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Month Aviv 1:17, Week 3:2 (Shanee/Matzah), Year:Day 5938:017 AM
Passover Season Day #4/8,
CHAG HA-MATZAH (Unleavened Bread) 3/7
Gregorian Calendar: Wednesday 16 April 2014
Chag haMatzah 2014
III. A Word on Marriage to Africa

Continued from Part 3

First NCAY Spring Conference, Migori, Kenya

Introduction

Chag sameach Chag haMatzah kol beit Yisra'el - third day of Chag haMatzah (Feast of Unleavened Bread) - may the grace and shalom (peace) of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) be with you all here at the First Spring Conference of the New Covenant Assemblies of Yahweh in Migori, Kenya. All the qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones) in Sweden assembled in Conference send greetings and blessings.

Defining Marriage

Today I am sharing a message to all married people and to all those singles amongst you who are seeking marriage partners for life. Since marriage is defined in so many different ways today, and in ways that make a mockery of the heavenly order, we must begin by defining what marriage is - not in eyes of the world (since we do not care for the ways of the world) but in the eyes of Yahweh-Elohim. Marriage is the state in which men and women can live together in sexual relationship and raise families. In the general sense, marriage is the estate that is approved by the social group in which one lives, and in our case, the social group is Messianic Israel.

Many Religions and Non-Religious Views About Marriage

You don't need me to tell you, though, that what a particular social group accepts of rejects is not necessarily of Elohim (God), no matter what label it uses: Christian, Messianic, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, traditional or humanist. Increasingly, as society becomes more corrupt and evil because of its rejection of Yahweh and His laws, so it seeks not only to re-define marriage in its own dysfunctional and wicked image, but seeks to do away with it altogether. Today sexual lawlessness rules in most lands.

The Sexual Lifestyles of Others

As believers we must accept that those who are not of our social group must be free to live how they want - it is none of our business, for we are not to judge the world until the next dispensation (1 Cor.6:2) but leave that to Yahweh and His appointed nevi'im (prophets). The killings that have been going on in parts of East Africa of homosexuals is therefore wrong and those who perform these murders will be judged by Yahweh. Believers have not been appointed as executioners of anyone, whether we believe in their lifestyle or not. The mandate given to Joshua was only for the land of Canaan and for his day, however revolted we may be by the sinful sexual behaviours of the world. It is not for our land or time. We are to teach the emet (truth) about Yahweh's true marriage lifestyle to all those who come seeking after Him - Yahweh will judge sexual immorality outside the Body of Messiah in His own time and way. We are only to judge the Household of Elohim (God), that is, all those believers who claim to be People of the Book, and by that Book I of course mean the Bible. So when I speak of marriage as approved by the social group in which we live, I am not speaking of the secular world, or of your neighbour who may be Catholic, a Lutheran or an atheist or a homosexual. That is all I am going to be speaking about today.

Governments and Marriage

It has been our position since the beginning of this work of Elohim (god) that it is not the business of governments to interfere with either the institution of marriage or what people do privately in their bedrooms or homes. Marriage is the province of those being married. Once you let the government regulate your marriages, you make unnamed persons in the government partners in that marriage, deciding whether it is legal or not, deciding whether to admit divorce or not. Since the government is 'male', as definitions of authority figures go, that makes all state-registered marriages polyandrous ones where there are at least two 'husbands'. So that is hardly godly, is it? You will not find governments anywhere in Scripture being given the right to regulate marriage. However, if you want the government to be a marriage partner, that is your choice, but we do not recommend it unless it is absolutely necessary in order to function in society. I know many who do because of tax laws.

The Law of Messianic Israel

Having said that, though, that does not mean that this is not the business of the Kingdom of Yahweh for those who claim to be its citizens. And I speak here of Messianic Israel, whose citizens are all those who have been born-again in Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), having accepted Him as their personal Master (Lord) and Deliverer (Saviour), who have repented of their sins, received the forgiveness of sins through the blood of Messiah shed on our behalf at Calvary, and who have in consequence been spiritually regenerated. They have been transformed in their hearts, in their attitudes and in their behaviour in such a way that they seek only to please their Master. That is one half of what defines a Messianic Israelite. Such a soul is saved, but what is he saved to do? He is saved to do good works (he is not saved by good works) and he is saved to do good works as a law-abiding citizen of Messianic Israel. The Law of Israel is the Torah, the entire body of laws, statutes, ordinances and commandments in the Holy Bible. That is is His Law Book, the rules by which his life is to be governed.

Marriage is Never by Compulsion

Those laws include detailed instructions on marriage for the social group that is Messianic Israel. These laws define godly marriage as a man married to one or more wives, as Yahweh wills and not as his flesh wills. Nevertheless, each soul must choose marriage in the same way that he or she chooses salvation. That is to say, Yahweh is the match-maker, not man. It is the responsibility of the parents, and in particular the fathers, to guide their sons and daughters in marriage - I repeat, to guide, not command, whom they should marry. If they have no parents, then that is the responsibility of their guardians, and if they have the misfortune to have no guardians, then their pastors, who shall seek the will of Yahweh, in partnership with their unmarried sons and daughters, as Abraham did when he sought a bride for his son Isaac. This is the godly way. Yet you recall in the story that Rebekah had the choice to say yes or no - to go with Eliezer or remain with her father. She was not forced. Marriage in the Kingdom of Heaven is never forced. Marriage, like conversion, is by free will.

Converts in Forced Marriages

Now I realise that many of you who have come to Messiah have done so married, and that you may not have had any choice in the matter. Some may feel that they were unjustly treated and that they should be free to leave any forced or arranged marriages and find spouses who they truly love and who love them. We are going to look into this problem in a moment if we have time. But first let us get some biblical principles clear in our minds.

Godly Marriage and Baptism Compared

Godly marriage is never between children but consenting adults, that is to say, between adults who are sexually mature, and emotionally and mentally mature enough to make a carefully reasoned decision based on wisdom and emet (truth). In the same way, baptism is only for those who are old enough to make an intelligent decision for Yah'shua (Jesus), who understand the basic principles of the Besorah (Gospel), and who are mature enough to make a life-long committment to Him. Baptism is not for babies or infants because they are too small to be able to make a reasoned choice. That is why infant baptism is an abomination in the eyes of Elohim (God) because, like forced marriage for those too small to be married, it is forcing someone into the Kingdom without their consent and without the spiritual rebirth. It is out of divine tavnith. Yes, I am aware that various arguments are advanced in defence of infant baptism, like the fact a whole family was baptised (Ac.16:15) and the fact that under the Old Covenant of Israel infants 8 days old were circumcised. However, we are not told what the ages of the members of that family were - they may well have all been old enough to make a decision for Messiah, and did so - and circumcision is not baptism. The fact that it is a woman's household - Lydia's - suggests that she was an older woman, and likely a widow, so her children would have been older and probably married. As believers we are commanded to repent and be baptised (Ac.2:38) and as far as I am aware, no infant has ever been able to repent of his sins, let alone explain them, or even talk! And so it is with marriage, for baptism corresponds the first of the three stages of marriage that I will say more of in a moment.

Minimum Age to Be Married - Apostolic Rules

I am often asked how old a person needs to be in order to be married. The Bible does not tell us what the age of majority or the age of consent is. It does not say. All it indicates is that the parties must be spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally mature. Since we are not in the land of Israel and since we are not under Yahweh's theocratic rule yet (that must await the Millennium) but are scattered throughout the nations where governments have different laws, we long ago made the following apostolic or halacha rules:

  • 1. No person shall marry or have any kind of sexual contact who is younger than the Age of Majority in the land in which he lives - on average, this is from 15-16, which we believe to be about right (it can be anywhere from 13 to 21) but definitely not younger - we recommend 16-18 as a guideline for the youngest acceptable age for marriage;
  • 2. No person shall marry under the age of 18 without the consent of his parents, guardians or pastor;
  • 3. No man shall marry until he is able to provide a home and can financially support a wife and any children.

The Age for Men to Marry

According to Scripture, a boy does not become a full man or adult until he is 20 years old, at which age he is released from the authority of his father. We recommend this as an ideal for men to be married and that whilst they may marry younger if they so wish, wisdom would tend to show that marrying younger than 20 is not always the most responsible thing to do. Wisdom must come before passion, but if a man cannot control himself as he ought, then it is better to marry young than to fall into serious sin, as Paul taught [1]. Nevertheless we cannot be rigid in this - it is Yahweh who ultimately decides. Non-biblical rules are in any case made to be obeyed by the immature and to serve as guidelines for the wise.

The Commandment to Marry and Raise Seed to Yahweh

Our desire as talmidim (disciples) of the Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is to honour Him in all things. Marriage is His gift, not our right. He has commanded us to replenish or fill-up the once depopulated earth by raising a godly seed, and to that end He gives us permission to marry and reserves the right to tell us who our companions should be. No man can do that and we lack the prophetic wisdom to know who is best for us and for Him, for His design is that spouses should be Echad or One, serving Him both as individuals and as a single unit. We do not exist just for ourselves or for our spouses, but were made to give glory to Him. Though He has ordained us to simcha (joy) as married people it has to be His choice and His moulding in divine tavnith (pattern) if marriage is to flourish and become eternal.

The Divine Choice

He, yes, Yahweh has pre-ordained our partners for us, He can see into the future to see what will work and what will not, for whether we like it or not, we change. You do not know what your husband or wife will be like in 20 or 30 years time. He does, therefore it is wise to accept His choice and to learn to grow in ahavah (love). Do not imitate the ways of American Hollywood or Indian Bollyood or Nigerian Nollyood - they are a lie. Do it the biblical way. When Eliezer the servant of Abraham returned to Canaan with Rebekah for Isaac, it says that they loved each other (Gen.24:67). Why? Because it was Elohim's (God's) good and wise choice. We are wise when choose His choice and reap blessings. Are there struggles in divinely-ordained marriages? Of course. There is struggle in all relationships until the flesh is conquered and Messiah reigns triumphant in every soul and in every marriage.

The Three Steps to Godly Marriage

Now obviously not all marriages will be contracted in the same way as Isaac's and Rebekah's. Our circumstances are not the same or even similar. We operate under the handicap of cultural expectations. We have all been conditioned and brainwashed by the cultures that raised us. But so long as Yahweh is the Divine Matchmaker, it will work well. In order to protect and guide us in this very difficult and important decision - who to marry - He has provided a system for us by revelation that we are commanded to observe, the same as the ancients used. For a successful and happy marriage, we are to follow three steps, still practiced by the Samaritans in the Republic of Israel today (Counsel on Courtship, Morality and Marriage and The Three Steps to Marriage):

  • 1. Dedication (Arav);
  • 2. Betrothal (Aras); and
  • 3. Full Marriage (Onah) -

Follow the True Order for Stability and Happiness

There must be time for a prospective couple to get to know each other as adults, first as brothers and sisters in Messiah, serving together in the Kingdom; then as good friends; and then, finally, as souls who have given their hearts to one another in the Master Yah'shua (Jesus). If you are following the true order, your marriage companion will always first and foremost be your brother or sister in Messiah, and by building on that foundation, proper respect and fraternal ahavah (love) will ensure the marriage is built solidly. It is the assurance of a foundation of grace and ahavah (love) which is so much greater than romantic and erotic love. This is why we are commanded not to marry unbelievers (2 Cor.6:14), because the foundations will be wrong and dangerous instabilities will enter the marriage that may affect the well-being and eternal salvation of the children. Being unequally yoked to unbelievers is a recipe for unhappiness and the increased likelihood of a loss of emunah (faith), divorce and a broken family that will impact the children for the rest of their lives and likely keep them away from Messiah. A marriage contract we are not willing to enter into with eternity in mind has no validity for eternity either and is a testimony that we place our own will before that of Messiah. Such do not take their salvation seriously. Their ahavah (love) is not made perfect.

NCAY's Halachic Rule

This is the halachic rule, then, that we observe in Josephite Messianic Israel and is our instruction to all those desiring to enter this work in its fullness:

  • 1. That couples interested in exploring the possibility of marriage shall make a committment called DEDICATION (Arav) in which they covenant, in the presence of witnesses that shall include parents and ministers, to get to know each other better as brother and sister in Yah'shua (Jesus). Dedication corresponds to the Festival of Pesach (Passover) when a soul makes the decision to become a catechumen (serious investigator) and to seek to know Messiah and is completed in Yom haBikkurim (Day of Firstfruits). There is to be no sexual contact or intimate relations of any kind, including kissing or inappropriate touching. They are to respecdt each other in purity as siblings in Messiah. They are never to be alone together but must always be chaparoned. Like Western 'engagement', this agreement may be broken off if the couple feel they are incompatible, and without shame or reproach;

  • 2. Once couples are persuaded by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) that they are indeed to be married for life and that this planned union is the will of Elohim (God), then negociations shall commence between the parents of the two families and a BETROTHAL (Aras) ceremony arranged. Once the couple have exchanged vows, they are husband and wife for the rest of their lives in the spirit only and may have no sexual contact or intimate relations, including kissing or inappropriate touching. They are to live apart in their parents' homes, the man preparing a house for his bride, just as Yah'shua (Jesus) has prepared a house for us in His Father's Kingdom:

      "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:2-3, NKJV).

    Betrothal corresponds to the Festival of Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost') when a soul, having been born again of the Ruach (Spirit), having been immersed in water (baptised) and having made a covenant to follow Messiah all the days of his life (Yom haBikkurim/Firstfruits), prepares to take his or her Bar/Bat-Mitzvah (Confirmation) by becoming betrothed to Messiah, the Torah being their Betrothal Covenant;

  • 3. When his father or guardian declares to the young man that he is ready for FULL MARRIAGE (Onah) because he has provided a house and has the ability to feed and clothe his bride and take care of her and raise children, then he may go and collect his betrothed wife from his father-in-law unannounced, according to the biblical custom, and take her to the Wedding Feast. She is to be watchful and ready always until her husband collects her. After the Wedding Feast, he takes his new bride to his house and the marriage is consummated, and the two become legally married in Yahweh's eyes. This marriage shall be jealously guarded always!

This is the order of Messianic Israel and is the rule that must be conformed to that all be done righteously and according to divine tavnith (pattern) in these New Covenant Assemblies of Yahweh.

Defining and Qualifying For Scriptural Marriage

Marriage is regarded as 'normal' and there is no word for 'batchelor' in the Tanakh (Old Testament). The relationship between the husband and wife serves as a picture of the relationship between Elohim (God) and His people - Israel, in the Old Covenant, and Messianic Israel (the 'Church') in the New Covenant (Jer.3; Ezek.16; Hos.1-3; Eph.5:22-33). Jeremiah's call to remain unmarried (Jer.16:2) was the exception and not the rule both because it was a unique prophetic sign and because of the evil times and his special calling which would have prevented him from marrying and having a family. All are called to be celibate before marriage but all are likewise called to marriage (Jn.2:1-11; Eph.5:22-6:4; 1 Tim.3:2; 4:3; 5:14), unless they have a special calling to be permanently celibate like Jeremiah. All ministers of the Besorah (Gospel) - Deacons, Elders, Apostles - must be married to qualify for Priesthood ordination, or are widowers.

The New Covenant Model

Our model for marriage in the B'rit Chadashah (New Covenant) is always the relationship between Elohim (God) and Israel, or Messiah and the Messianic Community (Church). Whereas Elohim (God) is one, and Messiah is one, Israel and the Messianic Community are both one and many. On the one hand, Israel and the Messianic Community are viewed as a single wife, like Eve (the wife of Adam), or Rebekah (the wife of Isaac), or Asenath (the wife of Joseph), but on the other they are viewed simultaneously as many, since we, as the allegorical Bride, are many, like the wives of Abraham (Sarah, Hagar, Keturah and others who are unnamed), like the four wives of Jacob (Leah, Rachel, Bilhah and Zilpah) and like the seven legitimate wives of David (Mikal, Achinoam, Abigail, Ma'akah, Haggith, Abital and Eglah). All of these were Men of Elohim (God), recognised as qodesh (holy, set-apart) and not guilty of any marrital sin, save David when he committed adultery with Bathsheba but who repented in much bitterness and contrition. Nowhere in the scripture are we told that Abraham, Jacob and David had inferior marriages to Adam, Isaac and Joseph, or that they were fornicators or adulterers because they had more than one wife provided they took these wives lawfully according to Torah. Only when they took the wife of another man (as David did when he took Uriah's wife and then murdered her husband) or Solomon who took an absurd number of wives, many of whom were unbelievers and turned his heart away from Yahweh, were men condemned as adulterers. Not only that, but true believers in Messiah are described as the children of Abraham! So there is no stigma - no shame - being associated with one of the great men of emunah (faith) because he had more than one wife.

Monogamy and Polygamy are Not Biblical Words or Concepts

There is, moreover, no such thing as 'monogamy' or 'polygamy' in the Scriptures. These are Greek words, not Hebrew. There is only marriage in Scripture. And marriage is one man united to one or more women by covenant according to the Torah. If a couple make an agreement with each other by taking monogamy-only vows, that is to say, if a man promises to take no more, then the man must honour those vows. They are binding and he may not take another wife except under very special circumstances. Likewise, when Jacob covenanted with his father-in-law Laban not to take any more than his four wives, that vow was binding on him for the rest of his life. The breaking of marriage vows in this community is an offense punishable by excommunication. This is true whether a man attempts to take another wife while under monogamy-only vows or whether he divorces his wife to marry another. Both are an abomination in the eyes of Yahweh. Indeed, a man is commanded to be faithful to the wife of his youth, that is, his first wife. He cannot dump her for someone else, as the reprobate and apostate Judahites once did:

    "You cover the altar of Yahweh with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Yet you say, 'For what reason?' Because Yahweh 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 b'rit (covenant). But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Ruach (Spirit)? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your ruach (spirit), and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth" (Mal.2:13-15, NKJV).

Marriage is Sacred

One of the crimes of Israel in the days of her apostacy was that the men were divorcing their first wives in order to replace them with someone else, usually younger and prettier. Would Yah'shua (Jesus) do such a thing? Would He throw out a surrendered, faithful believer in order to bring another into the Messianic Community? Never! He is faithful to His promises and so must the men of Messianic Israel be. They must not waver in this. They must be true to their vows absolutely. Their vows must be as iron. Yah'shua (Jesus) is faithful to everyone who comes to Him and becomes an allegorical wife. That is the example we follow. It is the example of true, godly men. We do not suffer men who cheat on their wives here. We expect them to act honourably or we throw them out until they have made right with their wives. That goes for promiscuous wives too. We do not favour one gender or the other. So I want every married woman in this assembly to know that we will defend your marriage against ungodly husbands, and every married man to know we will defend your marriage against ungodly wives. We take covenents and vows very, very seriously indeed, because Yahweh takes His with us in the same spirit. If we can rely on Elohim (God) to keep His promises, then the men and women shall be kept to theirs too. Our davar (word) is our bond. If we are known by by nothing else, this will be tov (good) alone and is a demonstration of true ahavah (love). We jealously defend, protect and throw a hedge of protection around all godly marriage, and woe unto anyone who tries to mess with them! We will not show them any lenience. The family is sacred just as the Elohimhead (Godhead) is sacred:

    "Therefore what Elohim (God) has joined together, let not man separate" (Mark 10:9, NKJV).

No Tolerance for Feminism or Coheadship - Love Your Wives

Having said that, I am not opening any windows or doors to feminism or co-headship which are the false teachings of the world. We do not tolerate them - they are from the devil. The man is the head of his marriage and of his family and that is the end of the matter, because Yahweh, the Messiah, the nevi'im (prophets) and the apostles has declared it be so. So there is no debate on the matter. But a man cannot equally do whatever he pleases. His authority is bound by the Torah and he must submit to the rule of Yahweh-Elohim. He is given all authority in emet (truth) but Yahweh expects Him to love his wife in the same way as Yah'shua (Jesus) loves His Bride, the Messianic Community (Church), and gave his life for her:

    "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to (in the same way as she submits to) the Master (Yah'shua/Jesus). For the husband is head of the wife, as also Messiah is head of the messianic community (church); and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore, just as the messianic community (church) is subject to Messiah, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Messiah also loved the messianic community (church) and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the davar (word), that He might present her to Himself a glorious messianic community (church), not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Master does the messianic community (church)" (Eph.5:22-29, NKJV).

The Plain Truth

Can it be any plainer than that? This is the rule of thumb of every godly marriage and it is the absolute rule we live by in these New Covenant Assemblies of Yahweh. Everything contrary to this is unreservedly anathema to us.

Unbiblical Excuses for Destroying African Marriages

Unfortunately in Africa, most of the Western churches have invented many unbiblical excuses for castrating marriage and inventing doctrines of demons. How have they done this? By denying the Davar Elohim (Word of God):

    "Now the Ruach (Spirit) expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the emunah (faith), giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry..." (1 Tim.4:1-3, NKJV).

A Doctrine of Demons

How have these churches done this? They forbid their ministers to marry - the Catholics do not allow any priest to marry unless he is a convert from a Protestant Church, in which case he may retain his wife. Bishops of the Eastern Orthodox Church are forbidden to marry too - they must have been monks. Needless to say there is not such thing as unmarried 'clergy' in the Bible - only the occasional prophet like Jeremiah was forbidden to marry, and the apostle Paul advised strongly against getting married during times of great persecution when stable family life is impossible. But forbidding believers to marry at all isn't all Paul is telling Timothy, because marriage according to the Bible is a man married to one or more women. Forbidding a man to carry on marrying after he has taken one wife - "forbidding to marry" - is also a doctrine of demons. It is only wrong for a man to continue marrying if Yahweh has not called him to (in which case he is in big trouble) or if he breaks the rules. Most are called by Him to stop after one but that does not mean that others cannot continue marrying if Yahweh calls them to.

A Mutilated Translation

We cannot just point the finger at the Catholics and Orthodox. Together with the Protestants, they have done a good job in mutilating the English translations of key Bible passage which give the impression that Elders, Overseers, Pastors or Bishops must be the husband of "but one wife" (1 Tim.3:2,12; Tit.1:6), to quote the terrible New International Version, or "one wife" to quote most of the rest. We don't have time to do into that here - you can study more about it in the book we have written, in the chapter, The Husband of But One Wife, but what this and a related passage is saying is that ministers must be married - it doesn't say to how many or how few wives.

The Destruction Caused by Western Churches in Africa

One of the great sins of European and American churches in Africa has been to either demote men with more than one wife to become second-class members of their churches or to refuse them admission into the kingdom altogether unless they first divorce all but their first wives and so destroy families. Both of these positions are an abomination in the sight of Yahweh. They are unscriptural and are the mere traditions of men. One excuse made by these Western churches is that monogamy is the 'ideal', because that is how Yahweh created Adam and Eve - as one husband and one wife. But He also created them naked and sinless. If monogamy is the 'ideal', then so is nudity and sinlessness. Obviously Yahweh does not permit men and women to walk around completely naked, and whilst we are called to be perfect and sinless, this is only possible IN Messiah and after a long life of overcoming. It can't be commanded of someone before they are allowed to be married. If being married to one wife is the only form of marriage allowed, then these couples must be allowed to go around naked and must behave utterly sinlessly. In short, they must imitate Adam and Eve.

The Stories of Jacob, Abraham and David

We shall, of course, be overcomers and the Messiah is our example for the overcoming life. But we have some good examples of overcomers in Scripture too. Can you think of a man who started out on the wrong footing but eventually overcame, and received a new name from Yahweh when he conquered his flesh after wrestling with a malakh (angel)? It was Jacob. What was his new name after he had overcome? Israel! What does that name mean? "He who prevails with Elohim (God)" or "Triumphant with Elohim (God)". The point is, Jacob the deceiver, who got tricked into polygamy by his unscrupulous father-in-law Laban, and who showed favouritism to Rachel when he should have loved his other wife Leah equally, eventually overcame his carnal nature and became a Man of Elohim (God) who loved his wives as he should have! Not only did he receive a new name, but he gives us his new name - Israel - and his four wives produced the 12 Tribes of Israel, whose names we take too, whose names are found above the twelve gates of the Holy City! I see no shame or second-class status in this man. He was a monogamist (when he married Leah) and a polygamist (when he married Rachel too) - obviously all polygamists start out as monogamists! Is the name Israel a disgrace? Is he held in dishonour because ohe had four wives? No! Rather we see glory and honour. Abraham too, the friend of Elohim (God), was originally called Abram. Abraham the polygamist, became, like Jacob, an overcomer, and received his name which means "father of a multitude".

The Seed of Abraham

We, as talmidim (disciples) of Messiah, are today accounted as "the seed of Abraham" whether by literal descent or by adoption and ingrafting. We are all spiritually the seed of a polygamist. And our Messiah, Yah'shua (Jesus), what is He known as? He is called "the Son of David" (e.g. Mt.1:1) 17 times in the Messianic Scriptures (New Testament), the friend of Elohim (God), and was also a man with more than one wife. There is great honour and glory in these men of Elohim (God), just as there is great honour and glory in the monogamous men of Elohim (God) too! The lawful marriages of all the faithful men of Elohim (God) are blessed, no matter what others may say. Scripture tells me that Abraham is in Paradise (Lk.16:22) and if he had been an unrepentant adulterer he would be in hell. I know where Yahweh's men and women are, and I know that none of them sinned in being part of large families.

Walking in Honour

There is no dishonour for a man to have more than one wife. Rather, it is an honourable thing. It does not matter whether he has one wife or many, for all are the same in honour, whether they are walking in the footsteps of Adam, Isaac and Joseph, or in the footsteps of Abraham, Israel (Jacob) or David. They are all equal. What matters is whether the brethren are good husbands and the sisters good wives or not. It does not matter whether they are from a small household or a big one. We are not to make comparisons between them or look down upon one or the other.

Study the Matter Carefully

The Western churches have lied when it comes to marriage thanks to the legacy of the Roman Catholic Church which has some very strange teachings in this regard that have been adopted by the Eastern Orthodox Church and by Protestantism too. I recommend that everyone read our study, The Truth About Biblical Marriage, which was actually originally written for earlier Kenyan congregations. It is our desire that this be studies carefully so that everyone knows what the Davar Elohim (Word of God) actually says.

The Law of Elohim and the Law of the Land

Another objection of the Western churches is that polygamy is illegal according to the law of the land, and so the anti-polygamous ruling of governments must be followed. That is a poor excuse given that governments now accept homosexual marriage and protect fornication and adultery. As I said, the bedroom and marriage is none of the business of government. However, since Kenya legalised polygamy this year, even that unbiblical objection cannot now stand, though I promise you the Western churches will invent new excuses and twist more scriptures to justify their hatred of what Yahweh has made qadosh (holy, set-apart). In a word, they hate the emet (truth) and despise the Patriarchs who are today in glory.

Trouble in Marriage

The excuse that polygamy brings trouble is not denied, though it has to be pointed out that monogamy brings trouble too - it all depends how you choose to live your marriage: according to Yahweh or according to the flesh. Monogamist marriages these days are plagued by feminism and various heresies like co-headship and it has become so bad now that the divorce rates in the churches in the West are identical to divorce rates the surrounding pagan culture. What does that tell you about the moral authority of those churches? They must repent or perish! (Lk.13:3,5) The problem is not how many or how few wives a man has, but how he and his household live the Besorah (Gospel). So long as human beings are involved in relationships, there will always be difficulties, there will always be struggles, and there will always be the need to repent and overcome sinfulness of the flesh in Yah'shua (Jesus).

All Our Welcome

Our job is to help everyone, no matter whether they have a big marriage or a small one. They are of equal value before Elohim (God). Let this be known to all, to Maasai, to Somali, to Bukusu, to Luhya and to all others who have traditionally practiced polygamy - that they and their families are welcome here. They are welcome along with all monogamists too! For there is neither monogamist nor polygamist in Yah'shua (Jesus) - they are all echad (one). They are all properly and lawfully MARRIED in Yahweh's eyes, and with honour if they live a true life of discipleship.

Traditions That Must Change

We are here to emancipate polygamists from the wicked stigmas created by false Western church teachings. Everyone is welcome here as full, equal and participating members and ministers whether they come from households with one wife or many - it is the same. However, we do expect the biblical rules to be followed, and that may, in some cases, entail abandoning old cultural traditions. These include child-brides, arranged or forced marriages where those getting married have no choice in the matter, and female circumcision. They are an abomination in the eyes of Yahweh. We also want to get rid of the insulting and segregating labels 'monogamous' and 'polygamous' - there is no such thing in the Bible! There aren't two types of marriage, only one, just as there isn't one type of family which has only one child and another type of family that has two or more children.

Rules for Polygamist Converts

However, for the shalom (peace) of families and especially so the husband can keep his eyes on Yah'shua (Jesus) and not go pursuing endless romances, there are two main scriptural rules that we enforce here:

  • 1. First, as Torah teaches, a man may not multiply the number of wives he has to absurd levels (Dt.17:17) like Solomon. He may only marry a number he can physically, emotionally and spiritually properly take care of. We do not allow deacons to take more than four wives, or elders more than seven, unless they are converts and have already brought in more wives than this - we do not break up families;

  • 2. Second, we do not permit a man to go hunting after more wives like an ox in season - the women must seek him according to the tavnith (pattern) revealed in Isaiah 4. In other words, they must seek him because he is a godly man and he must not seek them as status symbols, for more 'honour', or for any other carnal reason that polygamy is practiced outside the Besorah (Gospel). The more wives a man has, the more of himself he must give, the more responsible he must be, the more time he must give them and his children. He is not a 'collector' ... women are not 'things' or like property - he is a man of Elohim (God). He must be their brother in Messiah, their spiritual father and teacher in the Besorah (Gospel) and their faithful husband. They in their turn must present themselves to him in the manner prescribed by Scripture. One day he must present himself and his wives before Yahweh and give an account, as they must in their turn.

Husbands and wives with small families (one wife - monogamous) and those with large families (two or more wives - polygamous) must be examples to one another of the sacred union of Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) with His Mystical Bride - what we call the Mystical Bride of Messiah (MMM). Those with more than wife must set an example of what it can be to have a congregation that is united or echad, loving and serving one another. Just as in the New Testament Community, Jew and Greek had to learn to dismantle their differences and prejudices (Gal.3:28), so now in our day - in this time of "the restoration of all things" - men with one wife and men with many must learn to dismantle their differences and prejudices too. Now you are all echad (one)! Those men with one wife must set an example of the intense and pure relationship that must exist between the believer and Messiah. Men with more than one wife must work hard to set an example of how favouritism and jealousy can be eliminated by surrendering the will of the flesh and learning to live together as echad (one)...as miniature congregations! Large and small families need each other's witness. Did you know that these marriages are coded into the sacred feasts of Messiah?

  Festival Marriage Examples
1 Pesach (Passover) Dedication (Arav) Adam, Isaac, Joseph - 1 wife, Yahweh - Israel, Yah'shua - Messianic Bride - 1 Wife
2 Chag haMatzah (Unleavaned Bread)   Hosea, Judah, Elkanah, Moses, Manasseh, Saul, Simeon - 2 wives, Yahweh - Judah & Israel
3 Yom haBikkurim (Firstfruits)   Hezron - 3 wives
4 Shavu'ot (Weeks) Betrothal (Aras) Jacob, Mered - 4 wives
5 Yom Teruah (Trumpets, Shouting)   Caleb - 5 wives, Yah'shua - 5 Wise Virgins
6 Yom haKippurim (Atonement)    
7 Sukkot (Tabernacles) Full Marriage (Onah) David - 7 wives (Is.4:1), Yahweh - The 7 Ruachot (Spirits)
8 Shemini Atseret (Last Great Day) Eternal Marriage Yahweh/Yah'shua - Millions of brides (the saved), Abraham - Children of Faith

Unhappy Marriages and Healing

Brethren and sisters, this is a very large subject - it is also new and perhaps frightening for some, so all must be patient with, loving and accepting of, one another. We have many study materials on this subject which will become available to you over time. There are also many articles on our Sex, Love and Romance website. There are those, like I mentioned earlier, who may have grievances that need to be addressed, and especially women who were forced into polyganmous marriages against their will and are not happy. Much ministry is needed so that everyone is happy, but it will require patience and work. Please remember that Yah'shua (Jesus) can heal all wounds, but there must be willingness on the part of both husbands and wives to make things right. I know of a couple in India - the wife was married in a traditional arranged Hindu ceremony as a child, far too young, and against her will, and she was bitterly unhappy. But when she and her husband came to Messiah, there was a glorious healing, and now both are blissfully happy together. But it took work, it took prayer, it took forgiveness, it took the blood of Yah'shua (Jesus) to turn a nightmare into bliss. I realise it does not always work this way and that sometimes it is best to separate, but only after all avenues of ministry have been exhausted. We wish no one to be captive in a marriage against their will but equally we will not allow promiscuous divorce. We are realists and we desire what is tov (good), and right, and qadosh (holy, set-apart). There will be opportunity to talk more about this again.

Conclusion

Brothers and sisters in Messiah, this has been a long sermon but an important one. There are wrongs that must be put right - many of them - and this is the beginning of that process. May all you who are married in small or large families be blessed, and may you all be echad (one) in the pure and bountiful ahavah (love) of our Messiah, Yah'shua (Jesus) of Nazareth. I come to you today in the Ruach Eliyah - the Spirit of Elijah - so that there may be a turning of many hearts to healing and reconciliation. As was spoken over John the Baptist, so I speak over you men for the blessing of your women and children:

    "...go ... in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for Yahweh" (Luke 1:17, NKJV).

May Yahweh bless you all, and fill you with His Ruach (Spirit) and give you shalom. Amen.

Continued in Part 5

Endnotes

[1] 1 Corinthians 7 - however, be careful with this chapter, for Paul is addressing a special situation, namely, a time of intense persecution when marriage and settled married life is hard or not possible. In such circumstances, he says, it is better to remain single. This is the exception (times of great persecution) and not the rule (when settled family life is possible).

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