I am indebted to brother Stoltzenhagen (our minister in Germany) which got me onto a track of thought of which this article is the result. It is truly amazing just how deep the Word of Elohim (God) is and how the same recurrent pattern is to be found in its pages.
The message of the Book of Revelation is that the redeemed are an allegorical Bride of Christ in the making. It is clear, as we look at the histories of Old Covenant Israel and the New Covenant Bride, that we are, for the most part a reluctant bride. Like a donkey being pulled to where it refuses to go, so the saved (but unsanctified) resist the reformations that Yah'shua (Jesus) would have us make in our lives. For some reason we resent being made-up for our wedding, preferring to be plain and, at times, downright ugly. There are, alas, far too many believers who would prefer to turn up to their wedding in jeans and teashirts instead of wearing the mandatory white wedding gown.
Like it or not, the white gown is an absolute necessity. Speaking of the Sardisian saints, Yah'shua (Jesus) absolutely insists:
Those who are worthy of the Bridegroom wear white. There is simply no debate about the issue, because white wedding garments symbolise purity. To be a bride of Christ requires nothing less than purity.
"... they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy" (Revelation 3:4, NKJV)
The image is underlined again and again - white garments are a prerequisite to eternal life as the Bride of the Bridegroom. And to obtain them absolutely, and without excuses to the contrary, requires that His people become OVERCOMERS. Those who refuse to dress properly refuse to overcome. They refuse to be pure. They resist the call to sanctification to such a degree that they end up losing their salvation. Mark that well! It is not simply a question of saying: "I am saved, therefore I don't need to bother about further purification!" That is not a permitted train of thought, simply (and frighteningly, I would suggest) because to think that way leads to losing everything.
"You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels" (Revelation 3:4-5, NKJV).
The white robes of the Bride of Christ represent purity and overcoming
This is not too popular a saying, and especially not with the neo-cultic "once saved, always saved" mindframe. For the thought is not unlike a man qualifying to be a policeman who, once in uniform, becomes lazy and indifferent to his work. He thinks to himself: 'Well, I passed the tests, I'm in the police force, so I'm OK Jack!' but before long he is brought to account and thrown off the force. That is the mentality of many Christians/Messianics and, as we shall see, it is also the mentality of many who refuse to enter polygamy when they are called. For their thinking is: 'I have made it as far as monogamous marriage, and that's good enough for me. The Lord requires nothing more.'
Dangerous thinking ... especially if you have been called.
We face an end-time world Church/Assembly stunningly like the the Laodicians of John's day. Of them the Messiah said in harsh tones:
"I have my salvation, I am monogamously married, I am rich, wealthy and in need of nothing", seems to be the war cry of the modern Christian/Messianic, but he (or she) does not see his spiritual poverty and wretchedness. And almost to a man (or woman) they DO NOT WANT TO BE REFINED IN THE FIRE! They want the easy life and a MacDonald's type take-away Gospel that requires as little of them as possible.
"Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' -- and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked -- I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent" (Revelation 3:17-19, NKJV)
The unrefined monogamy-only end-time Church/Assembly is wretchedly poor and destitute. It thinks it's going to march up to Christ as a Bride in dirty, smelly old rags. His answer will (terrifyingly) be to them:
"'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness (Torahlessness)!'" (Matthew 7:23, NKJV).
You know, time and experience have taught me that our spiritual condition is usually a lot worse than we think it is. I almost take that for granted now as I discover new areas in my life where the victory of Christ clearly has not been won. And whilst it easy to put on a face of bravado as we tell the Master, 'Do what you will!' it isn't long before we are whining and complaining when the going gets tough. And I'll not mince words: the fire of refinement is PAINFUL. But it's the only way to get those white robes.
We haven't actually seen anything yet. Christians/Messianics are aware of many of the signs of the times and they are becoming alarmed. But are they actually prepared for what is about to come?
Though the time of slaughter described in this passage has not yet happened here in the West (it has begun in earnest in parts of the Middle East, Asia and Africa), there is no doubt that we are principally being afflicted by disease, ecomonic and marital woe. A day does not pass when someone does not write in to me or other ministers in the Chavurat Bekorot crying out in despair over their current difficulties. And I truly empathise with them, for I am going through similar struggles. And hard though it may perhaps be to comprehend, those who are striving for truth, perfection and sanctification according to the commandment (Matthew 5:48; James 1:4) are actually being given a little REST. The really tough times of wholesale persecution lie ahead, days which are not too far off. The question therefore must be faced by everyone: Are you preparing adequately for these days? Are husbands in obedience and submission to Christ? Are wives in obedience and submission to their husbands? Is Yahweh making certain calls crystal clear which we are resisting and stubbornly saying 'No!' to? If we are in such a condition, then we are truly in danger of losing all.
"And they cried with a loud voice, saying, 'How long, O Yahweh, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?' Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed" (Revelation 6:10-11, NKJV)
Now I don't know what your personal ambitions are as far as heaven is concerned, but it seems to me that coming down into this veil of tears called earth-life is going to be a waste of time if we don't go all-out for the finishing line and the highest honours that Yahweh wants to bestow upon us. That is not to say we should possess such sinful attitudes as haughtiness and pride and seek to be No. #1. I am not saying that. What I am saying is that Yahweh placed us down here for a purpose, and that purpose was to become His Bride perfectly adorned FOR HIM. So the issue is: what kind of a 'you' are you intending to present to your allegorical Husband? Are you going to present yourself properly or shabbily clothed? Do you love Him enough to want to give to Him your very best?
People foolishly think that just because they have been called to salvation and have accepted the invitation that they have made it. This is highly dangerous thinking and it directly contradicts scripture. For Yah'shua (Jesus) plainly taught:
"Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, 'Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?' And I said to him, 'Sir, you know.' So he said to me, 'These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of Elohim (God), and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And Elohim (God) will wipe away every tear from their eyes'" (Revelation 7:13-17, NKJV).
Many who think they are the Bride will find themselves locked out
"'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.' So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 'For many are called, but few are chosen'" (Matthew 22:8-14, NKJV)
Brethren and sisters, the casual Western take-away Gospel doesn't work. It isn't going to qualify you for the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. A lot of people are going to be rejected. Finally, Christ is going to call in all the untouchables and rejects of society. But even then that does not give them the right to attend the Wedding Feast in rags. To a man and a woman, we are all required to wear a wedding garment - everybody. And scripture makes is perfectly clear how it is we obtain that. We have to be obedient to the commandments - to New Covenant Torah - and we have to actively overcome our carnal disposition UNTIL IT IS CONQUERED.
In recent weeks I seem to have done little else than keep prospective polygamists AWAY from the this holy marriage practice, for the vast majority of those who come to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb come either unsaved or unsanctified. Today's message is for those who have been called and who are striving to be the best polygamous husbands and wives they can be, and to those men and women (though principally women) who have been called but who are stubbornly refusing that call. "For many are called, but few are chosen" both to salvation and to the perfection of which polygamy is often a part. For I know of single women and of men who are undoubtedly called to this lifestyle but whose monogamously married wives, in spite of knowing the biblical truth, are obstinately rebelling. It does not take any great stretch of the imagination to understand that if a husband is genuinely called to polygamy (and woe to those who claim they are but aren't) that his wife is called also. And I know that for some wives this may well be their last call.
Brother Stoltzenhagen yesterday asked me if I had ever considered the Jonah story in terms of polygamy and I had to confess that I hadn't. He said to me:
The Book of Jonah ends on a very pitiful note. Jonah has resisted his call but been forced by Yahweh to be obedient. So he goes and preaches the message of repentance. But instead of being happy when the Ninevehites repent, he is resentful, on account of the terrible things they had done to his nation in the past. So he complains and gets more and more angry. The story ends, not with a victorious Jonah who has done his job well, but of a Jonah who has failed ... he has failed himself.
"He's kinda like a jealous wife who doesn't want the husband (God in this case) to have another love interest (Nineveh). Jonah knows the heart of God and still is jealous of His attention to the 'foreigners'".
There are many women who accept the Biblical truth of polygamy (most never get that far) just as the Ninevehites did. But then, when it comes to the practical application of truth, they refuse to move a single step further. Instead they get angry with their husband (Yahweh) and blame him for all their inner misery.
But was Jonah, the type of the Bride of Christ, justified in his misery? Couldn't he have been happy? The answer is, yes, he could have been, so long as he would forgive. And that was his fatal weakness - he would not forgive his nation's oppressors.
When one is called into polygamy, the issue isn't whether your spouse is ready or not but whether you are. It should never be assumed that when one spouse is called that the other one will automatically be aware of his/her call. The two usually don't occur simultaneously. Though sometimes a wife receives the call first (I have met some who have been), usually it is the husband who first receives it. And the reason he gets the call first is because usually he has the most repenting and changing to do in order to get his attitudes right. Until he has attained the spiritual callibre required of this lifestyle, his wife will probably not hear her call. BUT that is not always the case (I am not here lending justification to a wife who has been called but who deliberately stops up her ears).
"'For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses'" (Matthew 6:14-15, NKJV)
Jonah resented Yah taking Nineveh as a repentant sister-wife to Israel
The first generation of Christian/Messianic polygamists have to be prophets. What that means is that they must be able to clearly discern where their wives are at spiritually and minister to them appropriately. This at once separates out the polywolves who care only about forcing their wives into polygamy before they are ready or before they have been shown, in patience and love, that their behaviour is carnal. The latter needs explanation.
There are many men who think that all they have to do is show their wives certain scriptures - A,B,C,D,E - and then demand that they enter polygamy. They then proceed to bash them on the head with these scriptures as though the Bible were a cudgel to force them into submission to their will to take other wives. Like some false ministers who love to cry 'Sinner!' when their spiritual violence is rejected (however accurate their theology may be) (see illustration to the right), so some husbands cry 'Jezebel' when their spiritual violence is rejected. Most of these men see themselves as stereotype Moses-men (ironically, Moses was meek and mild) bashing sinners senseless.
A true prophet is a seer who sees into people (in this case, husbands seeing into their wives) and is led by the Holy Spirit to minister to them where they are at. They display the restraint, patience and long-suffering of the Messiah they serve, and whilst they are gentle and kind, they also know when to be firm so as not to reduce their ministry to anarchy. To do this requires a high level of spiritual maturity which is why, in the first genetation, Yahweh is only calling certain ministers into polygamy. For these ministerial skills are essential if polygamy is to be entered into with a right heart.
When a woman is called into a polygamy (as opposed to pressed by an impatient husband who is either not called himself or not called yet), having understood the biblical teaching, then her refusal, like Jonah's, is usually a combination of FEAR (Jonah fleeing to Tarshish) and, finally, JEALOSY (Yahweh accepting the Ninevehites as part of His Bride). Yahweh delivered Jonah from His fear (which manifested a lack of trust/faith) by allowing him to spend some time in darkness in the belly of a whale to consider his foolishness and rebelliousness before one again calling him. But the story, in Jonah's case, did not end happily. Yahweh happily got a new Bride - tens of thousands of them - but the first Bride (Jonah) was resentful because of the second Bride's earlier history. But it is a fact the sometimes second wives persecute first wives in the days of their ignorance and blindness, and when the second wife repents, it is the duty of the first wife to forgive. If she doesn't, how can her husband forgive her?
How can a husband love a wife who hates another wife? If he loves the first wife who is full of jealosy, then he ends up hating his own flesh (Ephesians 5:29), for his other wife is "bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh" (Genesis 2:23). How can he love a part of himself that is destroying another part which he is seeking to nourish and cherish? He wants to love her, but how can he? For if he does, he ends up contradicting himself, and a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand (Matthew 12:25; Luke 11:17). The jealous wife creates an impossible situation for him - she is challenging him to wage civil war against himself! And that is why we are left, at the end of the Book of Jonah, with this dejected figure. The prophet, once faithful, is challenging Yahweh to choose between him and Nineveh! And that is impossible. Yahweh must be true to those who are repentant, not to those who are selfish and possessive, no matter what their previous good works may have been. And it doesn't matter if a monogamous wife has been a wonderful wife and a mother in the past if she now refuses, when she has been called, to extend the same love and care to her sister-wife/wives, and be blessed in return with spiritual growth and a bigger heart to love. It doesn't matter if I have been a wonderful minister in the past and Yahweh calls me to work alongside another minister who perhaps was not, at some early time, walking in the footsteps of Yah'shua (Jesus), and I refuse him after he has reformed.
"For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Yah'shua (Jesus) does the church (messianic community)" (Ephesians 5:28-30).
The message of the story of Jonah, on this level of understanding, is that our previous successes do not justify us in refusing new callings. We cannot remain forever in our old garments.
Childhood is a wonderful time of life but we are not permitted to remain in it forever. We have to move on. You cannot feed an adult on milk forever but must give him meat. Spiritually mature men and women are expected to move on from monogamy to polygamy, whereas those who think they are mature, but who are children, need to learn what monogamy is all over again:
"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things" (1 Corinthians 13:11-12, NKJV).
I am not speaking of these today, though there are way too many of them, and they are most resistant and indignant when they are told they barely even qualify for monogamy. I am rather speaking of those who are called to move on:
"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of Elohim (God); and you have come to need milk and not solid food" (Hebrews 5:12-13, NKJV).
Polygamy is for those who are maturing in righteousness and discernment. The trouble is, almost every man, in his pride and arrogance, will assume that he has these things, and which is why they either refuse to place themselves under accountability or seek out ministries who are willing to give guns to little boys. Such ministries are doomed to destruction and a terrible judgment, for to give the green light to an immature man to enter polygamy is little different from ordaining a new convert to a leadership position in the local assembly/church:
"For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:13-14, NKJV).
for if you do not, then the white marriage robes which qualify you to attend the Marriage Feast will not be given you.
"Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people's sins; keep yourself pure" (1 Timothy 5:22-23, NKJV),
Can anyone now doubt the heavy responsibility that entering polygamy entails, and why Yahweh is so anxious to keep the immature away from it? There are cowboys out there (of all ages) who say that polygamy is for anyone when it isn't, and are the first to twist scripture to make it say what their carnal thoughts want it to say. Such will either end up with broken marriages or be forever consigned to singleness, for them probably the only fire that will bring them to their senses. I feel pity for those who zealously pursue private dead-end missions of self-justification, consuming their energy and time where they have not been called.
Are you a monogamous wife angrily sitting under the scorching sun of spiritual opposition looking, like Jonah, for scriptural shelter which whithers away every time when you in vain seek for it? Are you resentful, having given your whole life in faithful service as a wife and mother to the man you adore, to discover that another woman, who has not made such sacrifices, is called to stand alongside you? And is not such an attitude not unlike that of the workers who resented being paid the same salary as those who had worked much shorter hours in the heat of the noonday sun (Matthew 20:1-16)? How typical are such thoughts of the carnal nature when we resent others their blessings, weighing and comparing them with ourselves. And if your feelings are like this, might not Yahweh actually be calling you into polygamy to in part refine your selfish and carnal mind and heart further so that you can be purified for the ultimate Wedding?
These are challenging questions indeed. But consider also that they will not go away so long as you are in opposition to Yahweh's will, for they will, in the end (unless your husband caves into your unrighteous demands, in which case both of you will suffer) lead you to a crisis of faith and to a terrible choice.
May you choose wisely for I do not recommend the spiritual state of Jonah at the end of his days, dejected and rejected because of his jealosy towards a new polygamous wife.