If God is really against polygamy why does Deuteronomy 21 allow it?

“If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated: Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn.” (Deuteronomy 21:15-16) This verse raises a major question. If God is really against polygamy then why does the law of Moses allow it?

Adding to the argument for polygamy some of the great men of the Old Testament were polygamists. Abraham, Jacob, Caleb, David, and Solomon were Godly men who practiced polygamy. The Bible records no rebuke of these men for their polygamy. Are we to interpret the Bible’s lack of specific condemnation to be approval of polygamy? Is the Biblical definition of marriage not as fixed as modern defenders of marriage would have us believe?

The most compelling evidence that God intended marriage to be between only one man and one woman is found in the words of Jesus. When the Pharisees asked Jesus about divorce, His answer was based upon the original created design of one man and one woman. Jesus considers the marriage of Adam and Eve as the prototype and the standard for all other marriages.

If the words of Jesus teach that God is against polygamy, then what is going on in Deuteronomy 21? The law of Moses contained different types of laws. Some governed temple worship, sacrifices and ceremonial uncleanness. Other laws were civil laws which instructed the the Israelites how to live as a nation. These laws dealt with murder, false accusation, disease, slaves, conquests, poverty and other issues that all governments have to address. The only marriage related laws address suspected adultery, divorce and inheritance in a polygamous family, except for the command of Deuteronomy 17:17. God forbade kings to multiply wives. Thus, David and Solomon were in clear violation of God’s command regarding marriage.

The law of Deuteronomy 21 gives commands regarding polygamy to ethically address one problem that would arise when a man was married to more than one woman. Polygamy was part of the culture. Those with power and wealth would often have multiple wives. A man would likely leave his inheritance to the son of his favored wife instead of to the eldest son of his household. This law was intended to protect against favoritism in the inheritance.

Though the Bible does record instances of Godly men being polygamists, the majority were not. Noah, Moses, Joshua, Isaac, Joseph and many other great names of the Old Testament were unmarried or married to only one wife. In short, polygamy may have been permitted, but it was never the standard for marriage.

Why did God not just forbid polygamy outright? Why not punish the polygamist and invalidate all polygamous marriages? We can only speculate on why God did not give more clear prohibitions against polygamy, but the ancient attitudes towards women would have made punishing polygamy incredibly hard on the wives. A woman who had been married and divorced was shamed. She would have faced destitution and scorn. It was better for her to remain in the marriage, protected and cared for, than to be cast out to her shame and poverty.

At times the Old Testament law gave instructions regarding things that God did not approve of. Jesus told the Pharisees that God allowed divorce because of the hardness of men’s hearts. God disapproves of divorce, but gave instructions in the law of Moses to guide it. Polygamy is much the same. God created marriage to be between one man and one woman, but He gave a law concerning inheritance in a polygamous family to protect the rights of the children.

Advertisements

Are the New Testament commands optional?

Some Christians appear to have the idea that the New Testament commands are not that important. This author has been told by professing Christians that since obeying the New Testament commands is not necessary for salvation then believers today do not have to obey them. Are the New Testament commands binding on Christians? In other words, are they actual commands to be obeyed or just Divine recommendations?

The New Testament writers viewed the commands they communicated to be binding on Christians. Significant consequences were to be administered to those who did not obey the New Testament commands. Jesus Himself commanded that disobedient Christian’s were to be put out of the church. The Thessalonian church was told to remove those who did not obey the commands of 2 Thessalonians. The Apostle Paul said some members of the church in Corinth were sick and some had died because of their disobedience to God’s commands. In the second and third chaptes of the book of Revelation are strong warnings to several churches. Jesus threatened significant judgment on those churches and Christians who disobeyed Him.

More important than the consequences of disobedience is the confession made by obedience. 1 John says, “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in Him.” Obedience to the commands of God is one of the evidences of genuine salvation. Those who profess salvation but refuse to obey God are frauds. They are not saved. To brush aside the commands of God is to show an incredible disregard for God, His Word and His will. Ignoring God’s commands shows a lack of genuine love for God. Jesus said, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsover I command you.”

To disregard God’s commands because they play no role in salvation is to misunderstand the purpose of the commands. No command was ever given to save men. The Old Testament law was not given to the Israelites as a means of salvation. The Old Testament law was always a teacher to point the sinner to his need of a Savior. Salvation always has been and always will be received through faith in Jesus. However, it does not follow that obedience is unimportant.

God’s commands are given for the good of His children. The commands keep the Christian from sin and teach them how to live pleasing to Him. The New Testament commands work to make the believer more like Jesus. Obedience to the commands of God shows that the believer considers God’s will to be supreme, His words to be law and He to be the ruler of life. By obeying the commands of God the Christian shows that God is truly most important. Obedience is not necessary to salvation, but it is essential to growth, testimony and the glory of God.

What is the best way to begin reading the Bible?

The New Year is right around the corner and people are thinking about their resolutions to start off the year on the right foot. Many Christians will resolve to read their Bibles more faithfully. Those who have tried reading the Bible in a year know that the task is difficult, and unfortunately, often a failure. As you look at the Bible and consider reading it this year, is there a better way to begin that will help keep the reader on track?

The best way to begin and continue reading the Bible is to start with the right understanding of the importance of the Word of God. The Bible is the only record of God’s communication to mankind. Scripture is God’s words written down and kept for the benefit of every person. The Bible brings sinners to saving faith. The Bible teaches men what God expects of them. The Bible tells God’s purpose for creation. The Bible declares God’s commands to mankind. The Bible unfolds the plan God has for humanity. The Bible reveals who God is and what God is like. A knowledge of the Bible is essential to answered prayer. The Bible is challenging to read at times, but it is always essential if the child of God is going to have a close relationship with God. Read the Bible because you cannot do without it.

Before you begin reading, pray for God to help you comprehend what you are reading. The Bible is a supernatural and spiritual book that can only be rightly understood when the Holy Spirit opens the understanding.

Before you read, have the right expectations of the Bible. Do not expect the Bible to be like a magazine, newspaper or novel. The Bible is a collection of various books that contain history, Jewish poetry, parables, prophecies, commands and personal letters. The Bible contains types of literature that are unfamiliar and, at times, difficult. Scripture deals with difficult subjects that will not be easily understood. Expect to face some challenges along the way.

Plan to read the Bible the same way you would eat an elephant, one bite at a time. The book of Genesis is fascinating, but many people would struggle to spend the three hours necessary to read all of Genesis in one sitting. Read the Bible in bites small enough for you to handle. Find a reading program that is doable for you and it will be a great help to remaining faithful. Though it seems to be a massive book filled with strange ideas, the average reader can read the entire Bible in about seventy hours. By spending one hour and twenty minutes every week, you can read the entire Bible in a year. Spend fifteen minutes a day reading Scripture and you can read through the whole Bible in one year.

Determine ahead of time not to let a missed day or two keep you from continuing. Many drop out of their reading plan because they get behind. Often those who have the goal to read the Bible in a specific period of time get frustrated and quit when they miss a few days. Instead of trying to reach a deadline, commit to reading every day. If you miss a day, read the next day and just keep plugging away.

Most importantly, reading the Bible is very important, but you cannot just read it. Read to know your God better. Read to have your life changed. The Bible is the authoritative decree of the God of the universe. He gave you the Bible so you would know Him. He gave the Bible to tell you what He expects of you. Submit yourself to the instructions of the Bible and let its rules guide the way you live.

Many tools and resources are available to help you read through the Bible at any pace you desire. Smartphone apps like You Version offer daily Bible reading plans and a wide range of downloadable plans are available here.

Is God a Megalomaniac?

In a recent Everlasting Truths radio broadcast one of the pastor’s commented, “God is not ultimately for us, He is ultimately for Himself.” By that he meant God’s work in this world is to bring glory to Himself. Some see this and believe God must be a maniac who is psychotically bent on having everyone worship Him and on doing that which makes Himself looks better. Does the Bible teach that God is doing everything for His own glory? If it does, does that mean God is a self-centered jerk?

The Bible does teach that God is working in this world to bring glory to Himself. Revelation 4:11 says, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Jesus told his disciples, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” In Isaiah 48:11 God tells the Jews why He would rescue them from captivity and judgment, “For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? And I will not give my glory unto another.” God is working in the world for His own glory.

Since this is a Biblical idea, does it mean that God is a self-centered maniac? If a person acts this way he is considered to have a mental disorder. Brad Pitt could not accept God’s call to worship Him alone. He said, “I didn’t understand this idea of a God who says, ‘You have to acknowledge me. You have to say that I’m the best, and then I’ll give you eternal happiness. If you won’t, then you don’t get it!’ It seemed to be about ego. I can’t see God operating from ego, so it made no sense to me.” Michael Prowse, a writer for a London newspaper said, “We know that human tyrants, puffed up with pride, crave adulation and homage. But a morally perfect God would surely have no character defects. So why are all those people on their knees every Sunday?”

Statements like these suppose God’s desire for the exaltation of His own glory is a personality flaw that brings injury to others. When a maniac rules a nation for his own aggrandizement, it always bring suffering and ruin on that nation. Only when the unfortunate citizens of that land are freed from his tyranny is there a measure of good brought to them. Is this true of God? Does His rule result in our misery? Is our rebellion the only means to bring joy to mankind?

When God created humanity He designed men to know Him, to walk with Him and to love Him. The Bible gives a glimpse of the paradise that existed while man walked with God and obeyed Him fully. When man rebelled paradise was lost. Misery, death, sorrow and pain filled the world. When God calls men to worship Him He is calling them to return to the place we abandoned to venture into the desolation of sin. He is calling humanity to leave the things which bring condemnation and wrath upon the world to return to Him who gives goodness and joy. When God demands men worship Him it is for His glory and for our good. These two things cannot be separated: what exalts God is good for mankind.

God does not demand our worship as if he needed his ego soothed or his self-esteem bolstered. God does not need anything from man. Paul says in Acts 17, “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” “For in him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:24-25, 28) God does not need our worship for His own sake. He commands our worship because it is due Him and it is good for us. God is ultimately concerned with Himself because He is infinitely concerned for us.

How can I give thanks for everything?

How does a Christian give thanks for terrible events? Fatal disease, personal tragedy, national catastrophe, evil men and inhuman atrocities are just some of the grim things that are always occurring in this world. Should a Christian give thanks for things like murder or child abuse?

The Bible commands Christians to give thanks in every thing, give thanks for every thing and give thanks all the time.
“In everything give thanks.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
“Giving thanks always for all things.” (Ephesians 5:20)
“In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)
“Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.” (Colossians 3:17)
“By Him therefore let us therefore offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.” (Hebrews 13:15)

How can a compassionate Christian obey these commands?

Giving thanks for bad things is not treating evil as if it is good. Nor is it trying to excuse evil. Evil will always be a horrible tragedy. Giving thanks for calamity does not deny the painful reality of suffering. Instead, giving thanks for evil recognizes the good purposes of God that are being accomplished in even the most terrible evnts. Consider the most inhuman evil ever perpetrated in the world. The rejection of the Son of God followed by His unjust execution is the most horrible thing to ever happen. Yet Christians always thank God for Jesus’ death on the cross. In the Lord’s Supper Christians gather to remember and give thanks to God for the death of Jesus. Jesus Himself gave thanks at the first Lord’s Supper. Though He knew the suffering waiting for Him Jesus gave thanks to God in that time of great personal agony. Jesus did not deny the horrors of what was coming. He knew them, looked them full in the face and thanked God. Christians can thank God for terrible things without acting as if evil is good or pain is pleasant.

Giving thanks is not just about the thanking God for the pleasant things we receive from Him. It is easy to give thanks for answered prayers, a nice home or a pay raise. Giving thanks is about more than the blessings of God. Giving thanks is about recognizing God’s good hand in everything that happens. Giving thanks looks above the circumstances to acknowledge the holy God who is accomplishing His good purposes in all things.

Christians can give thanks because we recognize that temporary benefit is not the most important thing. We can be grateful for painful circumstances because we know they are working in us eternal good. (2 Corinthians 4:17) God’s primary interest is not in increasing our comfort or in helping us achieve our dreams. God’s concern is for our eternal gain. Giving thanks looks beyond the present to the promised. Continual thankfulness looks past the temporary to the eternal good that God is working.

We give thanks because God is good, God is sovereign, God is accomplishing the eternal plan promised in Scripture, God is redeeming men and God is using every situation to change the Christian into the likeness of Jesus. We give thanks because no matter how much the situation changes, God is the same and He is always accomplishing what is best for those who love Him.

Should Christian’s use Marijuana?

In the November elections the state of Michigan passed a ballot proposal to legalize recreational marijuana. Ten states now allow recreational marijuna us. Thirty-three allow the use of medicinal marijuana. In the two years since the following article was originally posted the legal landscape has changed significantly. For Christians, the major issue remains the same.

The acceptance of marijuana use has increased significantly in America. We have come a long way from the 1980’s “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign. Today marijuana is praised as a marvelous medicine for those suffering from ailments like glaucoma, persistent pain and the lack of the munchies.

Over half of the states in America have legalized some form of marijuana use for medicinal purposes. Seven states now allow recreational use of marijuana. If the progression continues many Christians will find themselves living in a state which permits relatively unrestricted use of marijuana. Will Christians then have the freedom to use marijuana?

The legalization of marijuana is a complex subject involving many aspects that do not fall under the scope of this ministry (this is not a political, scientific or medical blog). The question being discussed today is limited to using marijuana recreationally. Using THC or CBD based substances that are prescribed and overseen by a competent physician is an entirely different issue.

Though marijuana use is legal in some states, it is still illegal across America because of federal statutes. Marijuana is classified as a schedule one drug and is thus a controlled substance whose use and distribution is subject to federal prosecution. In other words, using marijuana is forbidden by the federal government and you can be arrested for it even if you have a prescription.

Christians in American are citizens of a state and the nation. Romans 13 says, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.” “Ye must needs be subject . . . for conscience sake.” Christians are obligated by God to obey the governing officials. In those cases where the laws of the state and the laws of the nation disagree, the Christian is still bound to obey them all. Though the state where a Christian lives may allow the use of marijuana the nation does not. Consequently, obedience to the higher powers requires the Christian to obey the federal government and abstain from using marijuana.

Though the federal government may not enforce the law, or at least not enforce the law consistently, yet that law is in place. Until such time as the nation repeals the ban on marijuana use Christians are bound by their Scriptural duty to the government and not smoke marijuana. If the federal government eventually permits the use of marijuana those living in a state which forbids it must obey the state’s prohibition.

However, even if the nation were to permit the use of marijuana Christians have a higher obligation that forbids their use of the drug. The Christian is not to participate in anything that would enslave him. Marijuana is an addictive and mind altering substance. The Christian must never be under the power of any addiction. The Christian must never be under the control of anything but the Holy Spirit. If the child of God is forbidden to get drunk (Ephesians 5:18) then certainly being high on other substances must be equally inappropriate. Christians have no business using marijuana or any other drug for the purposes of getting high, relaxed, buzzed or stoned. The believers mind, heart and life is to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, not intoxicating substances.

Was Jesus created?

A recent survey conducted by LifeWay Research indicated that over 3/4 of Americans believe “Jesus was the first and greatest being created by God the Father.” This finding is astounding because it shows that many Americans hold to a belief that contradicts one of the most significant tenets of Christianity. The doctrine of the deity is Jesus is shared by all Christian denominations except the Christian cults. From the very earliest days of Christianity, Christians have affirmed that Jesus is the eternal God.

The Athanasian Creed declares, “The Son is uncreated”, “The son is eternal” and “The Son was neither made nor created.” These statement are merely a reflection of the clear New Testament teaching that Jesus is God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3) The words of John 1:3 make it impossible for Jesus to be created by God. If nothing was made apart from Jesus making it, then Jesus Himself could not be a creation. He must have eternally existed, as John 1:1 teaches. He was in the beginning with God because He is eternally God.

Why then does Colossians 1:15 describe Jesus as “the firstborn of every creature?” The word “firstborn” in Colossians speaks to rank, not birth order. Paul is saying that Jesus is the chief over all creation. This becomes obvious in the next couple verses as Paul goes on to say, “By Him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth . . . all things were created by Him, and for Him . . . that in all things He might have the preeminence.” Jesus is Creator and He is supreme over His creation. This great position is His so all will know He is most important.

Why then is Jesus called “the only begotten Son” of God? Jesus is the Son of God. He is God the Son, the second person of the Trinity. He is not the Son of God because in eternity past the Father caused the Son to come into existence. Jesus is the Son of God because that is the title given to Him in Scripture which describes the eternal relationship which exists between God the Father and God the Son. Jesus is the only begotten Son of God because He is God the Son who was begotten of God as a human being. The begottenness of Jesus is not a description of how the Son came to exist, but of how the Son became a man.

The New Testament consistently declares that Jesus is God, the Creator of all things and the Savior of men. He is “the beginning and the end, saith the Lord, which is, which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8) Jesus was not created by the Father. He had no beginning and will have no ending.