Category: Covenants

My Apologies!


To All My Biblical Mysteries Subscribers and Friends:

My apologies for not being able to post any blog articles of late due to a “500 Internal Server Error” problem with my program.

I am not a digital native, by any means, so even the “solutions” I’ve been given by the server technicians are unworkable for me so far. I spent 3 hours and some money yesterday with another technician, who “cleaned” all my files, but I still need to work with him again soon.  I’ll keep working on solving the issues, but in the meantime, please pray for me.

My wife Jan and I are currently home in Pennsylvania from  Belize, a wonderful place to be. I didn’t  have great internet access there, and my regular computer/server was in Pennsylvania, so publishing articles there was challenging!  Then when we got home, we found that our PC’s motherboard was fried, and we had to get a new laptop.

We had a great time teaching baseball to the Hopkins Village youth (two practices a week!), making contact with many community people at the same time. Jan prayed with four of the players to invite Jesus to come into their hearts and be their Lord and Savior! She is a terrific witness to the players!  We also prayed with three local women, leading them to the Lord and praying for healing.

Our friend Guadalupe is wonderful, and I am working on getting her biography published as an eBook.  In addition, my wonderful former student Jinping Jiao has translated my Biblical Mysteries Revealed book into Chinese, and I am working on getting that version published as well.

Love to you all in Christ!

Charles Jenkins

The Marriage Covenant


The Genuine Article

The Apostle Paul gave clear affirmation in his teaching letters that God’s design for marriage was not limited to a certain time period, but was the enduring pattern we must continually follow (Matt. 19:4–6; Eph. 5:22–33). The uniqueness of the one-flesh union experienced by a man and woman through sexual intimacy is a gift given to married couples and also a radically beautiful signpost to the union He shares with His people.

This spiritual mystery sounds strange to many people, but it’s amazingly true. In Ephesians 5:30-32 the apostle Paul calls the “signpost” reality of Christian marriage a “mystery” that is a reference to Christ and the Church (followers of Jesus):

So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:28-32)

Even many Christians in the Church today have been misled about the nature of true biblical marriage.  According to the spiritual, mystical understanding that St. Paul gives, marriage is not merely a legal document or just a “piece of paper” that may be thrown into the garbage can when it no longer seems genuine or binding.

Many young adults no longer desire a marital relationship in their lives, having been misled and deceived by our popular culture and the many broken marriages so prominent in the media and in the Church.

Just to use an appealing metaphor, or analogy, consider how the Mercedes Benz or BMW automobiles have become two of the most desired vehicles seen on the road today.  Most people will never drive, much less own, one of these automobiles, yet they are depicted constantly as the most coveted means of transportation, in spite of their enormous cost:

Consequently, numerous copies or imitations exist today in the new car lots, vehicles that look much like the original models in the Mercedes or BMW lots.  

Here is  a Photoshopped creation with a BMW grille and the rest from a Kia (source):

Richard Lentinello, for example, writes the following in Hemmings Classic Car,

I have very little interest in new cars, mainly because they all seem to be made from the same mold — well-made, yes, but boring in terms of design, nonetheless (Source).

Lentinello’s comments appear in a website that develops these ideas further, so it is worth looking at.  I can closely identify with the following quotation that certainly describes the culture I lived in while growing up, especially since my father purchased a 1958 Chevy station wagon:

The high-water mark for individual-looking cars was probably the 1950s and 1960s, when any schoolkid could tell a ’59 Chevy from a ’58. There were indeed a lot of great designs back then. But yearly model changes were incredibly inefficient and mostly happened with very little upgrade to the engineering under the skin. (Source)

Likewise, while young adults today may admire those who have what appear to be loving and solid marriages, they more and more are deciding that such marriages are impossible, for half of all marriages end in devastating divorces. Consequently, they have decided either not to form a marital union with another person at all, or instead merely attempt to form a good “copy” of what they think a good relationship is, usually based on the all-too-observable pleasures of having sex with another person and just living together, or the superficial appearances of what they consider a true marital union.  

Love (and thus, sex), rather than a solid commitment, are the BMW grill and chrome tire rims that are superimposed on a relationship that is extremely lacking in solid covenant commitments.

This propensity is far different from Scriptural admonishions. First of all, by faith, Christians enter into a spiritual union with God, becoming one with Him. This union is symbolized in the covenant we have with Jesus as represented in the communion we celebrate when we come together.  We remember His sacrifice as we partake of the communion meal, eating the bread and drinking the fruit of the vine, which symbolize His body and blood, while becoming one with Him.   

Christian marriage, like the celebration of communion, is also a mystical picture of this union, and, likewise, sexual intimacy uniquely provides a picture of the oneness that God shares with His people: two distinct and very different beings, joined together as an expression of covenantal love.

God first demonstrated His love for all human beings by making a covenant with Abraham.  These promises were sealed by God in the “cutting” of a covenant, a mystery we studied in another blog article titled  “A Great Mystery” (click to read about David’s covenant with Jonathan and God’s covenant with Abraham).  

The First Marriage

In the Book of Genesis, we read of the first marriage between Adam and Eve.  

The man [Adam] said,

“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:22-24).

The “oneness” depicted in this account is significant, for it describes not only the “mystery” of marriage itself, but also the oneness that occurs in any true covenant.  The two parties become unified as they join together in marriage, a unique unity that only is possible for a man and a woman.  Adam recognized this unity for he realized that Eve was formed from his own flesh.  Therefore, the unity they had was real and vital.

A marriage ceremony, therefore, is more than a “rubber stamp” on a certificate.  Instead, it is the making of a covenant, witnessed by family and friends.  There is no “cutting” or shedding of blood, as with most covenants, yet the vows depict the kind of union that occurs in any covenant relationship.  

“Till death do us part,” or “for as long as we both shall live,” therefore, as parts of most marriage vows, are significant, for they reveal the main components of a “blood covenant” relationship.  It was believed that a covenant could only be broken if one of the parties died.

Today’s Degradations of Marriage

It is not surprising, therefore, that along with the substitutions and “copies” of true marriage relationships in today’s cultures, the ceremony of the marriage covenant has also been degraded into mere parties with raucous and meaningless dancing and alcoholic frolic.

Too often, the man and the woman have already formed relationships with others, becoming “one” with them, to the point where many young women have already had children.  Thus, they may have already been “married” to one or more persons.  

What About Divorce?

Does this mean that divorce cannot ever legitimately occur?  Jesus’ response to His disciples’ questions about divorce seems to say it cannot occur without resulting in the sin of adultery:

[Jesus] said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:8-9)

However, I find two places in the New Testament that reveal when divorce may be permissible without sin (for the innocent party) in a marriage).

“It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce’; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:31-32)

But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. (I Corinthians 7:12-15)

These passages relate that the only valid reasons for divorce are adultery (unchastity) and desertion.  Even so, such cases are not absolute, for even broken marriages may be saved through prayer, devotion, commitment, and spiritual warfare.  And in the case of desertion, the Apostle Paul says that a believer is “not under bondage in such cases,” which should be interpreted as follows: “A believer is not prohibited from marrying again after a divorce.”



Advice for Young Adults About Premarital Sex




David Kanski

Pastor at Emmanuel Community Church

Jersey Shore, Pennsyvania

Within the helping professions of social services, health care, and psychology exists a genuine and legitimate concern for what is commonly referred to as “high-risk sexual behaviors” among adolescents. High risk behaviors are usually defined as unprotected sex (sexual activity without condom use), having multiple sex partners, or sexual activity under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These behaviors are risky because they may result in contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or an unplanned pregnancy. Therefore, the underlying assumption is that not all sexual activity by young people is risky, and that by responsible behavior the hazards of sexual behavior are expunged.

However, this paper will attempt to show that any sexual engagement outside of a monogamous, life-time commitment introduces other grave risks which are beyond the scope of much of the current discourse: risks to emotional well-being and risks to a young person’s future ability to form a permanent attachment to a life partner. With an understanding of these emotional and relational risks of sexual activity, parents will be better equipped to help adolescents and young adults avoid repercussions that are often pernicious and far-reaching.


“For human beings, of course, sex is about much more than the body. Our entire person is involved. That’s why sex has uniquely powerful emotional and spiritual consequences. And there is no condom for the heart” (Lickona, 2004a, p.56).

Thomas Lickona, a developmental psychologist, has identified numerous dangerous, emotional consequences of premature sexual involvement that, most often, “last a long time, even into marriage and parenting” (Lickona, 2007, para. 12).

  • Regret and self-recrimination are among the most common repercussions sexually active teens experience (Lickona, 2007). Teenage boys and girls can both experience painful regret following a sexual relationship, but girls are usually more vulnerable because research shows that there are gender differences when it comes to sexual scenarios: “Women are likely to have sex to strengthen relationships and increase intimacy, whereas men are likely to have sex to gain physical pleasure” (Davis, 2008, p.468). A girl is more likely to approach sex to prove her love, leading her to experience the terrible pain of feeling used when, after having had sex, the boy is no longer interested in her. “According to a 2000 survey conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 72% of teenage girls and 55% of boys who have had sexual intercourse say they wish they had waited” (Lickona, 2004a, p. 86). A large number of young people are burdened by sexual regrets for many years after their sexual encounters.
  • Loss of self-esteem and self-respect is another consequence (Lickona, 2007), and sometimes that loss of self-respect makes a person vulnerable to further uncommitted sex, resulting in a devastating downward spiral.
  • The corruption of character is a likely result when we treat others as objects to be used for sexual pleasure (Lickona, 2007). Personal character is deformed when our selfish desires lead us to lie (“I love you”), or use coercion (“I’ll break up with you if you don’t”), to get sex.
  • Damage to the ability to trust can also occur. “Young people who feel used or betrayed after the break-up of a sexual relationship may experience difficulty trusting in future relationships” (Lickona, 2007, para 76).
  • Stunted personal development is another consequence Lickona identifies (2007). When a romantic relationship becomes sexual, teenagers tend to become so absorbed that other important relationships are neglected, and opportunities are missed which may never come again.
  • Depression is one of the most serious consequences of adolescents’ becoming sexually involved (Lickona, 2007). New research in the area of neuroscience has revealed that sexual activity triggers the release of powerful bonding hormones in both males and females (Bush, 2008; see also McElhaney, 2010). When the sexual partners are in a committed relationship, these bonds promote harmony and joy; but for non-committed couples, such bonding becomes the source of pain and despair. When these relationships come to an end, at least one of the partners will most likely experience a profound sense of loss, betrayal, and abandonment.

Most adolescents begin to engage sexually in the context of a romantic relationship because they believe they have found their one true love with whom they will share the rest of their lives. The likelihood is that the relationship will end before long, however, because throughout adolescence and early adulthood, the human personality changes rapidly. The biggest changes in personality traits occur from childhood through the 20s (Dahl, 2014, para. 7). The brain, also, is not fully developed until people reach their mid20s (“Understanding”, n.d., para. 2-3). Studies have shown that the median duration of adolescent romantic relationships is between 12 and 16 months (Karney, 2007, p. 20).

The powerful emotional bonding that occurs when romantic relationships become sexual, together with the transient nature of teenage romances, has resulted in a drastic increase in depression among sexually involved teens. Teenage boys who are sexually active are more than twice as likely to be depressed compared to those who are not sexually active (Rector, 2003). The outlook is even more dismal for sexually active girls, who are more than three times more likely to be depressed than are girls who are not sexually active (Rector, 2003).

A full quarter (25.3 percent) of teenage girls who are sexually active report that they are depressed all, most, or a lot of the time. By contrast, only 7.7 percent of teenage girls who are not sexually active report that they are depressed all, most, or a lot of the time. (Rector, 2003a, para. 11)

In the two charts below, Rector (2003a, para. 11) breaks down the data taken from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, Wave II, 1996:

Kanski #1        Kansk;i #2

  •  Lickona also warns about the clear link between sexual activity among teens and attempted suicides (2007). Girls who are sexually active are almost three times more likely to attempt suicide than are non-sexually active girls. Over 14 percent of sexually active girls report having attempted suicide, compared to only 5.1 percent of sexually inactive girls. Boys who are sexually active are eight times more likely to attempt suicide than are non-sexually active boys. Six percent of sexually active boys have attempted suicide, compared to only 0.7 percent of sexually inactive boys who have attempted suicide (Rector, 2003a).


  • Another of the most serious repercussions of teenage sexual involvement is the negative effects on marriage (Lickona, 2007). As detailed above, when people engage sexually with another person, their brains release hormones that cause them to bond and emotionally attach to the person with whom they engage. However, if they unattach from that person and reattach to another sexual partner, once or perhaps even multiple times, the ability to stay attached is significantly weakened, and “it is common for the first bond to haunt all future relationships” (Joy, 1985, p. 59).

Studies have shown that when people have had multiple sexual partners before marriage, they are more likely to divorce because they actually weaken the pathways that are necessary to attach at the deep and necessary emotional level important for marriage. (Bush, 2008, para. 13)

With repeated attaching and unattaching, the brain actually gets molded not to

accept the deep emotional bonding that is necessary for a lasting commitment.

“One huge result for the permissive is that when they do marry, they’re more likely to have a divorce than people who were virgins when they got married” (McIlhaney, 2010, para.13).

Sociologist, Jay Teachman, conducted a study to determine the association between premarital sex, premarital cohabitation, and the risk of divorce among women. Teachman concluded that “intimate premarital relationships with other men are associated with a substantial increase in the likelihood of divorce” (2003, p. 445).


Faced with a cultural environment in which casual sex is the norm, how can we equip our teenagers and young adults to make good sexual choices which will promote happiness and emotional well-being, while protecting their futures and their future marriages? Lickona quotes the rationale of one college senior, who expresses a moral ambiguity common in our contemporary culture, “I got sexually involved because I couldn’t answer the question, Why shouldn’t  I have sex?’” (Lickona, 2004b, p. 5).

In order to abstain from premature sex, young people need internallyheld convictions about why it makes sense to save sexual intimacy for a truly committed relationship, with support from their families and their faith communities to live out these convictions (Lickona, 2004b, p. 4).

Kanski #3

1. Link to personal happiness

First of all, young people should be told that sexual activity in teen years is clearly linked to reduced personal happiness. Teenage boys and girls who are sexually active are significantly less likely to be happy, compared to teens who are not sexually active. The next “Depression and Sexual Activity” table illustrates the findings of the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, Wave II, 1996 (Rector, 2003a).

Rector notes that “a full 60.2 percent of sexually inactive girls report that they “rarely or never” feel depressed. For sexually active teen girls, the number is far lower: only 36.8 percent” (2003a, para.13). For either gender, however, the data makes it clear that adolescents who are not sexually active are markedly happier than those who are active.

The impact of sexual activity on personal happiness persists even into adulthood. A report entitled, “The Harmful Effects of Early Sexual Activity and Multiple Sexual Partners Among Women,” found the following:
“an inverse relationship between personal happiness and the number of lifetime non-marital sexual partners. The greater the number of non-marital sex partners, the lower the probability of personal happiness” (Rector, 2003b, p. 20).
Fifty-six percent of women who have had sex only with men they married report that they are “very happy, while only 37 percent of women with five non-marital sex partners report that they are very happy (2003b).

The report also found that delaying sexual activity is linked to greater happiness. More than half the women who waited until their mid-20’s to have sex reported that they are “very happy(Rector, 2003b, p.13). The younger a woman was when she began sexual activity, the less likely she was to report high levels of happiness. Only a third of women who began sexual activity as young teenagers reported that they were currently “very happy” (2003b, p.13).

2. The Link to a happy marriage

Most teenagers report that they dream of being happily married someday (Lickona, 2007). In light of this fact, teens need to be told about the link between abstinence and the prospects for a future happy and stable marriage.

They should be taught to ask themselves the following question, before they consider engaging in any sexual activity: 

“What sexual decisions at this point in my life will help me realize my dream of a happy marriage? What problems might this sexual intimacy cause for me or my eventual marriage? What precious gift am I stealing from my future spouse?” (2007, para 14).

The Bible exhorts, “Let the marriage bed be undefiled” (Heb. 13:4). Fornication, or pre-marital sex, is one way the marriage bed is defiled. Many married men and women, report having flashbacks to earlier sexual encounters, along with the tendency, sometimes beyond their control, to compare their spouse with previous partners (McDowell, 1987, pp. 285-288). As McDowell observes, “Our sexual experiences seem to be written in ‘indelible ink’ in our memories, never to be erased” (1987, p. 286).

The following chart illustrates that over 80% of women who never had a sexual partner other than with their husbands were in a stable marriage. By contrast, women who had even one sexual partner prior to her husband were significantly less likely to have a stable marriage. The greater the increase in the number of non-marital sex partners, the lower the probability of marriage stability (Rector, 2003b, p. 18). 

                 Kanski Big Chart

The emotional and spiritual bond that is created between two people through the sexual act is too precious to be exploited for the sake of a transient, uncommitted liaison. “Marriage is essential to provide an adequate protection for the jewel of pair bonding in a relationship” (Joy, 1985, p. 54).

3. Don’t believe the hype

Young people need to be told not to believe the hype that “everyone’s doing it.” Joe McIlhaney, MD, founder of the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, excoriates the Planned Parenthood organization for bombarding kids and parents with the distortion that “essentially all high school students will be having sex by the time of graduation” (McIlhaney, 2015). The truth is that “nationwide stats show that the majority of kids in high school are still virgins” (2015, para.6).

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s latest data: High school students who have not had sexual intercourse are now in the majority (53%), and have been for the past 15 years (“Trends,” 2013). And of those who have had sex, nearly three-quarters of teen girls and nearly two-thirds of all teens admit that they wished they had waited longer before becoming sexually active. (Rector, 2003a).

Young people also need to be told not to believe the hype that virgins are looked down upon or stigmatized by their peers. In 2014, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy conducted a survey of attitudes and opinions of young adults regarding virginity and sexual experiences (“Virginity,” 2015). The survey found that young adults’ attitudes toward virginity are positive ones. Less than 1 percent of young adults say they think less of someone their age who has not had sex, and 46 percent of young adults say they “feel respect” for other young adults who have not had sex. Eighty-six percent say it is important for young teens to know that “it’s okay to be a virgin when you graduate from high school” (2015, para. 2).

4. Explain the benefits of waiting

It’s important to help teens realize the physical and emotional dangers of premature sex; however, too often, we leave them ill-equipped to face the inevitable temptation because we have not also made them aware of the rewards of saving sex for a truly committed love relationship.

  • Waiting will improve the quality of a couple’s relationships because they will spend more time getting to know each other.
  • Waiting will increase a person’s self-respect.
  • Waiting preserves a clear conscience and provides peace of mind, with no guilt,  conflicts, and no regrets.
  • Waiting will help people to find the right mate, one who will value them for the person they are.
  • By waiting, people develop character, and they will be able to attract a person of character, the kind of person people want to spend their lives with.

When a young adult does find the right person, waiting will allow the bond between the couple to grow deep and strong enough to last a lifetime.  Finally, Likona makes the following observation:

  • Waiting results in a better sexual relationship in marriage — free of comparisons and based on trust. By waiting, a person is being faithful to his other spouse even before meeting him or her. (Lickona, 2007)

Professional Counselor, Debra Fileta, elaborates this last point on her blogpost entitled, 5 Reasons Married Sex is Best!:

1.) Married Sex offers Unmatched Emotional Intimacy:

The commitment of marriage provides a safety that allows two people to be totally vulnerable to one another, which leads to great emotional intimacy, and the deeper the emotional connection between two people, the greater the sexual intimacy.

2.) Married Sex Provides An Ongoing Psychological Connection:

The beautiful thing about marital sex is that it’s not actually about the sex; it’s about something so much bigger, and greater, and more meaningful. It’s about a constant connection with another human being throughout the journey of life. This deep psychological connection between two people who truly know, love, serve, and sacrifice for one another spills out into sex and turns it into something more meaningful than anything Hollywood can muster.

3.) Married Sex Thrives in the Safety and Security of a Forever Commitment:

 Like anything worthwhile in life, a deep and meaningful sexual relationship takes time, effort, and a whole lot of practice. The beauty of marital sex as God intended for it to be is that there’s no rush. There is time to learn, time to grow, time to savor, and time to enjoy.

4.) Married Sex Maximizes the Physical Pleasures of Familiarity:

To know and be known is one of life’s most amazing gifts. Within the familiarity of marriage, we are more than free to try new things, but we’re also free to enjoy the same things again, and again. Gone is the pressure to “look perfect” or to “be an expert” because within the familiarity of a healthy marriage you are already known, already loved, already desired, and already accepted just as you are.

5.) Married Sex Involves a Supernatural Spiritual Oneness:

The beauty of sex within the framework of a loving, committed, God-honoring marriage is that there is a love present that surpasses all understanding. It’s an unconditional love between two people that overflows into their life, into their marriage, and into their bedroom. (Fileta, 2015)

5. Parental involvement.

The final tip for parents in counseling their teenagers about sex is, don’t underestimate your influence in their lives. It is hard to believe, sometimes, that you have any impact on their behavior, especially when they don’t seem to care or even want to hear what you say, and may at times seem to be ignoring you altogether, but the research indicates that parents do strongly influence their teens’ sexual behavior (“Parents,” 2015).

In survey after survey, children report that they want to talk to their parents about their sex-related questions, that it would be easier to delay sexual activity and avoid teen pregnancy if they were able to have more open, honest conversations about these topics with their parents, and that parents influence their decisions about sex more than friends do. (“Tips,” 2015, para. 4)

  • Parental Guidance: Teenagers whose parents discussed the social and moral consequences of being sexually active are more likely to be abstinent, and youths whose parents talked to them about what is right and wrong in sexual behavior are far more likely to be abstinent than those whose parents did not (“Parents,” 2015). Research also shows that teens are significantly affected when parents strongly disapprove of their being sexually active (“Parents,” 2015), so it’s important to be clear and specific about family beliefs and values about sex, and to communicate those plainly. Also, be ready to explain why you have those beliefs and values.
  • Parental Monitoring: Children whose parents monitor them more closely are less likely to be sexually active when they are in their teens” (“Parents,” 2015). Rules and curfews should be clear and lovingly reinforced. Openly and respectfully discuss with your teenagers the standard of behavior you expect from them. And know what your kids are watching, reading, and listening to. TV shows, movies, music videos, magazines, and the internet are saturated with material sending the wrong messages. “Young adults list Mediaas the main source of pressure to be become sexually active(“Virginity,” 2015, para 5).

It is common in our current culture to hear people talk about “safe sex. A recent Google search brought up websites entitled “Safe Sex for Teens,” “A Woman’s Guide to Safe Sex Basics,” and, “10 Ways to Make Safe Sex Fun.” The truth is, however, there is no such thing safe sex outside of marriage. Sex is too powerful to ever be “safe,” because with every sexual encounter we give a part of ourselves to another person.

In the current culture, sex may often seem like a casual thing. But sex is an act that is full of consequences. Sex, as one philosopher observed, is essentially deep. That’s a very good reason to save it for marriage, the deepest and most loving commitment two people can make to each other. (Lickona, 2004b).


Bush, F., & McIlhaney, J. (2008) “Hooked: The Bonding Power of Sex.” Retrieved December 9 2015, from FamilyLife Web Site:m -purity/hooked-the-bonding-power-of-sex.

Dahl, M. (2014, November 24).  “How Much Can You Really Change After You Turn 30?” Retrieved December 9 2015, from Web Site:

Davis, S. F., & Buskist, W. F. (Eds.) . (2008). 21st Century Psychology: A Reference Handbook. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Fileta, D. (2015). “5 Reasons Married Sex is Best!” Retrieved December 9 2015, from True Love Dates Website:

Holy Bible, English Standard Version. (2007). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Joy, D. (1985). Bonding: Relationships in the Image of GodWaco, TX: Word Books Publisher.

Karney, B., Beckett, M., Collins, R., Shaw, R. (2007). Adolescent Romantic Relationships as Precursors of Healthy Adult Marriages. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation.

Lickona, T. (2004a). Character Matters: How to Help Our Children Develop Good Judgment, Integrity, and Other Essential Virtues. New York: Touchstone.

Lickona, T. (2004b). How to Talk to Kids About Sex, Love, and Character.

Retrieved December 9 2015, from The State University of New York Cortland Website:

Lickona, T. (2007). “The Neglected Heart: The Emotional Dangers of Premature Sexual Involvement.” Retrieved December 9 2015, from Catholic Education Resource Center Website: involvement.html.

McDowell, J., & Day, D. (1987). Why Wait?: What You Need to Know about the Teenage Sexuality Crisis. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

McIlhaney, J. (2010) “Sexually Indulgent Now, Marriage Ruined Later?” Retrieved December 9 2015, from CBN News Website:

McIlhaney, J. (2015). “Comprehensive Sex Ed Curricula Distorts Truth.” Retrieved December 9 2015, from the Medical Institute for Sexual Health Website:

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“Parents Influence on Adolescents Sexual Behavior.” (2015). Retrieved December 9 2015, from The Heritage Foundation Website:

Rector, R. E., Johnson, K., & Noyes, L. R. (2003a). “Sexually Active Teenagers Are More Likely to Be Depressed and to Attempt Suicide.” Retrieved December 9 2015, from Center for Data Analysis Website: teenagers-are-more-likely-to-be-depressed#_ftn1.

Rector, R. E., Johnson, K. A., Noyes, L. R., & Martin, S. (2003b). The Harmful Effects of Early Sexual Activity and Multiple Sexual Partners Among Women: A Book of Charts. Retrieved December 9, 2015 from The Heritage Foundation Website:

Teachman, J. (2003). “Premarital sex, premarital cohabitation, and the risk of subsequent marital dissolution among women.” Journal of Marriage and Family, 65(2), 444-455

“Tips for Parents.” (2015). Retrieved December 9 2015, from Office of Adolescent Health Website:

“Trends in the Prevalence of Sexual Behaviors and HIV Testing National YRBS: 1991—2013.” Retrieved December 9, 2015 from YRBSS CDC Website:

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“Virginity Revisited.” (2015). Retrieved December 9 2015, from Medical Institute for Sexual Health Website


Abraham’s Greatest Act of Faith

At two significant times in his life, Abraham was tested.  His faith in the promises of God was ultimately proven, but only through years of not even seeing what was promised.  Yet his faith endured and the fulfillment was seen in his later generations, and it even resulted in the full appearance and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ Himself, our Savior.

First God tested Abraham when He called him at the age of seventy-five to leave his home in Haran in Ur of the Chaldeans to the land promised him.  The Lord said to Abram,

“Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;
And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

God made a number of promises, including a land in which he and his descendants would dwell. Abram would also be the father of a great nation in whom all the families of the earth would be blessed.

These were magnificent promises, but Abram had to wait a significant amount of time before they were fulfilled.  As it was, for example, he was called to leave his home with his wife Sarai without knowing where he was heading, as it says in Hebrews: “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).

Second, Abram, whose name was changed to Abraham by God, also demonstrated his great faith when he believed God for a son, even though he was nearly one hundred years old and his barren wife was ninety years old.  (We studied this story in the last article titled “Speaking or Praying in the Name of…”

Both Abraham and Sarah were amused at the thought that they would have a child at their age, yet God demonstrated the surety of the promise.  These promises was sealed by God in the cutting of a covenant, a mystery we studied in another article titled  “A Great Mystery”:

In an even greater test of Abraham’s faith in God’s promises, however, the following story is told in Genesis 22: 
Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” (Genesis 22:1-2)
The Lord God’s directions came a number of years later after Isaac’s birth because Abraham had his son carry the wood for the burnt offering, and while preparing for the sacrifice, Isaac also realized that they had no lamb for the sacrifice:
Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”  (Genesis 22:6-7)

Did Abram Lie to Isaac?

In response to Isaac’s question, it appears that Abraham has lied to Isaac, saying, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (v. 7).   Yet we find another interpretation based on the summary found in the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament. 

According to this version, Abraham had such faith that Isaac was indeed the child of promise, through whom the nations of the world would be blessed, that Abraham believed that even if he did sacrifice his son, the Lord God would raise him from the dead:

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.” He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.  (Hebrews 11:17-19)
God does not specifically promise Abraham such a miracle, and it had never been known that a person had been raised from the dead, particularly one sacrificed like a lamb and burned on an altar.  Yet Abraham believed God’s promises for Isaac so strongly that he believed God would work a miracle and raise his son from the dead to fulfill those promises.

What Was Isaac Thinking?

I’m sure Isaac must have been horrified when Abraham bound him and told him to lie down on the pile of wood he himself had carried to the place of sacrifice.  

As I visualize the story, I can see the terror in Isaac’s eyes as Abraham lifted the knife to plunge it into him.  And I can see the knife actually beginning its descent after Abraham had stretched out his hand and taken the knife to slay his son.  At that moment, however,when the voice of the “angel of the Lord” is heard:  

Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” (Genesis 22:10-12)

Notice, however, that the “angel” in this passage speaks in the first person (I/me), as though he were God Himself:  “. . .for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”  

As seen in the last article in this Biblical Mysteries Revealed blog, the message the messenger delivers is in the same voice as the original speaker; in this case, God is speaking through the angel, and it’s as if the speaker is God Himself.  This is what it means to pray or preach or witness in Christ’s name.  And this is why we were instructed not to think about what we would say if called before the authorities because the Holy Spirit would give us the words to speak.   


Abraham’s Faith

A number of evidences of Abraham’s faith are significant in this story.  

  • Abraham told his two servants who came with him and Isaac that both father and son would return:  “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you” (Genesis 22:5).
  • When Isaac asks Abraham about the missing lamb for their sacrifice, Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:8).
 In fact, when the Lord told Abraham not to stretch out his hand with the knife to harm Isaac, Abraham lifted his eyes and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket.  So Abraham caught the ram and used it for the sacrifice, freeing his son Isaac.  The Lord God then spoke again to Abraham, commending his faith and renewing his promises concerning the seed of Abraham:
By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice. (Genesis 22:16-18)

Why Was Abraham Tested In This Way?

Those skeptics and critics of the Scriptures who do not understand God’s plans and promises may be greatly critical of this story, particularly the seeming cruelty of the tests which God uses.  For example, why would God tell Abraham to sacrifice the very son of promise given to him after many years and countless severe tests and temptations?  In light of Abraham’s age and the fact that he had finally succeeded in having Isaac, in spite of all the obstacles he had faced and the numerous times he had failed or was misled, this final test of God seems especially cruel indeed.

A fuller understanding of God’s purposes in testing Abraham’s faith is necessary, however, for God was using Abraham’s faith to bring into existence His magnificent plan for redeeming a fallen world back from the hands of Satan.

It must be remembered that when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they had essentially handed the glorious world God had given them over to Satan, who wanted himself to “be like the most High”

“How you have fallen from heaven,
O star of the morning, son of the dawn!
You have been cut down to the earth,
You who have weakened the nations!
“But you said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
And I will sit on the mount of assembly
In the recesses of the north.
‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’    (Isaiah 14:12-14).  

Once this transfer of authority occurred, God could no longer simply intervene in human affairs without permission, any more than a landlord can just enter a tenant’s home at any time without permission.  The sending forth of God’s Word and the need for the Word to be received, believed, and acted upon was the permission God needed.  

In fact, the entire system of sacrifices brought about under the Old Covenant laid the foundation for allowing God to bring forth the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus Christ, Who became the Lamb of God that took away the sin of the world.  Jesus could not have become that Lamb unless a chosen nation of people had been set apart who did not follow the false religions of the pagans.  The Jews were a people who believed that the shedding of blood would atone for sin.

God’s plan for redeeming the world was instrumentally allowed by Abraham when he showed he was willing to sacrifice his only son in obedience to God, even though Isaac was the son he had been promised.   Indeed, Isaac carried the wood to the place of sacrifice in the same way Jesus carried His cross.  Plus, the faith Abraham exercised to believe that God would raise Isaac from the dead was the same faith that allowed God to raise Christ Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, from the dead as well.

Mount Moriah, the place of Abraham’s testing and near sacrifice of Isaac, was the site of the Temple in Jerusalem many years later, and it was also near Mount Calvary, where Christ was crucified.  Thus, God did indeed provide the lamb for the ultimate sacrifice, in response to Abraham’s statement to Isaac:  “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Hebrews 22:7).

Because of Abraham’s obedience on Mount Moriah, God told Abraham that his faith and obedience would bring about the coming of the Savior through whom the entire world would be blessed.


The New Covenant with Israel, Part II

False Interpretations…

In Part I of this Blog topic we examined God’s dealings with Israel, and we saw that Jesus Christ came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.  In the “Sermon on the Mount,” He said this:

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.  For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  (Matthew 5:17-18)

If all has been fulfilled concerning Jesus the Messiah, the focus of God’s plan, then all has been fulfilled for Israel all the Law was kept perfectly by Christ. All the sins of the people were poured out and atoned for by Christ, the Lamb of God. Therefore, the law is no longer the way to righteousness.  

Christ Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Thus, all people must look to Christ, not law-keeping, to find righteousness, or right standing, with God:  “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).

After His resurrection, Jesus further explained to His disciples what His purpose was in His ministry on Earth, making clear that His work was accomplished, just as He said while dying, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.  (Luke 24:43-45)

…Lead to False Teachings

Apparently, some Bible teachers who focus on “End Times” prophecy disagree, however, saying that God’s purposes with the Law of Moses still need to be completed.  These teachers resort to interpretive extremes, then display their complicated misreadings of prophetic passages on charts or diagrams to simplify their complex models (see an example below).

For example, the teaching that follows even predicts as many as four or more resurrections from the dead:

The Bible does not teach one resurrection or even two resurrections in number. Rather, it teaches that there will be two resurrections in type which will be conducted in stages, resulting in several resurrections — at least four, to be specific.(


Israel Restored?

One of the most problematic misreadings, in my opinion, is the attempt to “rebuild” ancient Israel.  They seek to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem so that sacrifices may be resumed and the people may continue to follow the laws of the Old Covenant with sacrifices, thus ensuring their salvation.  This teaching contradicts the statement Jesus made to the Jewish leaders before the crucifixion, for He said, “Your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:38).  In fact, Jesus predicted the complete destruction of the Temple, a prophecy fulfilled a mere forty years later, for indeed in A.D. 70, not one stone was left on another after Titus’s army destroyed the Temple.  

This teaching not only contradicts Jesus’ own prophecies before His crucifixion about the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, but also sides with those the Apostle Paul calls “accursed,” for these teachers want the Jews to be able to continue following the Laws of Moses.  Here is Paul’s judgment:  

For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.” However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.  (Galatians 3:10-14)


The Gap Theory

In addition, with no exegetical justification, they insert a “gap” of what has currently amounted to about 2,000 years between the 69th and 70th weeks in Daniel’s “Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks.” This is the passage: 

Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.  (Daniel 9:24-27)

They also attribute the works of Messiah the Prince in this passage to  “the prince who is to come,” or the one they designate the Anti-Christ, making him the one who makes and end of sin, makes atonement for iniquity, and brings in everlasting righteousness.  They have taught these extreme interpretations and more, while making improbable predictions of future events,and even incorporating astrology (an occult practice forbidden under the Old Covenant), such as adding “blood” moons, into their presentations and publications.  


More Examples of False Teachings

What follows here are some examples of false teachings based on misinterpretations:

1.  British Israelism:

This teaching states that all of the British peoples from Australia to New Zealand, from England to the United States, are the direct lineal descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel and hence the inheritors of the promises of the Old Covenant.  Yet, Paul writes clearly that the Lord is no longer sees either Jews or gentiles, but rather a new, born-again Body of Believers, who will inherit the fullness of the promises made to Abraham through Christ Jesus:  

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:27-29)

2.  Jews Rule the World:

The theory that present day Israel will one day rule the world from Jerusalem.  Jesus Himself or even a resurrected King David,  according to some teachers, will return again to sit on a throne that is yet to be constructed. When the Old Testament prophecies are read only from a historical perspective, rather than focusing on covenant relationships, these teachers believe and teach that there will be a future time of national Israel’s rule as head over all the nations.

Yet, after the resurrection of Christ Jesus, when the disciples asked if He would restore the kingdom to Israel at that time, Jesus redirects their thinking to another level than the mere political.  He said, “You shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  Jesus tells them that their focus should not concern national borders or cultures and that He Himself is the fulfillment of all the promises in the Old Testament: 

 “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.  (Luke 24:44-48)

Thus,  Christ’s rejection by the Jews was not only part God’s original plan, but also Jesus told His disciples that His Kingdom was not of this world.  

In his Letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul makes clear that Christ’s kingdom cannot be bounded either by human wisdom or international borders:  

 In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. (Ephesians 1:8-10)

Paul also wrote that he prays that Believers in Christ Jesus will understand this “mystery” of God’s will.  As shown in the following passage below, Christ’s coronation has already occurred in the Heavenlies.  Since Christ currently reigns over His spiritual kingdom from the right hand of God, not only in Paul’s age  but “also in the one to come,” there is no need for Him to be enthroned  on earth, especially since He now rules in a glorified body, the Head over all believers, whether Jew or Gentile:

 These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,  above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:17-23)

 3.   Renewed Sacrifices

It is taught that the Jews will again make sacrifices for sin in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, or possibly a “Holy Place.” These sacrifices would essentially render void or inadequate the sacrifice of Christ for the salvation of all.  (See the note below from an actual web site which proclaims this teaching.)

However, the Scriptures are clear that the Old Covenant has been fulfilled and the New Covenant has come, as prophesied in Jeremiah (see 31:31-34).  And the writer to the Hebrews in the New Testament is clear in stating that the old sacrifices for sin were mere copies of the one true sacrifice for sin offered by our High Priest, Christ Jesus:

For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (Hebrews 9:24-26)

Why would God desire the Jews to return to a copy, or prototype, when the real version exists and has replaced the mere copies?  Those who advocate for renewed sacrifices are in line with the false teachers Paul exposes in his letter to the Galatians, for they advocated a continued following of Old Testament practices. 

To teach that the Old Covenant commandments are acceptable to God is to divide what God has joined together in Christ. And this teaching directly contradicts Jesus’ statement to the woman at the well: “An hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father . . . an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (John 4:21, 23).

4.  Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks

In a prediction that incorporates their misreading of the Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks in Daniel 9 (see above), some teachers claim that the Anti-Christ will one day make a bargain that will lead to Armageddon and the final destruction of the world before the Messiah returns.  

II Thessalonians 2:1-17, however, is a passage which is also used to support the idea that the Anti-Christ will appear in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem.  This prediction is problematic, however, because II Thessalonians was most likely written before A.D. 70, a date which allows for the prophecy to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, the son of Vespasian and a future Emperor, not to any future temple in this age. 

Instead, it makes much more sense, therefore, for the “prince who is to come” or the “man of lawlessness” (found in Daniel 9 or II Thesalonians 2) to refer to Titus, the future Emperor of Rome, when he brought about the complete destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.   

5.  The 2,000 year Gap

Some end times prophecy teachers refer to the present day Church Age period as a kind of “interlude” in the progress of Israel’s prophesied history, still believed to be God’s primary purpose.  They somehow hold to the idea that the blood of lambs and goats is needed by the Jews who are still under the Old Covenant, making these sacrifices equal to the blood of Christ.  In effect, they say, the Jews were offered the Kingdom that was promised when Jesus appeared at His first advent, but they rejected Christ the Messiah, even to the point of crucifying Him.  

This rejection led God the Father to implement another plan, they say, since His will was not received by the Jews.  Thus, the Church Age was implemented, though God will yet revive the promises to Israel, giving them another opportunity to repent before Christ comes again, when a “remnant” of the Jews will be saved.  

They believe that the Old Covenant of the Law of Moses still needs to be fulfilled, that Jews during the supposed seven-year tribulation period will still be saved through sacrifices in a rebuilt temple, in spite of the teachings in Hebrews that such sacrifices cannot ever cleanse the sins of the people completely.   

Incredibly, some teachers even believe that the new converts saved during the supposed Tribulation Period of Seven Years will not be part of the Body of Christ in Heaven, but will live and rule from Jerusalem during the Millenium, another symbolic or figurative concept from the Book of Revelation that has been made literal.  

The Olive Tree

However, the prophecy of the Apostle Paul in Romans remains:

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,

     “The Deliverer will come from Zion,
     He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”
      “This is My covenant with them,
     When I take away their sins.”

From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.  (Romans 11:25-29)

No, God has not forsaken Israel, though, He through Christ the Messiah, was rejected.  All Israel will be saved, consisting of both Jews and Gentiles who have been grafted into the Olive Tree.  Christ came to save us and to unite Jews and Gentiles into one body “by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man” (Eph 2:15).  

This is a mystery, Paul writes, but we must understand this mystery in context with the rest of the teachings of the Scriptures about the covenants God has made with His people, both Jews and Gentiles.  Above all, we must not be “wise in our own estimation,” as Paul warns, but rightly divide the Word of Truth.  

The Church is one and the same with New Covenant Israel – one redeemed people,  heirs to the covenants of promise through Jesus Christ:

Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.(Ephesians 2:11-16)








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The New Covenant with Israel, Part I

Another Mystery

In reading and discovering the “mysteries” revealed in the Scriptures, we are finding that they must be understood with insight and spiritual revelation from the Holy Spirit. Too often supposed revelations about the End Times come from Bible teachers who reject much of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Believers.  

The Holy Spirit was given to be our Teacher, yet so many are finding prophetic revelations in historical events rather than the guidance of the Holy Spirit, leading to many false teachings.  

The mysteries of God are revealed truths, secrets that God has kept hidden, yet He desires to reveal them to His saints, the true believers found in the Body of Christ.  The following mystery, for example, cannot be grasped without seeking wisdom from the Holy Spirit.  

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, / He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. / This is My covenant with them, / When I take away their sins.”  (Romans 11:25-27)

Read this passage again if you need to.  To understand it, we must define a few terms, particularly “Israel” and “the fullness of the Gentiles.”

God is Timeless

To understand God’s will, we must first seek to view the Scriptures from His perspective.  This approach is encouraged by the Apostle Paul, who tells the believers in Corinth to be spiritual in their thinking, comparing them not to grownups who eat meat but to infants who subsist only on milk:

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able.  (I Corinthians 3:1-2)

See also this passage:

Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature.  (I Corinthians 14:1)

In fact, the Apostle Paul at times has to resort to making literal statements to ensure that he was understood.  Paul takes this approach with the Galatian church since they have succumbed to the false teachings of those claiming that these gentile believers needed to follow the laws handed to the Israelites by Moses, including male circumcision.

After explaining to them again how he received the teachings of the Gospel through “a revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:12), Paul makes clear the approach that comes from false teachers.  “Who has bewitched you,” he writes in both righteous anger and frustration.  

Paul then continues to exhort them:

This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?  

Thus, the statements of Paul show that following a legalistic system of laws and regulations is ultimately fruitless.  It was only introduced by Moses because the original heirs of the Covenant God made with Abraham were disobedient.

Subsequently, the Law of Moses was essentially given to show that, aside from Jesus Christ the perfect Son of God, no one can possibly keep all of the provisions required perfectly; the Law was given to show that we need grace since we cannot obtain righteousness on our own:

Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:24-26)

Living in such legalism is not what God desires for neither Jews nor Gentiles who comprise His Church under a New Covenant that had both fulfilled the promises made to Abraham and replaced the Old Covenant made with Israel through Moses.  

All of our own righteousness is only filthy rags, even though in our blindness we are deluded into thinking that we are good people. Thanks be to God, Who has made it possible to come into His presence in spite of our sin through Jesus Christ, our Mediator and High Priest.  


A Partial Blindness

Paul is qualified to speak to the “blindness” of the Jews, for he himself was a model Pharisee, a keeper of the Law and a strident persecutor of those who believed otherwise, even witnessing the stoning of Stephen.  

He relates in his Letter to the Romans that he grieves over the Jews’ unbelief, saying that if possible he would give up his own life if doing so would open their eyes to the truth.  

Indeed, the hardness of their hearts was prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah.  However, due to their unbelief and disobedience, God declares through His prophet that He is divorcing national Israel and making a New Covenant:  

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”  (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

This “New Covenant” sounds surprisingly like the covenant Christ promised during His first coming and instituted at the Last Supper, for it indeed puts the law of the Lord into the hearts of the people.  The Holy Spirit is poured out under this New Covenant, and their sins and iniquities are no longer merely be covered over with the blood of bulls and goats but cleansed with the blood of Jesus Christ Himself, who becomes the sacrificial Lamb.

This partial hardening of many Jewish hearts continued from Jeremiah’s time through the trial and execution of Jesus and on through the persecutions against the early Church.  Paul is clear, however, in saying that this unbelief does not include all Jewish people, for a remnant will be saved.  In fact, Paul declares that “all Israel will be saved,” most likely at the time of Christ’s Second Coming when the “times of the Gentiles has come in.”


Learning the Truth

The final authority must be Jesus Himself, and He was clear with Nicodemus that interpreting literally is not always the wisest choice.  Being “born again” does not mean entering again into the mother’s womb, as Nicodemus thought Jesus was saying. 

And Jesus certainly spoke figuratively when He gave to His disciples the bread and the wine during the Last Supper, though not all interpret Christ’s words figuratively. Unfortunately, some still insist on believing that the communion elements are the actual flesh and blood of Jesus that they are receiving, yet many teachers today who insist on interpreting the Bible literally would disagree with those who see the communion elements as being “transubstantiated.”

We must realize also, therefore, that God’s timeless perspective is not like our own.  In the flesh, we must perceive with our physical senses, senses that are subject to time.  We can only understand the past and the future in our minds, yet God sees and knows all things.  Therefore, we must continue in the Spirit what we have begun in the Spirit.

Those who teach that the Scriptures must only be interpreted “literally” must surely realize that Christ’s disciples were given the “mystery of the Kingdom of God,” a mystery which could only be interpreted figuratively.   Jesus even chided them for not understanding His figurative stories, or parables.  

Yet, those whom Jesus referred to as “those on the outside” were taught only in the form of parables so that they would not understand (Mark 4:11-12).  Presumably, if Jesus had taught them literally, not figuratively, then those who were skeptics or unbelievers would be able to understand the meanings for which they would ultimately be held accountable for, even in their unbelief.  


Interpreting End Times Prophecies Literally

The prophecies and dreams that reveal God’s plans for the future were delivered and written in the form of symbolic language, hence the strange “beasts” of Daniel’s and John’s dreams and visions, for example.  Yet so many Bible teachers today want to take these symbolic and metaphorical revelations and place them in a literal box, even though doing so makes the results nonsensical or unsound.  

For example, do those who seek a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, built for the purpose of reintroducing sacrifices, actually believe that God wants the Jews to return to the laws and practices of the Old Covenant, especially when the revelations given to Paul have declared them to be mere copies of the one true sacrifice already made by Jesus?  Don’t they realize that the temple destroyed in 70 A.D. was only a copy of the true Temple in Heaven, where Christ today sits on His throne as Prophet, Priest, and King?  And this was the Temple that would soon be destroyed in 70 A.D. because it was no longer to be the focus of the New Covenant?

This is what the writer of the Book of Hebrews declares: 

Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “See,” He says, “that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.” But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. . . .Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. (Hebrews 8:5, 9:23-25)

Since Jesus Christ came to do away with these “copies,” why would God want to have another mere copy made today, especially after Christ Jesus wept over Jerusalem and not one stone of the Temple would be left on another?  

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!  (Matthew 23:37-38)



The Promises Fulfilled

The justification for this conclusion, that the Temple will supposedly be rebuilt and sacrifices re-established, is that God’s promises made to Israel under the Old Covenant were never actually fulfilled.  However, a true reading of the Scriptures reveals otherwise:


  1.  God has indeed fulfilled the promises given to Israel concerning the land:  

So the Lord gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it. And the Lord gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hand. Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass. (Joshua 21:43-45)

  1.  The idea that God has not fulfilled the promises made to Israel concerning earthly rule and governance, specifically the promises made to King David, were fulfilled through Jesus Christ. He said He came to fulfill the Law and be the One to receive the fulfillment of the promises of God (Matthew 5:17-20).  Christ’s New Covenant is based not on an earthly rule but on a kingdom not of this world: His Kingdom is a whole new nation, with the Gentiles joined together with the Jews and constituting a direct descent from the Covenant God made with Abraham:  “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:28-29).


Christ’s Kingdom Is Not of This World 

How does this method of interpretation relate to what the Scriptures tell us about Israel?  First, we must realize that even under the Old Covenant, it was never God’s will that the Israelites adopt the governing practices of the neighboring heathens.  He wanted His chosen people to be ruled by judges, not kings, in a form of “theocracy.”  

Second, the Apostle Paul does not refer to Israel according to contemporary terminology, as “national Israel.”  Instead, he likens the inheritors of the promises made to Abraham to a figurative “olive tree,” relating that a “partial hardening” has happened to Israel and that the unbelieving branches have unfortunately been broken off (see Romans 11).  Meanwhile, new branches have been grafted in, and these include all of the gentile believers from all over the world, a result of Christ’s Great Commission:  “For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Romans 11:15)

Thus, the promise made to Abraham is fulfilled, that all may receive the blessings of the Covenant made with Abraham:

“By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son [Isaac], your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”  (Genesis 22:16-18)

Paul is clear, however, that unbelieving Jews, the branches that have been broken off, may one day be grafted again, making them a part of the entire Olive Tree, or the Body of Christ, which makes up the New Covenant analogy.  

Paul makes this point clear to the Galatians in the following passage:

But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.  (Galatians 3:23-29)



I’m confident that Paul would be just as frustrated with those teachers in the contemporary Church for seeking to return the Jews to the laws of the Old Covenant as he was with the Judaizers who were infiltrating the Galatian Church and telling them to be circumcised to follow the old Mosaic Law.  It’s time for us to follow Paul’s wisdom:  

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved. . . .Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.  (NASB Romans 11:25-26; Romans 12:6)

A Great Mystery

A Man and a Woman

One of the more enigmatic passages in the writings of the Apostle Paul concerns his teachings on marriage.  In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul reveals a mystery to the church and instructs the believers concerning the marriage relationship, stating that it is like the relationship between Christ and His Body, the Church:

So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:28-33)

In many places in the Old Testament, the Old Covenant, the Lord God is described as a “husband” to Israel, as in the following passage:  

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like thecovenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”  (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

This new promise is fulfilled in the New Covenant, the New Testament, where Jesus Christ is compared to the bridegroom, and the Church is compared to His bride.  Even Jesus compares Himself to a bridegroom, such as in the following passage from Luke’s Gospel:

And they said to Him, “The disciples of John often fast and offer prayers, the disciples of the Pharisees also do the same, but Yours eat and drink.” And Jesus said to them, “You cannot make the attendants of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? But the days will come; and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.” (Luke 5:33-34)

The Covenant Relationship

The basis of this comparison, I believe, is the nature of the covenant relationship portrayed in the Scriptures.  One of the clearest examples is the covenant Jonathan, King Saul’s son and heir, makes with David, who at the time was merely a shepherd:

Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself.Saul took him that day and did not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt. (I Samuel. 18:1-4)

The making of a covenant is portrayed in many other places in the Scriptures.  This sealing of a covenant literally means “to cut,” and the cutting entails the bleeding or shedding of blood as the basis of this sealing.  A covenant was “cut” when two people passed between the cut carcasses of slain animals after making an agreement together.

This ceremony is described in the Book of Jeremiah, where the prophet speaks against those Israelites who have violated God’s covenant by not releasing their captives:  

Yet you turned andprofaned My name, and each man took back his male servant and each man his female servant whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them into subjection to be your male servants and female servants.. . .I will give the men who have transgressed My covenant, who have not fulfilled the words of the covenant which they made before Me, when they cut the calf in two and passed between its parts— the officials of Judah and the officials of Jerusalem, the court officers and the priests and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf.  (Jeremiah 34:16, 18-19)

Such a ceremony describes the making of a covenant in the Old Testament, and the parties might also have shared a meal as well, such as when Laban and Jacob made their covenant promising not to do harm to one another:  “I will not pass by this heap to you for harm, and you will not pass by this heap and this pillar to me, for harm. The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.”(Genesis 31:52-3).


God’s Unilateral Covenant with Abram

For example, God’s covenant with Abram is sealed by the cutting of animals in two pieces.  God has made many promises to Abram, but Abram wants assurance.  How can he know for certain that God will do what He promises?  The following passage is lengthy, but well worth the reading, so think about reading the entire chapter when you can:

And He said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.” He said, “O Lord God, how may I know that I will possess it?” So He said to him, “Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds.The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away. (Genesis 15:8-)

Abram is weary from making the preparations for the sealing of the covenant and defending the pieces of the animals from predators.  Therefore, Abram  falls into a sleep slumber.  Then God speaks to him:

“Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.” (Genesis 15:13-16)

After making these promises to Abram, the Lord seals the covenant by moving between the pieces of the animals.  He does this alone, and Abram does not pass through the pieces, revealing that the covenant is unilateral.  It is a promise of God, to be fulfilled by Him alone:

It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying,“To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates. . .”  (Genesis 15:8-18)

Again, this covenant was essentially unilateral, or one-way, because Abram did not himself pass through the separated pieces.  Only God alone in the form of the oven and the torch passed through the animals.  Thus, it was only necessary for Abram to accept God’s offers by faith and allow the Lord to fulfill His promises.  

The covenant was renewed in subsequent renderings due to the disobedience of Abram’s descendants.  The covenant relationship between God and Israel is described as a “marriage,” but ultimately because of Israel’s “harlotry,” God divorces Israel, yet declares that He will make a new covenant:

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”  (Jeremiah 31:31-34)


Christ’s Covenant With His Bride, the Church

In a similar way, Jesus Christ made a covenant with all who would accept Him.  In fact, Jesus Christ was the “mediator” of this better covenant Jeremiah describes, one better than the one made with Abraham (See Hebrews 7:22, 8:6, 12:24).  Jesus Himself was the “lamb of God,” sacrificed to establish this covenant by giving His life for us.  

This covenant is revealed in many places in the New Testament, particularly in the Book of Hebrews, but also in the Gospels where Jesus shared a meal with His disciples, when He said, “This is the new covenant in My blood” (Matthew 26:28; Luke 22:20).

When Paul recited the account he had received from the Holy Spirit concerning the Last Supper, he quoted these words of Jesus speaking about the cup as “the new covenant in My blood” (I Corinthians 11:25).  This new covenant accomplished what the old could not, for it was made on the basis of better promises, including the removal of sin and the cleansing of the conscience:  

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22)


The Marriage Covenant

Today, one rarely hears about two people cutting a covenant to become blood brothers.  The closest comparison we have to a Bible blood covenant today is the one Paul describes in Ephesians, a marriage between a man and a woman.

Just as in the more usual bilateral biblical covenants, in a marriage one party making the covenant with the other says, “What I have is yours and what you have is mine.”  Everything is shared, even the hardships and difficult times, hence the “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health” vow recited at ceremonial marriage “covenants.”

Unfortunately, today the marriage covenant has been diluted by “prenuptial agreements” and tacit understandings that “If things don’t work out, we will separate.”  

In a true covenant, the parties are “all in,”  and both parties can fully count on the resources of the other participant if they have need of them, just as David received Jonathan’s weapons and armor, and Jonathan’s son was received as a son into David’s house.  This was how Bible covenants worked, and this is how marriages should work today.

Unfortunately, while sexual practices today have descended into the depths of depravity and have led to the diminishing of the marriage covenant itself, the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, the Husband of the Body of Christ the Church, is everlasting for all who will call upon Him and turn to Him in repentance and loving commitment.


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