In my last article "Sin Changes The Course of Relationships," I briefly explained how sin had gotten into the lives of Adam and Eve and how it has effected relationships ever since. Now we are going to look at the fundamental principles in the Old Testament to establish God’s plan for relationships.
REPLENISH THE EARTH
Before the flood and after the flood up until the time of Abraham, we do not have scripture about the customs of marriage or any other commands except what the Lord told Noah… that they were to replenish the earth.
BEFORE THE LAW OF MOSES
Our earliest glimpse into any marriages after the fall is with the Patriarchs; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses. I will not get into them in depth here; but for the sake of basic understanding, their unions point out; arranged marriages (prompted by God), dowry, betrothal, love and having a family.
When considering what the Law of Moses has to say about relationships, we must mention that not a lot is said about single people except for moral conduct in cases of rape or fornication. Therefore, we will not cover them in this particular article.
There are many scriptures about betrothal (engagement) that is written through the Old Testament. I will not get into all those at this time. However, this is something God instituted in the law which continues today. Our modern engagement is different than it was back then, but it is still all about making a commitment to marry.
After the betothal (engagement) period, the man would go into his bride-to-be and consummate the marriage.
Today, engagement and marriage are ritualistically done this way, but the major problem is that God instituted commands about fornication and about people sleeping together without being engaged; or they don’t get married until later down the road. But to God, it’s still fornication, which is a sin; even today.
God has, and always will bless a couple who doesn’t sleep together before being engaged, after they get engaged, and waiting until they marry… that is God’s command and promise of blessings.
THE 10 COMMANDMENTS
When looking at the Law of Moses there were a lot of commandments concerning marriage, divorce and sexual conduct amongst husband, wives and other family members. However, the two most important commandments in the Law of Moses were…
Exo 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Exo 20:17 ...thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife,
The purpose of God’s command was to keep a husband and wife committed to a life-long marriage and to warn each one not to seek another outside of that marriage. If one of the spouses committed adultery, that person would be put to death. Why? Because God knows that sin and divorce can ruin a person’s life. God doesn’t make commandments just to be strict; He does it for a reason. And, even though God is more forgiving today and people don’t die in judgment for adultery, the adultery can still ruin people’s lives. Therefore this commandment still applies to today, even in a spiritual sense as Jesus taught about adultery in the book of Matthew.
This is a very large subject which I will be covering later in this series. However, what I want to point out the most is that divorce is something God commanded couples to not do. He even said that no man should put asunder except for the case of fornication or adultery. God did not, nor does He want people to divorce, but to be life-long partners.
Contrary to our society’s belief, divorce is not good for the husband and wife, as well as any kids that are involved. Divorce is a painful experience that can ruin families and society. Just look at the effect on today’s society… it is sad.
In the Old Testament, when a spouse died, the surviving spouse is considered a widow(er). It was really up to the widower if they wanted to be married again or not. However, a Priest of God could not marry a widowed woman. There was also a special garment that a widowed woman was to put on to let the public know she was a widow.
Interestingly, the biggest thing the Old Testament stressed that a widow was not to be oppressed or mistreated. Most all references to widows are in conjunction with fatherless children. Israel was commanded to take care of them and treat them right.
In this article, we have covered just the basic foundation of relationships as it relates to the Law of Moses. We didn’t use a lot of scripture here because we will be covering some of the points in greater detail later in this series.
What we must understand is that what God setup for commandments still applies to today; whether literally or it is spiritually applied. Although in the O.T. some cases of adultery, a person was stoned to death; we have to realize that God does deal with our sins differently than He did back then. Everything He commanded is still wrong today, but the consequences and His forgiveness are different.