Q. You believe in marriage by providence ... God leading people to each other. You also strongly support that Isaac-Rebekah model of courtship. But how does this work in practice in our modern world? It seems that God uses all sorts of ways to bring people together, especially in polygamy. Could you clarify your position?
Thank you for your very relevent question. You are right, Yahweh uses all kinds of methods to bring people together in Christian/Messianic polygamy and we are not limited to the Isaac-Rebekah method by any means. And nor is Yahweh for that matter.
The Bible does not give us many examples of courtship. Eve, of course, was made out of Adam directly, and were therefore created 'married'. We are told nothing of Abraham's courtship in the Genesis account though our own Twelve Books of Abraham tell a great deal more. The two most detailed examples we have are of Isaac and Rebekah, and of Jacob and his wives Leah, Rachel and their two concubines. The latter, though of interest to us as polygamists, started in all the wrong way, leaving us with Isaac and Rebekah as the ideal model for courtship.
To this could be added the courtship of Ruth and Boaz, and of Joseph and Mary, but the latter was rather a special case. Still, we are able to glean from this Yahweh's providential hand through, in this case, a prophetic dream confirming his marriage.
In any godly courtship two elements predominate: faith (or trust) in Yahweh, and initiative. Getting the right balance between the two may be said to be the true 'art' of courtship, something we almost universally seem to botch up. Either we err too much on the side of faith and just wait, and wait, and wait (and nothing predictably happens), or we err on the side of initiative, charge in screaming and drive our intended love away. I wonder how many divinely-mandated courtships have failed because of an over-impetuous male or an over-cautious female?
As I look back on all my courtships I have to confess that they were far from perfect. But then so were my wives! The problems start when we bring along our own personal expectations for courtship and the one we are courting doesn't understand them. Most women are strongly influenced by strong romantic notions - they want a courtship ritual much as obtains in the animal world. And whilst such can be fascinating and enjoyable to be sure I can see the problems inherent in such an approach. (I am not talking here primarily-speaking of sexual attraction).
The classical romantic method does, I feel, sometimes face particular problems in polygamy. Jacob fell in love with Rachel. Very clearly Yahweh wanted him married to both Rachel and Leah, since the 12 tribes were foreordained. It would be wrong to conclude (as monogamy-onlyists do) that his marriage to Leah was not intended by Yahweh. If we posit that idea, then we are forced to conclude that the 12 Tribes were not intended either, neither now nor in the eternities ... which means that some of the Gates on the heavenly Jerusalem were an accident (Revelation 21:12). From the point-of-view of biblical faith, that is a ridiculous suggestion. If we believe in divine providence then we are forced to conclude that Jacob's marriage to Leah was in His will and plan. The problem is not, then, polygamy but the messy way in which the marriage came together.
Each of the Twelve Gates of the New Jerusalem were as
preordained as Jacob's four wives and twelve sons
The more I study the life of the patriarch Jacob and the way Yahweh works, the more I am convinced that he was supposed to marry Leah before Rachel. The fact that her father came up with the lame excuse that the eldest daughter had to be married off first is entirely irrelevent - Yahweh uses man's foolishness and deviousness to achieve what He wants. To say that Laban was the primary or only moving force behind Jacob's first marriage is to deny the sovereignty of Yahweh.
The picture looks like this: Jacob was supposed to marry Leah and Rachel in that order. But he was more carnal than spiritual, fell in love with the younger woman, and was quite likely in a monogamy-only frame-of-mind. All he could see was Rachel. Had he been spiritual (remember these were the days before he wrestled, overcame and was renamed Israel), he would have known it was Yahweh's will to marry Leah and then Rachel. Had he been spiritual he would have loved both equally from the beginning instead of having a favourite. But he was blinded by romantic love. So Yahweh engineered Laban to set Leah in the wedding tent to teach the young and impetuous Jacob an object lesson in spirituality, obedience, and divine providence. He would have to learn the hard way. He got his beloved Rachel a few days later but was forced into responsibility as a polygamous patriarch. His life is one of gentle rebukes as Yahweh tries to get him focused on Him instead of his carnal nature. Domestic rivalry results in two more wives being added in the competition to have children - Yahweh has His way even if we don't respond to the Ruach (Spirit) and do things properly.
You might ask where free agency fits into this picture, and the answer is simple: Jacob claimed to be owned by Yahweh, at least in his mind, even if his heart was a little off-centre at times. He had entered a covenant with Him, making him Yahweh's servant to do so with as He wished. When a disciple gives Himself to Yahweh, implicit in that is Yahweh's right as an allegorical husband to do as He pleases. And since Yahweh is always righteous, what He does is always right. He was, according to our belief, contracted to marry Leah and Rachel before this life anyway, and Yahweh was simply pushing him into a situation where he would be forced to meet up to his obligations. However you view it, Yahweh was forcing the 'star of the show' into polygamy.
Yahweh is described as the Elohim (God) of Abraham,Isaac, and Jacob, and from these three patriarchs we are supposed to learn about the right way and the wrong way about the delicate art of marriage.
Abram and Sarai simply "are" in Genesis 12:4 and are advanced in age, Abram being 75. Whatever the way Abram acquired Sarai was, we aren't supposed to know about it in Yahweh's primary scripture, the Bible. Even the Hagar incident isn't supposed to cause us to dwell much on marriage since the object of this patriarchal saga is to teach us about faithfully waiting on Yahweh to keep His promises in His own time and way. Abram and Sarai had been promised a son who would inherit his birthright, but they were getting old, and Sarai's faith began to waver. Like Jacob zooming in on Rachel with his carnal eye to the exclusion of Leah, Sarai saw in Hagar a solution to her lack of faith. Was it Yahweh's will that Hagar be Abram's wife? If you say no, you deny Yahweh's providence and will, and condemn the Arab race as being an accident. But they weren't an accident. The problem was that man (in this case woman) decided to fulfil Yahweh's plan in his/her way instead of Yahweh's, and created a disaster zone of rivalry and sorrow. Sarah and Hagar worked things out eventually but the damage had been done - the rivalry between Isaac and Ishmael was sealed in the flesh of their progeny. And yet ... it was in Yahweh's plan.
It is not until we come to the courtship of Isaac and Rebekah (if we can even use the word 'courtship') that we are given an entirely different vision of marriage more in line with Yahweh's thinking and heart. Here Yahweh is in the front seat and everything works smoothly. The heart does not get in the way of the selection process and it is entirely trouble-free. The marriage had its problems, of course, as all marriages do, but the coming together was entirely perfect.
The providential marriage of Isaac and Rebekah
However, let us pause to consider the ingredients of the success of this matchmaking. Abram did not just sit in his tent and pray for a wife for Isaac, expecting Yahweh to deliver her at his tent door. Now whilst Yahweh could have done this, and undoubtedly examples from history could well be found of such doorstep-to-doorstep service, we are shown in this second saga the normative way of marriage selection. Somewhere along the line someone has to take the initiative in getting the match-making going, and that initiative lies with the father or, in his absence, the male suitor.
We see firstly that the initiation of courtship lies with the prospective bridegroom, the male head-to-be, who must use his initiative in getting the ball rolling. Because he is young and his judgment immature, his older, wiser and Yahweh-fearing father becomes the initiator. Had he not been so old, doubtless Abraham would have undertaken the journey to Haran himself, so his proxy Eliezer is, in a way, incidental only.
The governing impulse behind Abraham's action is to find for Isaac a woman of the covenant - one who served and worshipped El Elyon - the Most High God, Yahweh-Elohim (Genesis24:1-4). The first and most important consideration in any prospective selection is whether the bride is in Christ, and faithfully serving Him. If she is not, then Yahweh's hand will not be present in the way it was in this remarkable story.
Now one aspect of this story that is often missed is Eliezer's suggestion that he take Isaac along with him if the prospective bride refused to come back with him. Abraham absolutely refused. No, he replied, Isaac must remain in Canaan because that was his inheritance, not Haran.
The spiritual-prophetic significance of this must not be missed. When a woman becomes married, she lays down her former life completely and enter's her husband's world. As a single woman she is her father's house and belongs to his world, but as a married woman she forfeits that identity and way of life completely and unites with her husband's. (The modern culture introduces an false and spiritually harmful intermediary 'life' of independence for the woman, during which she pursues a career, akin to that of the man, which predisposes a woman to think and act like a man (feminism) when she should be preparing instead to move directly from her father's and into her husband's world). Isaac dwells in the Land of the Covenant, Rebekah in the land outside the Covenant. As a single woman she is incomplete and outside of the covenant of union with Yahweh, and must return 'home' to Yahweh through her husband-to-be. She is returning to her position as his rib - as his bosom companion.
If you have an organ transplant, you attach the organ to the body, not the body to the organ. The organ is not the life itself, but a contributing part. Similarly, the husband is the life of the marriage, the woman being the contributing part, just as Christ is the life of the marriage, being its animator. For the woman there is a journey to be made and a leaving behind of the old life. For the man that journey ought already to have been made to his symbolic Canaan - as the prospective husband his primary responsibility is to have made ready his life in Yahweh, for it is to that life that she is to be united, and in so doing lays down her previous one.
The sacrifices of man and woman are entirely different and yet they point in exactly the same direction: as a wheel must first be attached to an axel before it can be attached to a car, so the woman must first attach herself to her man before she is properly attached to Christ as a wife. That is not so say (God forbid) that a single woman cannot come to Christ, but it is to say that it is, in a way, an unnatural attachment and only temporary. Until she has made the attachment to the man who is in the 'Holy Land', she has not completed her journey in Yahweh. And similarly, until the man has received his wife or wives he remains incomplete and cannot himself complete his journey.
There is a divine principle carefully positioned in this aspect of the saga. Before a marriage in Yahweh can take place, the woman must first be willing to lay down her previous life and make a journey to her husband's world. And if she refuses, then the man is absolutely not to journey to hers. She is to fit in with his life, not the other way round.
That was Jacob's problem - or one of them, at least - HE WAS IN THE WRONG PLACE, and in the end he had to FLEE. He was in his wives' world, and therefore came under the dominion of THEIR father - his father-in-law. That is entirely wrong - it is anti-patriarchal, for he is properly under the authority of his father in-the-flesh. Jacob was imprisoned by matriarchy which on the surface looked like patriarchy - but it wasn't! It was the opposite! He was in the WRONG place with the right wives, and that was enough to make problem after problem come his way, least of which was the resentment of his father-in-law's family for his material prosperity.
For a man to follow his wife - to be in her world - is to commit an act of apostacy. And for the woman to expect her husband to be in her world is to be in the Jezebel spirit. It simply is not God-ordained. A woman who expects these things is out of Yahweh's will by default - there simply is no other condition she can be in. A woman who separates from her godly husband, by the same token, because she finds it hard to yield to him, is in exactly the same position as Jacob was - she is in rebellion, and because she is in rebellion, she is not in the Ruach Elohim (Spirit of God). And if she has taken children with her, she has committed a double sin by removing the proper headship from them. Indeed, she is (usually unknowingly) storing up wrath for her children who are unconsciously learning to be matriarchal like their mother.
Marriage is a journey from the wife's world to the husband's
We dare not overlook this essential divine pattern. To do so is spiritually fatal. Indeed, Yahweh is so concerned about things being done in the right way that He promised to go to extraordinary lengths to justify those who follow the right pattern.
To Eliezer, who posed the question about Isaac accompanying him, Abraham said "He will send His angel before you" with the express purpose of "get(ting) a wife for my son from there" (v.7). Have you absorbed that? When we go about finding husbands and wives in the right way, Yahweh sends an angel to make sure the outcome is right. There is special divine protection and guidance
Let's not overlook this fact. When we do things Yahweh's way, we have the promise of supernatural help. There are mighty angels to ensure that Yahweh's will is done.
BUT note that the woman still had her free agency. Abraham told Eliezer to return home if she was unwilling to return with him. The only commandment Abraham gave was that Eliezer NOT take Isaac with him.
This, patriarchs and future husbands, you must not compromise on. Never. A wife who is unwilling to come to you physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and leave her former life behind, IS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER. It will create instability and the chances are she will leave you at some point (not that she would have dared to anciently but then today's Western culture does not uphold biblical marriage). You must stand your ground in Christ and in His Word and not budge one inch. If you do, then you lose your angel protection - you lose your spiritual covering.
And to you, sisters, who have been unmistakably called by the hand of Yahweh to marry a godly man, please note this very well: unless you are willing to forefeit your old life and home and yield your soul to your husband, you are storing up wrath for yourself and for any children you may (with the encouragement and legal backing of the feministic Jezebel liberal state) take with you.
The behaviour of the biblical Rebekah was exemplary. I would personally marry unhesitatingly anyone who walked in this godly woman's spirit. And why? Because I would know she was walking in the Spirit of Yahweh. I would not need to know about her appearance, her likes and dislikes, or anything like that, just as Isaac didn't. When Yahweh speaks, I trust Him (though I did not always do so - remember, there is always room for repentance!).
If the Holy Spirit has called a woman to go and marry a Patriarch whom she knows is in Yahweh and she hesitates, then it is because her spiritual life is deficient. She is lacking sound - and therefore saving - faith.
The story told in Genesis 24 is surely one of the most beautiful in the Bible. My heart soars every time I read it. Eliezer related in great detail everything his master Abraham had instructed him, not leaving out one thing. In the same way, the prospective Patriarch must honestly, and in complete transparency, declare his true intentions in Yahweh to the woman.
As Eliezer related his account to Bethuel and his household, Rebekah must have been listening. She would have gained, from what she heard, a cryztal clear picture that the marriage transaction being discussed was being done so with Yahweh in complete control of the situation. The circumstances of the meeting would have confirmed to her that the hand of Yahweh was to be seen throughout.
The next morning - only a matter of hours after arriving, one last thing had to be done: Rebekah had to be asked if she would go with Eliezer back to Canaan. Now pause and think, dear reader - within 24 hours, and probably half that amount of time, this woman of Yahweh has listened, understood, and discerned the hand of Yahweh. She does not hesitate. Is she too hasty? Unwise? Careless? Yah forbid! She has all the evidence she needs and she acts immediately.
So Rebekah left with her nurse (Heb. yanaq) and went on her way. No, "Let me have a few days to say good by to all my friends, and family" - none of what we in our culture would probably expect - but instant obedience. We are not told what she felt, of course, only that she obeyed. But we are told how absolutely right Isaac was - the man she had never even seen before.
"I will go", she says (v.57b, NIV).
Rebekah left promptly with Eliezer
There aren't many godly women like Rebekah any more but when they are found by Yahweh's patriarchs they are as priceless jewels to them. Rebekah is an example of complete trust in Yahweh. She exercised her faith and took the initiative - she said, "I will go", and went.
We know that Rebekah had her character defects from what we read later on in her life but in the matter of her mode of getting her marriage partner we cannot fault her. This will always be the ideal in Patriarchal Marriage.
But for those who are not in Yahweh, and who do not enjoy His clearly evidenced blessings, I do not recommend arranged marriages ever. Indeed, they are more of a curse than a blessing. Tread carefully here.
We see very clearly in this wonderful story two important principles at work:
Coupled to this we have the promise of angelic help.
- (a) Complete faith in Yahweh's pattern; and
- (b) Initiative on the part - first, of the man - and second, of the woman.
All my wives came to me differently. In my first marriage, I obtained a very clear revelation from Yahweh which was confirmed through one who had the prophetic gift, but I was as impetuous as Jacob had been towards Rachel, and as blinded as Sarai was - for in my impatience to marry, I tried to force Yahweh's hand, and reaped terrible consequences. I am still separated from my first wife though by His grace I have been able to bring up our children in the admonition of Yahweh. By the law of Yahweh she is still married to me, in spite of having committed adultery at least two times since, and so I await for her return...whether in this life or the next, I do not know.
My second wife obtained a direct revelation from Yahweh ... a great blessing indeed (none of my other wives ever heard the voice of Yahweh directly about marriage, though one or two definitely had the prophetic gift), almost like that of Abraham himself, and like Rebekah, she came at once. But when my third came, her faith began to waiver, and she would not believe that I loved her, indirectly denying Yahweh's revelation to her. She departed for some years and we were reconciled in a very happy reunion at the millennium shift for a short while before she drifted again because of the same fears she once had, and remains with our son. She knew I loved her, and she believed in polygamy, and in my third and fourth, but doubted she could handle the intimacy we shared. She still requires the faith of a Rebekah to say, "I will go", and return home. It is her last hurdle, and perhaps the most significant one, for it requires that which will make her a full woman and give her the identity she has feared - to lose herself in her husband and lay her old life and world to rest. In many ways it is the chief obstacle in marriage, since it is the human equivalent of a disciple yielding his life in complete surrender to Christ. Fear says: "He is not Christ, he makes mistakes, therefore I cannot yield to him as I do to Christ." But such is an illusion, for it must be remembered that in uniting thus with her husband, he is simultaneously uniting her perfections to him!
And it is here that Grace plays her vital rôle. Christ unites with our imperfections, does He not? Should He refuse us on account of these? But He sees past these, for grace in love washes them away.
I was married to three imperfect women in 2003 and I am married to three imperfect women in 2016, who in turn are married to an imperfect man. But in Christ we are "more than conquerors" (Romans 8:37) - what we cannot do in ourselves, we do through Him. So it all really boils down to whether or not we trust in Christ, doesn't it? And since it is a salvational issue, it is something we should the most urgently address.
A friend of mine is separated (and now divorced) from his Christian wife because she will not accept the biblical principle of headship. She wishes to have 'joint headship' and believes more in the philosophies of men than in the Word of Elohim (God). What she wants is impossible. If she really believes she is a part of her husband, created from his side, what on earth has she got to be afraid of? She is returning to her natural home, not to an alien planet. If she believes her marraige is God-ordained, she should be at his side instantly. But the truth of the matter is that she doubts Yahweh - her husband is not at fault (imperfect though he is), but her lack of faith in Yahweh is. Again, it is a salvational issue, for she is not living in obedience (Revelation 12:17). (Their relationship ultimately deteriorated to the point where she became mentally unstable and all vestigates of Christian grace and behaviour in general totally evapourated).
The way my third wife and I married was, again, entirely different. I saw her, loved the warmth and goodness of her heart and commitment to Messiah, prayed, and proposed. Because I knew she could be an indecisive person, I gave her a three month deadline to say 'yes' or 'no'. She procrastinated (as I knew she would) and then, after the three months were up, told her that she had one day to decide - one way or the other - and that if she said 'no', it would be up to her to approach me if she ever felt she wanted to marry me, but that I would not approach her again. The subject was never broached again during those three months. She pushed the marriage proposal to one side, choosing not to think about it, visited with us a lot, and during this time a close friendship developped. It was at this time that the Chavurat Bekorot first released the Third Book of Abraham which we shared with her. She fell in love with the book and with the polygamy principle after that. By the time the final deadline came, and she was asked if she wanted to marry, she unhesitatingly replied 'yes' out of fear - fear of being left out of so wonderful a lifestyle! Our love has steadily grown ever since, through all the challenges and struggles, and she has remained faithful and productive in Christ for over a quarter of a century. My other wives came in different ways, as I have shared elsewhere in my writings.
One of the Holy Order's courses of studies will be for those who are interested in the possibility of pursuing a polygamous lifestyle. It will be an entirely voluntary course and will appear on this website when it is completed. As part of the adult education of our branches, courses in marriage are offered to singles, the courses diverging along two different paths - a monogamy-only path and a polygamy one. Though one choosing a monogamy-only course may later ask to do a polygamy course later, if they choose the former it is understood that the single person in question (male or female) is only available for a monogamous marriage. This means polygamist men may not approach single women who have chosen a monogamy-only course and then only through their fathers or, if unattached, through their guardians and/or pastors.
A brief word should be made about another woman who was betrothed to me but did not pursue full marriage. She was a friend of my second wife and I. At that earlier time we had different proceedures in place, as the polygamous way of life was still being evolved by us. As I recall (it was some time ago), my second and I wrote her a joint letter inviting her to become part of our family, with no deadlines of any kind. After taking the matter to Yahweh in prayer, she accepted our invitation, and moved into a suburb of Białystok to be near us. In the end she pulled out and later, we heard, married a Moslem.
So all have come in different ways. Increasingly, as time has moved on and we have matured and our ministry has expanded, women have approached us for many different reasons. The Books of Abraham have undoubtedly played their part though more recently our book, Bouquet of Roses, has had an increasing rôle in the decision-making processes of those interested.
In preparation for polygamy in Holy Order communities, our Order has evolved some rules about courtship and proposing which will probably play an important rôle in the future. As the second generation of Christian/Messianic polygamists grows up, new procedures will undoubtedly appear. But in all of them we shall, as far as possible, try to imitate the ways of the ancient patriarchs, and in particular the way Isaac and Rebekah came together. As I look back at the ways my earlier wives were approached, I can see some defects, some greater than others, though probably these ways were the best we had or knew about at the time. We learn and we grow. It would be wrong, I think, to expect only one form of courtship and system of proposal so long as patriarchs and their wives are recruiting out of the world and not from stable polygamous communities and their families. Christians/Messianics, brought up with many pagan ideas about marriage, will take some time to be educated in the ways of the ancients. We also face problems from defective systems evolved by other polygamists which will dissuade Christians/Messianics coming out of the Babylonian system to try out anything unfamiliar to them. The important thing is that the Holy Spirit leads, something easy to say and less easy to be sure about when your mental vessel is still shaped by the world.
I am optimistic, though, about the future. Our family has been living this way now for some 35 years and we have experimented with all kinds of different ways. Yahweh winks at our faults in the days of our ignorance but as we learn, so the paths become straighter and clearer. We look forward to moving increasingly into the Issac-Rebekah model which is undoubtedly the superior way and one blessed by Yahweh's very clear hand. This means, of course, that men and women must learn to live closer to the Spirit if they are to reap the blessings. Such, I know, frightens some, just as hard work alarms the lazy. However, it is not just the need for a discerning eye in the marriage stakes that ought to be causing us to sharpen the focus of our spiritual eyes but the fact that the world is becoming increasingly more wicked with the deceptions ever more subtle. That Patriarchy is a necessary refiner of spiritual sensitivity I am not in the slightest doubt, and I will even go so far as to say that without it we are blind to some degree. The gulf between the righteous and the wicked will increase at an ever more rapid pace, and has been seen to do so in the last three decades. Two worlds are forming - a demonic sea with little islands of light. And those islands are Patriarchal.