A Husband and A Leader

Excerpted and adapted from on-line discussions in February and March, 2005. My apologies if it’s a little hard to follow. You’re only getting one side of several conversations.

I coasted through the first ten years of my marriage, pretty much just trying to be my wife’s boyfriend, but God says that I am responsible for the spiritual well-being of my house, and that he will hold me accountable for them. So about five years ago I decided that I was through being a boyfriend, and it was time to become a husband. Things are frequently difficult, uncomfortable, or downright heated–the price I pay for developing habits based on the standards of our hedonistic culture. Now my family is no longer stagnant and spiritually dead. I am learning to lead instead of to drift with the emotional current of the day. My son is growing up in a scripture-based home instead of a feelings-based home..

A rudder, under the command of a helmsman, serves a ship by controlling its direction. A viceroy, under the command of a king, serves his people by creating and enforcing laws. A sergeant, under the command of an officer, serves his men by instilling purpose and discipline. A husband, under the command of God, serves his family by leading and teaching them….

A leader does what is necessary. He takes action and accepts responsibility. He promotes the well-being of his charges. A follower follows the leader’s lead. In the context of marriage, a wife subjects her own will to her husband’s. She supports his calling–whatever that may be–working to encourage and strengthen him. She may have a separate calling of her own, but that is subordinate to her role as wife and mother….

A leader doesn’t wait around for everyone else to line up behind him before taking action. He just starts moving. His moral justification doesn’t come from behind, but from ahead, because he is also a follower of Christ. God’s created order is for men to be the leaders of their families. If they are not following that order, then they are not following Christ’s example, because he was obedient to the Father above all else….

Shouldn’t all government be after the pattern of Christ and the church? Shouldn’t all kings rule as servant leaders? What is the difference between David ruling over Israel and a father/husband ruling over his family? A king rules in order to serve his people, but he never relinquishes his authority as king. Without that authority and all of the power that comes with it he could not serve his people effectively as a servant leader. Although Yeshua does not usually force us (my apologies to Calvin) to do his will–at least not in the present–but he demands our obedience none-the-less. There are more parallels:

  1. Mankind was created to serve God and the woman was created to serve the man. (Gen 1-3, 1 Cor 11:9)
  2. God (the Word made flesh) gave men laws to order and protect his people, and a man governs his own family to order and protect his house. (Gen-Deut, 1 Tim 3:4-5, 1 Tim 5:8)
  3. Yeshua gave up his own life in order to return the Church to a state of perfection and obedience, and then serves her by ruling over her, and a man serves his family by protecting and guiding them even to the point of giving up his own life for them so that together they can serve God in obedience to their calling, which is firstly his calling. (Rom 1:5, 1 Pet 1:2, Rev 2-3, Gen 1-3, 1 Cor 11-9)

… Never does Yeshua submit himself to the Church. Never. He is a servant to the Church (and all of mankind) as its ruler, provider, and kinsman-redeemer. He grants the petitions of believers only at his own discretion.

It was never my goal to get my wife to submit to my leadership. It was always my goal to become a better leader. It just took me a little while to learn that you can’t force people to act as if you already are a good leader. It is the husband’s job to lead and the wife’s job to follow. If the husband is leading, then it’s not his responsibility if the wife refuses to follow. If the wife is following, then it’s not her responsibility if the husband refuses to lead. They each need to do their part regardless of what the other does.

I told my wife that I’m not drifting anymore. This is where I am going, and if you want to be a part of my family, you’ll have to go with me. Of course, there are many things on which my wife and I have come to disagree, but I don’t think that level of detail is necessary here. We discussed our respective roles before we married and were in basic agreement at that time. Our current differences are the result of allowing my family to drift instead of taking an active role at the helm from the very beginning. My values have changed, and my wife’s values have changed. Unfortunately, they have drifted in opposite directions…

I quit accepting my wife’s feelings and opinions as equally authoritative as my own. Not because my opinions are any better than hers, but because I have to make the final decisions. I will consult my wife and I will value her feelings and opinions, but God put authority over the wife onto the husband, and not the other way around. He created us. He knows how we will best live. I decided that I will set the tone and direction of our activities and the moral standards of my house. I quit being afraid of making a wrong decision when I realized that making no decision was even worse. I do not like the prospect of facing God having made wrong decisions for my family, but I am terrified of facing him after having given up my family to whimsy and deception. I will not be the worthless servant who buried his master’s gold in the ground.

You can’t change your spouse; you can only change yourself. As I wrote earlier, my job is to love and to lead my family, and my wife’s job is to support me. I can’t force her to do that, and I wouldn’t even want her “support” if it had to be forced…. Whatever the outcome, I know that through the exercise of love, patience, and faith, I will be a better man on the other side.

The Two Kingdoms of Heaven

There are at least three parts to every kingdom: the government, the nation, and the country. The government is the king and his agents, the nation is the people under the king’s authority, and the country is the physical land under the king’s control. Yeshua often spoke of the Kingdom of Heaven in seemingly contradictory ways: the Kingdom existed before he came, he brought the Kingdom with him, and the Kingdom was still to come. Can all of these be true or was Yeshua just talking in riddles? The answer is “Yes!” All of these are true, and Yeshua was speaking in riddles. The Kingdom of Heaven has always existed, exists wherever true believers are, and will be finally established some day with Yeshua as King. The key to understanding the New Testament references to the Kingdom of Heaven (or Kingdom of God) is to understand the three parts of a kingdom and how they can sometimes exist independently of each other.

The Kingdom of Heaven has always existed, exists wherever true believers are, and will be finally established some day with Yeshua as King.The Kingdom of Heaven, as all other kingdoms, ultimately belongs to the King of Kings. It is his to give and take away as he sees fit. Yeshua prayed, “Our Father in Heaven…deliver us from evil, for the Kingdom is yours…”1 In other words, the Kingdom is a meritocracy and God can remove unworthy leaders in favor of the worthy. Yeshua, having more merit than anyone who has ever lived or ever will live, has been given the kingship forever.2 His viceroys and regents, however, are still elected and rejected by the Father as necessary, based on their merits3 and the needs of the Kingdom.4

The first dominion of Heaven is the nation of Israel. I don’t mean the secular State of Israel, which is another government altogether. Firstly, the nation is made up of a remnant of physical Israel, genetic descendants of the twelve sons of Jacob.5 Secondly, the nation is made up of the mixed multitude of believers who have been grafted into the tree of natural Israel.6 So everyone who calls on the name of God and believes on the name of Yeshua7 is a citizen of the nation of Israel regardless of where or when they live.

The second dominion of Heaven is the country, both here on Earth and in Heaven itself. It includes the Promised Land in the Messianic Era, which Yeshua will rule from Jerusalem,8 as well as the Heavens in which the angels live and which Yeshua rules from the Crystal Sea.9 Anyone who is a citizen of those lands is also a citizen of Israel under the authority of Yeshua.

The practical outgrowth of citizenship in the true nation of Israel is both responsibility and reward: obedience to the king’s laws10 and healing from the curses of disobedience. Fortunately, his yoke is easy, his burden is light,11 and his rewards are beyond your imagination.12 The only things you have to lose by submitting to his rule are not worth keeping.

1 Matthew 6:8-13.
2 John 1:49, John 12:12, & Acts 2:36.
3 The qualities that God seems to hold highest are selflessness, mercy, justice, and generosity.
4 Matthew 11:11-13, 13:44-46, 16:17-19, 20:20-28, 21:43, 23:1-37, & Luke 22:28-30.
5 Jeremiah 31:31-37, Ezekiel 37:15-28, Matthew 10:5-7, 15:22-28, 19:28, & Romans 9:1-11:11.
6 Exodus 12:37-38, Luke 2:32, Romans 11:12-32, Ephesians 2:8-18, & Revelation 5:8-10.
7 The name of God and the name of Yeshua are not the vocalizations and symbols by which we reference them in conversation and print, but the nature of who they are. When we call on the name of God, we are calling on his nature as just, merciful, and all powerful. When we believe on the name of Yeshua, we are believing in his ability and sufficiency to save us from the penalty of our sins.
8 Psalms 2:6-7, 53:6, 78:67-70, 110:1-7, 132:10-14, Isaiah 2:2-4, 18:7, Micah 5:2, Revelation 3:12, 21:10-22:5, & etc.
9 Revelation 4:6.
10 Matthew 5:19, 19:17, John 14:15, 14:21, 15:10, & 1 John 2:2-6.
11 Matthew 11:28-30
12 Revelation 21-22.

Patriarchy and Devotion

Noah, Abraham, & David were patriarchal servants of God.You’ve heard that you can know the rightness of something by its fruit. Well, here are some stories of real life patriarchy in action.

One man threw out all good sense, and devoted his entire life to a senseless project with no gain and no practical purpose at all. He neglected his family for his obsession and eventually even dragged them down with him. He abused his wife’s trust and submissive personality by pressuring her into joining him and abandoning any semblance of a real life outside of his tyrannical grip. He denied his children any chance at a normal social life by forcing them to work non-stop for years on end. His self-serving attitude turned his family into his slaves while he constantly harangued them with self-righteous sermons about how much better he was than everyone else in the world. His harping about the evil world eventually brainwashed them all, and they ended up locking themselves away from the rest of mankind and living with animals, virtually as animals.

There was another man who went even further off the deep end. He was the worst kind of sexist, even to the point of making his wife call him “Master,” and probably making her wear a veil too. He was always telling his family how God talked to him. You know what they say, “It’s OK to talk to God as long as you don’t think he’s talking back.” Well, this guy seduced a young immigrant girl and then kept her locked up at his house where he treated her as a slave for nearly twenty years. Eventually he took this woman and the son he had fathered on her out to the desert and left them to die. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, then he told everyone that God had told him to kill his own son as some kind of perverted human sacrifice. He nearly went through with it, but there must have been some last glimmer of sanity, because then he said that God changed his mind. Well, that was the final straw for the wife that he had been dragging around and treating like dirt for decades. She left him and died of a broken heart not long afterwards.

A third man was a womanizer. He always seemed to have a new woman with him. He was a sweet-talker who could carry a tune and was always singing to the ladies. They were probably the kind of women who were attracted to power and money, but didn’t have the intelligence or the character to understand what is really important in life: complete and utter devotion from your man. This man was a thug. He was known to have killed a few men, although no one ever dared stand up to him. He actually claimed to have killed thousands, but that was just his swollen ego talking. When he was caught with someone else’s wife, he made a big deal about being sorry for it, but he kept on sleeping around with his bimbos. One day he was out drunk and causing a commotion in the streets. His wife, who had been faithful for years despite his despicable ways, saw him doing a public strip-tease in front of a crowd of women. She finally told him off and ended up locked away for pretty much the rest of her life. Meanwhile he kept on with his same old ways, even trying to seduce a young girl as an old man.

Or at least that’s how most people, including Christians, would see it today.

Fortunately, God left a record of what really happened, and most Christians are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. The real story is that Noah and Abraham and David were such outstanding men of God that he trusted them with the most difficult tasks. Noah’s wife and three sons knew from their own experience that he was unlike any other man alive. They willingly gave up their professions and their social standing in order to help him build an insane boat, because they knew that he was a man of God. The Bible says that “Noah found favor in the eyes of God.” Abraham was among the kindest and gentlest men that ever lived. He was fair and honest in everything he did, and his wife held him in such great esteem that she called him lord by her own choice. He had such an intimate and complete faith in God that he was willing to give up his own son at God’s command, no matter what the cost to himself or his wife. Sarah may or may not have left him or even died because of that event, but she understood that God’s will must always come first. The Bible calls him the Friend of God. David was a man of great passion and integrity all at the same time. He made a serious mistake with one woman, and paid dearly for it. But the majority of his life was spent in complete devotion to God and service to his country. He was the epitome of the servant king. His first wife, Michal, was jealous of God and rebuked David for his public dancing and singing to God. Her pride cost her everything. She never again had David’s respect, and she died bitter and childless. The Bible calls David a man after God’s own heart.

Don’t expect God’s ways to always be to your liking. His ways are not your ways. The obedience of one man means more to him than the disapproval of ten thousand. To serve him means to give up all claims to social status or pride. He expects complete devotion. A true man of God can never be devoted1 to his wife, because devotion can have only one object. To serve God means to be willing to give up every comfort, every friend, and every loved one. All of those things are no better than dirt in comparison to him.

Or at least that’s how Christ taught it once upon a time.

1 I am using the older sense of devotion, indicating complete absorption. In that sense, devotion to anything besides God is a form of idolatry.

Under the Law of Christ

The Law of God is both life and death depending on how it is used.What is 4? 4 is 2+2. It is also 2*2, the square root of 16, 2^2, 4*1, 100/25, a representation of the Messiah, a common term of a first enlistment in the army, and the month of April. If, in the course of a math lesson on squares, I ask “What is 4?” and you reply “April,” I would say “Wrong. 4 is not April; it is the square of 2.” I would be correct and you would be incorrect, but only in that context. In a discussion on calendars, “April” might be just what I was looking for.

The Torah (sometimes ambiguously known as “the law”) is both life and death. It is death in that if we try to earn our salvation by adherence to it, we will only earn death. It is life in that it is God’s standard for human behavior and teaches us how to live with each other and with God. If, in the course of a lecture on obtaining salvation, I ask “What is the Torah?” and you reply “Life,” I would say “Wrong. The Torah is not life; it is death.” I would be correct in that context. But if, in the course of a lecture on living peacefully with your neighbor or on crime and punishment, you answer “Life,” I would say “Correct! The Torah preserves our lives and teaches us how to live with our fellows in a way that is pleasing to God.

“We are not under the law” does not mean that we cannot learn from it or that we must reject every teaching of the Torah that was not explicitly retaught by one of the Apostles after Jesus’ death and resurrection.1 It means that we are no longer subject to the eternal consequences of the Law. If we fail, we do not lose our souls. To be under the Law is to be below, inferior to the Law. We are not inferior to the Law, because Jesus fulfilled its requirements. The Law does not rule us, because we have been redeemed from our obligation to it by the blood of the Lamb. The Law does not condemn us because the handwriting of the accusations and curses against us has been washed away2 and there is no witness against us. That is what it means to be “under the Law:” to be condemned by it because we remain under the Law of death, which is the Law that requires our death.

Obeying the Law, not as a means of salvation or of justification, but out of love for God and in obedience to God, is not being “under the law.” It is being willingly and gratefully obedient to the commands of God without fear of failure or condemnation, because we have forgiveness and because the price for our failure has already been paid. That does not mean that we are now free to behave as we wish, to ignore God’s teachings concerning his Law. That would be the ultimate insult to our Messiah. Was he killed so that we could spit in God’s face? We are no longer inferior to the Law, but we heed God’s teachings concerning it, because to do otherwise is to spite God.

The sole purpose of the Law (or the Torah, God’s teachings concerning the Law) is not to condemn anyone. That is one purpose. Even if that was its only purpose, it would still be worth using as a standard of behavior. How could it condemn anyone if it was not a standard of righteousness? Can anyone be condemned for doing something right? If anyone is condemned by the Law, it is because of their disobedience and not their obedience. It follows then that disobedience to the Law is undesirable, whatever its affects. If we are forgiven for our disobedience are we then free to disobey at will? That’s absurd! If disobedience condemns, obedience does not.

If we rely on obedience to the Law for our salvation, we will be condemned because we cannot obey everything perfectly. Our obedience to the Law in such a state is a curse, because it is so much wasted effort, and the Law is death to us. If we are forgiven and the accusations against us are blotted out, then our obedience to the Law is a blessing to God and to us. Our obedience to the Law in that state is life, and not death.

1 Romans 5:8-6:23 expresses the core sentiments of this article more eloquently than I ever could.
2 Numbers 5:11-31

Why I Keep Torah

Over the last decade, as I have delved deeper into the Scriptures and spiritual things, I have become more and more convicted that I need to keep Torah, the laws of God as delivered through Moses. But even as I have obeyed God’s voice and laws, I have had to defend myself against ever increasing accusations of legalism, judaizing, and whatnot.

The most important thing to understand is that Judaizing really has very little to do with the keeping of God’s laws and everything to do with the keeping of man’s laws. Judaism teaches that the rabbis have the authority to change the Torah, and elevates the oral tradition of the Pharisees above the written laws of God. Some of the teachings of the Pharisees have value, but all of them should be regarded with skepticism and weighed carefully against actual Scripture. I do not teach that anyone need (or even should) obey the Jewish rabbis or the mountains of man-made law that they have heaped upon the Torah. I teach that we should obey God’s laws, because “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)

Paul wrote that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) He defined “all scripture” as the scriptures that Timothy had learned as a child, in other words, the Greek Septuagint, including the Torah. If Paul did not mean that the Torah is still valid for doctrine, then why did he say it? In fact, Paul often explicitly based doctrine on Torah:

  • Romans 7:1-6 and 1 Corinthians 7:39 are based on the law of the levirate (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) among others.
  • Romans 7:7 is based on Exodus 20:17 and Deuteronomy 5:21.
  • 1 Corinthians 9:1-14 is based on Deuteronomy 25:4 and other laws regarding the Temple services.
  • 1 Corinthians 14:34 is based on Genesis 3:16.
  • Galatians 4:22-31 is based on Genesis 16-17.

He taught other doctrines based on the Torah and the Prophets besides these, as did Yeshua. Obviously neither of them thought or taught anyone to abandon the Torah as a valid source of doctrine.

The New Covenant does not replace the old so much as it overlays it. Abraham’s covenant did not overturn Noah’s covenant, which did not overturn Adam’s covenant. Hebrews says that the high priesthood was transferred (the Greek word translated as “changed” in the King James Version is closer to “transferred” in today’s English) to Yeshua and that there was a transfer of the law also. This transfer isn’t a change in the requirements of the law, but a transfer of our allegiance. Like Paul, we are under the law for Christ (1 Corinthians 9:21) rather than under the law for the law itself. We are not to be lawless, but to continue to keep Torah as a sign of our allegiance to our Messiah. Yeshua said that he did not come to abolish the law, and Paul continued in that same vein when he wrote that we do not make the law void through faith, rather we establish it.

The Torah is an expression of God’s character in that it defines his standards of behavior. If God never changes (Malachi 3:6), then neither do his standards. The Torah says that no one can add or remove anything from its rules. (Deuteronomy 4:2 & 12:32) If any prophet were to preach against the Torah, leading people away from the proper worship of God, then the Torah commands that he be stoned. If Yeshua taught against Torah, then he was a sinner and ineligible as the Messiah. If Paul taught against Torah, then he too must be disqualified as a prophet of God. If Stephen taught against Torah, as only false witnesses were able to testify, then his punishment was just. (Acts 6:13-14) Since no true witnesses could be found to testify either against Stephen or Yeshua, the only logical explanation is that they never did teach against Torah. Even the Temple sacrifices only appear to have been suspended and not forever done away with. Ezekiel prophesied that the daily sacrifices will resume under the direct supervision of Yeshua our Messiah. (Ezekiel 40:41-43, 46:20) We are not made whole or justified by such sacrifices, but we never were, because Yeshua’s death was sufficient for all human rebellion from the beginning of time. (Hebrews 11, Revelation 13:8)

Jeremiah prophesied specifically that the Torah would carry over into the New Covenant, only transferred from tablets of stone to hearts of flesh. (Jeremiah 31:31-34) In that prophecy, God based the continuity of his covenant with the nation of Israel on the heavens and the earth. As Yeshua said, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Well, heaven and earth are still here, and all has not been fulfilled. The Messiah has not yet returned the second time, Israel and Judah have not yet been reunited in the land, and men still have to teach each other about God.

All scripture is inspired of God and profitable for doctrine. None of it has been annulled. Obedience to God’s laws is required under both the old and the new covenant. Through faith I will continue to establish the Law (Romans 3:31) and repudiate lawlessness. Through faith in Yeshua and through the power of the Holy Spirit, I will continue to try to live closer to God’s standards of perfections every day that I am able. So long as one man tells another to know God, so long as the earth continues to move through the heavens, I will continue to put my faith in God and his eternal standards rather than in the love of transient men.

The War Against Our Children

In response to a statement by Mexican President Vicente Fox in support of ending the War on Drugs, U.S. expert, Frank Cilluffo, who heads a task force on the narcotics industry for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said that suggesting legalizing drugs “sends the wrong message to our children.”1

Does it really need to be said that the government is the last tool a parent should wish to use to send a message to their children? Good morals and habits are not taught by government. They are taught by parents. Propaganda and politically correct thinking (aka right thinking, aka not thinking) are taught by government.

What does the Drug War really teach our children?

  1. That God-given rights may be ignored in the name of expediency. That the interests of the State are supreme. That God is a secondary consideration at best.
  2. That private property is an illusion. Nothing really belongs to you. Everything belongs to the State.
  3. That parental authority is exercised only by leave of the State and may be revoked at any time.
  4. That everyone is suspect, and must be watched at all times. That the non-conformist is a threat to society; that parents must be policed by their children; that African-Americans are sadistic drug pushers while European-Americans are misguided victims.
  5. That the law is beneath respect. That it ignores common sense and the scientifically proven reality of drugs in favor of hyperbole and paranoia.
  6. That it is more important to send a message than to do something that really helps people.

James 2:15-16 ‘Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?’

Suppose a brother or sister has succumbed to a temptation that has overwhelmed him. If one of you says to him, “Go, abandon your family and spend some years in prison where you can reflect on your worthlessness and where you can learn to finance your vices through more effective and more destructive criminal behavior!” but does nothing to help him escape from his sin, what good is it?

Do you really want to send a message to your children? Volunteer at a local rescue mission, Teen Challenge, prison ministry, or other organization that helps people out of their addictions. Get your children involved. Teach them that drug addicts are real people with real problems. That they can be helped through love and understanding, but rarely through bullets, concrete, and razor-wire.

1Mexican president quoted suggesting eventual legalization of drugs” Boston.com, Monday, March 19, 2001