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Religious Talk - Part the Third - Random babblings of a fiber-obsessed nutcase

About Religious Talk - Part the Third

Previous Entry Religious Talk - Part the Third Jul. 10th, 2007 @ 07:19 pm Next Entry
Let's see if I can finish it in this entry......:fingers crossed:

7) Do not commit adultry.

The 7th Word that a married person should not commit adultery. Now, while we won’t go into depth with this (although we probably should), I do want to talk about this commandment for a bit, because it sets up a God-principle that most of us don’t entirely grasp. The first thing to understand is that the entire concept of adultery, by definition, ONLY occurs within the institution of a marriage; outside of a marriage, adultery has no meaning. And, marriage is not only an important element of God’s plan for mankind, but it plays a role in God’s relationship with mankind.

The whole concept of a marriage is that a “union” occurs; as concerns human-to-human relationships, scripturally, this marriage union is between a man and a woman. While we too often think of marriage as a physical or sexual matter, or in our American society as a financial or legal matter, in fact the union God is talking about in the 7th Commandment is PRIMARILY a spiritual union. Certainly, in the present world the physical aspects of marriage exist, and not the least reason for it being the propagation of the human race. But that will end in the not too distant future. The reason I say this, is that from Yehoveh’s perspective, the sin of adultery is less about a husband or a wife having a physical sexual union outside of their marriage than it is about our spirits entering into an unauthorized union with another. God has authorized that a man and a woman, before Him, may be joined in every level of union between themselves; but ONLY between themselves. The only other union allowed within that marriage is with God, through Christ (One could argue that a kind of 3rd union is permitted, that between the married couple and the body of Christ, the true church. But, that union is NOT quite the same thing, which is why it is spoken of in terms of unity, not union.)

You’ve probably noticed that our union with Christ is often spoken of in the Bible using marriage terminology; and the use of that marriage terminology is NOT an analogy NOR is it an illustration. It is absolutely real, and that fact should also help us to be more aware of how we are to consider the essence of marriage from Yehoveh’s point of view, and how we are to consider the nature of our relationship with Christ. Just as earthly marriage IS a man and a woman coming into union with one another, Salvation IS our being in union with Christ.

Now let me flesh that out just a little more. In the future there is going to be a glorious marriage feast, often called The Marriage Feast of the Lamb, in which Christ’s bride, the Church (meaning all believers), will enter into marriage with Him. This tells us that even though we are immediately in union with Christ upon our acceptance of His Lordship (i.e., when we are Saved), we are not yet FULLY into a FORMAL and COMPLETED marriage-like union with Him. So our union and unity with Christ is going to someday become even MORE complete at the end of this present age than it is today. At first that statement may sound like double-talk. How can it be that we’re kinda married but kinda not to Yeshua right now, with the marriage becoming fully complete later? While that concept might bother us a little, it would have made perfect sense to the Hebrews of Christ’s day. Because just as today where there is FIRST an engagement to be married, a betrothal before the actual wedding ceremony occurs, so it was then. Back then betrothal carried with it a far more serious and tangible promise when the engagement occurred than it does now. As the right situation arises, we’ll study more in depth all the ceremonial aspects of Hebrew marriage, which are not just interesting but quite instructive. For now just understand that at the moment of betrothal a Hebrew man and woman were treated as though they were married; that is, the union, to a degree, began upon engagement. A Chethubah, a legal marriage contract, was drawn up and agreed to and it was immediately effective upon betrothal; and an engaged couple could not become UNengaged without a formal legal divorce decree. Unfaithfulness during the betrothal period was considered adultery; upon betrothal even the property of the woman was considered to belong to her fiancée unless he renounced the rights to it. All that remained after betrothal for the marriage to be 100% completed was the consummation of marriage, physical union, which occurred AFTER the ceremonial wedding feast.

We who are Christ’s are currently in a state of betrothal to Him. We are in the marriage PROCESS. Right now, Christ is with us in Spirit, and so we are in union with Him in spirit; but upon the Marriage Feast of the Lamb He will be with us in PERSON, and so we will be in union with him, in person. So even during our CURRENT, earthly time of betrothal to Christ for us to come into union with something that is forbidden, for us to come into a state of unfaithfulness to Christ, puts us in a state of adultery in our relationship to Christ in Yehoveh’s eyes.

The NT Greek word “moichos” (moy-kos) which is typically correctly translated “adultery”, MUST be understood in its OT Hebrew sense in order for us to fully understand what God is telling us about adultery. When the Hebrews spoke of adultery, they meant faithlessness to your union partner. It did NOT have to be an overt act of having sex with another to be considered adultery, although most often that is what occurred. What constituted adultery, and the proper proofs and punishments for it, changed considerably over time. During the time of the Patriarchs, adultery required the wife to have had sex with another man. No proof other than the husband’s suspicions were needed, and he himself could put her to death. The Laws of Moses brought the requirement for conviction to a minimum of two witnesses. By the time of Christ much proof was needed, a court of law would rule on the matter, and death was still one of a range of possible punishments, but more often a public humiliation of some kind was the penalty. Not long AFTER Christ, the death penalty was removed for the sin of adultery because it had become so rampant that it was almost impossible to police; and the number of women that would have been executed was so huge as to make carrying out the death sentence unthinkable. During ALL Biblical times, adultery was considered a PURELY female crime and sin….men were not subject to it. Of course, Christ made clear that that most certainly was NOT God’s view of it and in Leviticus we see that men and women were subject to the same consequences.
Faithlessness of a women to her union partner in the form of fraternizing with another man, or taking another man’s side in a disagreement against her husband, was at times adultery in Biblical times. So adultery as concerns God, carries with it this broad sense of one’s faithlessness to Yehoveh on a spiritual level; and even includes the idea of drawing another person along with you into this faithlessness, because it takes two to tango, doesn’t it?
The thing is there are certain unions available to mankind that we are prohibited from entering into, especially if we wish to also be in union with Christ. In other words there are some unions that are mutually exclusive. The Scriptures explain that in essence WHAT or WHO we are in union with, defines how God sees us. So an obvious example would be that if we come into spiritual union with Satan, we could not also be in spiritual union with Christ….those two unions being mutually exclusive. There are other forbidden unions, all of them destructive, and Paul provides a list of them in 1 Cor.6, but that’s not our purpose so we won’t be dealing with each of those. The point is that our union with Christ is MOST similar to our union in human marriage, from God’s viewpoint. Therefore, for a Believer to join into a forbidden union while in union with Christ, or for a husband or wife to enter into a union outside of their marriage, the bible will use the same term for both: “adultery”. So, we need to understand the serious nature of this particular sin in a MUCH larger context than we typically think of it.

Now, I’m sure some here would like to discuss a little about the modern “adultery” aspects of divorce and remarriage. I really don’t think this is the appropriate lesson for that, but I would like to make just a couple of brief comments about it. First, committing adultery, whether by being unfaithful to a spouse, or perhaps (depending on your theology) by getting a divorce and then remarrying, is in neither case an unforgivable sin. There isn’t a sin that we can commit that Yeshua hasn’t already paid the price for. And, also please grasp that in the common meaning of the state of adultery in the Bible, it had to do with a married woman living with a man other than her husband…..which was looked down upon by society. That is, she had never obtained a legal divorce, typically because it was the husband’s prerogative to grant her a divorce or not. Men, on the other hand, commonly divorced their wives for the purpose of being with another woman….. that is, they simply tired of the woman that was their wife and sought another. While this was socially acceptable in those days, it was NOT acceptable to Yehoveh, and Yeshua spoke at length on this, trying to make that quite clear.

Second, the Bible struggles greatly with divorce and remarriage. Paul goes to some length to deal with the matter, and provides certain guidelines for it…. Some of which He says is from Christ, the remainder being his personal opinion. Yet, He (and Jesus) makes it clear that the reason for even addressing the issue of divorce and remarriage is that Yehoveh is well aware of the current hardness of mankind’s heart, and that while He is in no way excusing divorce, He has made provisions so that we do not sin even further should our marriage go into the ditch.

See, this is the context in which Paul made his statement about how it is better in some ways that, IF you can, to not be married….. because there is this conundrum that the present corrupt state of mankind faces in which single people may be unable to remain celibate (to avoid fornication), yet married people may be unable to remain faithful to each other (to avoid adultery), or even to be able to get along well enough to attain sufficient peace to stay married. And, in both cases, when we fail, it affects our relationship with Yehoveh, which is what Paul is so concerned about. The problems we face today in this regard are NO different than in Christ’s day.
And, finally, we should see the grace of God in all this. For Pete’s sake don’t think that if you are divorced and now remarried that you are in an unauthorized union and, in order to get right with God, you should end it. Was it sin that put us in that situation in the first place? Oh, yeah. And, that is what both Christ and Paul were getting at, because many divorcees, men in particular, felt no remorse at all over divorce. Their thought was that under the laws of Moses (and some later Traditions) there were legal procedures established for couples to divorce. So if they scrupulously followed those legal procedures it was all fine and well with Yehoveh. Wrong. If you are divorced and remarried, have you sought God’s forgiveness for it, and all that led to it? If you have, then accept His forgiveness, and acknowledge Christ’s complete payment on your behalf for that transgression, and move forward with gratitude for the wonderful mercy he has shown by giving you a new union, within which you can operate the way men and women were designed and meant to operate, even though His intent was that we should never need another other than the original union. Man, THAT is God’s love. THAT is why we NEED Christ.

The bottom line is that while on the surface the way we typically think of adultery is as an issue of the flesh, which it most certainly is, in reality it is also a very important spiritual issue…..here’s that duality again, the physical and the spiritual existing simultaneously… and adultery revolves all around forbidden “unions”. So we must be clear that this 7th commandment deals not only with our human marriage relationships but also our relationship with Yehoveh, and more specifically Yeshua, to whom every Believer is betrothed.

8) Do not steal.

This one is pretty straightforward, so I don't need to paste in anything. If it ain't yours, don't take it. Period. :grin:

9) Do not give false evidence against your neighbor

Now, this is often just presented as “do not lie”. And, certainly, that is part of this Commandment’s meaning. But, this Word is written with a legal/judicial sense to it, and speaks primarily to the idea of saying something falsely against someone in a court of law. And that fits very well with the framework of the Torah, the Law. That is, that all of the ancient Hebrew Sages saw the Torah as being about God’s justice. So, the context of this Word is very much the same thing as perjury. That is, in a trial if you give false answers, or you accuse someone falsely, knowing full well that the accusation is not true, then it is YOU that is guilty. Just as we are to be VERY careful when we occasion to use God’s name, we must also be very careful what it is we say about other people….. particularly if it is negative in nature. When we gossip, or accuse someone of something that we have no firsthand knowledge of, we are in danger of violating the principle of this 9th Word. Ouch! I'm glad that God has forgiven me this one...

10) Do not covet your neighbor's house; do not covet your neighbor's wife, his male or female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Now, in plain language, to covet means to want something REALLY bad. That you’d do just about anything to get it. Or, that someone has it and you don’t makes you so envious you can hardly stand it, it makes you bitter. Or, even more commonly, that someone has something that you don’t, is unfair to you…..because you deserve it more than they do. Now, the list of items in this Word that one might be tempted to covet, while completely literal, is also very much in the context of ancient Hebrew life and culture. In tribal cultures, like Israel, the typical PAGAN way someone gained (which BTW Yehoveh was trying to move Israel away from) was by taking what belonged to someone else. Usually it was from outside your own tribe that you took, but not necessarily. The reference to slaves, or man and maidservants, is mostly about property and wealth. Servants were generally purchased, or they had willingly indentured themselves (sometimes called bond-servant) to you for a period of time, in order that they might pay off a family debt, or to learn a trade, or because they were so poor it was one of the few ways they could survive. But, the taking, the kidnapping, of someone’s wife, children, and slaves was also a common pagan method of increasing your own personal power by increasing the size of your family or tribe. And, BTW, this practice is not a dead one; we’ll find it still occurring today within tribal cultures of Africa and Asia.

The mention of the animals is again about wealth. Since the Israelites were primarily herdsmen, now, the animals represented whatever wealth they owned. The more animals you had, the wealthier you were.
And, in all fairness to these 3 million wandering Hebrews, what else did they have to occupy their thoughts, day and night, than wanting what someone else might have that they didn’t? They didn’t pack up and wander every day. After Mt. Sinai, they only moved a few more times. During their 40 years in the Wilderness, they stayed several months in one spot, until pasture or water gave out, or by God’s direction they moved. Once settled, there would have been an awful lot of idle hours to just sit and think. And, people being people, especially as dissatisfaction of their situation would creep in, what else did they have to WANT out there in the barren desert, other than what one of their neighbors had? We are well aware, or at least we should be, that in a welfare society, where there is much idleness, coveting what others have becomes a national pastime.

WHEW! That got long - but it's important. I have felt the need to post something on this lately....so, here ya go.

I hope this helps you see *why* I am so enamored with Torah Class - this is just a *sampling* of what Mr. Bradford is passing on...and this is just the *tip* of the iceburg!

I'm working my way thru Leviticus now....there's a post brewing there on "kosher" eating. Be afraid....:grin:
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