|Volume 21 Number 10 October 2019||
Brian R. Kenyon
The darkest days in the history of Israel were the days of the Judges. The period of Judges lasted for 450 years, and the people persisted in sin throughout those four and a half centuries (Acts 13:19-21). The Book of Judges has a cycle within it that is repeated continuously: Israel sinned; they were oppressed by their enemies; they cried out to God for deliverance; and then God sent a deliverer (judge) to the rescue. The key theme in the Book of Judges is, “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6; 21:25). No wonder the time was so dark for the people of God; there was no leadership, and everyone did what he or she thought was right.
There are many today who want to live by this philosophy, but this is a deadly motto to adopt. When people are left to themselves and reject the counsel of God, things often get worse, not better. Man is not wise enough to direct his own steps (Jeremiah 10:23). There is a way that seems right, but that way leads to destruction (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). Even trying to build a home without the Lord’s help is an exercise in futility (Psalm 127:1). Never mind what is right in the eyes of man, but instead, we should be concerned with what is right in the Lord’s eyes.
God has communicated to humanity what is right in His eyes. He does this through His Word (Psalm 119:33-34). We need our eyes opened so we can see things the way God wants (Psalm 119:18). Human understanding is often faulty, but if we trust in the Lord, He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). The world thinks that doing what is right means that we approve of every behavior and praise sin, but God says we must call evil exactly what it is and never cast approval on it (Isaiah 5:20; Romans 1:32). Some think it does not matter how we worship God as long as we are sincere, but God is looking for those who worship in spirit and according to the truth (John 4:23-24; 17:17). Many teach that truth cannot be known for sure, but Jesus assured us that we can not only know the truth, but that the truth will liberate us (John 8:32).
The days of the judges were dark. They were filled with murder, immorality and wickedness. The sad thing about the days of the judges was not simply that it was a sinful time, but that it was an extremely sinful time for God’s people. Whenever we use the world’s bifocals and do what is right in our own eyes, we can expect darkness, destruction and despair. Yet, when we do what is right in the eyes of God, we will have victory, triumph and His approval. Moses told Israel, “And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may go well with you” (Deuteronomy 6:18).
God’s Basic Law for Marriage
Gary C. Hampton
God’s basic law for marriage is seen when one removes the exception from Jesus’ words to the Pharisees. “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife…and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery“ (Matthew 19:9 with “except for sexual immorality” replaced by an ellipsis). God intended for marriage to last for life because it fulfills an important need of man and woman, companionship.
God’s law applies to “whoever,” not being limited to Christians. “There is not any indication of what is termed ‘covenant legislation’ which only applies to Christians; all others being free to divorce and remarry as much as they wish prior to conversion and remain with the last marriage partner before one becomes a child of God” (“The Problem of Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage,” Writings and Notes of William E. Woodson 4).
Divorce is nowhere to be found in God’s original plan. It is a difficult subject to discuss because it involves the pinnacle of human relationships. The failure of that relationship is painful to the innermost core of a man’s heart. Woodson observed, “It deals with matters which, with very few exceptions, are and can be known for sure only by a very small number of people” (1).
Divorce is very personal. “Nothing could be more delicate than the intimacies of marriage; nothing could be more difficult to discuss than those aspects of these intimacies which have been perverted and destroyed” (Woodson 1). It can become quite volatile as the extended families of both partners sense the pain their beloved is experiencing.
The Pharisees apparently understood Jesus to be saying that God intended for one man to be married to one woman for life. They were driven to ask, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” Jesus responded, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so” (Matthew 19:7-8). The Jews asked why Moses commanded, but Jesus said Moses permitted. Jesus returned to creation to demonstrate divorce was never part of God’s original plan.
Woodson, William E. “The Problem of Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage,” Writings and Notes of William E. Woodson. PDF. Henderson: Tom L. Childers, 2013.