Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Patience Urged

Joseph Herrin (09-29-09)

The last two posts on the subject of Lawful Polygamy has led to some having failed in manifesting patience. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, and it is never more needed than when a subject is being discussed that is difficult and the Biblical testimony is contrary to socially acceptable morals. For those of you who have not read the comments posted on the past two blogs, you will find that there is a diversity of opinion among the saints of God. The most vitriolic responses have come via e-mail, and being sent as private communications, they have not been posted. Some have been so upset as to ask to be removed from the mailing list.

Let me share some perspective on these last two posts. They are not intended as advocacy for men entering into plural marriage unions. They are part of a larger teaching on the marriage covenant. It is needful to address this particular topic as it has much bearing upon understanding what Yahweh has permitted, and what He has condemned, as it pertains to marriage. The evidence has been presented that Yahweh permitted men to marry more than one wife, and that many righteous men chose to do so.

One sister wrote to ask if there were any other examples in Scripture of Yahweh speaking in reference to Himself as having more than one wife. The example from Ezekiel 23 was given where Yahweh speaks of having taken Oholah and Oholibah, two sisters, as His wives. They are symbolic of Israel and Judah (Samaria and Jerusalem). There are other similar Biblical examples.

Jeremiah 3:6-11
Then Yawheh said to me in the days of Josiah the king, "Have you seen what faithless Israel did? She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she was a harlot there. And I thought, 'After she has done all these things, she will return to Me'; but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also. And it came about because of the lightness of her harlotry, that she polluted the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. And yet in spite of all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to Me with all her heart, but rather in deception," declares Yahweh.

In these words written by the prophet Jeremiah, Yahweh portrays Himself as being wed to two sisters who act as harlots. These are Israel and Judah. Yet, such examples of Yahweh being wed to more than one wife are not limited to the Old Testament. They are found in the New Testament as well.

Galatians 4:22-31
For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. This is allegorically speaking: for these women are two covenants, one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. For it is written, "Rejoice, barren woman who does not bear; Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor; For more are the children of the desolate than of the one who has a husband." And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. But what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman." So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.

In this allegory, explained by the apostle Paul, Hagar and Sarah stand as symbols of Israel and the Church; those under a covenant of Law and those under a covenant of promise (faith). Marriage is a blood covenant, and these two women represent two covenants that Yahweh has made with His people. He has in effect, married two wives, one free and one a slave. The bondwoman brought forth children first, and then persecuted the child of the free-woman, even as Ishmael mocked Isaac when he was weaned.

Once a man or woman have their eyes opened to discern the presence of plural marriage in the Bible, they begin to see it in many places.

However, I would exhort those reading these things to consider them in the larger context of those things I have taught. It is very easy to take one teaching and run to great error with it. Ever since I have had a public teaching ministry, I have taught that the saints are held to a much higher standard than simply doing what the Law allows. The second book I wrote, and perhaps the most important, is the book Sabbath.


It speaks of the great need for all the people of God to enter into Sabbath rest. The apostle Paul, writing in the fourth chapter of Hebrews declares, “Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it.” This is a very serious matter. We are to FEAR lest we fall short of entering God’s rest.

What is this rest? The Sabbath of the Old Testament was merely a type and shadow of that spiritual rest the people of God are to enter into. Even as man was forbidden to do any work one day of the week, so are Christians called to cease from their own works. While the shadow pertained to only one day a week, the substance applies to every day of our lives. Here is the apostle’s description of Sabbath rest.

Hebrews 4:10
For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.

If we are to enter God’s rest, we must cease from doing our own works. That is to say, we must no longer be led of our soul. We are to be surrendered to the leading of the Spirit of Christ in every action and every word. The apostle ends this subject by speaking of the need to divide between soul and spirit.

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

It is absolutely vital that the people of God discern the thoughts and intentions of their own hearts. They must divide between those things that arise from their soul, and those things that arise from the indwelling Spirit of Christ. They must cease from doing works of the soul, and only walk by the Spirit.

Romans 8:14
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are [mature] sons of God.

Consider that many things were Lawful for Christ to do, but He limited Himself to only doing those things the Father revealed to be His will.

John 5:30
"I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

John 8:28
Yahshua therefore said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.”

John 8:42
Yahshua said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.”

John 12:49
"For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak.”

John 14:10
"Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.”

Christ walked in perfect Sabbath rest. There was no Law forbidding Him to turn stones into bread when He was hungry, but He discerned that it was the Father’s will for Him to wait. After the Devil left, the angels came and ministered to His needs. There was no prohibition against proclaiming openly the mysteries of God’s word, but Yahshua discerned it to be the Father’s will to speak to the people in parables.

If we only concern ourselves with what we may do, and do not consider what the Father’s will is, we have not yet begun to enter into God’s rest. Yahshua is the pattern for every believer. If we would be His disciples we must walk as He walked. It should be our goal to also declare, “I do nothing of my own initiative. I only do the will of the Father.”

When we arrive at this point we will no longer merely be concerned with what is permissible in the Law. We will desire to know the will of our Father in everything, that we might do His will. Then we will be able to testify as did Paul. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”

I encourage you to keep these things in mind as you continue to ponder this present teaching. It is not complete. It is being presented precept by precept. It is necessary to look at some difficult topics, and some will find the teaching of Scripture offensive. However, if you will be mindful that this teacher is not advocating that any believer pursue the desire of their own soul, they will find there is no cause for alarm or offense.

I do ask for your prayers as I continue. I am in great need of discerning the mind and heart of the Father. I have been greatly helped thus far, but I need His wisdom to continue.

I would also mention that I have been camping for the past two months. I may be moving to another location tomorrow, as my time has run out at my present location. There may be some delay in posting the next writing, as well as in answering the many letters I am receiving, until I am settled at my next location, wherever that may be.

I thank all of you who send financial gifts. The Father has truly performed a marvelous work in this area over the course of the past ten years. He has kept me supplied, and it is a blessing to observe how He uses the body to minster those things that are necessary to the various parts.

Ephesians 4:16
The whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

Yahweh has called me to walk after the pattern that Paul described to the church in Corinth.

I Corinthians 9:7, 11, 14
Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard, and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?... If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you?... So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.

Time after time, when there has been some need, the Father has impressed some part of the body of Christ to send forth that which was needed. You who have done so know who you are, and I owe you a debt of love, which is one debt I am glad to carry.

This week, I have found myself rejoicing in the calling the Father has caused me to enter into. From the time of my youth I desired to be a writer and a minister. These desires were seeded in my heart even as Joseph dreamed dreams of his future, or as David was told as a youth by the prophet Samuel that he would one day shepherd God’s people.

The great joy of realizing what the Father has done, after many years of patient waiting and preparation, has flooded my soul this week. I have found myself confessing to the Father my great delight in seeking treasures that are hidden in His word and sharing them with others. It is truly a great joy, and one which makes my heart glad.

Even when I am brought to some difficult topic that results in impatient and fleshly responses from the people of God, I yet delight to know the truth and to share it. It is for those who have ears to hear that it is presented.

People of God, I am not perfected yet. My knowledge and understanding is daily being matured. I am open to discussing any sincere objections to any topic I have taught upon. I only ask that you would agree with me to use the Word of God as the measure of that which is true. Let us look to the Spirit of Christ to preserve love of the brethren and to guide us into all truth.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.

Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws
Parables Blog: http://www.parablesblog.blogspot.com

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Monday, September 28, 2009

Plural Marriage

Joseph Herrin (09-28-09)

Note: This post is part of a series on the marriage covenant. It is not intended to be taken as a standalone teaching, but received in the larger context in which it is presented. It is not intended to advocate the practice of polygamy, but rather to present a Biblically correct view of the subject that questions related to marriage, divorce, remarriage, and a clear definition of what constitutes adultery may be arrived at. To understand this teaching in its context, please begin with the first post in this series, and read them all in order.


Before moving forward to speak on betrothal, I believe it is needful to speak somewhat further on the subject just disclosed, which is polygamy. Admittedly, this is a subject that is new to me in that I have never taught on it before. Before this week, I had never looked at the matter in any depth.

As I have looked further into this topic I have found that there are Christians who practice polygamy today, even in America. My daughter told me of a friend of hers who is returning from Alaska. While there she met many woman who wear headcoverings, clothe themselves in modest dress, and are in plural marraiges. Many prefer to speak of the practice of polygamy as “Plural Marriage,” for the word polygamy has become stigmatized by society. You can find a website by one such group at the following URL.


As I have continued to ponder this topic, I have observed further instances of it in the Scriptures. I have also considered some Scriptures that are difficult to understand, which some view as a denunciation of a man having more than one wife. I believe these Bible passages should be shared before moving forward.

I am hopeful that those reading these teachings will test all that has been set forth. I wish that all would be as the noble Bereans, searching the Scriptures, while inviting the Spirit of Christ to guide them. I do not mind having any teaching challenged. Indeed, I have often encouraged the saints to be diligent in their personal examination of all things that their understanding might rest upon the testimony of God rather than the testimony of man.

I have received much encouragement in these teachings by those who want to know what the Scriptures teach. There are some who prefer the counsel of God to the orthodoxy of men, even when God’s counsel is unpopular. One brother in Christ wrote me the following:

I wanted to send you a quick note of encouragement, because I can only imagine the flak that you are going to receive over the most recent ParablesBlog post regarding polygamy and adultery as defined by the Word of truth. If most have not done so already, you will most surely be called a heretic now! Yet, I know that you speak the truth and I love you for it and will continue to stand with you as long as you continue to seek to correctly divide the word of God, not caring what men may think. I was reminded of the following testimony that the Pharisee spoke of Jesus. I think it rings true of you as well even though the Pharisee's motives in making these statements were not genuine. Still, what they spoke about Christ was true-

Matthew 22:16
They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. "Teacher," they said, "we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are.

Mark 12:14
They came to him and said, "Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?

Luke 20:21
So the spies questioned him: "Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.

I appreciate the sincere comments and questions that I have received. Yahweh has encouraged me greatly to press on with this teaching. I will share a few additional insights pertaining to the allowance Yahweh has made for a man to have more than one living wife. First I will mention an instance in which Yahweh portrays Himself as having more than one wife.

Ezekiel 23:1-4
The word of Yahweh came to me again saying, "Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother; and they played the harlot in Egypt. They played the harlot in their youth; there their breasts were pressed, and there their virgin bosom was handled. And their names were Oholah the elder and Oholibah her sister. And they became Mine, and they bore sons and daughters. And as for their names, Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem is Oholibah.”

Without question, Yahweh would never set forth an image of Himself as an adulterer. Therefore, it must be concluded that the example He has used here is not to be construed as adultery. The righteousness of Yahweh is not impugned in any way by this analogy.

A further example is found in the Law which Yahweh delivered to Moses. This is related to the subject of the kinsman redeemer. If a man took a wife, and he died before having offspring, his name would be cut-off from the land. This was considered a great tragedy. To prevent this from occurring, the brother of the deceased man was instructed to take his wife, and to raise up seed for the deceased. The firstborn, in this way, would take the name of the dead brother, and be considered his descendant. Any further sons and daughters would belong to the living brother.

Deuteronomy 25:5-6
"When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband's brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her. And it shall be that the first-born whom she bears shall assume the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out from Israel.”

Note here that there is no mention whatsoever of the living brother being required to be single. It would very often happen to be the case that the only living brother, or brothers, would be married. Despite this fact, these men were to take the brother’s wife to be their own, and to raise up seed for the deceased. We can therefore observe that there were times when Yahweh REQUIRED a man to take another wife.

A similar, albeit far less noble, example is found in the laws pertaining to a man who saw a virgin and lusted after her. Should this man force the virgin to have sexual relations with him, upon being found out, he was required to marry the maiden.

Deuteronomy 22:28-29
"If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days.”

Once again, we find nothing stated in the instructions that would alter this command if the man who violated the maiden was already married. It was lawful for a man to have more than one wife. Therefore the man who was married, and who forced a virgin and was discovered, would of necessity have to receive a second wife.

There are likewise, other commands not yet named which are found in the Law that Yahweh delivered to Moses. These laws set guidelines for the man who has more than one wife. Following is the unusual case of a man who takes a slave girl to be his wife.

Exodus 21:7-10
And if a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do. If she is displeasing in the eyes of her master who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He does not have authority to sell her to a foreign people because of his unfairness to her. And if he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters. If he takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights.

There is a great deal of evidence in the Scriptures to allow those interested to test this matter. The conclusion is certain: Yahweh permitted a man to have more than one wife. Yahweh never condemned a man as an adulterer, or even as a transgressor, if he had more than one wife. As we have seen, Yahweh blessed many men who had a plurality of wives, and has given these men a name, that they are righteous. These men include Abraham, Jacob (Israel), and David. It is very possible that even Moses had more than one living wife.

Exodus 2:16-21
Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters; and they came to draw water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock. Then the shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. When they came to Reuel their father, he said, "Why have you come back so soon today?" So they said, "An Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds; and what is more, he even drew the water for us and watered the flock." And he said to his daughters, "Where is he then? Why is it that you have left the man behind? Invite him to have something to eat." And Moses was willing to dwell with the man, and he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses.

Here we read of Moses marrying Zipporah, who was the daughter of the priest of Midian. Zipporah was a Midianite, and therefore a descendant of Abraham.

Genesis 25:1-2
Now Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. And she bore to him Zimran and Jokshan and Medan and Midian...

Moses’ first wife was acceptable to his family, for she was a descendant of Abraham, and a Shemite (Semite), a descendant of Noah’s son Shem. Later, Moses took a wife who was a Cushite.

Numbers 12:1
Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman)...

The land of Cush, is synonymous with Ethiopia. The people there are black skinned, and they are descendants of Noah’s son Ham.

Genesis 10:6
And the sons of Ham were Cush and Mizraim and Put and Canaan.

It was due to Moses having married a descendant of Ham, whom Noah cursed, that Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses. God judged Miriam for her disrespect toward Moses, striking her with leprosy.

What I wish to point out is that Moses had two wives, and it is possible, but not absolutely certain, that he had two wives who were both living, for nothing is mentioned of Zipporah having died. It is those who view polygamy as sin who would argue that Zipporah must certainly have died prior to Moses marrying the Cushite. We are not told that Zipporah had died. Moses delivered many laws to the people allowing for men to have more than one wife, so it must be considered that even Moses practiced plural marriage.

I would proceed on to look at a few Scriptures that have been used to condemn the practice of a man having more than one wife. They all come from the life of Christ, and are needful to consider.

Matthew 19:9
“And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."

Mark 10:11-12
And He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery."

Luke 16:18-19
"Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.”

What is obvious from each of these verses is that divorce is the central matter being discussed. Christ is not addressing the practice of polygamy. If He had been, He would have said, “Every man who takes to himself more than one wife commits adultery.”

Christ came to fulfill the Law, and to make known the spirit of the Law. He did not come to reinterpret it, nor to alter its commands. As we have observed, the Law permitted a man to have more than one wife, so it must NOT be concluded from these words recorded by the gospel writers that Christ is declaring a man with more than one wife to be an adulterer.

Let us consider Christ’s words in light of a very similar statement that He made. It includes much of the same phrasing and context as the three verses cited, while adding additional insight.

Matthew 5:31-32
"And it was said, 'Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce'; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Here is the heart of the matter. The man who divorces his wife for any cause other than unchastity, or fornication (Greek ‘porneia’), is a transgressor in the eyes of God. The man’s transgression is two-fold. He makes his wife commit adultery, and he allows other men to commit adultery with her.

Mark 10:11-12
And He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another (woman) commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery."

What is intended by the words, “commits adultery against her”? This is not the same as the common definition of a man committing adultery, for as we have seen, this is always defined as a man taking another man’s wife to himself. Does not the man who divorces his wife “commit adultery against her” by placing her in a situation where she must commit adultery to survive? Indeed, he does, and this was clearly what Christ was expressing in Matthew 5:31-32.

We see therefore, that Christ is not presenting a new definition of adultery for the man, nor is He now condemning the man who has more than one wife. What He is speaking of is the transgression of the man who divorces his wife for a reason other than ‘porneia.’ It is in the next chapter that we will look at the definition of porneia.

Matthew chapter 19, and Mark chapter 10, are describing the same encounter between Christ and the Pharisees, who had come to try to entrap Yahshua in His words.

Matthew 19:3
And some Pharisees came to Him, testing Him, and saying, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all?"

Mark 10:2
The Pharisees came and asked Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" testing Him.

In each instance the question Christ is answering is whether a man may divorce his wife for any cause. The question was not whether a man may have more than one wife. Christ answers the Pharisees by saying that a man is only allowed to divorce his wife for the cause of fornication. If a man puts a wife away for any other reason, he commits adultery against her by causing her to enter into union with another man. This results in the woman, and the man who takes her for his wife, committing adultery.

This is all that we can declare from these verses. Comparing Scripture to Scripture we are able to arrive at the correct meaning of the words of Christ. He is not describing some new transgression that occurs when a man has more than one wife, for the Law did not declare polygamy to be transgression. Christ is instead, revealing the Father’s heart concerning a man putting away his wife with a writing of divorce. These are separate matters.

Let me conclude this matter of a Scriptural understanding of lawful polygamy by stating those points we have observed in the Scriptures.

• Polygamy has been practiced among mankind from the opening chapters of the Bible.

• Many righteous men had more than one living wife, among them were Abraham, Jacob and David.

• Yahweh blessed men through the offspring of their latter wives, not just their first wife.

• The Law that Yahweh delivered to Moses regulated polygamy, but did not forbid it.

• Yahweh described Himself as having more than one wife.

• Yahweh said He gave David his wives.

• Yahweh established certain Laws, such as that of the kinsman redeemer, that at times required a man to have more than one wife.

• Adultery for a man is defined as sexual intercourse with another man’s wife.

• Christ said a man would be causing his wife to commit adultery if he divorced her for any reason other than fornication.

Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws
Parables Blog: http://www.parablesblog.blogspot.com

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Foundation Three - Lawful Polygamy

Joseph Herrin (09-27-09)

Note: This post is part of a series on the marriage covenant. It is not intended to be taken as a standalone teaching, but received in the larger context in which it is presented. It is not intended to advocate the practice of polygamy, but rather to present a Biblically correct view of the subject that questions related to marriage, divorce, remarriage, and a clear definition of what constitutes adultery may be arrived at. To understand this teaching in its context, please begin with the first post in this series, and read them all in order.


Jacob with His Wives and Sons
(Click on image for larger view)

I am certain that the title of this post will cause many an eyebrow to be raised, but it is necessary to understand what the Scriptures teach concerning a man having more than one wife in order to understand the topic of divorce, remarriage, and adultery. I feel as strongly the influence of the culture I am a part of as any man. There is ever a tendency to look upon issues with a very nearsighted focus. We expect that our experience is the same as all men in all cultures at all times, but we are far from the truth when we assume such things.

This teaching is focused upon a BIBLICAL concept of the marriage covenant. I am not seeking to declare that which is socially acceptable, nor the orthodox teaching of the hour. My desire is to know the mind of Yahweh, and to accurately disclose it. I am very much in debt to those who have been praying for me that I might have insight and understanding in these matters, for even as recently as yesterday afternoon, I had no thought about writing this particular chapter. However, after the Father divinely ordered my steps and conversation last night, I find that this is most certainly a part of this teaching that cannot be skipped over. To do so will lead to many erroneous conclusions.

In sharing some of these things with my daughter Kristin last night, she commented, “Dad, that is wacky!” What I will share is truly out of synch with the mindset of the culture we live in. Neither are these things taught in the church. I do not doubt, therefore, that some will experience a similar reaction to that of my daughter. I only ask that you test all that is shared here against Scriptures, taking the word of God as the measure of truth, rather than our common experiences.

Throughout the Old Testament we find that polygamy was practiced on a frequent basis. Polygamy can refer to either a man or a woman having more than one spouse, however, only a man was allowed to have more than one spouse in Scriptures. The woman who had more than one spouse was considered an adulterer, and under the Law of Moses the penalty was death by stoning. The first mention of a man with more than one wife is found as early as the fourth chapter of Genesis.

Genesis 4:19-20
And Lamech took to himself two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other, Zillah.

There is nothing in this verse indicating whether this act of polygyny (a man having more than one wife) was approved, or disapproved by God. It is simply mentioned as a statement of fact.

One of the next mentions of a man having more than one wife is in the life of Abraham. When Sarah was barren, and advancing in age, she suggested to her husband Abraham that he take her handmaiden, Hagar the Egyptian, and go in to her to raise up offspring. Hagar, in this way became the wife of Abraham. Some may argue that Abraham having sexual relations with Hagar, did not make her his wife, yet the Scriptures reveal that women who entered into relationships with a man in this way were indeed considered to be the wife of the man.

Two generations after Abraham, we read of Jacob marrying two sisters, Leah and Rachel. Each of these sisters had a handmaid which they likewise presented to Jacob to raise up offspring. These handmaids were Zilpah and Bilhah, and the Scriptures name them as the “wives” of Jacob.

Genesis 37:2
Joseph, when seventeen years of age, was pasturing the flock with his brothers while he was still a youth, along with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives.

We also read that Esau, the brother of Jacob, had more than one wife.

Genesis 36:2-3
Esau took his wives from the daughters of Canaan: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah the daughter of Anah and the granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite; also Basemath, Ishmael's daughter.

In these Scriptures we find that the practice of having more than one wife led to problems. Sarah became jealous of Hagar when Hagar began acting proudly upon bearing Abraham a son. Sarah treated Hagar harshly, and Hagar was later sent away with her son.

Although Jacob had not intended to marry Leah, being deceived by her father Laban, the fact that he took two sisters as wives led to great friction between them. The practice of a man marrying sisters was later forbidden in the Law of Moses, but the Law would not be given for another 400 years.

Leviticus 18:18
And you shall not marry a woman in addition to her sister as a rival while she is alive...

It should be noted here, that even though the Law forbid a man to marry sisters, it did not forbid a man to have more than one wife. Indeed, the Law addressed various issues that arose from a man who should take more than one wife, thereby allowing the practice while setting up guidelines for its practice.

Deuteronomy 21:15-17
If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him sons, if the first-born son belongs to the unloved, then it shall be in the day he wills what he has to his sons, he cannot make the son of the loved the first-born before the son of the unloved, who is the first-born. But he shall acknowledge the first-born, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; to him belongs the right of the first-born.

Throughout the history of Israel, after the Law had been given, we read of numerous examples of men having more than one wife. There is never any prohibition of the practice, though it often led to problems. We read of an Israelite from the tribe of Ephraim, a descendant of Joseph, who had more than one wife.

I Samuel 1:1-2
Now there was a certain man from Ramathaim-zophim from the hill country of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah... And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah and the name of the other Peninnah; and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

Hannah, of course, would eventually give birth to Samuel, the great prophet of Israel.

Another prominent mention during the time before the kings was of Gideon.

Judges 8:30-31
Now Gideon had seventy sons who were his direct descendants, for he had many wives. And his concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech.

It was during the time of the kings, however, that we see the practice of men having more than one wife at its greatest excess. A man who was made king would attain to a greater wealth than other men, and would be able to support a great household. Yahweh, foreseeing this, gave Moses instruction concerning kings, though Israel would not have a king until hundreds of years later.

Deuteronomy 17:14-17
"When you enter the land which Yahweh your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, 'I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,' you shall surely set a king over you whom Yahweh your God chooses... Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself..., neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.”

Notice that each of these commands deals with excess, with the thought that excess in any of these areas will lead to a man turning his heart away from God. A king who has a great many horses will place his trust in his great army, rather in Yahweh to protect him. A man who is greatly increased in wealth will tend to become proud, resulting in an absence of a proper fear and humility before God. The man who multiplies wives, increasing them abundantly, will turn his heart away from pleasing God, to pleasing his wives, a situation that was demonstrated in the life of king Solomon.

We find in the Law delivered to Moses by Yahweh that the practice of a man having more than one wife was never prohibited. Rather, it was governed, in that certain instructions were given to establish guidelines for the conduct of a man who had multiple wives. Many who were declared righteous by Yahweh had more than one wife.

I Chronicles chapter three names the sons of David (and one daughter) that were born to seven wives. It also mentions that David had concubines.

I Chronicles 3:1-9
Now these were the sons of David who were born to him in Hebron: the first-born was Amnon, by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; the second was Daniel, by Abigail the Carmelitess; the third was Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; the fourth was Adonijah the son of Haggith; the fifth was Shephatiah, by Abital; the sixth was Ithream, by his wife Eglah. Six were born to him in Hebron, and there he reigned seven years and six months. And in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years. And these were born to him in Jerusalem: Shimea, Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon, four, by Bath-shua (Bathsheba) the daughter of Ammiel; and Ibhar, Elishama, Eliphelet, Nogah, Nepheg, and Japhia, Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet, nine. All these were the sons of David, besides the sons of the concubines; and Tamar was their sister.

Beyond this, David also had Michal, the daughter of King Saul, as his wife, but no children arose from the union, which is a profound parable in itself.

David did not transgress in taking any of these women as wives, other than Bathsheba. With Bathsheba David committed adultery, for she was the wife of another man. David did not put Bathsheba away after God confronted him with his sin, for by this time Bathsheba’s husband had been murdered. Therefore, she was no longer in an active state of adultery. She had only David as her husband.

It is very important to note that this is the reason David was able to keep Bathsheba as his wife. Had her husband Uriah been living, Bathsheba and David would continue in adultery as long as they were together. Yet through Uriah’s death, Bathsheba was no longer bound to a man and was able to marry David. Even though David conspired to put Uriah to death, when David repented and God put away his sin, the righteousness of Yahweh did not require David to put away Bathsheba as his wife. Indeed, Yahweh later blessed their union through the birth of Solomon, whom Yahweh named Jedidiah, “Beloved of Yah.”

That David, and consequently all other men who had more than one wife, were not considered transgressors for the sake of having more than one wife, is revealed in the words of God through the prophet Nathan when he was sent to confront David with his adultery and murder.

II Samuel 12:8-9
I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more!”

What Yahweh is declaring here is that He had taken the kingdom, and all that goes with it, from Saul, and had given it to David. With the kingdom came the rule of all Israel and Judah, the wealth of the nation, and the ability to maintain a large house with many wives. Yahweh is not saying that He gave Saul’s actual wives to David, for we have David’s wives named, and none of them are from among Saul’s wives. What Yahweh has declared is that He had abundantly blessed David by giving him those things that had formerly pertained to Saul, including a large house and many wives. If therefore, Yahweh has given these things to David, and would have given him more, we cannot judge the state of having more than one wife as a transgression of the will of Yahweh.

This leads us to make a distinction in that which is considered adultery for a woman, and adultery for a man. A man does NOT commit adultery by having more than one wife. A man commits adultery by having ANOTHER MAN”S WIFE. This is always the definition of adultery for a man in Scripture.

Leviticus 18:20
And you shall not have intercourse with your neighbor's wife, to be defiled with her.

Leviticus 20:10
If there is a man who commits adultery with another man's wife, one who commits adultery with his friend's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

Deuteronomy 22:22
If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman...

A woman, on the other hand, is always considered an adulteress if she has more than one husband. She is also considered an adulteress, if while married to a husband, she has sexual relations with a man other than her husband.

Romans 7:2-3
For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then if, while her husband is living, she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress...

Due to the influence of the culture we live in, and the absence of understanding of divine government, and of male and female roles as determined by God at the time of creation, I know that stating this matter in this way will provoke a strong emotional response among some Christians. Yet, we are called to “rightly divide the word of God.” In doing so we must agree that Yahweh permitted a man to have more than one wife, while He did not ever permit a woman to have more than one husband.

When one “rightly divides the word of God” they will understand that a man can have more than one living wife and not be considered an adulterer in the eyes of God. Such a man is not even considered a transgressor. Yet the man who has just one wife may be an adulterer, for if the woman has previously been married to another man who is yet living, both the woman and the man who takes her as wife are in a state of adultery.

The reason Yahweh allowed men to have more than one wife, while not allowing women to have more than one husband, pertains to their creation.

I Corinthians 11:8-9
Man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake.

I Corinthians 11:7
Man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.

Man was created to be the image and glory of God. As such, man fulfills a role in the creation that is patterned after His creator. God may have multiple worshipers, and may be in spiritual union with many men. Yet man cannot have many gods. If a man takes to himself a god other than Yahweh, he is declared to be an idolater. Idolatry is everywhere throughout Scriptures compared to adultery.

Ezekiel 23:36-37
Moreover, Yahweh said to me, "Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Then declare to them their abominations. For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. Thus they have committed adultery with their idols...”

Hosea 1:2
When Yahweh first spoke through Hosea, Yahweh said to Hosea, "Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry, and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking Yahweh."

Even as the man was created to be the image and glory of God, and man can have only one God, without any exceptions, so it is between the man and the woman. The woman was created for man. Woman is the glory of man as man is the glory of God. Woman can only have one husband, even as man can have only one God. There can be no exceptions. If a woman has more than one husband she shall be called an adulterer even as a man who takes another God besides Yahweh will ALWAYS be an idolater.

Yahweh speaks in very similar terms of His jealousy toward man, and a man’s jealousy toward his wife. One is patterned after the other.

Exodus 34:14
You shall not worship any other god, for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God...

Numbers 5:29-31
This is the law of jealousy: when a wife, being under the authority of her husband, goes astray and defiles herself, or when a spirit of jealousy comes over a man and he is jealous of his wife, he shall then make the woman stand before Yahweh, and the priest shall apply all this law to her. Moreover, the man shall be free from guilt, but that woman shall bear her guilt.

Yahweh considered it a righteous thing for a man to be jealous of his wife. A man was righteously angry if his wife went astray and defiled herself by having sexual relations with another. The penalty for such a transgression was death.

Lest some should say this seems unfair, they should note that this is a perfect parallel to the man who defiled himself by joining himself to an idol. Yahweh was righteously indignant for man to do such a treacherous thing. The penalty for idolatry was the same as the penalty for adultery. The man who joined himself to another god would be put to death.

This point must be established in order to understand the issues of divorce, remarriage and adultery. A man was never considered an adulterer for having more than one wife, and this is true to this day. He is only an adulterer if he has taken to himself another man’s wife. This has been true from the beginning of the creation, and it has not changed during the church age. As long as the creation remains, the patterns established in the creation will continue unchanged.

In the New Testament, there are no prohibitions against a Christian man having more than one wife. The only prohibition is for those who serve in positions of leadership in the church.

I Timothy 3:2-3
An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, uncontentious, free from the love of money.

I Timothy 3:12
Let deacons be husbands of one wife...

Titus 1:5-9
For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might set in order what remains, and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man be above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

These instructions about the appointment of overseers, deacons and elders were only necessary because there were men in the church who had more than one wife. Some men were living with more than one wife. Others had divorced a wife and taken another, and were therefore the husband of more than one living wife. In both cases, God viewed them as having more than one wife. In neither case was this considered adultery, or even fornication, for as we have observed, man was never forbidden to have more than one wife.

Why then, did the apostle Paul give as a requirement for spiritual office that a man must have only one wife? The reason is that the man is a role model for the church, and as a role model he must exercise self-control and moderation in all things. A man was not declared a transgressor to have more than one wife, but the man with more than one wife demonstrated an inordinate attention to earthly matters that was not suitable for one who would stand in a spiritual office. The apostle elsewhere speaks of marriage as being a distraction to pure devotion to God.

I Corinthians 7:32-34
But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided.

If you look at the context of Paul’s words concerning qualifications for elders and overseers, you will observe that the issue of moderation and self-control is predominant. Paul says a man must be “temperate,” which is to say, “showing moderation,” and this statement immediately follows his instructions regarding having one wife. A temperate man, demonstrating moderation, will not seek to have many wives. His focus will be upon the things of God rather than the things of the world.

The apostle Paul then goes on to speak of other areas in which those who are leaders in the church must demonstrate moderation, including their attitude toward drink, toward money, and in their abstaining from an excess of anger.

A Christian man does not commit adultery by having more than one wife, but his interests are divided. He must consider how to please his wives, as well as how to please God. The more wives he has, the less able he is to devote himself to spiritual things.

I do not doubt that what has been stated here, namely that a Christian man is permitted to have more than one wife, will appear to some as error. The society we live in exerts a very strong influence upon our thoughts and opinions. What I am setting forth is a Biblical world view, not a present day world view. There are many discrepancies between current practice and values and the word of God, and these differences extend even to the church. The church has abandoned the admonition to “rightly divide the word of God.” The members of the church judge many things by the counsel of their own souls.

Whether the church and society recognizes it or not, polygamy is practiced by a great number of people in Western society. Polygamy, by God’s definition, is the law of the land in America. How is this so? Western society condones divorce and remarriage. The numbers of divorced and remarried people is very high, indeed the number of people practicing polygamy in the West exceeds those practicing active polygamy in other societies where it is an acceptable custom.

In the eyes of God, a man and woman who are married and then divorce, are yet married. The only thing that can terminate the marriage is death.

Romans 7:1-2
Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband.

Paul is speaking here of the Law of God, not the law of man. The Law of God says a man and woman who have entered into the covenant of marriage continue in that marriage as long as they both shall live. Though the laws of the nations today declare otherwise, we must agree with God. Therefore, any man who divorces, and then takes another wife while his first wife yet lives, is a polygamist. If the second wife has never been married, then he is only a polygamist, and not an adulterer. Yet, if she was formerly married, and her spouse is living, the man and the woman are both polygamists and adulterers. This is the teaching of the word of God.

Keep in mind, a man being a polygamist, though looked upon as a great transgression in many societies today, is nowhere condemned by God. The Law of God provided guidelines for men who took more than one wife, but never forbade them from doing so. A man may be a Christian today and have more than one wife, but he cannot be an elder, overseer, or deacon. These positions require a devotion to God that is not possible when a man has multiple wives to care for, nor is he demonstrating a pattern of moderation and self-control.

We see then, that in God’s eyes the nations we live in (I live in America) have declared polygamy to be legal, and many men (and women) are practicing polygamists. They have married more than one spouse, and these spouses are living. We must judge things as God judges them. Whereas the Law of God permitted a man to have more than one wife, it never permitted a man to have another man’s wife, yet man’s government permits this today.

I know that many will ask, “Well what about Christ’s words in Matthew?”

Matthew 5:32
“But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

The question arises, “Is not a man, or woman, allowed to divorce a spouse and marry another, if their spouse has been unchaste? Are they therefore NOT considered adulterers if the spouse violated the marriage covenant by having sexual intercourse with another?” These questions will be answered in the next post in this series.

It is necessary to lay one foundation stone at a time in order to “rightly divide the word of God” and arrive at the mind and counsel of Yahweh. We laid three stones thus far: Understanding blood covenant; Understanding the body as the temple; and Understanding the lawfulness of a man having more than one wife. The fourth foundation stone to be laid will be Understanding betrothal.

Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws
Parables Blog: http://www.parablesblog.blogspot.com

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Foundation Two - The Body as a Temple

Joseph Herrin (09-24-09)

Please note: Some of the following is necessarily sexually explicit, but it is with a very good purpose. Those who understand the correlation between a woman’s body and the Tabernacle of God, will be enabled to discern that both are to be viewed as holy in the eyes of man. The debasing of the woman’s body into a symbol of lust is a tragic result of the activity of Satan and the fruit of sin. God would have us to restore a sense of holiness to the realm of sexuality.

A second foundation to be laid in order to answer many of the questions pertaining to marriage, divorce, and remarriage, is that of observing how the Father has created the physical human body after the pattern found in the Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon.

That God has designed the human body and the Tabernacle and Temple as types and anti-types of one another is plainly stated in Scriptures.

I Corinthians 6:19
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God...

II Corinthians 6:16
What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

Ephesians 2:19-22
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Yahshua Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

I Peter 2:5
You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house...

These Scriptures are but a sampling of the many that bring forth the concept of mankind having been designed to be a sanctuary, a tabernacle, and a holy dwelling place for the Spirit of God. We should therefore expect that what Yahweh has shown forth in the design of the Tabernacle and Temple will find correspondence with the physical bodies of men and women.

One evident parallel is that both the Tabernacle and Temple contained three distinct and clearly defined sections. There was the Outer Court, the Inner Court or Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies or Most Holy Place. These three sections find perfect correspondence to man as he is also a tri-part being consisting of body, soul and spirit.

I Thessalonians 5:23
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Yahshua Christ.

It is to be noted that the Tabernacle of Moses, which was the original sanctuary of Israel, and in some ways a better pattern of man (for it was mobile, rather than fixed in one place), was covered in skins. This is a feature that was lacking in the Temple of Solomon.

Exodus 36:19
And he made a covering for the tent of rams' skins* dyed red, and a covering of porpoise skins above.

* (some translations say “badger’s skins”)

The Tabernacle in the Wilderness was a structure of poles covered with skins in the same way the human body is a structure of bones covered with skin. Inside and outside the Tabernacle were various vessels and implements that find correspondence with the organs of man. There was the Bronze Laver, or Bronze Sea, located outside for the purpose of cleaning. There was the altar for sacrifices, also in the Outer Court. In the Holy Place was the Table of Showbread and the Golden Candlestick, the latter of which was at times moved into the Holy of Holies. In the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant, and there was a curtain to divide between each of the sections. The curtain concealing the entrance to the Holy of Holies was described in this way.

Exodus 26:31-33
"And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen... and the veil shall serve for you as a partition between the holy place and the holy of holies.”

It is particularly upon this point that I would like to focus, as much can be gleaned concerning the marriage covenant, virginity, and sexual fidelity as the type of the veil of the Tabernacle and the anti-type of the virgin hymen are observed together.

The anatomical definition given to the female hymen from days of antiquity is “the veil of the temple.” The Greeks related this description of the female hymen to the rites of the goddess Aphrodite, whose temple contained a veil like curtain to mark the entrance to the inner sanctum. Aphrodite was considered the goddess of love and sexual intimacy. The veil in front of the inner sanctum of Aphrodite’s temple was called “the hymen.” The Greek word hymen literally means “veil,” though it can be more scientifically rendered as “membrane,” and often is.

The veil is an emblem well known to people throughout the world in association with brides, particularly virgin brides, though many do not know the origin of the association. To the Greeks, the word Hymen (veil) was closely linked to marriage and weddings. Aside from the association found in the temple of Aphrodite, the Greeks also recognized Hymen as the name of one of their gods.

Hymen, also rendered as Hymenaeus, or Hymenaios, was depicted as a youthful and beautiful young man who carried a torch and a veil. Various tales were related to him, such as one that described him rescuing a group of young maidens from a band of pirates. Having delivered them from being ravished by these evil men, the maidens all honored Hymen on their wedding days, and their Wedding songs became known as Hymeneal songs, from which we get our present day term “hymnal.” That the church has continued the use of the term hymnal is not altogether inappropriate, for the church has been espoused to Christ as a pure virgin (II Corinthians 11:2), and she does stand in anticipation of her marriage union with Christ.

The names of the gods were often given to individuals, a practice that continues to this day, though often in ignorance. In Scriptures we find saints who bore the names Apollos and Hermes. There is even one named who bore the name of the god Hymen.

I Timothy 1:20
Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered over to Satan, so that they may be taught not to blaspheme.

I am demonstrating the relationship between the word hymen and the veil to encourage understanding of the points which will follow. Although the Greeks, and many other cultures, were very vain in their worship of strange gods and goddesses, there were elements of truth mixed in with their myths and fables. The Greeks, as did other cultures before them, recognized that the female hymen, that thin veil of flesh, a living membrane that covers the entrance to the vagina, served as a type and shadow of the veil of the temple. The human body was designed to be the temple, or tabernacle, of God, and no matter how much Satan and fallen mankind has corrupted this knowledge, the basic fact remains as ordained by the One true God, Yahweh.

It is this association of the hymen being the veil of the human temple that has given rise to the prominence of veils as part of a virgin bride’s dress. The veil worn by a bride is a testimony of her virginity. Even as a virgin’s wedding gown is typically white, to denote purity, the wedding veil provides testimony to the bride’s chastity. During the wedding ceremony the bridegroom removes the bridal veil, as testimony that his bride has remained pure and that he is given the honor of being the first to enter into sexual union with her.

In the Old Testament, the intact hymen provided evidence of a woman’s virginity. When a virgin has sexual intercourse for the first time, the hymen is torn, and bleeding results. On her wedding night, the bride would carry a piece of cloth with her to catch the blood that flowed when her hymen was thus torn. The cloth would then be given to the woman’s father to keep as proof that she was a virgin when she wed.

Deuteronomy 22:13-21
"If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then turns against her, and charges her with shameful deeds and publicly defames her, and says,' I took this woman, but when I came near her, I did not find her a virgin,' then the girl's father and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of the girl's virginity to the elders of the city at the gate. And the girl's father shall say to the elders, 'I gave my daughter to this man for a wife, but he turned against her; and behold, he has charged her with shameful deeds, saying, "I did not find your daughter a virgin." But this is the evidence of my daughter's virginity.' And they shall spread the garment before the elders of the city. So the elders of that city shall take the man and chastise him, and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give it to the girl's father, because he publicly defamed a virgin of Israel. And she shall remain his wife; he cannot divorce her all his days. But if this charge is true, that the girl was not found a virgin, then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel, by playing the harlot in her father's house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you.

Note what a serious matter this was. There is no other law found in the Old Testament whereby a man entered upon such dire consequences for making a false accusation than in this matter of a woman’s virginity. To falsely accuse a woman who had kept herself pure of uncleanness, would result in a fine of a hundred shekels of silver. This was a large sum of money. Yet if the woman was proven to have played the harlot before she was married, she would be taken out and stoned.

People of God, consider how far the church has fallen in esteeming as holy those things that Yahweh says are holy! We live in the midst of a perverse generation, one which calls evil good, and good evil. A man or a woman who has reached adulthood as a virgin in many nations today is considered an object of pity. Youth are carelessly casting away that which God has determined should be guarded with the greatest care, and preserved until marriage. A Father in ancient times would jealously guard his daughter’s purity. It would be a great disgrace to discover that she had “played the harlot.”

If we were to use the same language that the Holy Spirit inspired the prophets and holy men of old to use in writing the Scriptures, would we not have to confess that the streets of our towns and cities, and the very pews of our churches, are filled with whores? Indeed, churches are filled with people who are continually practicing whoredom without repentance.

The use of insulting words such as whore and harlot were employed intentionally by the writers of Scripture. The Spirit was thereby signifying that a tremendous stigma was attached to a woman who allowed men other than her husband to enter into her body, treating that which was designed by Yahweh to be holy as a common and unholy thing. Would not Yahweh be provoked unto great wrath for a man to enter into the Holy of Holies in the Temple as if it were a common thing? Such a man would surely die.

Hebrews 9:6-7
Now when these things have been thus prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle, performing the divine worship, but into the second (the Holy of Holies) only the high priest enters...

Even the High Priest was not permitted to pass beyond the veil except at the prescribed time. If he entered at the wrong time, he would die.

Leviticus 16:2
And Yahweh said to Moses, "Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die.”

In a parallel to this, man is not to enter into sexual union with woman, except at the prescribed time.

Leviticus 20:18
If there is a man who lies with a menstruous woman and uncovers her nakedness, he has laid bare her flow, and she has exposed the flow of her blood; thus both of them shall be cut off from among their people.

A woman’s flow of menstrual blood had to have ceased for seven days before a man could enter into union with her. Seven days was the time of her purification.

Leviticus 15:19
“When a woman has a discharge, if her discharge in her body is blood, she shall continue in her menstrual impurity for seven days.”

The Temple and the Tabernacle also had to be ritually purified before the priests could perform service therein. Are not these things intended to be a profound parable of one another? We observe that there were specific laws pertaining to the purification of a woman before a man could “go in to her” even as there are laws governing the purification of the Tabernacle and the vessels used before the Priests could “go in” and perform their priestly duties.

Yahweh has covered the entire Tabernacle and Temple with holiness. They are sacred, and to be kept pure and undefiled from the pollution of the world. In the same way, Yahweh determined that the body of the woman should be holy. It was to be guarded diligently to maintain purity. Regarding both the Tabernacle, and a man’s wife, there was to be no “intercourse” with the world. In a marriage union, the Husband is the High Priest and the Wife is the Tabernacle. NO ONE CAN ENTER THE HOLY OF HOLIES EXCEPT THE HIGH PRIEST.

Before passing on to other matters, I want to share further of the parable demonstrated in the body of the virgin bride. In the design of God, the virgin bride has kept her hymen intact until her wedding night. At that time her husband, High Priest, is to enter in even as Christ entered that Tabernacle in the heavens at His crucifixion.

Hebrews 9:11-12
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all...

At the crucifixion of Christ, as He yielded up His Spirit, we read that the veil of the Temple in Jerusalem was torn in two.

Mark 15:38
Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

(Click on image for larger view)

This is a great mystery. Those who are “in Christ” can now enter in through the veil freely. There is no longer any restriction. By Christ yielding up His Spirit, His Spirit was enabled to be imparted to mankind. We receive the seed of Christ even as a woman receives the seed of man. Both are attended with the rending of a veil. Once the veil is rent, then there is free (unrestricted) access from that moment forward.

Hebrews 4:16
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

We can enter “boldly,” that is to say, without fear. What is this place spoken of by the apostle in Hebrews? Where does one “obtain mercy” except at the Mercy Seat, which was located above the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies?

The first time a virgin has sexual relations there is some pain involved. Even so, Christ endured pain, and his mother (the VIRGIN Mary) who witnessed His crucifixion, had a sword pierce her own heart. Yet after the first experience of entry, there is a new freedom. Indeed, there is a great joy and pleasure upon entry from that time forward.

Hebrews 12:2
Fixing our eyes on Yahshua, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross...*

* See end note.

There are great mysteries surrounding the sexual union of a man and a woman. I must leave many of them for your own contemplation, but will touch on a few more. Consider that when a man goes into his virgin bride that a blood covenant is cut. We observed previously that the man’s reproductive organ is the one marked by God as the covenant organ. The sign of circumcision is found there. It is the same for the woman. Even as a man experiences a tearing of the flesh and a flow of blood during circumcision, so too is the virgin’s flesh torn resulting in a flow of blood when she has her first sexual experience.

The covenant organ of the man literally carries the blood of the woman into the inner chamber. In this way, as High Priest, he is reenacting the work of Christ who as High Priest entered in through the veil and placed His own blood upon the mercy seat. The man and wife are “one flesh,” therefore the man is bringing his own blood into the place God has called holy.

In the act of first sexual union, a blood covenant is cut. It is a covenant that cannot be broken. The life is in the blood, and the covenant is in force as long as there is life present in those so joined.

Do you see, that what Yahweh has designed is far greater than some earthly contract? Marriage is far more than a compact to establish a relationship of mutual benefit that can be ended when either party determines that the benefit has ended. Marriage is a sacred and holy covenant. It is a covenant in blood. The union of the man and woman is Most Holy.

Many more parallels could be cited, for Yahweh with great skill, wisdom, and purpose has designed the physical human body to give testimony of the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Was not the Temple located on the Temple Mound? Even so the entrance to the woman’s holy place is through the pubic mound.

Did not the male Priest bring the grain offering into the Temple and Tabernacle? Even so man brings his “seed” into the tabernacle of the woman’s body.

Did not the Priest present free will offerings, as well as mandatory offerings in the Temple? Even so, the man may go into his wife of his free will, but he must also make himself available to the needs of his wife, whether it be his desire to do so, or not.

I Corinthians 7:4-5
The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

People of God, let me conclude this portion of teaching by leaving your attention upon the thought of the great holiness Yahweh attaches to these matters. The innermost chamber of the Temple and Tabernacle that man could enter into was called The Most Holy Place, and The Holy of Holies. Similarly, the innermost chamber of the woman that man can enter into is to be viewed with the same sanctity. It is Most Holy.

No one who has a remnant of the Holy Spirit of God can treat as common that which Yahweh has called the holiest of all. May we weep and grieve over the tremendous uncleanness of the people of God today! We have treated as common that which is most holy. May Yahweh grant His people repentance, and establish them in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

End Note: Some may find it objectionable to speak of the work of Christ in terms of sexual union. Do not the objections arise because the people of God have had their thoughts altered to view sex as something common, or even unholy? It is specifically with the goal in mind that the church should begin to see sexual union as MOST HOLY that I am bold enough to make these comparisons. My desire is not to bring Christ down, but rather to raise man up to a place where he esteems as holy that which God calls holy.

Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws
Parables Blog: http://www.parablesblog.blogspot.com

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Marriage Covenant - The First Foundation

Joseph Herrin (09-23-09)

First Foundation - Covenant

As I set forth to present this teaching on the sanctity of the marriage covenant, I have chosen to approach the task by laying some foundations before addressing more specific issues. The first foundation to be laid is that of Covenant.

Yahweh is a covenant-keeping God. Moses wrote:

Deuteronomy 7:9
Know therefore that Yahweh your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.

King David declared the following:

I Kings 8:23
And he said, "O Yahweh, the God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven above or on earth beneath, who is keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart.”

The nature of Yahweh is faithfulness. As the apostle Paul also declared:

II Timothy 2:13
If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.

When Yahweh says something, the matter is certain.

Numbers 23:19
God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent.

In saying that God will not repent, Moses is declaring that Yahweh will not renege on a promise. Whenever a man ‘renegotiates’ a contract, he is reneging on a deal. Such a man has lied. He has broken faith. His own personal interests have led him to defraud and act treacherously toward another person to whom he has given his word.

In sports we see this happen all the time. Whenever a professional athlete has a good season, it is almost automatic that he will seek to renegotiate his contract. Although he has made a legally binding promise for services, they will either directly, or through an agent, seek to alter the terms of the contract in his/her favor.

The history of America’s broken treaties with the native Indian nations is one of deplorable treachery. Whenever it seemed desirable in the light of self-interest, to breach a treaty, it was simply set aside, and a new treaty drawn up, which would also later be broken.

When I was in my early twenties, and just entering into marriage, I was self-employed, having started a company called Handyman Painting and Home Repair. I was a very conscientious worker, and always sought to do skillful work at a fair price. I often had a couple other men working with me, and I had to estimate time and labor on every job I took. Very often I bid low on a job as I sought to provide a fair and reasonable price to those for whom I was working.

On many jobs I found I had bid too low. After paying for materials, labor, and other expenses, I at times did not make any money. The thought suggested itself in my mind at times to seek to renegotiate with the person who had hired me, but I never entertained the thought. I remembered the following words of the Psalmist, as he answered the question “Who will dwell in Your Tabernacle and dwell on Your holy hill?” The answer is supplied, “He who swears to his own hurt and does not change” (Psalms 15:4).

I knew it was better for me to receive financial injury myself, than to fail to honor my word. The unfaithfulness that is commonplace to man is foreign to the nature of Yahweh. Yahweh does not merely sign a contract with man when He gives His word on a matter. He seals it with an everlasting covenant that cannot be broken. What God has declared, He will perform.

Ezekiel 17:24
“I am Yahweh; I have spoken, and I will perform it."

From mankind’s inception, God determined to fashion a creature in His own image, after His own likeness. Mankind was designed to be a perfect reflection of the nature and character of Elohim. Satan has succeeded in marring the image of man, and bringing forth his own perverse image in the heart of mankind. When Adam fell, we were all in Adam, for we were his seed. Consequently we also fell and became subject to the beast nature.

This lowly, corrupt beast nature is revealed in the curse placed upon the serpent. “On your belly you shall go, and you shall eat the dust of the earth.” There is a great parable in these words. “On your belly” signifies that the beast nature is driven by its appetites. It is always selfish, seeking to satisfy the desires of the flesh. Eating dust is a symbol of craving fleshly things, for the flesh of man was formed of the dust of the earth. Paul uses this same imagery to describe Christians who crave evil things.

Philippians 3:18-19
For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly...

When Adam submitted himself in obedience to the beast, he took on the beast nature. As the apostle Paul declares, “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey?” (Romans 6:16). Mankind fell into slavery to a lower, bestial nature, when Adam transgressed in the Garden of Eden. The character of God was no longer present in man. Man became “formless and void” even as the earth had in the second verse of the book of Genesis. Man was formless in that He lacked the image of God. He was void in that he was devoid of the Spirit, for which he had been created to be a temple.

Due to sin, whenever God wanted to demonstrate to mankind that a promise was given that could not be broken, He presented it in the form of a covenant. Mankind was prone to lying, deception, selfishness, and unfaithfulness. Therefore, Yahweh instituted the covenant that man might have a way of binding himself, and being held in perfect accountability, to an agreement with another party. The only way out of this type of compact was through death.

With God, such covenants are not necessary, for His nature is faithfulness. Yet fallen man is unfaithful. Therefore the covenant was given to testify with great certainty that when man gave his word it could never be altered, renegotiated, or broken. The consequences of breaking covenant was death.

There were certain symbols and elements that were used to establish a covenant. Their presence holds great meaning. We read of one such covenant that God made with His friend, Abraham. The context of the passage is a discussion between Yahweh and Abraham in which Abraham asks for an heir. Yahweh promises Abraham that he will have a son from his own loins, and that he will become a great nation and possess the land in which Abraham was sojourning.

Genesis 15:8-18
And [Abraham] said, "O Yahweh God, how may I know that I shall possess it?" So He said to him, "Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon." Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him... And it came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. On that day Yahweh made a covenant with Abram.

Blood Covenant
(Click on Image for Larger View)

It is important here to note that Yahweh chose specific items to denote the covenant that was made. These same elements appear in other covenants that Yahweh has made. These same symbols are found throughout His creation wherever a covenant is present. At times these symbols will be hidden from our eyes, as they appear in some other form, but they are present nevertheless. As we will see, they are present whenever a man goes into his virgin bride for the first time.

What are the identifiable elements here? There is flesh, represented in the beasts. There is a division of the flesh, even as the animals were cut into two halves. There is blood, which is always the consequence of the flesh being cut. And there is a passing between the pieces of flesh in the path of blood.

Henry Stanley, who spoke the famous words, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume,” wrote of the prominence of the blood covenant rite in his travels through Africa. One way in which the blood covenant was practiced is observed in the illustration above. Animals were cut in two and the halves laid opposite one another. The blood would run down between the pieces. The two men who were making covenant would then each walk barefoot through the blood between the pieces.

It was understood by the covenanting parties that “life is in the blood.” By walking in the blood of these animals they were effectually pledging their lives to one another. There were also often terrible imprecations spoken, indicating what would happen if the covenant was not upheld. We witness this terrible aspect of the covenant in Yahweh’s compact with Abraham. Although no threatening words were uttered by God, we read of Abraham’s sense of great terror. “Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him...”

A covenant was the most solemn agreement that could be made. It was literally a death pledge. Traditional marriage vows end with the words, “until death do us part.” This is because a marriage is more than a contract, or a partnership. A marriage is more than a social arrangement of mutual benefit. From the very beginning, Yahweh ordained the union of a man and woman to be a covenant unto death.

It will be demonstrated conclusively in this series of teachings that the marriage union is most certainly a blood covenant. One of the major subjects of covenants found throughout Scriptures is the promise of sons, or of godly offspring. This was the context of Yahweh’s covenant with Abraham. Abraham had remained without a son for many years as his wife Sarah was barren. Abraham desired greatly to see fruit come forth from his loins, and to be a father. Yahweh promised Abraham that he would indeed be the father of many nations, and that one nation in particular would be set aside as holy unto God.

This promised son, and the nation to arise from him, was to be the fruit of the union of Abraham and his wife Sarah. All the other nations that arose from Abraham’s loins came either through Sarah’s Egyptian servant Hagar, or through Abraham’s second wife Keturah, whom he married after Sarah had died.

Yahweh has created man in his image and likeness. One of Yahweh’s great desires is to have sons in His own image, and He has placed this desire in the heart of man. What Yahweh had actually promised Abraham was that he would father sons who would be holy unto Yahweh.

When two men enter into a blood covenant of friendship, they literally are pledging themselves in every area of their lives to one another. Yahweh literally pledged to Abraham that He would undertake for him to raise up a godly seed. Abraham had no power to accomplish this by any power of his own. Therefore Yahweh walked between the pieces alone. He promised to accomplish all, for man cannot in his own strength raise up a seed that will be “holy unto Yahweh.”

I have been greatly blessed in my study on the Blood Covenant to come across a book written in 1885 by H. Clay Trumbull D.D.. The book is titled Blood Covenant: A Primitive Rite, and its Bearing on Scripture. It is filled with historical examples of the blood covenant through the ages to the present time. Trumbull gives one particular mention of the blood covenant from the Egyptian religions that pre-dated Abraham. He writes of a quotation found in the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

The Ritual goes on to say: "The blood is that which proceeds from the member of the Sun, after he goes along cutting himself”; the covenant blood which unites the soul and the god is drawn from the flesh of Ra, when he has cut himself in the rite of that covenant. By this covenant-cutting, the deceased becomes one with the covenanting gods. Again, the departed soul, speaking as Osiris, - or as the Osirian, which every mummy represents, says: "I am the soul in his two halves." Once more there follows the explanation: "The soul in his two halves is the soul of the Sun [of Ra], and the soul of Osiris [of the deceased]." Here is substantially the proverb of friendship cited by Aristotle, "One soul in two bodies," at least two thousand years before the days of the Greek philosopher.

As this writing pre-dates Abraham, and is from the very region in which he was living when Yahweh made covenant with him, I believe it is helpful in discerning some of the symbols of the ritual. I have never heard the elements of the covenant taught upon with any authority, and I have depended upon the Spirit to direct me in making investigation of this very profound matter.

I had wondered at the meaning of the animals being split in twain, and laid opposite one another with the blood flowing between them. My attention was caught by the words of the ancient Egyptians, “I am the soul in two halves.” The two halves thus mentioned were the Egyptian god, and the deceased man.

Consider that just prior to Yahweh appearing between the pieces as a smoking oven and a flaming torch, Abraham fell into “a deep sleep.” Sleep is often used as a synonym for death in Scriptures. Thus we have an image of Abraham in death, and God walking between the pieces enacting the covenant. It was appropriate for Abraham to be symbolically “dead,” for he had nothing to contribute to the covenant. He could not promise to perform anything. God would undertake both Abraham’s part, and His own.

We read of a smoking oven and a flaming torch passing between the pieces, and these things most assuredly symbolized God, for He was the One enacting the covenant. Yahweh had to pass between the pieces down the bloody path. The smoking oven, if I have not missed my guess, represented Yahweh, for He is described elsewhere as “a consuming fire.” The flaming torch, would then have likely represented Yahshua. He is the light of the world, and He did truly walk the path of blood as He carried His cross to Golgotha’s hill.

Yahweh was in effect promising that Abraham would have a godly seed, and a holy nation would arise from this seed. Abraham could not perform his own part in this matter, so Yahweh undertook for him. Yahweh would have His own Son to be born of the family of Abraham, and His Son would fulfill the covenant. Christ would insure that a Godly seed, and a holy nation, would arise in the earth.

Later on, we find Yahweh once again speaking to Abraham of this covenant, and the promise of a Godly heritage. Yahweh required Abraham, and his offspring to receive a sign of the covenant. Since the covenant was focused upon a godly seed, it is appropriate that the sign of the covenant should be made in the procreative organ of the man. Yahweh required that Abraham be circumcised.

The timing of this was very important. Abraham’s first son Ishmael had already been born. He was thirteen years old, but he was not the promised seed from which a holy nation would come. When Abraham had relations with Hagar, he was not yet circumcised.

Genesis 17:24-26
Now Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. In the very same day Abraham was circumcised, and Ishmael his son.

The circumcision of the male sexual organ is literally a cutting away, and removal, of the flesh. It represented that man’s fleshly strength would not be utilized to fulfill the promise of a godly heritage. “The flesh profits nothing.” The flesh of man could not produce righteous and holy seed. God would bring forth this seed, and He would insure that Abraham would have the offspring his heart desired, an offspring that could forever stand in the presence of a holy God.

It was immediately after Abraham was circumcised that Yahweh again appeared to him and informed him that the next year when God visited him, he would have a son through Sarah. Thus, Isaac was born AFTER the covenant of circumcision was made between Abraham and God.

This was not a covenant of Law, for the Law would not be given for another 430 years (Galatians 3:17). It was a covenant of promise. Yahweh was saying He would accomplish what had been promised, and Abraham’s part was to believe God.

Galatians 3:17-18
What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.

This covenant of circumcision involved some of the same symbols as the earlier covenant. There was flesh that was cut, and there was blood. There was also symbolized the impotence of man to accomplish the purposes of God. The removal of the foreskin of the male sex organ was a testimony that man’s flesh must be removed out of the way in order for God to accomplish His promise. Man could not contribute anything from his flesh. His part was to look to Yahweh in faith.

Abraham had sought to accomplish the promise of God, and obtain a hope of a godly heritage, by having relations with his wife’s handmaiden Hagar. Yahweh rejected this “fruit” for the same reason that He had rejected Cain’s offering. It was the fruit of man’s own fleshly efforts. It was not an offering of faith. Man must be brought to realize his impotence to produce anything from his own fleshly strength that will merit God’s regard.

Returning once again to the early covenant where the animals were cut in two and the blood flowed between them. The Scriptures declare that “the soul (nephesh) is in the blood.” What did these severed pieces of flesh and the blood signify but “the soul in two halves.” There was the blood, containing the soul of the creature, and there were the two halves. Yahweh was symbolically testifying that the soul of Abraham and the soul of God would become as one. They would stand together to see the promise completed. Yahweh would accomplish it, and Abraham would believe.

All blood covenants have this in common; they represent the union of two souls into one.

In the introduction to this series, I mentioned that the physical consummation of the marriage union contains all the elements of a blood covenant. Even as the male sex organ is sanctified as the chosen instrument of God’s covenant with man, so the female sex organ is chosen as the covenant organ between man and woman. Even as the flesh of man is torn, resulting in a flow of blood, so the virgin hymen is torn as the woman has intercourse for the first time with her husband, resulting in bleeding.

What is the object of the covenant thus enacted between the man and the woman? It is to produce offspring in the image of the man, even as Yahweh’s covenant was to produce offspring in the image of God. Both actions are the same, for man has been created in the image and likeness of God. Male and female He created them.

Let us refer back to the words of the prophet Malachi to discern the intent of the marriage union.

Malachi 2:14-15
Yahweh has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring?

The prophet is saying that the purpose of the marriage union is to seek a godly offspring. Yet in the pursuit of a godly offspring, the men of Israel were acting treacherously against their covenant wives. Their actions were ungodly. How then could they expect that the fruit of their ungodliness would result in godly offspring. The prophet declares flatly, “Not one who has done so has a remnant of the Spirit.” Is this not an indictment against many in the church today who are acting with treachery toward their covenant wives?

We see then, that the focus of these blood covenants is the production of godly offspring. Yahweh desires sons in His image and likeness. Similarly, those who are of the faith and heart of Abraham seek for the same. Yahweh enters into covenant with man to undertake for him, and man enters into a covenant with woman to undertake for her.

Examine the Scriptures and you will see that those women whom God esteemed as godly all sought desperately to raise up offspring. Many accounts of barren women in great travail are brought before our eyes in the Scriptures. Eve was grieved when Cain slew righteous Abel. She therefore rejoiced when Yahweh gave her another son, Seth, who would carry on a righteous lineage.

Sarah was barren until her old age, and rejoiced greatly when Yahweh opened her womb. Her delight leaps forth from the pages of Scripture.

Genesis 21:6-7
And Sarah said, "God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me." And she said, "Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age."

Rachel, the favorite wife of Jacob remained barren while her sister bore many children. She cried out in her desperate desire for children. Her complaint even arose before her husband.

Genesis 30:1-2
Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous of her sister; and she said to Jacob, "Give me children, or else I die." Then Jacob's anger burned against Rachel, and he said, "Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?"

See Rachel’s desperate desire to raise up godly offspring. She said, “Give me children, or else I die!” What a reproach this is to Christian women today who have used contraceptives and birth control, who have elected to have surgery, in order that they might have the pleasure of sexual intercourse without raising up children. The ungodly influence of the world has affected the thoughts of the people of God. They “Let me have one or two children, and that is enough.” They think of the expense and the responsibility of a larger family, and wanting to maintain their freedoms and a high standard of living, they cast away the most precious gift Yahweh has given to mankind, the ability to raise up a godly offspring. Many even kill the baby while it is developing in the womb, an act of the most profound horror and selfishness.

Jacob had undertook for his wife Rachel to provide the children she desired, but her womb remained barren. Finally, God heard her plea of desperation and opened her womb. She gave birth to Joseph, and later to Benjamin. It is perhaps no coincidence that Jacob’s godliest son arose from the most desperate cry for children.

Later we read of Hannah, who was also barren. She pled with God for a son in such agony of spirit that when the High Priest Eli observed her, he thought she was drunk.

I Samuel 1:10-16
And [Hannah], greatly distressed, prayed to Yahweh and wept bitterly. And she made a vow and said, "O Yahweh of hosts, if Thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of Thy maidservant and remember me, and not forget Thy maidservant, but wilt give Thy maidservant a son, then I will give him to Yahweh all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head." Now it came about, as she continued praying before Yahweh, that Eli was watching her mouth. As for Hannah , she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought she was drunk. Then Eli said to her, "How long will you make yourself drunk? Put away your wine from you." But Hannah answered and said, "No, my lord, I am a woman oppressed in spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before Yahweh. Do not consider your maidservant as a worthless woman; for I have spoken until now out of my great concern and provocation.”

People of God, can you see that this is the purpose of the marriage union of the man and woman! From the beginning of creation, when God created them male and female, He spoke to them the command to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” If we bear the image of God, we will also desire to raise up a godly heritage to His name.

Not all are married, and not all are able to have children, but Yahweh will allow them to have many sons and daughters as they give themselves to disciple others. They will be given spiritual children in an everlasting kingdom. Yet, whenever we consider the purpose of the marriage union, this idea of raising up godly offspring should not be far from our thoughts. It is a righteous aspiration, one that arises from God’s own heart.

If there is one foundational motive in Yahweh’s heart as pertains to man, it is to have sons in His image and likeness. In pursuit of this He has bound Himself with a covenant of blood, a promise that cannot be broken, as demonstrated to His friend Abraham. All about this matter is holy and sacred. All has been spoken from the lips of God with perfect faithfulness. He has said it. He will perform it.

As we consider the marriage union of the man and woman, we are to understand that they become partakers with Yahweh in this same holy and sacred pursuit. The union of the man and woman is sacred and holy. They are brought together in a lifelong, inviolable covenant, to accomplish in their bodies the will and command of the Father.

Giving birth is but the beginning. All the energy and focus of the husband and wife should be turned toward training up a godly generation. When their children are themselves adults and married, their task is not over. One brother in Christ recently lamented to me, “It is no wonder that the children are perishing and families are overcome with evil. The older generation who should be giving themselves sacrificially as prayer warriors and seeking to promote a continued godly heritage in their children and grandchildren; these ones are spending their time on the golf courses, at the clubs, watching endless hours of television, and living at ease. It is no wonder that this generation is falling into apostasy.”

From the oldest to the youngest, Christians have departed from the will of God. We must return and rebuild the ancient ruins. We must re-establish the age-old foundations. We must repair the breaches and restore the streets in which to dwell (Isaiah 58:12).

Returning to an understanding of covenant, and the purpose of God in creating man and woman is a step in this direction. If we truly have set out hearts to raise up a godly offspring, then will we seek to accomplish this high purpose through actions of unfaithfulness, treachery, and selfishness? Let us not be deceived. He who practices righteousness is righteous. May Yahweh give His people great grace, allowing them to repent and return to the narrow way.

Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws
Parables Blog: http://www.parablesblog.blogspot.com

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063