish wedding ceremony. Just as the chupah represents the bridal chamber, this canopy expresses Jesus' longing to have intimate fellowship with His bride. "The king has brought me to his chamber" (S.S. 1:4.). They are silver because the invitation is to the redeemed. They are jeweled with red, blue, and purple; the colors of the High Priest, who has offered Himself as the price of our redemption.

SACHETS: The seven sachets are filled with fragrant, precious myrrh. The betrothed wore such a sachet "resting between her breasts" at night that the scent might remind her of her beloved (S.S. 1:13,3:6). Seven is the number of divine perfection. In the New Testament, myrrh is usually associated with death or pain. It was the resin that was used in the embalming of our Lord (Mark 16, Luke 23, John 19). It was mixed with vinegar to kill pain and offered to Jesus on the cross (Mark 15:23, Matt. 27:34). The sachets of myrrh speak of hope, love, the intimacy of the wedding chamber, and also of death; the perfect sacrifice of the one who is the beloved Bridegroom, even Jesus Christ.

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