God's Laws on Religious Freedom--Part 2
Apr 10, 2008
The first commandment says, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." The God of the Bible was speaking, not the gods of other nations. The biblical God was defined by the Bible, and His descriptive character was set forth in the Law. More than that, the Law informed the people of His will--that is, how the people should conduct themselves and how government should rule to assure peace, prosperity, and equal justice for all.
God then made an agreement with the people that if they would fulfill His will (law), He would bless them. The blessing of God depended upon their obedience. This is the essence of the Old Covenant. The reason it failed is because mortal man would always fail to fulfill God's will when it is imposed upon him from the outside. This includes Jews, who cannot be saved through the Old Covenant, regardless of what the proponents of Dual Theology may say today.
This is why a New Covenant was needed, where God would take upon Himself the responsibility to write the laws in our hearts--in essence, changing our nature to put us in agreement with Him, so that we would fulfill His will by nature.
The book of Hebrews gives us the most complete list of contrasts between the two covenants. But it is Paul, in Galatians 4, who links the two covenants allegorically with Hagar and Sarah. In doing so, he shows that the two covenants represent marriage relationships between God and man. In studying this, we see further that earthly marriages between men and women are also of two kinds--represented by Hagar and Sarah.
The original marriage which God ordained between Adam and Eve was monogamous and based upon the New Covenant pattern. After sin entered the picture, God understood that husbands and wives would inevitably disagree about the will of God in family matters, so God instituted an authority structure, putting the woman under the authority of her husband (Gen. 3:16).
This authoritative structure has been set forth for centuries in the Church as the ideal marital relationship, as if it were always this way and always will be this way. But at the beginning, it was not so. The Church has failed to tell the people that the ideal marriage is not where a woman is the servant or slave of the husband. It is where the two are in agreement, making authority irrelevant. The ideal marriage is where both husband and wife hear God's voice, discern His will, and both are in agreement with it. Neither husband nor wife has to command the other to do anything. There is no more opportunity to overrule the other's viewpoint.
This is a New Covenant marriage. It is characterized by Abraham's marriage to Sarah, the free woman in this great biblical allegory. And in understanding this relationship, we can better comprehend the New Covenant relationship that we are to enjoy with God Himself. As long as we disagree with God's will (law), and as long as we are reluctant to be obedient to the leading of His Spirit, God must still impose the law upon us from the outside.
God married a "Hagar" at Mount Sinai under the Old Covenant. That marriage ended in divorce (Jer. 3:8). But God does not intend to marry another Hagar under the New Covenant. This time it will be "Sarah." Those believers who form the Sarah-Bride company are those who have learned to be in agreement with God. The law is written on their hearts. They do not reject the law, for they know that it is God's will (Rom. 2:18). But more than that, they know God's INTENT as well--that is, the spirit of the law--so that they do not apply the law as the legalistic rabbis did, but rather with the mind of Christ, who fulfilled every law to the letter.
My point in giving this short study on Old and New Covenant marriage is to show that a Hagar marriage relationship is manifested on earth in marriages where the wives are mere bondslaves to their husbands. Such wives have no right to hear God for themselves. Or more precisely, they have a right to hear God only if they hear God saying something that their husbands agree with.
If husbands always heard the word of the Lord accurately and clearly, then this would be no problem, for then it would be a matter of the wife catching up to her husband in spiritual gifts. But I have found in my own experience that men and women each have their own unique heart-idolatry problems. I have yet to meet the perfect man, other than Jesus Christ Himself. A husband's assumption that his wife's discernment is wrong when it disagrees with his own view is one of the great problems of heart idolatry in men.
When this heart idol is institutionalized in religions or denominations, the Hagar relationship is idealized, and the women are convinced that their lot in life is to be Hagar to their husbands. The more enslaved these women are, the easier it is to convince them to accept multiple wives. And there is where another great heart idol in men comes to the surface. Men's sexual desire is his great heart idol. When he has no law to fear, he searches for as many sexual partners as he can find. When he is religious, he searches for ways to gratify his sexual desire with the blessing of God. In the case of Islam, heaven is described as the place where men can each have 72 virgins. (That must be a woman's hell.)
When the Fundamentalist Mormon sect in Texas was raided the other day, the world was reminded once again how many Hagars there are in the religious world. All of the various Mormon groups tracing their beginnings to Joseph Smith are based upon the Old Covenant, some more than others. Polygamy is just one of those issues. The deeper issue is that of bond-woman marriages.
The Church, however, has been characterized by Hagar for many centuries. The Church became a Hagar as soon as it removed from the people the right to hear God for themselves--unless their revelation was in agreement with established Church teaching and practice. Though the leaders denounced polygamy, they institutionalized the more fundamental principle of Hagar. This was to be expected under Pentecost, of course, for it is part of the leaven inherent in that feast (Lev. 23:17). And the pattern of rebellious leadership imposing its will upon the people was established long ago with King Saul, the Pentecostal type.
So it should not surprise anyone to find the Church falling back into Old Covenant thinking. The Church and Temple of God became synonymous with the institution, rather than the biblical definition, which is "congregation" (people). The priest's robes copied the Levites, and they resumed the "daily sacrifices" (of the mass).
The Mormon religion was simply an alternative Old Covenant manifestation, based upon the ideas (or "revelation") of Joseph Smith. The Roman Church has always had to deal with competition for the throne, each one desiring to rule as Saul. Some groups were less oppressive than others, but the denominationalist system itself is inherently part of the kingdom of Saul and the bond woman, Hagar.
America was founded on the principle of religious freedom. That is, the federal government was not to interfere with the free exercise of religion among the states. Each of those religions, however, were alternate manifestations of Saul's kingdom, for America was founded in the late 1700's when King Saul still had another 4 Jubilee cycles left in his reign.
The American government banned polygamy and would not allow Utah to become a state until the Mormon Church agreed to disavow polygamy. In more recent years, this same American government has all but legalized fornication, as long as one does not pay money for such services. Sexual freedom has attained the status of a "right." But when did God give men the right to commit fornication? To give men that "right" is worse than polygamy.
This is the second part of a series titled "God's Laws on Religious Freedom." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones