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16 February 2010 (Shleshi/Bikkurim)
Be a Man
Advice to Husbands

    "Watch, stand fast in the emunah (faith), be men, be strong (brave, bold). Let everything you do be done in ahavah (love)" (1 Cor.16:13-14, OJB).

Yahweh has given us men big responsibilities and a difficult mandate. He expects more of our wives towards us than we often deserve. He expects more of congregations toward their ministers than those ministers often deserve too. What this means is, we as husbands are in a position of leadership by virtue of our calling as men, not because we are necessarily more righteous, holy or set-apart than our wives. It is not because we are more wonderful, more saved, or more deserving than they are necessarily. Sometimes the reverse may be true. Sometimes our wives may be far in advance of us spiritually either as a whole or in specific areas of life. And it takes great humility and restraint on her behalf not to look down on him if she is focussed in the flesh rather than having her eyes on Messiah who definitely deserves all that He expects of us. A man whose eyes are on the flesh can hardly blame his wife if by his bad example he encourages her to do the same, for then she will not see his Yahweh-appointed office incarnated in authentic living but a very fallible man trusting his own virtue rather than Messiah's.

This is a tough topic. It's tough for me. It took me two days to get this short article right because while I was preparing it I had to closely scrutinise and review some areas of my life as a husband whereas normally a devotional takes me less than an hour to write. I have been a husband for nearly 30 years and I am still learning the ropes. I am still having to learn gospel truths and unlearn traditions I have picked up in various quarters from the cultures I was raised and lived in. Wives are no different. They too are learning the ropes particularly if they came into the gospel later in life and have a lifetime of secular habits ingrained into them. In marriage we are all works in progress to the very end of our mortal lives. So those who begin marriage on the right scriptural footing have an enormous advantage. We who came in later rather than sooner should bless them along the Way.

Men have been given two seemingly contradictory commandments in marriage. On the one hand they have been commanded to rule their wives who are filled with powerful and sometimes very confusing emotions:

    "And thy (woman's) teshukah (longing, desire) [shall be] to ('el - motion towards) thy husband, and he ('huw - {emphatic, demonstrative} - 'in consequence of which he') shall rule (mashal) over thee" (Gen.3:16, OJB).

Notice the words "[shall be]" are not in the original Hebrew - they have been added for interpretation.

This passage is one of the most abused in scripture, particularly by feminists who are fond of claiming that these two characteristics are negative (they claim) because they are results of the Fall and must be reversed. They see this as women uncontrollably desiring their husbands in some sort of subservient and demeaning way because they have poor control over their feelings, and husbands ruling them tyranically, and that both of these are negatives - and claim that all of this was cancelled by Christ who now makes them co-heads and in some respects unisexual. They see the atonement as the abolition of Old Testament male-female rôles.

But this is not what the passage says. This verse is a description of what happens as a result of the fall to woman and how man, as the divinely appointed head, is to respond with the authority given him to rule. (Remember the appointment to rule was made before the Fall when Eve was assigned as a helper to Adam - they were never assigned as co-helpers to one another). The consequences of the fall to Adam are explained in a separate verse.

To understand what this passage means we must see how these words tesukah and mashal are used, and to particularly note if they are used together. We don't have to look far. Teshukah only appears in two other places in Scripture and in one of them it appears alongside mashal. Let's take a look at the latter first:

    "So Yahweh said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin (chatta'ah) lies at the door. And its (sin's) desire (teshukah) is for you, but you should rule (mashal - to have power, dominion) over it'" (Gen 4:6-7, NKJV)

There are other Hebrew words for 'desire' in the sense we most communly understand and use it but teshulak is rather special. Teshukah is a special kind of desire, a negative desire, the desire to be in control, in charge of oneself - specifically, it is the desire that stems from sin. Cain was angry because Yahweh accepted Abel's sacrifice but not his own. Like Saul, Cain wanted to worship Yahweh his way. In consequence of this wrong desire, Yahweh instructs him to 'rule' or 'take charge' of this desire and conquer it.

This appears to be something women cannot manage on their own. They resort to various ungodly emotional coping mechanisms which ultimately harm their spirituality. That's why they have been given into the charge of fathers and husbands. Let us make a paraphrase of the original passage in Genesis which accomodates these Hebraic senses:

    "And your desire will be to take charge of, control or lead your husband, and in consequence of this he will assume that charge and rule over you that was mandated to him before the fall" (Gen.3:16, OJB).

The third passage of scripture that uses the word teshukah is to be found in the Song of Songs in which the Shunamite maiden describes the desire of her lover:

    "I am my beloved's, and his desire (teshukah) is toward me" (Song 7:10, NKJV).

Remember that this "desire" is not a kosher one. It is the same desire that Eve had to rule her husband which was the fruit of refusing to listen to Yahweh in the Garden of Eden and of subsequently listening to and obeying Satan. That satanic nature, resident in the flesh, rules all women who have not overcome the flesh IN Yah'shua. Adam's sin was in uncritically following Eve into the same sin or rebellion. He refused to be a man and instead submitted to the one he had been commanded to rule over.

We are forced to conclude, based on what we know about teshukah, that the lover was desiring the Shunamine woman in the wrong way. And if this is Solomon, as many believe, then we have even more confirmation, because we know how Solomon sinned in marrying non-covenant women who turned his heart away from Yahweh and to their pagan deities. He was smitten with the same unholy desire as Eve, a desire inherited by all women in the flesh in consequence of the Fall.

Men and women are different. They struggle with different forces within. Eve's curse was a consequence of her own choice and was not something random that Yahweh chose for her in some capricious manner. She chose her own curse when she chose to yield to desires contrary to the singular commandment in the Garden not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and to stop listening to Yahweh. Her sin was rebellion against headship. The serpent appealed to her pride to be in charge and so that is her curse: to desire in her flesh to be in charge when she is not capable to governing her own life alone. Similarly, Adam rebelled against headship and chose to follow his own wife's lead instead of Yahweh's, and so this curse is something that dogs him in marriage. The two most important things husbands and wives can do are following Yahweh (the man) and following the man (the woman). And if you think about it, this is humankind's historical issue throughout the millennia - man rebelling against Elohim, and woman rebelling against her husband. Fix these two problems and everything else will follow

I realise in saying this that this will make the feminists furious, but isn't that the same fury that Cain had? Does that anger not lead to a destructive, murderous spirit? If you feel that, consider where that feeling is coming from. And I can tell you here and now that it is not coming from Yahweh and it is not coming from the nature that Yahweh originally made you with before the Fall.

An ancient Israelite reading the Song of Songs would have known what the word teshukah meant and would have been on the alert, but our English word 'desire' does not clarify the original meaning adequately. There are many other words in Hebrew which are also rendered 'desire' but they mean different things. There is avah which means 'to incline to' or 'to desire for oneself'; there are amar and beah meaning 'to make enquiry' or 'speak', bashqah meaning ' to seek or require', chaphets 'to have delight', chashaq 'to cleave to', shaaph 'to pant after', and so on. If the traditional understanding of Genesis 3:16 had been correct, if Eve's "desire" had simply been 'to deeply need', Moses would have chosen a word like saaph. But he didn't. He used teshukah, meaning to 'desire to control or rule over'. That is not to say that women don't have deep needs which only husband's can fulfil, it simply means that this has nothing to do with the Fall. That need has been there from the beginning and will always be there, since she was taken out of man's side and desires to return there. Our need and dependance on Yah'shua, our allegorical Bridegroom, will always be there in all eternity in exactly the same way, for we come from the Elohim. We were none of us made to be alone.

We can now better understand Paul's admonition to men to "be men" and to "be strong":

    "Watch, stand fast in the emunah (faith), be men, be strong (brave, bold). Let everything you do be done in ahavah (love)" (1 Cor.16:13-14, OJB).

As the head of the household and its protector, the husband-father must resist many forces challenging divine headship rôles. He will face militant daughters and wives with unsubmitted carnal natures who want to 'be in charge', and he will face and unsubmitted sons wanting to rule before they are mature enough. Which brings us to the main question: when is a man ready to be in charge?

I am quite sure that almost all men reading what I have written so far will be delighted. But there will be two kinds of 'delight' here: the godly and the ungodly. The ungodly man will simply want to leap into marriage and 'demand' that his wife become his slave or chattel, which Yahweh never intended. These bullish men forget two things which they don't necessarily yet have:

  • 1. The emunah (Faith);
  • 2. Ahavah (Love).

Remember that the command to men to "be men" and "be strong" and in charge is sandwiched inbetween two other commands:

    "Watch, stand fast in the emunah (faith), be men, be strong (brave, bold). Let everything you do be done in ahavah (love)" (1 Cor.16:13-14, OJB).

Our first admonition is to "stand fast in the faith". It doesn't say "stand fast in faith". This isn't just about 'believing' but also about 'doing' and 'walking'. In other words trust in Yahweh and obey the commandments! Obey the Torah! Live the Messianic lifestyle, trusting in the salvation of Yah'shua as you do so. This means getting right with Yahweh. It means getting your life in order because before you can rule this is essential. To be an elohim (ruler) - to qualify to be one - means that you must be fully submitted to THE Elohim, Yahweh! And then (because men can, if they are not careful, let rulership go to their heads), Paul reminds us: "Let everything you do be done in ahavah (love)".

This has led to more controversy as Christians have sought to interpret what "love" is through cultural lenses. I have been reading the works of the Davissons and Pearls, and recently the latter, to try and understand where they are coming from. Actually, I have tremendous respect for Michael and Debi Pearl as some of you know for they have huge insights into marriage. But like most antinomians (those who reject Torah in part or as a whole) they have a number of blind spots. So when Michael wrote that "God did not command the man to rule over his wife", the red flags went up as the Ruach brought Genesis 3:16 straight into my mind.

And yet Michael is right to point out Yah'shua and His apostles never asks us men to demand submission from our wives like some tinpot dictator. However, He clearly demands that our wives submit to us but would rather that they yield submission voluntarily as a Ruach-led response to the way we conduct ourselves in righteousness. That is the better way but the two do not cancel each other out as I hope to show in concluding. In our passage today, we are told to do everything "in ahavah (love)". In other words, our conduct should naturally appeal and attract the spiritual woman, and even the woman who is wrestling with her flesh that may be causing her to want to rebel and be in charge herself. There is not doubt that this is the higher and more desirable way but (and this is where the Pearls have their blind spot) there is always a foundation of rulership which is to be exercised in a strong and firm way when the way of grace ultimaytely fails. There is a balance that needs to be followed here.

This dichotomy is seen in Yah'shua Himself, who is our model Bridegroom. When you read the Book of Revelation and see Him as He is in glory, there is no doubt that He rules in the most literal, authoritative sense. When He returns He will not be coming as a meek lamb, pleading with us to come to Him as He did when He walked the earth, because He is coming in judgment in the spirit of Yom Kippur. He is coming as the mighty Lion of Judah. Yet when He was on earth as a meek and mild man, He was also Elohim (God) in the flesh. He is both Lamb and Lion at different times depending where we are and what we are doing.

As human bridegrooms we may be elohim (Israelite rulers) but we are not Elohim (Divine Rulers). The only divinity in us is Messiah IN us. We are not ourselves divine. If Messiah is not IN us we're about as spiritual and divine as frog. The same goes for the women. Their nobility and greatness is a function of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) IN them covered in and by their husbands - there is nothing wonderful about them without Elohim being within.

To realise and accept this truth deals a death-blow to pride. We way be made in Yahweh's image but that's all we are - a reproduction on a much lower plane of conscious-awareness. We may resemble Yahweh-Elohim in some respects but it's only 'skin-deep'. We don't become real men and women until we are empowered from on High.

At the same time Yahweh has conferred certain offices upon us which those who are required to submit must respect as though they were submitting to Yah'shua Himself. This is also made clear in the New Testament. A wife, for instance, doesn't have the right to 'wait' for her husband to be 'attractive' before she will respect and honour him, but has a divine obligation. In the same way, Yah'shua does not say that we must wait until we 'feel good' before obeying His commands - our covenant obligations come before our feelings about them. That doesn't mean that our feelings aren't important because we will be judged by what we carry in our heart too - rather, it is to set priorities.

When Sarah called Abraham "master (lord)" (1 Pet.3:6) it was not just because he was her divinely-appointed ruler and she was religiously following some earthly, political court protocol but because was walking in true submission to Yahweh and understood what His will for her was. Abraham did not march up to her and 'demand' to be addressed with respect - this was Sarah's spontaneous response to her beloved husband when saw and understood something on the spiritual plane both about Yahweh and about her husband who was himself submitted to Yahweh. This is the better way - the completed New Covenant Way of Messiah. That is not to say that Sarah necessarily always felt this great love and respect for Abraham - I am sure she had her disagreements with him. We know there were difficulties over the Hagar problem. Yet I cannot believe that she ceased calling Abraham 'master' or 'lord' when she was upset with him because as a woman of Yahweh submitted to the emunch (faith) she would have continued treating Abraham in the respectful way because of her love for and submission to Yahweh-Elohim. There are plenty of examples throughout the Bible demonstrating that the women of Israel understood this obligation on them. This was the proper mode of respect even of men to other men in command. Just do a word search on "my lord" in a Bible database and you will see what I mean.

Unfortunately, far too many immature Christian and Messianic men just see the 'rulership' passages of scripture and don't understand that they have other obligations to their wives as well which are supposed to separate them out from Muslims and macho Christian men who for the most part only occupy themselves with the 'rulership' aspect of marriage. If he can persude his wife to give her submission freely of her own heart without 'commanding' her he has achieved far more than a husband who simply 'demands' it and she gives it but reluctantly. Again, that is not to say, as the Pearls and others claim, that this is the only way a wife shall give her submission because they contradict Torah in this matter. Thus they deny Genesis and claim that man has no divine right to rule. He does but he is not to leave it at that - he is to seek the higher ground so that his wife can know that he is truly worthy of his positioning over her. A man, like his Master, is not only called to be a 'lion' but must learn submission to His head, Yah'shua, as a lamb. Lions who were never lambs invariably make bad lions - and scripture speaks of two types, does it not? For Yah'shua and Satan are described as lions but with radically different dispositions. One is a righteous, humble loving ruler and the other is an angry and cruel egomaniac full of pride.

Humble rulers are not weak and effeminate, though. Paul tells the men to be strong, brave and bold. They have to be if they are to rule and subdue their enemies (Ps.81:14). This also means standing up to teshukah in a godly way as Adam was taught by Yahweh. Yahweh does not respect or honour wimpish men. The teshukah would walk all over you and try to break you into submission and if you have let yourself fall into that state, repent of it before Yahweh and pick up the sceptre of your authority, but do so in imitation of Yah'shua, not Satan. And demonstrate that you are worthy of the authority that has been unilaterally given to you by Yahweh by demonstrating your ahavah (love) and the emunah (faith). Take the lead and set the example. That requires risk and daring - and yes, it might provoke a tsunami of anger, but hold your ground firmly. Go out and serve, be a good father, and grow in spiritual stature with or without anyone else's approval. Do what is right. Show forth the grace (undeserved loving kindness) of Yah'shua IN you by giving love when it is not deserved or appreciated - if it is rejected, just move on carry on being a man of Yahweh.

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This page was created on 16 February 2010
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