Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Solving the Mystery of Marriage
Some believe that marriage in the Western world has suffered a mortal blow and will never recover. Marriage may indeed collapse in the Western world. If so, our nations will collapse with it. Thankfully, we can rejoice that YEHOVAH God -- after His triumphant return as King of kings, will usher in a renaissance for marriage and the family. Marriage will once again become a cornerstone of society under the reign of YEHOVAH God. Husbands and wives will learn to love and support one another, and to fulfill their roles and responsibilities toward YEHOVAH God and the Messiah.
by Rod McNair
Is marriage obsolete? Is it even relevant in our modern day? Why do people still come together in marriage, despite so many attacks on this once-cherished institution? The Bible gives powerful insights that can deepen your appreciation of marriage!
Why marriage? What is its purpose? That may sound like an odd question, but think about it for a moment. Marriage as an institution is a mystery to many. Sure, lots of people get married every year -- the United States leads the world in the marriage rate (and divorce rate, too). More than 90 percent of Americans will marry at some point in their lives.
But, why do people marry? It seems that many married couples do not really know why they married. Maybe that is why so many American marriages -- roughly 50 percent -- fail. A husband and wife might have had a general feeling of being in love, or may have sensed that marriage was the "right thing to do." But do they go deeper than that? Perhaps one reason so many are opting out of marriage altogether is that they are confused about its purpose.
From 1970 to 1994, the number of unmarried couples living together in the United States increased by nearly 550 percent. By 2007, out-of-wedlock births topped 40 percent of all births for the first time in U.S. history. But these trends are not limited to the United States alone. Marriage is on the decline in many of the modern Western nations. "Marriage is in decline across much of northern Europe, from Scandinavia to France…[In 2005,] 59 percent of all first-born French children were born to unwed parents, most by choice, not chance" ("L'amour without marriage," Molly Moore, Washington Post, November 21, 2006).
In England, France and the U.S., "cohabitation precedes marriage in roughly half or more of all cases. In Sweden, cohabitation is on its way to becoming the norm; roughly one-third of all couples cohabit instead of marry" (The Marriage Problem, James Q. Wilson, pp. 3-4). Author Glenn Stanton noted that couples who cohabited and then married had an 80 percent higher rate of divorce than those who had not lived together before marriage (Why Marriage Matters, p. 59).
Even many who call themselves Christians are confused about the real foundation of marriage. Even in the religious world, the link between marriage and the Bible is far too disconnected: "Without a theoretical framework for thinking about marriage, the storehouse of actions on marriage will be greatly impoverished…Protestants, especially evangelicals, have a psychology of marriage, but no theology" (Stanton, p. 173).
So, what is the purpose of marriage? Does your Bible have the answers? The encouraging and resounding answer is: Yes!
In the Beginning Was Marriage
Marriage as an institution did not develop over millions of years of natural selection, as some foolishly assume. It was created at a specific time in history, when only two human beings existed -- a man and a woman. Notice what Genesis says about the first man and wife: "And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam…Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man" (Genesis 2:21-22).
YEHOVAH God had created man (Adam) out of the dust of the ground. But YEHOVAH God creates in dual stages. The man was not yet physically complete. YEHOVAH wanted him to "multiply and replenish the earth." But Adam could not do that because he was not yet physically complete. So YEHOVAH God put him in a deep sleep (anesthesia) and performed an operation -- removing a rib and forming a WOMAN from it. They became one family. The physical creation of Adam was now complete. They could reproduce their kind.
There was no grand ball, black tuxedo or flowing bridal gown -- but there was the first marriage. Adam and Eve were brought together to be husband and wife. But, why?
YEHOVAH God instructed Adam and Eve to become "one flesh." "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). They were to have exclusive sexual intimacy with one another, not to be shared with others. This is the faithful, till-death-do-us-part marriage that YEHOVAH God instituted and blessed (Hebrews 13:4).
Was the creation account a myth, as many today assume? Not according to the Messiah, who treated the biblical account as fact when he taught about marriage: "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate" (Matthew 19:4-6).
But, what does it mean to be "one flesh"? Does this only refer to the sexual union of a husband and wife?
Yeshua the Messiah explained that the command to be "one flesh" goes far beyond just the sexual act. It describes a man and wife working together toward a rich and meaningful lifetime goal. It means being "one" in a mutual partnership built to withstand the storms of life. The Messiah's vision of marriage was a committed husband and wife working together in harmony, as they share the burdens and experience the joys of life together.
Even more amazingly, the unity between a husband and wife was meant to depict the oneness between YEHOVAH God and the Messiah, and the oneness the glorified saints will experience after the resurrection. Just before his crucifixion, the Messiah prayed these words: "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in me, and I in You…" (John 17:20-22).
A husband and wife are to strive to reflect -- however imperfectly -- the love and unity that YEHOVAH God and the Messiah have in their harmonious relationship with one another. Husbands and wives are to endeavor to be truly selfless in dealing with one another; each spouse learning to love the other -- their closest neighbor -- as themselves (Matthew 22:39).
YEHOVAH God wants to see this "oneness" in married couples -- both for the benefit and welfare of the couple, and for the nurturing of godly children.
Marriage: Good for Husbands and Wives
The apostle Paul wrote some of the Bible's most enlightening passages about marriage. Why did YEHOVAH God institute marriage? Paul explained: "'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church" (Ephesians 5:31-32). Paul taught that the roles of men and women in marriage are to be a daily reminder -- in a small, physical way -- of the relationship Yeshua the Messiah will have with his Church for eternity.
Why, then, do some see marriage as an instrument of repression? Practiced YEHOVAH's way, it was never intended to be that. And modern researchers are discovering what many happily married couples have known intuitively for a long time: "The perceived 'bondage' of this historic and honorable institution is not as damaging to all involved as is the 'freedom' of our present ethos" (Stanton, p. 12).
Research has consistently shown that marriage has a generally positive effect on a husband's and wife's well-being. "People who are married not only have higher incomes, and enjoy greater emotional support, they tend to be healthier. Married people live longer than unmarried ones, not only in the United States but abroad" (Wilson, p. 16).
But enjoying the benefits of a successful Christian marriage takes commitment and sacrifice. It requires that both husband and wife accept the responsibilities and fulfill the roles that YEHOVAH God outlined for marital success. Paul very plainly commanded the husband's duty in marriage: "Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself" (Ephesians 5:33).
Husbands, what does "love your own wife" mean to you? Scripture tells a husband to cherish and nourish his wife -- to protect, provide for and support her, not to tear her down or belittle her. Of course, this is easy to do when your wife is being kind, thoughtful and supportive, and she looks beautiful -- right? But what about when she is having an especially bad day? Paul put no limitations on the command -- his instruction is to love and cherish your wife in the bad moments as well as the good. Husbands must endeavor to love their wives, even when they are not easy to love.
This is what it takes to achieve the harmony, unity and "oneness" YEHOVAH desires. Love her even when she is brusque with you; even when she is "out of sorts." After all, "[YEHOVAH] God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8), and husbands are to reflect the self-sacrificing nature of the Messiah in their own marriage.
Wives, what are your roles and responsibilities? Paul explains, "let the wife see that she respects her husband" (Ephesians 5:33). This may sound old-fashioned and naďve, but Paul insists on it. What does "respect your husband" mean? It means to follow his godly lead. It means to show him honor not just when he is easy to respect and admire, but also when he may be irritable or angry, tired or selfish. It does not mean to be a "doormat" or to accept abuse. But it does mean learning to accept his decisions when they disagree with yours, and supporting rather than undermining him, ridiculing him or insulting him.
Notice that, just as for husbands, Paul puts no caveats on his command to wives -- the instruction is to respect her husband in his weaker moments as well as in his best. Yes, this is sometimes a challenge! But a wise and thoughtful wife will do everything she can to support her husband and build him up, not tear him down (Proverbs 14:1). She will make it a life goal to help him succeed, and will relate to him with kindness, compassion and mercy (Proverbs 31:26).
Wives, is your husband perfect? Of course not! However, by learning to submit to an imperfect husband now, you will help him learn to be the nurturing and supportive husband you want and need. And, very importantly, you will be showing your perfect savior that you will also be willing to follow the Messiah's lead, as the "bride, the Lamb's wife" for all eternity (Revelation 21:9).
Marriage: Good for Children
The "oneness" in a godly marriage also benefits children. We read that "the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth" (Malachi 2:14-15).
Yes, a husband and wife sharing a loving and committed relationship are able to provide a stable and safe environment for the next generation. When YEHOVAH God brought the first couple together as husband and wife, He gave them this command: "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it" (Genesis 1:28). YEHOVAH wanted human beings to have children, and to expand into clans, tribes and nations.
YEHOVAH already knew thousands of years ago what social scientists are consistently confirming as well: that the marriage institution is the best environment for bringing up children. "They are less likely to be on illegal drugs, less likely to be retained in a grade, less likely to drop out of school, less likely to commit suicide, less likely to be in poverty, less likely to become juvenile delinquents, and, for the girls, less likely to become teen mothers. They are healthier both emotionally and physically, even thirty years later, than those not so blessed with traditional parents" (Marriage Under Fire, Dr. James Dobson, p. 54).
Though some try to deny it, there is powerful evidence that children benefit immensely when they grow up in a household with both father and mother present. American Enterprise Institute researcher Karl Zinsmeister reported: "There is a mountain of scientific evidence showing that when families disintegrate, children often end up with intellectual, physical, and emotional scars that persist for life…We talk about the drug crisis, the education crisis, and the problem of teen pregnancy and juvenile crime. But all of these ills trace back predominantly to one source: broken families" (Stanton, p. 100).
Certainly, many children display remarkable resilience, and are able to overcome many difficult challenges life throws at them. Many parents who find themselves in less-than-ideal circumstances are doing the very best they can to provide a safe and positive home for their children. But this does not diminish the truth that there is no evidence supporting the agenda of those who want to portray "alternative" living arrangements as equal or superior to the traditional family.
YEHOVAH's Marriage to Ancient Israel
In Egypt, after the death of Joseph, the children of Israel became slaves to the Egyptians. The new pharaoh forced them into hard bondage in order to keep them in submission to him. They were oppressed and were filled with sorrow and pain, so they cried out to YEHOVAH God to deliver them from their captivity. YEHOVAH heard their cries and felt compassion for them. That is when YEHOVAH God called Moses to lead them out of Egypt and into the wilderness where He would redeem them and take them as His own people -- notice!
"And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows" (Exodus 3:7, KJV).
"Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt" (Exodus 3:10, KJV).
"Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians" (Exodus 6:6-7, KJV).
"And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness" (Exodus 5:1, KJV).
"God sent ten plagues on Egypt before Pharaoh finally let them go. Moses lead the children of Israel out of Egypt by the presence of God in a cloud, and into the wilderness by God's Power through the parting of the Red Sea. GOD went ahead of them in a Pillar of Cloud during the day to guide them on the way, and at night in a Pillar of Fire to give them light; thus they could travel both day and night. The Pillar of Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night never left the people" (Exodus 13:21-22, The Message).
“Hold your staff high and stretch your hand out over the sea: Split the sea! The Israelites will walk through the sea on dry ground” (Exodus 14:16, The Message).
“And because He loved your fathers, and chose their seed after them, and brought you out with His presence, with His great power, out of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 4:37, Green's Literal Translation).
“For I do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the fact that all of our ancestors were under the cloud, and they all went through the sea” (1Corinthians 10:1, International Standard Version).
"In the third month of the going out of the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt, on this day [Sivan 15] they came to the wilderness of Sinai. And they pulled up stakes from Rephidim and came to the wilderness of Sinai. And they camped in the wilderness. And Israel camped there before the mountain" (Exodus 19:1-2, Green's Literal Translation).
At the mountain in the wilderness, YEHOVAH God made a union by covenant between Himself and the children of Israel. Exodus chapters 19 and 24 explain how Moses recited to the children of Israel the words that YEHOVAH God had given to him, which he had written in the Book of the Covenant (Ten Commandments and the Law). Then, the children of Israel agreed to accept YEHOVAH's Covenant. YEHOVAH God had vowed to love, treasure, protect, heal, and provide for them (Groom says "I do" -- see Exodus 19:5-6, Deuteronomy 7:6-24). United together, the children of Israel vowed to love, honor, and obey YEHOVAH God and His Word (bride says "I do" -- see Exodus 24:3, Exodus 19:7). So, here is the “bride” vowing to love, honor, and obey, and here is the “Groom” vowing to cherish, protect, and provide for His bride, giving her His name and all that He has.
Notice that the children of Israel are always referred to in the FEMININE sense -- never masculine! No same-sex marriage here!
Then the covenant was sealed with a sacrifice of blood at the mountain of YEHOVAH God (see Exodus 24:8). The children of Israel became a “wife” and YEHOVAH God Himself became their “Husband”. It was a formal and legally binding commitment, just like a legal marriage. YEHOVAH God did this in order to preserve a people for Himself in this sinful world and to highlight the correct form of marriage.
"For your Maker is your husband; Jehovah of Hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He [YEHOVAH God] is called the God of all the earth" (Isaiah 54:5, Green's Literal Translation).
The Jewish Wedding
According to this Jewish website on the Torah: http://www.mechon-mamre.org/jewfaq/marriage.htm, Torah Scholars from Israel say there are actually two marriage ceremonies, or weddings, to complete the whole marriage process. The first one is the betrothal (or “Kiddushin”) and the second one is the “full-fledged marriage” (or “nisuin”). The “Kiddushin” ceremony is when the woman accepts the marriage contract (or “Ketubah”) from the man. The marriage contract is written by the husband and explains his obligations to his wife in their marriage. It also explains what her inheritance will be from him. Once the woman accepts the marriage contract, then they are considered legally married and she is called his wife. Their marriage can now only be dissolved by death or divorce.
This is exactly how the Bible explains how YEHOVAH God married the children of Israel in Exodus 24! The Law is YEHOVAH’s marriage contract to Israel! She accepted it and from then on she was legally YEHOVAH’s wife. YEHOVAH God hates divorce, so the only way to make a new covenant with His wife and to redeem her body from death would mean that someone guiltless -- representing the children of Israel -- would have to die.
The Jewish website also explains that “Nisuin” is the second marriage ceremony. This is when the husband brings his wife into his home so that they can live together. What is interesting about the word “nisuin” is that it means “elevation.” This goes right along with how YEHOVAH's Shekinah Glory went back to Heaven -- a place of elevation. Now, He didn’t leave His wife alone, He still abides with her (John 14) in her “tent of meeting” or her home, just like He lived with her in the wilderness and while He was preparing a Temple and more permanent home for her in Jerusalem.
Breaking the Wedding Vow
So Israel started out as YEHOVAH's VIRGIN BRIDE; but it was not long -- in fact only a few days -- before they were unfaithful! The first commandment of the Decalogue establishes YEHOVAH's primacy: "I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt...Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:1-3). But even before Moses had come down the mountain with the tablets of stone, the people had made -- and were worshipping -- a golden calf. This was to continue to be the pattern throughout the long, troubled history of Israel.
Even in the Promised Land, which YEHOVAH had given them, they worshipped and made sacrifices to the other gods and idols of the surrounding nations. In YEHOVAH's mind this VIOLATION OF THEIR WEDDING VOW -- worshipping false idols -- was equivalent to ADULTERY; YEHOVAH's chosen Bride was continually PLAYING THE WHORE!
YEHOVAH God sent dozens of mighty judges and prophets to Israel to proclaim His word and to bring the people back into their covenant relationship with Him. But the prophets were mostly ignored or, worse, persecuted, leading Jeremiah to admonish the people, "And the LORD hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear" (Jeremiah 25:4).
In fact, virtually all the prophetic books -- more than one quarter of the Old Testament -- are concerned solely with YEHOVAH's dealings with the SINS of Israel and with the other nations which negatively influenced them. For over seven hundred years YEHOVAH continually pleaded with His people, giving them every opportunity to return to Him, but they would not.
The Bill of Divorcement
Finally YEHOVAH's patience ran out and reluctantly He gave them a BILL OF DIVORCEMENT, declaring: "And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also" (Jeremiah 3:8).
Having wholeheartedly accepted the idolatrous worship of pagan religions such as Baalism, the House of Israel refused to heed the warnings of YEHOVAH God through the prophet Hosea. There was only a faithful few among them who had not bowed their knees before the heathen gods. So Jeremiah records the fact that such a bill of divorcement was given to the Northern Kingdom, or House of Israel.
It should be noted that even though YEHOVAH God had divorced the House of Israel they were not free from the terms of His covenant with them. Explains Howard B. Rand --
"His intention was to compel them to come under its terms by the operation of the 'But' clauses of the covenant which set forth the penalties for its violation. Incidentally, the very fact that that the House of Israel was to suffer in accordance with the penalties set forth in the covenant clearly demonstrates that the covenant was not set aside" (Study in Hosea. Destiny Publishers: 1955, page 25).
In confirmation of this fact the prophet Ezekiel records the words of YEHOVAH God:
"'As I live,' says the LORD God, 'surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you. I will bring you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face. Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you,' says the LORD God. 'I will make you pass under the rod, and I WILL BRING YOU INTO THE BOND OF THE COVENANT'" (Ezekiel 20:33-37).
What this divorce meant was that Israel was NO LONGER UNDER YEHOVAH's PROTECTION and so it was soon conquered by Assyrian and Babylonian armies and most of the people carried away captive into exile, from which the majority never returned. They became known as "the lost sheep of the House of Israel."
"The House of Israel," writes Howard B. Rand, "was sent away into Assyrian captivity and about 130 years later Judah was carried away to Babylon. Because Israel had been given a bill of divorcement, and Judah had not, Israel was UNABLE TO RETURN to Palestine, while a remnant of the House of Judah did return after the Divinely-set term of the Babylonian captivity had expired" (Study in Hosea, p. 21).
So according to the law, when YEHOVAH God gave the House of Israel a bill of divorcement, He expelled them from the "promised land." So long as that bill of divorcement was in force, HE COULD NOT TAKE HER BACK into His house (into His land) to dwell again.
The New Covenant
But the story does not end in tragedy as YEHOVAH God is long-suffering and ever faithful, and He had not given up on Israel. Instead, in spite of their great sins, He made them a promise of great hope. As Jeremiah records it:
"Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a NEW COVENANT with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers...which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days [i.e. in the future], saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Jeremiah 31:31-33).
Divorce and Deuteronomy 24
However, there was a problem with making a new covenant with Israel that was inherent in YEHOVAH's own law. In Deuteronomy 24:1-4 the law states:
"When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement...and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, SHE MAY GO AND BE ANOTHER MAN'S WIFE. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement...her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD."
And yet, through the prophet Jeremiah YEHOVAH God said:
"They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, AND BECOME ANOTHER MAN'S, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou [Israel] hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD" (Jeremiah 3:1).
How could this be? How could Israel return and be remarried to YEHOVAH God in violation of His own law?
The answer to this question is quite simple -- and overlooked by most commentators. The KEY to this is whether the divorced woman remarries or not. Notes the Insight On the Scriptures --
"Doubtless the very fact that the original husband could not remarry his divorced wife after she became another man's, even if that man divorced her or died, made the husband contemplating divorce action think seriously before acting to end the marriage. (Jer. 3:1) However, nothing was said that would prohibit him from remarrying his divorced wife IF SHE HAD NOT REMARRIED after the legal severance of their marriage tie" (Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: 1988. Volume 1, page 641).
If the divorced woman NEVER REMARRIES she can be TAKEN BACK by the man who divorced her. In the case of Israel, the only thing now standing in the way of being taken back by YEHOVAH God is the SINS of the nation since Israel never entered into another legal marriage with another god!
This is WHY Yeshua the Messiah died on the tree! His death not only brought salvation for all mankind, but also REDEEMED Israel, the wife of YEHOVAH, from her defiled (sinful) and divorced state. When the Messiah died on the tree after taking Israel sin's upon himself, YEHOVAH God was then free to REMARRY the now redeemed and cleansed Israel -- to become once again Husband to His beloved Bride. Thus, the New (Marriage) Covenant between YEHOVAH God and physical Israel was made possible by the death, and sealed by the precious blood, of Yeshua the Messiah.
The Coming Remarriage
The remarriage of YEHOVAH God and His Israel people -- pictured in Revelation 21:2 by the New Jerusalem "coming down out of heaven from God, PREPARED AS A BRIDE ADORNED FOR HER HUSBAND" -- has not yet been realized. That this city represents Israel is obvious from its description, as on its twelve gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. The Bride is the Israel nation itself, in all its many disguises today. Their reunion with YEHOVAH God, bringing to fruition the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God on earth, will yet disseminate the blessings, promised of old by YEHOVAH God to the patriarchs, throughout all the world.
Jerusalem, the Holy City and capital of YEHOVAH's Kingdom, is represented as His Bride in the description of that city by the apostle John. But since the capital of a kingdom stands for that kingdom, the New Jerusalem therefore designates the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. YEHOVAH God said to Israel --
"I will set My tabernacle [dwelling place] AMONG YOU, and My soul shall not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people" (Leviticus 26:11-12).
Later on -- through the prophet Zechariah -- the call goes out, "Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I COME, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD" (Zechariah 2:10).
The fact of Israel being His people and YEHOVAH God dwelling in their midst now becomes a reality as John witnesses the consummation of the promises made to Israel. YEHOVAH God establishes this close relationship with His people now and forever more -- and they will never again be alienated or divorced from Him.
The Messiah's Wedding Supper
This is not to be confused with the Church, which is the Body of the Messiah, set apart within the nation. The marriage of the Church (YEHOVAH's called out ones) to the Messiah is pictured in Revelation 19:7-9. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb (the Messiah) precedes the taking over of the Kingdom rule by YEHOVAH God. Writes Howard B. Rand:
"It [the Marriage Supper] is the induction into office of his [the Messiah's] friends who are present with him at the Marriage Supper. They are destined to reign and rule in the Kingdom. These constitute the true Church or his Body, the spirit-filled men and women who are overcomers and will sit down with him in his Throne even as he sat down with his Father in His Throne" (A Study in Revelation. Destiny Publishers: 1985, page 289).
The Church is called in the New Testament the bride of the Messiah.
Notice the comparison: “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church...that he might present it to himself a glorious church...” (Ephesians 5:23, 27). This reveals plainly that the husband-wife relationship is also that of the Messiah and the Church.
When will the Messiah present the Church to himself? Yeshua has already become the firstborn Son of YEHOVAH God by the resurrection. He has been glorified! He is the firstBORN of many brethren (Romans 8:29). We who are begotten of YEHOVAH God, now heirs of YEHOVAH God, are to be glorified with him (Romans 8:17) -- our vile bodies of mortal fleshly matter changed -- made like his glorified body (Philippians 3:21).
The Messiah will present the Church to himself a glorious Church -- when it has been glorified -- changed from matter to spirit -- from human to spiritual.
And when shall that be? Shortly after the return of YEHOVAH God as the KING of kings and LORD of lords, to reestablish the government of YEHOVAH God over all nations (Revelation 19:11-16). The God family -- the God Kingdom -- will rule and govern all nations.
That will occur at the time described in the prophecy of the Revelation as “the last trump.” “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our LORD [YEHOVAH God], and of his Christ [Yeshua the Messiah]; and He [YEHOVAH God] shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
Again, “And I heard as it were the voice...saying, Alleluia: for the LORD God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the MARRIAGE of the Lamb [Yeshua the Messiah] is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Revelation 19:6-8). The Church -- the righteous saints -- are here described as being presented to the Messiah a glorious (or glorified) Church, without spot or wrinkle.
But continue, same passage: “And he said unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” (verse 9). The “Lamb,” of course, is Yeshua the Messiah (John 1:29, 36; Revelation 5:6).
But the true Israel of the New Testament are not unconverted natural-born Israelites by race, but through grace by the holy spirit, as explained in Ephesians 2:11-22 and Romans 11.
Let me make that point very plain. The apostle Paul said to those Christians of the House of Israel in Galatia: “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye [you Christians of the House of Israel] Abraham’s seed [Israel], and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). It has been made plain (Romans 8:9) that only those in whom is dwelling the holy spirit from YEHOVAH God are the Messiah’s. They are Israelites by grace, not necessarily by race!
To the Ephesians of the House of Israel, Paul wrote, “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh...that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel...but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off [from the nation of Judah] are made nigh by the blood of Christ....Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God [family relationship]” (Ephesians 2:11-13, 19).
Romans 11 shows plainly that spiritually “Israel” today means the Church -- regardless of whether Israelite- or Gentile-born. Unconverted natural-born racial Israelites are cut off by sin.
Yeshua the Messiah was born again, by the resurrection -- the first so born of many brethren! And when they -- these “brethren,” these Christians who now form, spiritually, the true Israel of the New Testament -- having been perfected (Ephesians 4:12-13), are resurrected at the time of the Messiah’s return -- and thus also born of YEHOVAH God -- and are presented to the Messiah “without spot or wrinkle,” they shall be marrying him!
YEHOVAH God the Father is the Head. The Messiah is His firstborn Son. The Church is then to be changed to spirit immortality, to become the Messiah’s wife -- and also more children of YEHOVAH God. It is a family relationship! Notice further!
The Messiah gave a further picture of this marriage in the parable of Matthew 25: “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins [the Church], which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom [the Messiah]....And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” This pictures the Messiah arriving for the marriage ceremony and his Church going out to greet him. “...And they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut [on the others]” (verses 1, 6, 10). The marriage of the Church to the glorified Messiah is referred to also in Matthew 22:2, where the Father (YEHOVAH God) is pictured as a King making a marriage for His son.
Throughout the Bible the marriage covenant is ALWAYS pictured as a uniting of a MAN and a WOMAN (often representing YEHOVAH God or the Messiah marrying ancient Israel or the Church) in a holy relationship -- NOT a marriage of a MAN to a MAN or a WOMAN to a WOMAN. This is an abomination to YEHOVAH God!
The Ultimate Goal: A Spiritual Family!
YEHOVAH God certainly wants husbands and wives to lead fulfilling lives, and to nourish children in a healthy two-parent family. But your Bible actually reveals an even greater purpose for marriage. Not only are husbands and wives building physical families; they are modeling YEHOVAH's plan to build a spiritual Family!
YEHOVAH God is called our "Father" in heaven (Matthew 6:9). As our Father, He offers human beings spiritual sonship, saying, "…I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6:18). The apostle Paul further explained this familial relationship, stating that "the whole family in heaven and earth" is named after the Father (Ephesians 3:14-15).
Who is eligible to be part of the God Family? Not the animals. And not even the angels. "For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?" (Hebrews 1:5-6, KJV). Amazingly, out of all of YEHOVAH's creation, only human beings have the awesome potential to become spiritual sons and daughters of YEHOVAH God!
Just as a human father begets physical children through his physical "seed," our heavenly Father is begetting spiritual children through His spirit. "For as many as are led by the spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Romans 8:14). Also, the spirit "bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (v. 16).
Begotten upon receiving the holy spirit, today's Christians look forward to being "born" into YEHOVAH God's Family at the resurrection, as the Messiah explained to Nicodemus (John 3:3-8).
Joint-Heirs with the Messiah
So, why is YEHOVAH God creating spiritual sons to be born into His spiritual Family? Because He wants to share His creation! Paul explains that, as His children, we are "heirs -- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together" (Romans 8:17).
What will YEHOVAH's children "inherit" at the resurrection? The opportunity to be spirit-comprised beings with never-ending life. Yes, eternal life is not inherent in us; it is YEHOVAH's gift. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). YEHOVAH's children will also inherit their father's "property" -- the whole universe! As Paul explains: "'You have put all things in subjection under his feet.' For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him" (Hebrews 2:8).
The implications of that verse are truly staggering. YEHOVAH God is bringing "many sons to glory" (v. 10) so that they may share in His whole creation, and join Him in ruling the vast universe!
What About Religious Celibacy?
Although many act like they think otherwise, history and the Bible shows that there was no requirement for celibacy for bishops, presbyters, or other church leaders in the first or second centuries. Actually, bishops and elders were supposed to have a wife and children to demonstrate they could handle a church as Paul wrote:
"This is a FAITHFUL saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)..." (1 Timothy 3:1-5).
"For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you -- if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money" (Titus 1:5-7).
Note that the bishop (or minister) is allowed to be married.
Perhaps I should mention here that the Fuller Theological Seminary historian and scholar Nathan Feldmeth believes that since Paul stated that he was a Pharisee, and that Pharisees had to be married, that Paul probably was married once.
Paul specifically confirmed that the apostles had a wife and that he had a right to have a wife in the first century when he wrote:
"Do we have no right to eat and drink? Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas [Peter]? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?" (1 Corinthians 9:4-6).
While Polycrates confirmed this for the second century when he wrote
"Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus…All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord" (Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapter 25).
Polycrates probably would not have been one of a line of bishops if all bishops and church leaders practiced celibacy. Note that since the apostle Philip had at least three daughters, he could not have practiced celibacy. Now everyone is aware that Peter had a wife (see Matthew 8:14), but did you know that even Judas had a wife (cf. Acts 1:20, Psalm 109:8-9)?
The Roman Hippolytus notes that in the third century, celibacy was not required for the clergy (and least not by his rival, Roman Bishop Callistus):
"About the time of this man, bishops, priests, and deacons, who had been twice married, and thrice married, began to be allowed to retain their place among the clergy" (Hippolytus. Refutation of All Heresies, Book IX, Chapter VII. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition).
However, over time this changed with the Greco-Roman churches when many who seemed to have a problem with women (with Origen and Tertullian laying the foundation). And it still continues, especially with the Roman Catholic Church (although the Eastern Orthodox require celibacy for bishops, they do not require it for priests).
What About Same-Sex Marriages?
The Bible says that promiscuity is a sin against the body (1 Corinthians 6:18), and that homosexual sex leads to destruction (Jude 7). It is not only from the Bible that we learn about the dangers of homosexuality, as homosexuals tend to have shorter life spans and more of certain diseases than the general population.
Although many wish to overlook scripture, those who honestly look at and believe it, realize that the God of the Bible condemns homosexuality, and by extension, "same-sex marriages."
Sodom and Gomorrah Were Sexually Immoral
The Bible tells of an early event that occurred in the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah between three thousand and four thousand years ago:
"Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground" (Genesis 19:24-25).
And why did it happen?
"...as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire" (Jude 7).
Homosexuality is a form of sexual immorality that involves going after "strange flesh."
Why mention this in the 21st century? Because YEHOVAH God turned
"…the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly" (2 Peter 2:6).
Thus, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah were to serve as an example to those who would live as they did. Yet despite biblical warnings, many modern leaders are endorsing so-called homosexual "rights" and "same-sex marriage." The Bible, however, warns about such leaders:
"Those who lead you cause you to err, And destroy the way of your paths" (Isaiah 3:12).
"For the leaders of this people cause them to err, And those who are led by them are destroyed" (Isaiah 9:16).
So, leaders that ignore what the Bible teaches are leading others toward destruction.
Of course, not everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah were homosexuals as those that strictly practice that could not reproduce. Yet, notice that the destruction that hit their cities destroyed all that were there and notice that something like this is to happen again according to the Messiah:
"And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all" (Luke 17:26-29).
Various ones can pretend that increasing “homosexual rights” is acceptable, but the STRONGLY Bible suggests otherwise. A marriage, as the above indicates, as do other scriptures (e.g. Matthew 19:4-5), is between a man and woman -- not two of the same sex!
Homosexual acts are clearly prohibited in the Bible:
"You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination" (Leviticus 18:22).
"If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination" (Leviticus 20:13).
Those who try to claim that the Bible does not clearly condemn homosexuality are intentionally misreading and misleading what it actually teaches. The Bible prohibits and condemns homosexual behavior -- the Bible calls it an abomination! Notice also the following:
"Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit" (Ezekiel 16:49-50).
So the Bible shows that Sodom was destroyed for many things including its pride and the committing of abominations. Homosexuality is an abomination. Yet, in modern times there are "gay pride" parades, etc. YEHOVAH God still does not approve of pride or homosexual abominations.
Perhaps it should be mentioned that "cross-dressing" is also condemned as an abomination:
"A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman's garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the LORD your God" (Deuteronomy 22:5).
Much associated with the homosexual agenda is an abomination to YEHOVAH God.
No Going Back?
Some believe that marriage in the Western world has suffered a mortal blow and will never recover. Commenting on a survey revealing trends in the U.S., professor Stephanie Coontz observed that there are "inexorable signs that there is no going back to a world where we can assume that marriage is the main institution that organizes people's lives."
Marriage may indeed collapse in the Western world. If so, our nations will collapse along with it. Thankfully, we can rejoice that YEHOVAH God -- after His triumphant return as King of kings, bringing peace to all the world -- will usher in a renaissance for marriage and the family. Through the prophet Isaiah, YEHOVAH foretells that under His soon-coming rule, "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9).
Marriage will indeed become a cornerstone of society under the reign of YEHOVAH God. Husbands and wives will learn to love and support one another, and to fulfill their roles and responsibilities toward YEHOVAH God their ultimate Savior. Together they will nurture their children "in the training and admonition of the LORD" (Ephesians 6:4). And it will all point toward their ultimate destiny -- to be born into the very Family of YEHOVAH God.
Why marriage? For those who have eyes to see, it is no mystery.
-- Edited by John D. Keyser.
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
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