Daily Devotional for Tuesday February 16, 2010
When You Read God's Word, You Read about Great Men of Faith
(Genesis 1:27, 2:24, 4:19; Deuteronomy 17:17; 1 Kings 11:3; 1 Timothy 3:2,12)
When you read God's Word, you read about great men of faith, men who lived their lives for God like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Solomon. These men did great things for God and are used as examples of how to live a Godly life. These men were also richly blessed by God. However, they all had one glaring issue that cannot be ignored. They all had multiple wives! This fact often confuses people who are curious how these great men of God could be so blessed but living in blatant rebellion to God in this area of their life. The reality is, they forfeited many of the blessings they should have had because of this sin in their life.
The Bible is perfectly clear about God's Holy Institution of Marriage. It is one man, with one woman, for one lifetime. God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Eve and Julie. Or Adam and Eve, Julie, Cathy, and Susan. God's plan for marriage was one man and one woman. In Genesis 2:24, God's intention is clearly presented when He says, "They shall be one flesh." In giving the qualifications for a king in Deuteronomy Chapter 17, Verse 17, God clearly states that the king was not to have multiple wives. In giving the qualifications for those who lead the church in 1 Timothy 3:2 and 12 and in Titus 1:6, the Bible states that these men are to have only one wife. This passage in the Greek is not only speaking of someone who has not been divorced, but makes it clear that having multiple wives disqualified someone to be in a leadership position.
You actually don't have to get very far into human history to see God's plan for marriage perverted. The first Biblical account of men taking multiple wives is recorded in Genesis 4:19 where a man named Lamech took two wives. Having multiple wives throughout history has always been a mark of nations, people groups, who lived their lives in rebellion to the God of the Bible.Sadly, some have tried to justify polygamy by pointing to men of God in the Bible like Abraham and others who had multiple wives. They are 100% wrong and there is NO WAY to justify polygamy by using the Bible.
Let me make sure you understand something perfectly clear. God never permitted at any time for men to have multiple wives. When we read about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Solomon, and others taking multiple wives, we also read about the consequences of this sin in their life. Don't forget what I tell you often. Our obedience to God and His Word brings blessings, our rebellion to God and His Word brings consequences! There will ALWAYS be consequences when you choose to live in rebellion to God. Even great men of God like Abraham, like Solomon, were not immune to the consequences when they chose to sin against God.
One of the things I love about God's Word is that it does not try to hide the failings of men who did great things for God in their lives. Look at David. His sin with Bathsheba could have been omitted, but God allowed his sin to be exposed to all of the generations through His Word. The consequences of Abraham's sin in taking another wife are still being felt in the world today since the Jewish people are directly linked back to his son with Sarah, Isaac, and the Arab people directly linked back to his son with Hagar, Ishmael. When you read about Abraham having to send Hagar and her son away due to the conflict with Sara and Isaac, I am not sure we can begin to fully comprehend the human emotions of such a tragic event.
Then you have Solomon. As I shared with you the other day in speaking of Solomon and his summation of what this life is about in Ecclesiastes 12:13, I have carefully studied his life. Solomon is a very complex individual and a classic study of someone who gets so caught up in the success and allure of this world they forsake God. Solomon followed God since his youth, became the King of Israel, finished building the Temple of God in Jerusalem started by his father David. He is probably best known for his incredible wisdom. As you read about the life of Solomon you can see the hand and blessings of God upon him.
Despite having God's favor and blessings, Solomon allowed the temporal things of this world to take priority over his commitment to God. Being allowed by God to gain victory over the enemies of Israel, Solomon took part in a custom of that day where the conquering king, Solomon, was given the daughter of the defeated king to be his wife. So Solomon not only began taking multiple wives (against God's admonition in Deuteronomy 17:17), these were women from heathen nations that did not know or honor the God of Israel and brought their false gods with them into the marriage. Over time, Solomon ended up with 700 wives and 300 concubines. (Personal observation: It is clear that by this time in his life, Solomon used up all of his wisdom, since having one wife is a full time commitment. 700? The thought makes my head hurt.)
One reason God says in His Word in 2 Corinthians 6:14 "do not be yoked together with unbelievers" is because of the negative influence your unbelieving spouse will have on your faith. Solomon was a great example of a man who knew, followed, and served God, but became influenced by the false gods and idols of his foreign wives. This is exactly why God told the children of Israel to not take "strange wives," or wives from nations that worshiped false gods. At a time in his life when Solomon should have been enjoying the blessings of God, instead he was dealing with the consequences of his rebellion to God from having multiple and foreign wives. His life actually ends with little fanfare and rather sadly due to his sin. SIN ALWAYS COSTS, AND ALWAYS COSTS MORE THAN WE EXPECT TO PAY!
I love you and care about you so much. Not only is polygamy against the law in the United States, it has never been a practice of most in our culture. However, there are those who advocate having multiple wives, and there are other nations around the world in which it is an acceptable practice. Due to the fact we have some of the great men of God in the Bible who took multiple wives, I thought it was important to deal with this issue and insure you understood that this was never God's plan for marriage and those who take multiple wives are clearly in rebellion to God and His Word.
I will be praying for you today. I want to specifically pray for those who are married today. Marriage is God's Holy Institution. It is a wonderful gift from God and his plan for most people's lives. It is one of the most difficult things in the world for two people to become one. But with the Lord at the center of your lives together, it can be the most incredible and special thing in your life other than your relationship with Christ. For those who are going through a problem in your marriage today, I will be praying for God to bring healing and restoration to you remarriage. For those who are not having problems, I will pray that you continue to be richly blessed in your marriage each day.
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller