Pastors Report - 14 Aug 2020
Marriage A Divine Creation

Marriage - a Divine Creation:

"Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." (Revelation 19:7)

This past week my wife and I had the pleasure of attending the marriage of our first grandchild. A thought-provoking event in a way, as we thought back 23 years to the day he was born and then witnessed him standing with his bride, listening to the same words that we, his grandparents had listened to, decades earlier:

"Surely there can be no more joyous ceremony than this we now enter. Marriage is not only a natural union, but it is a divine institution ordained by God. It was established, not by man, but by the eternal God at creation and derives its authority from the divine laws of God which are immutable and unchangeable..."

So began the church marriage ceremony – simple, and relatively short, but absolutely filled with profound meaning for those whose minds have been opened to the Plan of God. And although a really joyful occasion, it was also somewhat sobering, as we contemplated the genesis of marriage itself, the incredible reason for its very existence – and what it will mean for every single human being... for eternity.

Weddings Today:

Naturally, a great deal of thought and planning went into this particular family wedding – exacerbated by the covid-19 issues, which meant not only a last minute change of venue but also who was allowed to be on the guest list! But even without pandemic problems, it does seem that for most couples, the main concentration today – and often at eye-watering expense – is directed at the wedding itself – the "Big Day" – with little thought of what this sacred ordinance signifies, let alone how to make this fledgling relationship work. In recent years, here in the UK we've had a handful of royal marriages – which, thanks to the intense media coverage they spawned, have become the average person's primary source of knowledge about weddings. We've been treated to a great deal of pomp and ceremony, but by swallowing the evolutionary concept, mankind in general has lost sight of any higher fulfilment of the marriage ceremony, let alone any laws that govern human relationships. God has been sidelined – given very much a back seat.

So as we approach the end of the 6,000 years of confusion and chaos, there will be some very basic and fundamental concepts we'll need to teach, so it's vitally important that we have a good grip on these ourselves.

  • For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.
  • And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers:
  • And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. (Isaiah 30:19-21)
Virginity:

Going back to basics, virginity – purity – is going to have to be high on the teaching syllabus. From the dawn of time immorality has been extensive, particularly with prostitution – widely recognised as the world's oldest profession. But today is different. In the last few decades – and especially since the 1960's – the Western world has become largely A-moral rather than merely Im-moral, in that the very concept of right and wrong in a sexual context is no longer even understood, let alone adhered to. With God thrown out of the window, there is no higher authority to worry about. Sexual 'freedom' of all kinds has eroded the very comprehension of what God defines as acceptable and unacceptable in the sexual area, making the entire concept of virginity or 'saving yourself' prior to marriage, something now treated with scorn and even undesirable, the excuse being that experience in this most fundamental and private area is what counts. So having multiple sexual partners and/or living together prior to marriage has become the new norm.

But that is the antithesis of God's view! He doesn't treat such immorality lightly – far from it, as He is deadly serious about the concept of virginity and purity prior to marriage as opposed to the "anything goes with anyone, anytime" approach of the world. God uses fornication and whoredom to convey some truly profound spiritual lessons to mankind – and particularly to those of us in God's church at this end time. We can see this graphically portrayed when we contrast the virginal true church with the harlotry of Babylon the great. The true church is currently waiting – saving herself – for the return of her Lord, the King, her husband-to- be, while the false church – along with all her harlot daughters – sell themselves wantonly to the highest bidder, and whomsoever appears to humanly give the greatest advantage in today's world and its politics:

  • I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me!
  • I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.
  • But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
  • For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough...
  • ...For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ.
  • And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
  • It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. (II Corinthians 11:1-4,13-15 NIV)
  • And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
  • With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
  • So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
  • And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
  • And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. (Revelation 17:1-5)
Betrothal

So many concepts are different today to what we find within Scripture, and Satan has made sure that even the word 'virgin' conjures up an airline or record company, rather than "chaste, fresh, immaculate, modest, new, pure, undefiled." And this is also true in the area of the betrothal period prior to marriage. Note how this profound discrepancy is highlighted within the following article on the subject of betrothal from the Jewish encyclopaedia:

The term "betrothal" in Jewish law must not be understood in its modern sense; that is, the agreement of a man and a woman to marry, by which the parties are not, however, definitely bound, but which may be broken or dissolved without formal divorce. Betrothal or engagement such as this is not known either to the Bible or to the Talmud, and only crept in among the medieval and modern Jews through the influence of the example of the Occidental nations among whom they dwelt, without securing a definite status in rabbinical law.

Several Biblical passages refer to the negotiations requisite for the arranging of a marriage (Gen. xxiv.; Song of Songs viii. 8; Judges xiv. 2-7), which were conducted by members of the two families involved, or their deputies, and required usually the consent of the prospective bride (if of age); but when the agreement had been entered into, it was definite and binding upon both groom and bride, who were considered as man and wife in all legal and religious aspects, except that of actual cohabitation.

The root ("to betroth"), from which the Talmudic abstract ("betrothal") is derived, must be taken in this sense; i.e., to contract an actual though incomplete marriage. In two of the passages in which it occurs the betrothed woman is directly designated as "wife" (II Sam. iii. 14, "my wife whom I have betrothed" ("erasti"), and Deut. xxii. 24, where the betrothed is designated as "the wife of his neighbor"). In strict accordance with this sense the rabbinical law declares that the betrothal is equivalent to an actual marriage and only to be dissolved by a formal divorce. ( jewishencyclopedia.com)

Only with the above understanding of the importance of the betrothal period, does the account of Mary and Joseph – and his dilemma – begin to make any sense. To all intents and purposes, even though the consummation and wedding ceremony had yet to happen, the human parents of Jesus Christ were as good as married once the betrothal came into effect:

  • Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy [Spirit].
  • Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
  • But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy [Spirit]...
  • ... Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
  • And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. (Matthew 1:18-20,24-25)

Having an understanding of the legal solemnity surrounding the biblical betrothal period is something truly vital for all of us within God's church today, as we find ourselves in that betrothal period right now! But also, throughout the Millennium there will be multiple joyful weddings, without doubt each preceeded by a period of betrothal, which at that time will be deeply understood from what we're learning now and then able to teach:

  • The LORD proclaims: You have said about this place, "It is a wasteland, without humans or animals." Yet in the ravaged and uninhabited towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem,
  • The sounds of joy and laughter and the voices of the bride and the bridegroom will again be heard. So will the voices of those who say, as thank offerings are brought to the LORD's temple, "Give thanks to the LORD of heavenly forces, for the LORD is good and his kindness lasts forever." I will bring back the captives of this land as they were before, says the LORD. (Jeremiah 33:10,11 CEB)
Washed by the Word:

We individually come under the terms of this New Covenant relationship at the point of our baptism when, following repentance and determining to unreservedly turn to God's way for the rest of our physical lives, – not "loving our lives unto the death" (Revelation 12:11) , we accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all past sins. From that point on, we become part of Christ's collective wife who is being washed – purified – ready for the actual wedding ceremony to take place. Even the gentiles of old understood the depth of preparation desired for a royal bride... definitely a position we aspire to.

  • Now when every maid’s turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;) (Esther 2:12)

But our purification – and that of humanity in the Millennium, once God's spirit is made universally available – is somewhat different from that which Esther physically undertook – we are cleaned up by not only the indwelling but the constant day-in and day-out use of God's Holy Spirit. A vital concept we need to practice now in order to teach it effectively.

  • Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
  • That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
  • That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having [stain], or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish... (Ephesians 5:25-27)
And To Obey:

Once again – looking back to the pivotal decade of the 1960's – we see a shift in the social structure of society, which gave birth the the Women's Liberation Movement and other feminist movements, and if there is one segment within what was once the traditional marriage ceremony that today is so vehemently opposed, it is the requirement for the wife to agree to be subject to her husband's authority as laid down in Scripture.

  • Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
  • For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
  • Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. (Ephesians 5:22-24)

Today we see the vast difference between the spiritually humble, teachable and obedient true church of God and the rebellious, self-willed whore of Babylon and her harlot daughters. On the one hand we see apostate organisations of THIS world – masquerading as churches of Jesus Christ – who stridently decide for themselves the definition of right and wrong, true and false, obedience and disobedience ... contrasted with the true virginal Church of God who in love, honour and deep respect willingly submits herself to her loving husband. Not a wife who grudgingly just goes along with what her husband wants – the strict letter of the law – but wants to make it work, to seek his mind on the subject.

  • Wives, likewise, submit to your own husbands. Do this so that even if some of them refuse to believe the word, they may be won without a word by their wives' way of life.
  • After all, they will have observed the reverent and holy manner of your lives.
  • Don't try to make yourselves beautiful on the outside, with stylish hair or by wearing gold jewelry or fine clothes.
  • Instead, make yourselves beautiful on the inside, in your hearts, with the enduring quality of a gentle, peaceful spirit. This type of beauty is very precious in God's eyes.
  • For it was in this way that holy women who trusted in God used to make themselves beautiful, accepting the authority of their own husbands.
  • For example, Sarah accepted Abraham's authority when she called him master. You have become her children when you do good and don't respond to threats with fear. (I Peter 3:1-6 CEB)

And sadly this rejection of the husband's role as head of the home is commonplace within marriages from all strata of society... from royalty on down to the casual binding in a registry office or on a beach in the Bahamas. But it's a foundational principle that though now very rare, is something that will need to become commonplace in the world tomorrow, if the marriages are to thrive.

Breeding:

When Jesus Christ as the Eternal of the Old Testament, created Adam and Eve as husband and wife, He undoubtedly did so with the higher divine future fulfilment in mind; "Declaring the end from the beginning..." (I saiah 46:10). There was an incredible purpose in creating Adam's wife Eve in the way that He did which is made very clear in Genesis: she was designed to be a help which was fully fitting for her husband in every way – as the very bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh at his side, what we might term today as a 'soul mate':

  • And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help [comparable to] him...
  • ...And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
  • And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. (Genesis 2:18,21,22)

From the time of Noah (Genesis 6:9) we can note that 'breeding' was something valued by God, and it appears Abraham – who was to become the Father of the faithful – understood the great importance of the subject when the time came for Isaac to marry:

  • And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:
  • And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:
  • But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac. (Genesis 24:2-4)

Isaac did the same in sending Jacob to his uncle Laban to find a suitable wife (Genesis 28:1-5) ... They were very much looking for someone with the same or similar ancestry – or 'pedigree' – who would therefore be more likely to be a help that was fitting to her husband and extended family. And until comparatively recently, in royal circles this would even translate into someone with similar royal breeding as well. When we think in depth about what our present calling really is – what we are being trained for, i.e. moving in the royal circles of the universe-ruling God family – then it is obvious that this principle applies to the firstfruits also – in essence that our 'spiritual DNA' is similar to that of the husband to whom we are to be joined!

Humanity will shortly be taught those same principles re. 'breeding' – for a start that God does not support inter-racial marriage, or same-sex alliances – even if they are of the same race! As brought out in the very first chapter of Genesis, mankind was made after the God kind (Genesis 1:26) - and God's ultimate aim is that we will also mirror His mind and character - the "express image of his person" (Hebrews 1:3) So each one of us, firstfruits or not – if we are to be given a position within the Family of God – need to reflect the Mind of the Father – the same mind that is in Jesus Christ, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6) - the Creator who willingly died for His creation.

A Family Covenant:

And as was the case in royal circles in the past, the primary reason those in line for the throne were required to only wed suitable princesses and not commoners, was to ensure the correct royal lineage of subsequent children. So too with the Bride of Christ. As spiritual royalty, the teaching and training of our offspring must be from the same spiritual source as our Husband's, Jesus Christ – so that subsequent children will be converted in the same way, believing the same things, breathing the very same spirit, eventually ready to rule and reign in the Royal divine family of God – as spirit-born sons of God – for all eternity.

Here is what Mr Armstrong has to say on the subject:

But, with Satan out of the way, with the glorified Christ ruling, with His glorious marriage to His Bride, the Spirit-born of God, that marriage will beget millions upon millions of children...

But how will this marriage produce children?

Those who are called, now, during this time, and who do repent, who do receive Christ as Saviour, do follow God’s Spirit, do overcome, not only will be in the marriage to Christ – they are to rule with Him (Rev. 2:26-27, 3:21, 1 Cor. 6:2-3), and they shall be priests as well as kings (Rev. 5:10, 20:6).

With the saints made immortal – the collective wife of Christ – the human mortals left alive on earth will be ruled by Christ and by them. The human mortals will be taught and ruled by immortals. Those who do then repent and come to salvation through Christ will then receive God’s gift of His Holy Spirit. And then they shall inherit the Kingdom of God.

After His return as King over all nations, sitting on the throne of His glory, then shall Christ say to the converted: "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom…" (Matt. 25:31-34) Thus they shall be born of God – be born into the family of God.

Thus the marriage of the converted Church to Christ will result in the begettal and birth of divine children – children who, during the thousand-year reign with Christ, are Spirit-born – and in all probability, untold millions of them. Read it also in Isaiah 11:10-13 and Romans 11:25-26, and many other scriptures. ( Why Marriage! Soon Obsolete?)

The Past, Present ... and the Future:

The family unit is the crucible for the next generation and even a cursory examination of the problems that today's societies are struggling with shows that the rejection of the laws guiding this relationship have brought nothing but misery. Children need stability if they are to develop and flourish – and are experiencing diametrically the opposite. Throughout the entire Bible, the concept of family – and its vital importance – comes through loud and clear. Multiple verses and chapters are given over to basic laws governing marriage and family life and one whole book – that of the Song of Solomon – is devoted to marital love. These 3 sections of scripture below seem to sum up how God looks at marriage – the divine creation it really is, and one of the most foundational concepts it will be our privilege and pleasure to teach:

  • And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
  • And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
  • Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:22-24)
  • For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
  • For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
  • This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:30-32)
  • I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
  • And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely...
  • ...He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
  • The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Revelation 22:16,17,20,21)