Polygamy is, I have maintained over the years, the great sifter of human character. As in the Marine analogy, it separates the men from the boys, and the women from the girls. But what are the specific character traits that it separates?
To live and grow in polygamy requires the sort of person who is prepared to change, and to change often. As I look at my two of my wives, one of whom I married in her later years and the other in her earlier, I am struck principally by two things: just how much they have changed and grown in so short a time. And yet the way they have done this has been quite different.
My third wife entered my family in her 30's, and whilst this is not 'old' by any means, a person of this age is already becoming settled in her ways. We have been married over 20 years now and as she will testify herself, she has changed almost beyond recognition. In this space of time her entire thinking process has been remoulded, her musical tastes have changed 180°, and her sexual behaviour has been utterly transformed from worldly to spiritual. People ask me if miracles occur in polygamy, and when they do I often cite her - not that polygamy per se is the agent (for that is Christ), but rather the vessel. She has altogether become a more wonderful person. Yahweh had effected a complete transformation in her character.
My fourth wife entered the family when she was 16 and, whilst still bringing many negative worldly influences with her that took time to remove, she was much more like an unwritten book with blank pages which Christ was free to fill. Being younger has in many respects been a great blessing to her because it meant that she did not have to erase large chunks of her past in order to be remade in the image of Yah'shua (Jesus), but she undoubtedly had problems with submission because of 'youthful vigour' and the 'passions of youth'. But like like my third wife she changed enormously over her years of marriage.
Older women are often set in their ways and turn on younger ones
What I am not trying to say is that youth and age present two different categories of person in polygamy. The same afflictions of human nature beset the younger and the older. And whilst it can be unhealthy to oversimplify (because you will always find exceptions to such "rules"), I have noticed, from the point-of-view of the patriarch who must lead his women, that the younger and older have their main respective sets of problems that seem less of an obstacle to the other.
To be young is to be change-minded. To be young is to be challenged. Young wives are invariably more pliant than older ones provided they have learned sobriety. Older wives are less inclined to change their way of being and more easily find themselves in personality ruts which they come to believe possess a kind of immutability. "This is the way I am," they say, forgetting that Christian/Messianic discipleship is about the death of the 'I am' - you can't have two 'I am's' living in one body, for either it must be your own or it must be THE great "I AM" which is Elohim (God). Consistently I have observed that those who usually wage personality wars are invariably those who are not submitted to Christ. Self has not been put to death. The apostle Paul said:
Young women are often vain and undisciplined
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20, NIV).
There are many women I know who have turned down proposals of marriage from good patriarchs because of what they perceived as irreconcilable personality differeces. It is one of the lamest excuses there is because it posits the theory that an individual's 'self' is too great an obstacle for Christ to remould. In actual fact, it is a form of atheism, denying as it does not only the right of Christ to change us but also His ability to do so. Personality is, in the final analysis, no more than the crytalisation of various life choices, many of which are reversible. Repentance, however, is about undoing wrong life choices by allowing the power of Christ to work in our lives and remould us.
There is a difference between what I call 'personality' and each individual's 'signature tune'. Over the years I have, from studying human nature, been convinced that there is no such thing as the irreconcilability of personalities in marriage. It is a fiction largely propped up by the New Age doctrine that we belong to certain astrological 'types' of personality which are determined by the position of the stars at our birth, and that in order to be happily married couples must find partners who were born in complimentary planetary allignments. This is complete and utter bunkum. My most successful marriages have been those which astrologically-speaking were non-starters. A successful marriage is predicated on ones yieldedness to Christ, not on the alignment of heavenly bodies.
There are only two limiting factors in 'compatibility', one of which may be said to be earthly, and the other eternal. The earthly limiting factor is the ego, and the eternal is Yahweh's will. A marriage between any man or woman can be successful if the two lay aside 'I am' and embrace THE "I AM". Indeed, some of the most egotistical compatibilities according to the flesh have often fallen apart when it has come to the changes required of discipleship.
The older you are the more crystalised the ego becomes and therefore the less yielding in terms of its desire to die. The ego creates its own comfort zone and when it searches for marriage companions scans those of the opposite sex who will least disturb that comfort. It will settle only for those who are the most 'compatibile' in terms of extant character traits. The ego may therefore be said to be the 'Spiritual Laziness Principle' in man.
Is it any wonder that the more crystalised an ego is, the more fussy and picky it becomes, until finding a compatible partner becomes nigh impossible. This is a tell-tale sign that the Spirit of Elohim (God) is not working in major areas of that person's life because of its exclusion zones: "This is ME, Lord, and you're not going to have THAT - No way!" is the silent battle cry I hear, and one that verily pierces my ears. It is a lie, and it is demonic.
As you examine the Isaac-Rebekah story you are at once struck ... almost violently ... by one glaring truth: in the selection of a marriage companion there was no involvement of personality. Yahweh was the matchmaker. I wonder if the couple would have married had they been modern Western Europeans or Americans? How would they have judged one another? Would they have concluded that they were compatible? By what criteria would they have determined whether they were the 'right man' or 'right woman'?
Isaac and Rebekah has never met before they were married
There is a lot of talk in patriarchal circles of the 'polygamy (or monogamy-only) mindset' but little is ever said of the midset which will allow men and women to successfully pick marriage partners. Conquering the monogamy-only prejudices in society is, to be sure, a major hurdle, and for a woman especially to overcome it is a great achievement. But far more challenging than this, in my view, is the overcoming of the 'personality mindset' when it comes to poly-minded people finding their right partners.
The apostle Peter was one day astonished, when the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) broke through into his life in a rather special way, and declared:
The context of this revelation to him was, of course, Yahweh's attitude to the Gentiles which previously the Jews had supposed was exclusive. But there is a far greater issue here than perhaps even the apostle ever imagined at that particular moment in his life. The Greek word for 'persons', typically obscured in modern translations (e.g. "Elohim (God) does not show favouritism", NIV), is prosópoleptes which literally means 'acceptor of faces'. And although the word contains the concept of race and religion, its primary meaning is that of personality, hence our 'faces"' which convey the differences in us personality-wise. Paul uses the same word in Romans 2:11 (context: Jews and Gentiles), Ephesians 6:9 (context: slaves and masters), Colossians 3:25 (context: wives and husbands, children and parents, slaves and masters) and James 2:1 (context: poor and wealthy people). Prosópoleptes is quite a broad term but in its essence it is talking about the differences of personality that ensue when we emphasise our differences - differences which are entirely erased when we are in Christ.
"Of a truth I perceive that Elohim (God) is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34, KJV).
I really cannot overstress the importance of gaining an understanding of what Yahweh is trying to tell us here, particularly in a marriage context. Personality differences are the principal causes of strife, not just in marriage, but in any kind of social context. Yahweh recognises that we have our individual spiritual signature tunes which identify us as an individual but He absolutely has NO respect for personality as we typically understand it. He utterly repudiates it.
In Christ these differences that divide us disappear. And if they have not, then it is because Christ has not been given full acccess to our lives. Since this is true of every believer to one degree of another, the issue in the selection of marriage companions is not where we are today but where we shall be tomorrow when finally (if we have truly yielded) Christ dwells fully in us. The selection of marriage companions can absolutely not, therefore, be based on what we are today. It must be prophetic, and that means that the usual criteria of judgement employed by the world and unspiritual Christians have to be completely suspended. If they do not, we shall inevitably make all the wrong decisions.
When people disbelieve me when I say these things I usually ask them to look back on their lives at the way they selected boyfriends and girlfriends in the past. Most people these days have had lots of them (and regrettably increasily with sexual relationships) and so I ask them: "How many attempts did you make at finding your life partners? How many times were you successful, and how many times did you mess it up?"
I'm not saying that finding the right partner is easy, but what I most definitely am saying is that if you do so from the mind and heart of one who has crucified self and is walking in obedience, the chances of going wrong are slender.
I have a Baptist friend from Paris, France, who grew up under very difficult circumstances - broken home, abuse, etc.. When he was a teenager he accepted Christ into his life and learned to surrender totally. Naturally, he sought a marriage companion, but France is not an easy country to find believers. So he remained single and focussed his entire energy on serving Yahweh.
One day he was told to pack his bags and move to Bulgaria and become an evangelist. He learned the language as best he could and went in faith. Within two years he had found a wonderful Christian woman, married her, and they settled down in the Bulgarian countryside and today live a very happy and contented life as evangelists. He had never had a sexual relationship with a woman before, and indeed had left the selection of a wife entirely in Elohim's (God's) hands. He never dated anyone or did what the world usually does in finding mates. Yahweh was in control in his life from beginning to end. He put his personality to death and then found a woman who had done the same. There wasn't the slightest doubt in his mind or hers when they met because the Ruach (Spirit) was in full control and there were no unrepented sins which might have acted as a blockage to their spiritual vision. Is this scenario not to be envied? Were it so that all Christians found their spouses in this fashion!
Brethren and sisters, if you want to find your marriage companions - the ones Yahweh has ordained for you - then you have got to put self to death and to reject the worldly notion of 'personality compatibility'. "Elohim (God) is no respecter of persons", which means that if you try to include this in your equation that He can't, and won't, help you. Indeed, he will leave you to make your own fleshy decisions to marry the wrong partners or to remain single in a state of eternally searching and never finding.
Personality divides. My wives and I have personality differences but we recognise them as symptoms of unrepented sins and not as obstacles. The unity we have had is indescribable in spite of these differences.
Personality walls come down in surrendering to Christ
Now, please, think things through logically. If personality is such an important part of the equation in the selection of marriage partners, then wouldn't it also be an important factor in Christ's selection of His allegorical Bride too? On what basis does Christ select US to be His Bride? Is it personality? No, absolutely not! It is the farthest thing from His mind because true marriage is not based on personality but on submission in love and obedience to truth. Yahweh is gathering His Bride - His Church (Messianic Community) - us, and says that this gathering is just like courtship leading to marriage. The allusion is used again and again in the Scriptures. True marriage, he says, is union of spirit, since that's all that survives death anyway, not union of soul/flesh. Personality belongs to the soul/flesh, because it is part of the fallen entity called man. And until the polygamous community understands and implements that BASIC TRUTH it will never find stability. Ever.
The flesh passes away. We all know that. Any relationship that is based on the flesh, and that absolutely includes personality, is destined to perish also. The only heavenly relationships are bridal ones - our relationship to Yah'shua (Jesus) as His Bride, our relationship to each other as His plural brides, and our marriage relationships to our spouses. Everything else passes away. Marriage is a kind of (non-redemptive) 'salvation', and that 'salvation' is marriage - but of the heavenly variety only. And those who opt for heavenly marriages on earth become the best pastoral and evangelistic teams on the earth for our Heavenly Father.
Personality is THE KEY SOURCE OF DIVISION IN MAN. How many aborted Christian courtships do you know of which result not only in the end of the courtship but diminished or the total end of fraternal union as well? I have noticed time and time again that courtship in the flesh always leads to damage in the spiritual realms too. Walls and barriers spring up that were never there before. Relationships wax cold and indifferent, even they are still supposedly "in Christ", and religion just becomes a game of words. But if courtship had been in the Ruach (Spirit), those involved should still remain the best of friends afterwards, and close brethren and sisters in the Lord. It is a tell-tale sign: if a spiritual relationship diminishes, then one or both partners were approaching courtship from the flesh and not from the spirit.
My heart bleeds as I see the casualties of faulty courtship strewn over the Body of Christ. It need not be so if only stupid, stubborn man (and woman!) would bury his ego and put his useless 'self' to death in Christ. Until he does, he will never be able to discern. He will be blind and yet believe that he is spiritual! Worse, I get angry when I see all the wordly advice being given to courting couples by ministers of the Word who ought to know better but who, in all likelihood, are bound by the same errors they are propagating.
What are some of the other faulty yardsticks which courting couples use in trying to determine whether a potential union is right or wrong? A quick comparison of the courtship of Jacob compared to Isaac is interesting especially when it comes to that explosive realm called feelings. When Jacob saw Rachel he 'fell' in love (I'm so glad that the verb 'fall' appears in our vocabulary of romantic love because it is to the point). After that had happened he was entirely blind to Leah whom Yahweh had apppointed as his plural wife and who was indeed one of his missing ribs. In falling for Rachel he lost his spiritual senses and could not see his other beloved. So consumed was he in his fleshy passion for Rachel that the seven years he laboured for her seemed to pass in no time at all. He was consumed by his desire for her (and probably had little time for anything else other than his work). And when Yahweh ensured that he was given Leah first, he received the beginning of a sobering object lesson in getting his heart sorted out. But it took time to sort old Jacob out. For his seven year's labour he got the woman he hadn't even noticed anymore and instead had her thrust right into his bed! Were marriage not such a sacred thing we might be excused for having a good laugh at his ego's expense. Still, he got Rachel a few days later on seven years' credit and was forced to love two women instead of one.
Emotions are never a good spiritual barometer
We must not miss the prophetic lesson here. Jacob did not become spiritual until he could 'see' and love Leah, and because he had become so idolatrous in his adoration of Rachel, his idol was taken away from him when Rachel gave birth to Benjamin. Do not overlook the name that Rachel gave this second son of their union: Benoni. On the exoteric level, Benoni (Heb. 'son of my sorrow') represented the suffering which led to physical death brought upon Rachel, but there is a hidden esoteric meaning for those who are able to see on that level. For the fruit of an idolatrous passion-based union is, to the spirit, a child of sorrow. How do we know this is so? Because of what manifested in the generations of the descendants of Benjamin. What was the Patriarchal Blessing of this 'apple-of-the-eye' son Benjamin, which in Hebrew has the exalted meaning, 'son of the right hand'?
"Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours his prey, in the evening he divides the plunder" (Genesis 49:27, NIV).
Hardly a spiritual compliment. And historically what do we see? Read the exploits of Ehud (Judges 3:12-13), and Saul and Jonathan (1 Samuel 1:1-15), and particularly read carefully of the savagery that characterised one group of Benjamin's descendants (Judges 19-21).
"But surely, Brother, you don't mean to say that this later historical occurrences are a condemnation of the passion of romance?" you may ask. Why ask me? The prophetic imagery is clear enough. That is exactly what Yahweh is saying. Passion is a mixed blessing - it has its dark side. And we see this no better illustrated than in the ultimate Benjaminite, Saul of Tarsus. Zealous, passionate, brilliant ... and BLIND. Blind as a bat! So blind that he persecuted Christians to death until Yahweh struck him with His light and brought him to his stubborn senses.
No, Yahweh does not want the Jacob-Rachel romance set up on a pedistal - far from it! Indeed, He made His view of such unions perfectly clear by showing to us the fruits of such a liason. Not that such cannot be saved, of course, as Saul of Tarsus was, but what a HARD path to choose for the spiritual aspirant! And it need not be.
There is a contradiction in such an approach as represented by the two sons Joseph and Benjamin. Look at what happened to their descendants. It was the more stable Leah tribe - Judah - who survived the centuries. Leah - dear, unloved (at first) Leah. And yes, these words are coming from a Josephite who recognises the deficiency in his own genes. Look at the descendants of Joseph in Europe, America, Australia and other Ephraimite lands. Which nations have taken romance, set it up on a pedestal, and worshipped it? And what did they then do? They took the sexual element out of the romance and placed that at the very summit of the pyramid of values. You can see it everywhere when you are in an Ephraimite nation, just as the Northern Kingdom of Israel sent up their Asheroth idols over the whole face of the land.
Joseph and Benjamin are very 'feeling' tribes and their weakness is a tendency to worship feelings. Joseph represents the positive site of this, Benjamin the negative. Feelings are, when not in their proper place, a "ravenous wolf".
Jacob and Rachel's union was a ravenous wolf's one ... hard to believe, maybe, but that's what it was. It was a fleshy-based, youthful passion. And I was guilty of the same thing in my first marriage. I saw, I worshipped, and I conquered ... and reaped the whirlwind. I followed in the footsteps of Jacob and Rachel. I initially thought 'monogamy-only' and intended to put my conquest on the highest pedistal. But there was a savage twist to my story, since Rachel did not reciprocate in the same way, and instead of earning her after seven year's labour, I lost her after seven years' marriage! A prophetic drama was being worked out in my life as a warning to future generations of polygamous patriarchs who might chance upon my testimony: Don't follow the lousey example of Jacob!.
Jacob with Leah and Rachel
We must, rather, look to Isaac and Rebekah in the matter of the selection of a mate, where passion and personality played no rôle whatsoever. Unclouded by the flesh, the relationship of Isaac and Rebekah grew in the manner approved and blessed by Yahweh. Moreoever, Isaac came into the world in a supernatural way: his mother and father were nearly two centuries old between them when he was born! They were, as far as reproduction was concerned, biologically dead.
Don't miss the spiritual lesson here, brethren and sisters - please don't! The kind of union that Christ wants of his modern-day patriarchs and their wives is no less than supernatural: he wants those who are dead in their sins to put self to death so that they may have a new life in Messiah, a change in nature as radical as that of a hundred year-old man having a son. The old spiritual man is our 'personality' - that grostequely God-excluding, selfish creature that thrusts itself forward as the deciding factor in whom we should marry and whom we should not - the same factor which caused the Israelites to reject Yahweh's theocratic system of judges in favour of a charismatic alpha-male called Saul OF THE TRIBE OF BENJAMIN whom they made KING (I am not speaking of Paul here).
Benjamite King Saul
It is impossible - unless you are prepared to ignite a timebomb under your bed - to enter marriage polygamously as Jacob, son of Isaac did, and not have trouble. Such always leads to division and confusion. Look at the pathetic figure of Jacob on the east side of the Jordan, his family divided into two, whereby he hoped to save one half if his brother Esau decided to massacre the half that he brought to meet his brother whom he had so dishonestly tricked years before. The Jacobite approach to marriage is grossly flawed because it is an appeasement of personality and ego which ought to be laid down in death. It is the cause of so much strife in the world. The monogamy-only camp blame polygamy for Jacob's failures, but that is to fundamentally miss the prophetic types. Indeed, the reverse is true: it is the monogamy-only mindframe, which Paul calls demonic, which has led to fundamental imbalances in society. It is the 'one-and-only' mindset that builds up walls of exclusion and breeds selfishness. And finally, it breeds religiosity.
When Yahweh announced to Peter that the Gentiles were no longer excluded from Israel it signalled the end of the 'I' or 'We' culture of self-righteousness for good. No longer could the nation look with pride at itself and say, "WE are the elect!" and turn their noses up at the rest of the world, though the Orthodox Talmudic Jews are still doing so today.
As a Messianic Israelite I am, of course, very interested in our brethren the Jews. Unlike their brother Joseph, their weakness was not so much the exaltation of passion, sex, romance and personality, but the exaltation of RELIGIOSITY. They are probably the most religious people on the earth. They pride themselves in their religion - their way of life - their 'religious life'. It's so bad in some of them, that when they convert to Christ, they are unwilling to leave all their excess Talmudic baggage behind, and even accept the leadership of unbelieving Jews to some extent! Many who convert to Christ often lapse back into Talmudic Judaism because they are so carnally attached to their former religious way of life. They are entrenched in traditions that span the centuries and have cultivated a near cultic dependence on the fellowship and atmosphere of that religious way of life. Dying to this idolatrous 'collective personality', which is what religion is, often proves insurmountable for all but those who have deep faith and trust in Yah'shua (Jesus).
The last part of my essay today will probably be the most uncomfortable for many of our readers, even for those who have accepted what I have said above about the inner cult of personality. Indeed it may disturb you profoundly. So you have been forewarned. So fasten your seat-belts and get ready for the spiritual turbulence ahead!
As you probably know, Rebekah came from Haran, which was the city where the father of Abraham, Terah, settled after the family left Ur of the Chaldees. It was the same place that Jacob fled to from Esau and where he obtained his four wives. It was a pagan city, probably founded by Amorite tribes.
Not all of Abraham's family were Yahweh-worshippers. Indeed his father, Terah (a name connected to the moon-god of Chaldea, who became the god of the Moslems, and from which we derive the idol teraphim) is expressly described as an idolater (Joshua 24:2). Haran was a 'half-way house' on Abraham's migration route from Ur to Canaan, and when he finally moved out at the command of Elohim (God), the Yahweh-worshippers made their way to the Holy Land and in all probability the ones who remained behind were either partially or fully pagan. It's geographical location half-way between Canaan and Ur is supposed to prophetically tell us that this was a 'bastard people', as Saul the Benjamite was.
Now what does this assertion mean? Quite simply this: these were a people who were probably basically Yahweh-worshippers but who had either not entirely cast off their former pagan ways or had adopted some of the pagan ways of the Amorite neighbours. The fact that they stayed where they were is mute evidence that they were not fully converted, and were therefore unprepared to be co-inheritors with the man of Elohim (God), Abraham.
Those who remained in Haran were therefore, in all likelihood, what we would call 'syncretic Yahweh-worshippers'. But there was still suffient light and truth there for its women to make suitable wives for Isaac and Jacob. After that, they were never used again as a supply of wives.
Abraham knew he had no choice but to go to Haran to find a wife for his son Isaac since there were no other Yahweh-worshippers anywhere else in the world. They would be the modern-day equivalent of that part of Christendom which has compromised with paganism to one degree of another, whom Yahweh still uses but whose days are nonetheless numbered: grace is extended to them until it is exhausted and justice must in due course make its righteous demands.
We must not, in examining the 'pagan connection', lose sight of Yah'shua's (Jesus's) allegorical marriage to the Church (Messianic Community). The Church (Messianic Community), in spite of being His allegorical bride, is not yet perfect - it still has its 'pagan allegiances', as it were, through various customs. But through her relationship with Christ as His Bride, she slowly loses more and more of her sinful nature in a process which is called sanctification until she becomes a spotless-white bride, who will be given marriage garments, for the grand consuming Marriage Feast of the Lamb in heaven.
So when you are examining the stories of Rebekah, Rachel and Leah, remember this, because it is important.
The husband in a marriage (monogamous or polygamous) stands representationally in the place of Christ as a sanctifying influence. He is, if he is properly connected to his Master, a cleanser of religiosity and paganism from his fallen wives. He is to "teach them at home", as Paul said, to bring them fully into Elohim's (God's) Word because alone they cannot do this.
We begin with Rebekah, in all likelihood a semi-pagan, who was sent to Canaan to be united to, taught, and sanctified by her husband Isaac. Her unfortunate but prophetic name means 'flattery'. Isaac, in case you have forgotten, translates the Hebrew Yitzhak meaning 'laughter' or 'one who laughs', on account , we are told, of Sarah's disbelief when as an old women was told she would bear a child. In that respect, the name reflects his mother's unwise (but understandable) lack of belief. However, we must not overlook the positive aspect for "the righreous will see and fear, they will laugh [at evil]" (Psalm 52:6, NIV), and specifically in this citation at the one who does not make Yahweh his citadel but trusts in carnal things (v.7). Like Yahweh who laughs at the nations and what they stand for (Psalm 59:8), the man of Elohim (God) laughs at all that is foolish in vain - egotism, pride, vanity, the exaltation of personality, religiosity, and so on.
Flattery is insincere praise, given to win favour or reward. Flattery presents itself in an exaggerated way in order to make the flatterer more attractive. It was Rebekah's weakness, which is why she was named thus.
Flattery is utterly abnoxious to the man of Elohim (God):
This is religiosity.
"They remembered that Elohim (God) was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer. But then they would flatter Him with their mouths, lying to Him with their tongues; their hearts were not loyal to Him, they were not faithful to His covenant" (Psalm 78:35-37, NIV).
Quoting the prophet Enoch, Paul said of the wicked to Jude:
This was Rebekah's negative character trait and it caused problems later in her marriage with Jacob. She was partial to Jacob and conspired with him to trick her husband and Jacob's father to rob her other son and his brother of the birthright. Can you imagine what would have happened if Rebekah the flatterer had sought a husband in her own strength? However, let us not get Rebekah out of balance - it would be wholly wrong to paint her black without remembering that she had some extraordinary redemptive qualities that made her a candidate to be joined with the man who bore the seed of the Messiah.
"These men are grumblers and fault-finders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage" (Jude 1:16).
Rachel was of the same stock as Rebekah. Her name in the Hebrew means 'ewe', a female sheep or lamb. It was her great beauty that beguiled Jacob when he first saw her (Genesis 29:17). As a person we do not know too much other than she was a faithful wife but was also capable of unprincipled action (Genesis 31:19,34-35).
The etymology of Leah's name is uncertain, some maintaining is means 'weary' and others 'wild cow'. I must say I think the former is more likely as this describes what she had to endure whilst Jacob learned to love her. The rivalry between Rachel and Leah was not finally healed, nor Jacob finally brought to his spiritual senses, until the the perceived threat from Esau forced them to ally themselves together.
What a bag of characters, all in need of substantial refinement in spite of several character strengths. The threat of extinction finally brought the rivalry of Rachel and Leah to an end, and forced Jacob to wrestle with his unruly 'Persona' or Ego at Peniel and get his patriarchal act in order. The family of Jacob (which in Hebrew appropriately means 'deceiver'), in spite of this messy beginning, is the model we are given of what not to be and how to become what we are supposed to be. It is a picture of a fleshy-centred, tricky man Jacob and two wives from semi-pagan backgrounds who all needed a sound thrashing to bring them to their senses. It is no different from us today, in spite of the salvation we possess in Christ, who have a journey to complete and who are yet in danger of losing all because of foolishness.
"As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to Yahweh our Elohim (God), till he shows us his mercy" (Psalm 123:2, NIV).
Please notice carefully where our eyes are supposed to be - they are always to face someone other than ourselves. A man whose eyes are turned to Yahweh-Elohim, the Lord God of Israel (the redeemed Jacob), loses his own Persona or Ego and is subtended to the will of his Master, so in like manner the wife is to turn to her husband to be subtended to the God-filled Persona of her lord at the expense of her own. Indeed, it is perfectly clear that when our eyes are turned in the right way, we do not have a consciousness of our own 'personality' anyway; and in the end it shall be utterly swallowed up in the one whose eyes we are fastened onto.
This also goes for our little worlds of religiosity, of which there is none in the Bible. The Bible, indeed, is probably one of the most irreligious books there is.
I know, a word of explanation (if not many) is required!
In the patriarchal era there was no 'church' or 'assembly' as, for example, obtained in the Mosaic Period, where 'Church' and State were fused into one Theocracy. The family was the 'Church', and the 'Church' was the family, even if it was an extended family.
The models of 'church' which we have in the Christian West derive from a modified form of the Israelite idea of synagogue placed (eventually in the Protestant world) in a non-theocratic environment where Church and State have officially separated. They are not the New Testament model at all.
We read in the Epistle to the Hebrews that with the disappearance of the Levitical Priesthood which was instituted under the Mosaic Covenant has come a return to the Patriarchal Model, Christ being our High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, the King of Salem to whom the Patriarch Abraham paid tithes. In other words, the New Testament form of 'church' (better translated 'fellowship' or 'assembly') is not an institution like the 'Baptists', 'Presbyterians', 'Catholics', or any other group; it is not a retreat, a monastery or a nunnery, but a Family of families under the leadership of the Patriarch (Yah'shua/Jesus) of patriarchs (the Lord of lords, and King of kings).
The religious life of the New Covenant is family life with Christ at the centre. It has nothing to do with weekly denominationalism, or with private devotions apart from any family assembly. The first Christians/Messianics met in one another's homes for devotions, the patriarchs bringing their wives and children (and servants if they had any) to meet with other patriarchs. Its pattern was under the Priesthood Order of Melchizedek (Genesis 14:128; Hebrews 7), replacing the former preparatory synagogue format.
When Rebekeh, Rachel and Leah married their respective husbands, they left their former world behind and entered into patriarchal families. Their personalities became swallowed up in their husbands', and their religious life became absorbed into his, to be corrected and guided in the righteous ways of Yahweh. Whatever 'personality' or 'religious life' they may have had was, in any case, entirely artificial, for there is no such thing as an independent-standing 'matriarch', and whatever such may create will always, ultimately, be illusiory - for the unmarried women is a part of her father's 'persona' and religious life, and the married woman her husband's. This is the Biblical tavnith or pattern and there never has been, nor will be, another.
In my previous article, Expectations & Realities: It's Tougher Than You Think, I describe an experience I had with a woman I was once interested in marrying when I was in my early 20's. We eventually sat down with our Pastor and thrashed out the problems we had together as one who was courting a woman who was not interested. I was young and naïve at the time, and not a little impatient. Subsequently Yahweh showed me what married life to her would have been like and I am certainly glad that He blocked my unreliable and uninspired Jacobite intincts! But it is not so much our incompatibility that causes me to bring her up again but the kind of person she was.
She was a very religiously devout person with very definite ideas as to the kind of man she was going to marry. She believed as passionately in marriage as I did, incidentally. She had so defined the kind of man that she was going to marry that she never found him - she remained an old maid, and as far as I know, is still single today. She was when I last spoke with her a few years ago. Those men she was interested in were repulsed by her. She was simply too inflexible. She had also evolved a pattern of personal spiritual life that she had no intention of changing. In her mind's eye she had already visualised how her household was going to be and how she would fit her husband and future children into it. She had what we know as a slight, if not possibly serious, infection called Jezebelitis, and had little or no understanding of the patriarchal spirit, even though she was nominally committed to such. She was a few years older than me, fastidious, and very set in her ways. Whenever I recall her I feel nothing but sadness at the way she had bottled and hermetically sealed her life up so much that there was never any space for her, let alone a prospective husband, in which to breathe. I know that her home life had not been too happy with a tyrannical father and a mother who died when she was very young and so my heart went out to her. Poor woman. Letting go and trusting was not something that came easily to her. Jezebelities is often (though not always by any means) a disease picked up in dysfunctional homes.
I have also met women who were open, trusting who made poor marriage choices, got hurt, and then became like that woman. I once knew a Californian lady (also mentioned in my previous article) who married a homosexual without knowing of his orientation which he kept carefully concealed. She tried to love him as only a good woman knows how and was repeatedly rejected, especially in the sexual arena. She blamed herself for not being loving enough and tried to give more and more, only to be repelled. The result was that she ended up with such a low opinion of herself that she felt she could never really properly love again. Her name was Rachel Lausitz (not her real name) and you will, I think, find our correspondence quite interesting. She was committed to Christian/Messianic polygamy and we were developing a wonderful relationship until she asked for counsel from her controlling pastor who ordered her to break contact with me. Believing that to disobey him was to disobey Elohim (God), she stopped communicating with me. In this case it was her 'spiritual life' that likely destroyed her. I managed, some months later, to elicit a very short reply from her, as I was very worried for her welfare. She told me that she was very confused but still pursuing the path she was on. She was not a free woman, trapped by her religion, and by a man who had no legitimate authority over her. Satan wins so many victories by unrighteous dominion and/or the advice of bad, uneducated or immature leaders.
I am often disheartened by the very real risks we take in what sometimes looks like a 'marriage lottery', as one pro-poloygamist women writer calls it. The quest for the right husband or wife/wives often seems to me as strewn with hazzards as the pursuit of salvation itself. The potholes of recklessness, over-cautiousness, ignorance, religiosity, immaturity, misguided passionate zeal, demonic opposition, peer pressure, and so on seem to appear on the path of life with such monotonous regularity and at such a high pitch that one is wont to throw up one's arms in despair and cry: "How, then, Father, can anyone be saved?" - "How, Father, shall we ever find and be united with our soul-mates?" For the odds are so heavily stacked up against us.
I confess that the impulse behind this article, and the one before it, is a less than happy one, even though I have been powerfully constrained by the Ruach (Spirit) to put pen to paper for the sake of the Christian/Messianic polygamous community.
A few months ago I met a wonderful lady called Sasha from Vitebsk in White Russia (Belarus). What was particularly exciting about this encounter was that I received a prophetic word from Yahweh about ten years ago that a woman would join my polygamous household from this very place. She was, one might say, 'made in heaven', in spite of our different backgrounds and experiences. Over the weeks we, together with my wives, formed a marvelous relationship. All of us were over the moon, and even Isabel (who did not live with us at the time) was very positive from our reports. She was a committed Christian, a lifelong believer in polygamy, and seemed to agree with most of the materials on our website. The Ruach (Spirit) bore unmistakable witness to both myself, Kryztina and Kasia, again and again, that it was right that I should propose marriage to her and invite her to share her life with us, and we ours with her in Yahweh. She was looking forward to meeting and visiting with us in Lublin that summer
So, with the enthusiastic support of the wives, I eventually proposed marriage to her. Never before had we known such unanimity in the family, never before were we so sure. It was as though the portals of heaven had been opened and a long-lost love had been refound. And it was not difficult to love Sasha.
What we did not know, until after the posposal, was that she had got hurt in a previous relationship and was still struggling with painful feelings. We wanted so much to help her get through it and she seemed appreciative of our support. And then, quite suddenly, the thunderbolt came: she refused my proposal on the grounds of her 'personality and religious life.'
To say that I was devastated was an understatement. Indeed, the feelings I had for the first 24 hours were not unlike those you get when someone you deeply love passes away. And I certainly did - and do - love her. A heavy cloud settled over the whole household the likes of which we have never experienced before. I certainly never believed that I would feel the way I did - nothing like it has happened since Suszana left me some 25 years ago, though the years have matured me, and so the feeling was not so much of being violently pierced (as with Suszana) but of being gently crushed. For one day I barely functioned. "Does Christ feel like this," I wondered, "when He reaches out for one of His brides and she kindly but emphatically says, 'Thank you, but no thank you'?"
Though I had received an unmistakable witness from the Ruach (Spirit) that she was right, I resigned myself to Sasha's free agency and placed the matter in the hands of Yahweh, since in truth there was nothing much more I could do. She had to be free to choose and do what she wanted do.
But the reasons she gave for her saying 'no' bugged me and I could make no sense of them, especially as they lacked any detail or real explanation. I was confused, just as she had been when her last attempt to move into marriage had failed and confused her.
The next day I awoke and though the sadness lingered, I sensed the Comforter with me. But I received no word of explanation from Yahweh. I went out on business and returned home with a cracking headache. Then, quite suddenly, the He told me to sit down and write. And this is the article which the Ruach (Spirit) gave to me. I did not know what it would contain until it was written, as is so often my experience, and as is the way almost everything in this ministry is written. It has been most instructive for me as I hope it will be for our readers ... and especially for dear, dear Sasha, whom I, and my wives, already miss so much.
The future, as always, is in Yahweh's kind and gentle hands. As men and women of Yahweh we can but love, teach from the Word, and prayerfully wait. Life goes on in its humdrum sort of way. The road we walk has many surprises, many joys and some sorrows. And yet no matter what choices we make - and especially the wrong ones - we are always given the opportunity to turn around when we have taken a wrong exit.
I shall always love Sasha and never deny what the Father has revealed to me. I hope - as did my wives - that in time Sasha will reconsider when she feels able to. 18 years have now passed. Yahweh never forces anyone, however, for love is attractive, not compulsive. He waits for us patiently until we hear love's clarion and move towards Him in harmony with His heart-beat. This heart will always have a place for Sasha, no matter what she may choose to do with her life. And the door will always be open for her.