The Apple Of God's Eye

November 23, 2009

Jesus Christ: Once Divorced, Yet Twice Married?

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Strange as it may seem, Jesus Christ already had a wife! In Exodus 19 and 24, the LORD of the Old Testament, Jesus Christ Himself (I Cor. 10:4) made a covenant with ancient Israel at Mount Sinai. This covenant was a marriage agreement. Notice Jeremiah 3:14: here the LORD (Christ) commands His wife, “Turn, O backsliding children … for I am married unto you.”

But ancient Israel did not carry out her part of the marriage covenant. She was an unfaithful wife (Ezek. 16). God had made His righteous Law a part of that covenant. But because of sin, which is the transgression of that Law, God had to separate Himself from His wife (Isa. 50:1; 59:1-2). “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” (Jer. 3:8).

Though He put her away, the marriage covenant Christ anciently made with Israel was binding until death. Neither party was free to marry another (Matt. 19:3-9). However, Christ’s death on the stake freed Him from that marriage (Rom. 7:1-4).

Human marriages fail as a result of broken laws. Breaking laws again by allowing divorce and remarriage, contrary to God’s law, would only create more misery. To fully understand that God hates divorce, we have to prove and understand from the Bible that human marriage is a type of the coming future marriage to Jesus Christ. Look at what God says in Mat. 19:8:

“He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so,” (Matt. 19:8)

He warns us to be very cautious in our thoughts and dealings with divorce, which is never an acceptable choice to God, not even for reason of adultery, addiction, spiritism, criminal or immoral conduct.

God’s Laws on Divorce Simplified

The laws of God concerning marriage and divorce are really quite simple. Jesus Christ explained them so that even a little child could understand them. “And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:4-6).

Here Jesus Christ cut through a lot of chaff and human reasoning. He showed that man was created for marriage and what God had joined together should not be “put asunder.” Some people in Christ’s day did not like His answer. Men still don’t like this answer. But this law is the foundation of the marriage institution and it is the basis of family life. As Mr. Armstrong stated, this “is the Divine law on which the stability—or the fate of a nation rests!” (Ibid).

The intellectuals and lawyers of Christ’s time quizzed Christ a little further on this issue. Remember, they didn’t like His answer. “They said unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry” (Matt. 19:7-10).

This was a stinging answer from Christ. He said that Moses allowed them divorce because of the hardness of their carnal hearts. In other words, ancient Israel could not understand the spiritual dimension to God’s purpose for marriage or live by the spiritual laws concerning marriage. Jesus Christ was essentially putting God’s truth about marriage and divorce “back-on-track.”

Christ was very clear here that God never intended to allow divorce—“from the beginning it was not so!” Christ also stated that to separate what God had joined together and remarry another is committing adultery.

In these verses, Christ allowed an exception to God’s rule—“except it be for fornication.” Simple enough, right? No, we also need to know what the word “fornication” means.

The Porneia Controversy

What exactly does the word “fornication,” as used by Christ in Matt. 19 mean? This word in the Greek language is porneia. It does not mean adultery in marriage, nor does it give adultery as a reason for allowing a divorce. Granted, the Greek porneia has more than one meaning. So does the English word, “saw.” It may mean “did see,” or it may mean an instrument with jagged teeth for cutting through wood. We determine by its use in the sentence, in the context of that sentence, which meaning of the word applies. So it is in the case in which Jesus used the Greek word porneia. The translators of the King James Bible in 1611 knew that Jesus intended the definition “fornication” as an act prior to marriage.

Consider what Jesus said in Matthew 5:32, “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

Consider that! If in this case porneia should have been translated “adultery” instead of premarital fornication, then, in the English look how absurd would be Jesus’ statement. He would have said, whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of adultery, causeth her to commit adultery. In other words, he divorced her for the sin of adultery, and causes her to commit again the same act for which he divorced her. That would not make sense!

Further, same sentence (verse 32): “whosoever shall marry her” (that is put away for adultery) “committeth adultery.” He who would marry this particular divorced woman would be committing adultery only because she is still the wife of the man who divorced her! To say that Jesus gave adultery as grounds for divorce introduces confusion, and misrepresents what Jesus said to be ridiculous!

The simple fact is that the word “porneia” does describe premarital sexual relations—a capital sin. Jesus Christ used porneia to describe illicit sexual relations prior to marriage—only! He was not describing illicit sexual conduct after marriage.

Marriage not binding in case of premarital adultery

The only way that a man marrying a divorced woman commits adultery is if the woman is still the bound wife of the man who divorced her. But when Jesus gave the only grounds as premarital fornication, that can mean only that the marriage was not binding—God never bound that marriage in the first place. The woman had committed fornication prior to the marriage, had not told the man, and therefore he was defrauded—the marriage was never binding! Why? Because God knew, but the man did not. God never bound that marriage. The man was unknowingly defrauded. If she had told him, and he forgave her anyway, then the marriage would have been bound by God. In that case if he divorced her he did not do so legally in God’s sight, and he caused her, by marrying another, to commit adultery.

In both Matthew 5 and Matthew 19, both the translated English words ‘fornication” and “adultery” are mentioned. In the original Greek the word translated “fornication” was porneia, and a different Greek word was used for adultery, moicheia. If Jesus had meant “adultery” to be the only grounds for divorce and remarriage, he would have used the word moicheia instead of porneia. The very fact He did use the Greek porneia in the same sentence with moicheia shows definitely He did not intend porneia to mean adultery—unfaithfulness after marriage.

So, porneia does not mean adultery. Even God and Jesus Christ show us through the Bible that an adulterous act is not grounds for divorce.  “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 hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD” (Jer. 3:1). Ancient Israel played the harlot with God, and God actually encouraged Israel to return unto him.

A liberal ministry often fails to address two other scriptures related to the laws governing marriage and divorce. Paul wrote to the Romans, “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man” (Rom. 7:1-3). Paul shows here very clearly that only death can sever a marriage bound by God. In essence, if a man and a woman married and could live forever, then their marriage would be forever! Our marriage with Christ will be forever. Christ already is spirit. We will become spirit at the first resurrection. Because we will live eternally, our marriage will be eternal. Our human marriages must picture our marriage to Christ in faithfulness.

Paul also taught, “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife” (I Cor. 7:10-11). Paul explains here that if married people divorce, they must either reconcile with their mate or remain single.

Only two reasons for divorce

First, Jesus gave fornication (prior to marriage) as the grounds for nullifying a marriage. This clearly was a form of fraud. When discovered (in nearly all cases) immediately after marriage, it simply meant God, knowing of this fraud, had actually not bound the marriage—and what followed therefore was actually an annulment, not a divorce.

However this did not apply in cases of marriages by unconverted people. God never bound them anyway—they were bound by man’s law, and any divorce and/or remarriage would be according to man’s civil law. But the church would not apply this annulment if the couple had continued living together for a period of time. There could be other types of fraud—such as marriage enforced at the point of a gun.

The second cause for divorce is based on 1 Corinthians 7. Paul there speaks, verses 8-9, to the unmarried and widows. In verses 10-11 he speaks to the married. Beginning verse 12 he speaks to “the rest.” If a converted man has a wife…if she be pleased to live with him, he must not divorce her—he has no grounds for divorce and remarriage.

Likewise the woman in God’s Church, if she has an unbelieving husband, and he is willing to live with her despite her religion, she shall not leave him (verse 13).

But if the unbelieving one leaves—cuts off the marriage because of the Church member’s religion—let him or her depart. Now notice this! The believing Church member is not given grounds for breaking off the marriage. It is only IF the unbelieving one leaves—severs the marriage relationship—then and only then is the believer (Church member) no longer bound and free to obtain a divorce (verse 15).

This could occur in at least two ways. 1) The believing Church member has been newly converted, and the mate refuses to live with him or her because of the religion. 2) Both had been in the Church, but one falls away, turns bitter against the Church, refuses to live as husband or wife with the still loyal member. In this case the embittered one, leaving the Church, has become an unbeliever.

We must take special note of several facts:

“Fornication” or premarital sex is grounds for annulment, not divorce. With this understanding the only cases for allowable divorce and remarriage within God’s Church are: the case of an unconverted mate departing the marriage over religion; or the case of a member becoming an unbeliever and then departing the marriage. The converted mate is then free to remarry, but only within God’s Church. Why? See II Cor. 6:14:

“Do not keep company with those who have not faith: for what is there in common between righteousness and evil, or between light and dark?”

Believers should not marry unbelievers, as this scripture shows. it creates confusion and disharmony.

We must remember that God hates “putting away.” If a Christian is already married to an unbelieving mate who is please to dwell with him, it would be a grave sin for a that member to manipulate an unconcerted mate to leave a marriage. Living with an unconcerted mate can be difficult at times, even if that mate is kind and supportive. But that is not a valid reason for “pushing” that mate out of a marriage.

Again, we must look at marriage to an unconverted mate from God’s perspective:

Now Paul gives an important reason for the converted mate continuing in the marriage, IF the unbelieving one is willing. Notice I Corinthians 7:14: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now they are holy.”

To thoroughly understand this we need to go clear back to Adam and Eve. When God drove them out of the Garden of Eden, and with sword-flaming angels barred anyone from going back in—or having access to the tree of life (the Holy Spirit)—God said, in effect:

“You have made your decision. You have rebelled against me, denied me as your God, your Revealer of knowledge, your Ruler. Therefore I sentence you and the World that shall be born from you to 6,000 years of being CUT OFF from me—except for the VERY FEW I shall specially call into my service to prepare for the Kingdom of God.”

Jesus confirmed this when He said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44).

Now the nation of ancient Israel was specially called by God the Father for a special purpose—even though they were still cut off from receiving the Holy Spirit.

But the unconverted mate is put in a special category—not called necessarily to receiving the Holy Spirit or spiritual conversion—but simply NOT CUT OFF from God. They are free to seek God, if they will, and to become converted. They are placed in a special category, neither converted, or CALLED for God’s special duty in conversion—but, on the other hand, NOT actually CUTOFF—not in the category Jesus spoke of, saying no such unbeliever CAN come to Jesus, except by special call to salvation by God the Father. They are free to seek God and to seek conversion IF THEY WILL—not CUT OFF!…

If the husband or wife who is IN the Church divorces the unbelieving nonmember who is willing to continue the marriage, that Church member puts the unconcerted mate in the CUTOFF category—whereas such nonmember mate might have been saved for eternal life in God’s Kingdom.

We must never forget that the only way to fully understand the Bible on the issue of divorce and remarriage is by seeking God’s will.

Christ will soon marry again. Only this time He will marry a repentant, forgiven, sinless “spiritual Israel.” This is the New Testament Church soon to enter the Kingdom of God. Read Revelation 19:7: “The marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready.”

Sources:

  1. Why Marriage! Soon Obsolete? by Herbert W Armstrong
  2. WCG Pastor General’s Report, 1980, Herbert W Armstrong
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March 19, 2009

Why Homosexuality Destroys God's Gospel

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Given today’s liberal climate of pandering to homosexual conduct as normal behaviour, I doubt this post will be popular with the “politically correct” elite. But then again, the truth is seldom popular. Witness Jesus Christ, who was killed for  bringing the message of His Father. Yes, many seemed to believe “on” Christ, but only 120 “believed” Him – that is, they obeyed. Today also, many profess to believe in Christ, adore Christ, worship the name of Christ – yet who listens to or obeys God? Man has the audacity to actually do away with the 10 Commandments, when there is no clear scripture authorizing such a move.

Is this the end time?

It’s pretty hard to wrap your mind around a subject like the end time, when everything seems to be well in your world. North America still has a high standard of living and has enjoyed one for almost a century. However, all that is slowly coming to an end. The entire world seems to be in a financial free fall, but as this is mentioned, many seem to shrug it off as a concern that will right itself again. It’s just another cyclical event, right? Wrong! No one has ever seen the likes of what we are facing today. The experts admit they are dumbfounded and speechless. They don’t know what is going on because history has no precedent. It’s very easy to be casual about things such as these, but we are now witnessing the outer edge of the coming storm, prophecied in your Bible.

In Gen. 6:13, during the time of Noah, God said the end of all flesh was near. And so it is again, as we face another end –  the coming Tribulation as prophecied in the book of Revelation. Anyone with a little foresight should be able to recognize that this world’s problems cannot be solved by man. Yet no one wants to listen to God. There is very little humbleness in this world, and the Bible says mankind will experience destruction just short of destroying all humanity (Matt. 24).

Peter warns about homosexuality

“And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly” (II Pet. 2:6).

This warning was not for the first century Church, but rather the end time, about which Christ prophecied that “no flesh” would be saved alive if He did not return. Peter was inspired to write about this end time sick  Sodom-and-Gomorrah world.

So what is Sodomy? It is abnormal sexual intercourse between people. This was practiced widely in Sodom, known for some of the most vile sins ever committed by men. Today we have become so sophisticated that sodomy, or homosexuality,  is regarded as good, rather than the abomination God says it is (Rom. 1:22-23).

The Bible is clear in its condemnation of this lifestyle (Is. 1:10, 3:9, Jer. 23:14), and of the certainty of those sinners being severely punished (Is. 13:9, Jer. 49:18, Lam. 4:6).

Like Sodom of old, the scripture says we declare our sin as Sodom and hide it not. Today’s society is proud of the fact that it has collectively come out of the closet. The entire lifestyle is taught early on in school to be tolerated and any opposing views are squashed as being intolerant.

The most important thing on the minds of many people is the drive to legitimize and legalize homosexual marriage. People think if they can get caught up in their evil desires, they can forget about reality and about what God says. Yet, God gave us specific New Testament example in Peter (and Jude) about what happens if a city or nation is polluted with homosexuality. It is going to be destroyed the same way that depraved Sodom and Gomorrah were.

The twisting of the human mind

The sin of sodomy is the utmost twisting the human mind. God is NOT pleased about people being defiled in such a way. And that is exactly what it is – a defilement. God calls it an uncleanness – a dishonouring of the human body (Rom. 1:14).

Now it’s funny that most professing Christianity believe in the New Testament, yet here are specific warnings from God and even churches that claim to represent Jesus Christ openly advocate homosexuality – saying the Bible is silent on the issue, or worse, approves of it.

Let’s be real honest in our evaluation of this behaviour – it is not neither loving nor balanced; solid or sound minded. It is a depraved conduct – period. I understand that more and more courts of the land are approving of it, but they are defying the living God! They have pushed and pressured young, impressionable minds to accept this sick lifestyle and now “the whole head is sick (Is. 1:5).

The antithesis of hope!

Homosexual marriage is the antithesis of real hope. Why? because rather than being a “freedom,” it destroys families. Family is the most sacred of all institutions. When a family obeys God it produces strong, beautiful children which will amaze you. These are the backbone of nations. When families fall apart, nations fall.

Now many will argue that they have seen strong homosexual marriages with adopted children, which function better than some traditional families. That may be true, but it misses the entire point. Marriage and family are a God-plane relationship. It prepares us to enter our marriage with Jesus Christ. God is our Father, Jesus Christ is the Husband of the bride (God’s firstfruits) and the entire world will be likened as children in the God family. It is a family gospel.

Satan is the author of the “queer” movement. He understands that he will be deposed when Jesus Christ returns, that he has no opportunity in the family of God. He wants to obliterate family – destroy marriage and blot it out forever. He is the motivator behind the same sex marriage movement which is defying God to His face.

Anciently, when two angels visited Sodom in the guise of physical men, the perverted male population wanted to have sexual relations with them. They were so full of lust, that even as they were struck blind, they kept coming. Just as there was no  reasoning with such deviant minds then, so there is no reasoning with the homosexual movement today. There is no knowledge of God with them, so they have been given over to a reprobate [vain, empty, worthless – Strong’s # 96] mind (Rom. 1:28).

If you understand the gospel of God – which is about the family of God – you will understand the magnitude of this sin. We are now witnessing the destruction of the gospel of God – the good news of the coming family of God. Satan is desperately trying to blot out this hope from mankind by twisting and distorting the very foundation of family. But God turned Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes as an example and warning to us of what will happen if we turn wholesale to this sin. And as a nation, we have!

There is no greater physical warning in the Bible than this. God didn’t spare the sinning angels, nor the sinners in Noah’s day. Neither did He spare Sodom and Gomorrah.  We are living in such societies today and  God does not spare people who commit such vile sins. Think about it. Haven’t most people been dulled to homosexuality and other immorality in this world?

“Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin…(II Pet. 2:14). They are hooked on sin like heroin – like the homosexuals in Gen. 19. Their willpower is destroyed.

The homosexual movement promises liberty, but they themselves are the servants of corruption (II Pet. 2:19). They never talk about God’s “law of liberty,” in Jam. 1:25. They offer a false freedom – a lawless liberty, which is really slavery. They talk about love, but it is a shallow, meaningless love not grounded in the law of God.

Homosexuality is NOT freedom, because it destroys the law of God and the gospel of God. It is part of the pornographic market which rakes in billions annually. And we need to call it what it is. First, homosexuals are not queer or gay, because those words soften or add legitimacy  – they are sodomites – as God calls them.

Some will say that this type of post is hateful, but the opposite is true. We are to love the sinner and yet hate the sin and I abide by that principle. I have nothing against people themselves, but I can’t condone the lifestyle.  Anyone who thinks our present problems are unrelated to the filth and degeneration present in society today is not thinking clearly. These problems will only intensify, they will not go away.  There will not be an economic upturn anymore – this is it – we have crested the hill and the way down is before us. God is now judging our nations for turning their backs on Him.

What an ugly picture leading to the greatest time of suffering ever in mankind’s history – the Tribulation – as described in the book of Revelation. Yes, that’s the same book no religion teaches about because of its perceived bad news. And contrary to scoffers, that won’t make it go away. In fact, God knew such attitudes would prevail today:

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts (II Pet. 3:3).

Lange’s Commentary says this is referring to “the last of the last days.” So many will come in the spirit of scoffing and cursing (Ps. 109:16-17). What is causing this mass exodus away from God? Satan has been cast down and demons are racing about like mad dogs stirring up rage, clothing all in a scoffing spirit. It’s an ugly picture, but just like in the time of Noah, they refuse to listen, which actually fulfills prophecy.

There is good news though. Jesus Christ is returning and will overthrow the governments of this world, installing God’s government of peace and justice. Right and proper conduct will be taught from the basis of the law of God and the result will be true happiness.

March 8, 2009

What Will Take Place After The 1000-Year Millennium?

These events are described in Revelation 20:7 through the end of the book.

What will happen after God’s plan of salvation has been completed and the earth purged by fire (II Pet. 3:10-12) is found in Revelation 21: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle [dwelling] of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God” (verses 1-3). At that time, the earth will become the headquarters of God’s Government, which will never cease to grow (Luke 1:33; Isa. 9:7).

God’s plan is concerned with eternity. The sons admitted into His Kingdom will be active, dynamic, productive! They will not just sit around idly. Instead, they will continue fulfilling God’s master plan. Hebrews 2:6-8 states that God will ultimately put the universe under man’s authority. (The words “all things” would be better translated “the universe.”)

What is happening now is only the beginning. We can’t begin to fathom the immensity and glory of what we will be doing for eternity. A great deal more is included than meets the eye in the hint given in Revelation 21:5: “Behold, I make all things new glorious and wonderful beyond our most imaginative dreams. (See I Corinthians 2:9 and Romans 8:18.)

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