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How many frogs do you have to kiss?

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Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.
And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”
So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. Galatians 3:7-9.      
[BUT] IF so, what shall we say about Abraham, our forefather humanly speaking—[what did he] find out? [How does this affect his position, and what was gained by him?]
For if Abraham was justified (established as just by acquittal from guilt) by good works [that he did, then] he has grounds for boasting. But not before God!
For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed in (trusted in) God, and it was credited to his account as righteousness (right living and right standing with God). Romans 4:1-3.

This will be a lengthy topic that I have already cut short, but I am sure you will be blessed with something important. The central focus of our faith is in Jesus, but we could correctly say that one of the foundations is found in Abraham, the father of our faith.

I will not be talking this time about faith however, although it is something that we can never exhaust as a topic.
What I am about to share would be better done in a long and protracted series of studies on various relationships.

On this occasion, I will be sharing some thoughts on the Christian Family and to do so, we shall look at the origin and at Abraham and his children, marriage and those noisy lovely kids.

What better place to start then than at the beginning.

Yes, it is back to basics—Genesis chapter one. Here we see that God created everything that exists and in verse 22, God blessed His creation. God is into blessing! His intention from the beginning was to bless and He has not changed His mind. His command was to be fruitful and multiply. God then created man in His own image and likeness and gave him dominion over all the earth. Verse 27 clearly states that God created male and female and verse 28 immediately states that God blessed them also and commanded them to be fruitful and multiply.
Skip a few verses now and come to Genesis 2 and start reading from verse 21 onwards. God then took a rib from Adam and used that rib to make woman. This means that the man was now lacking something, or in some way was incomplete in himself. God Himself then brought the woman to the man.

The man did not go out looking for a mate.

    God brought his mate to him! It is evident that God wants a man and a woman as a family unit. His command to be fruitful and multiply requires both a male and a female of any species to do that. Adam and Steve cannot. Eve and Evelyn cannot. The devil is set against a family unit according to God’s design and we are witnessing many effort to undermine God’s standards. They cannot succeed!
One thing that I absolutely abhor is the term “partner”. We are not partners—we are by God’s design and designation Husband and Wife!
I always refer to Marjorie as my wife and am proud to do so and she likewise calls me her husband. Our marriage was ordained by God. He chose us. We did not go out looking for someone to marry. In fact, God literally commanded us to marry and performed a wedding ceremony of His own in a Kenneth Copeland convention and some time later told us what He did, instructing us to have a wedding ceremony in church to make it “legal”.
You’ll have to hear the full story (Victims of an arranged marriage) one day. Ask us about it.

Our two scripture references above touch on the fatherhood of Abraham. Romans 4 continues with-

Therefore, [inheriting] the promise is the outcome of faith and depends [entirely] on faith, in order that it might be given as an act of grace (unmerited favor), to make it stable and valid and guaranteed to all his descendants—not only to the devotees and adherents of the Law, but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, who is [thus] the father of us all.
As it is written, I have made you the father of many nations. [He was appointed our father] in the sight of God in Whom he believed, Who gives life to the dead and speaks of the nonexistent things that [He has foretold and promised] as if they [already] existed. Romans 4:16-17.

When God changed Abram’s name to Abraham in Genesis 17:6 & 7, He told Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. He told Sarah that she would be the mother of many nations and that kings of people would be of her. Throughout that chapter, God spoke of generations. Clearly God wants families to have children and it is important to note that this blood line from Abraham had to be intact or pure and for good reason.

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Matthew 1:1.
 

What sometimes seems to be a boring discourse on history and genealogy is extremely important. In this one verse, we can see some of God’s perfect and meticulous planning, right down to the finest detail.
It started before the universe was created.
The first book of the New Testament starts with Jesus. The last book of the New Testament is also about Jesus. Revelation 1:1 says-

The Revelation of Jesus Christ.

It is not a book of revelations of all kinds of prophecies, but it contains many of them. It is a revelation of Jesus—who is destined to be a heavenly bridegroom.
He is called the son of David, the son of Abraham.
There were 14 generations from Abraham to David; 14 generations to the exile in Babylon and 14 generations from then to Jesus Christ. This is no accident. It is part of the divine pattern that includes families. For those interested in numerics there were 3 groups of 2 times 7. The number 7 refers to spiritual perfection. The number 2 talks of incarnation etc. 14 therefore refers to double spiritual perfection. 3 is of course refers to God, or divine perfection.
Matthew spoke of families and generations. Clearly God has the family unit on His heart.
I wonder if Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding was “accidental” or deliberately planned.


God loves weddings.

The Father seeks a family!
The Son seeks a bride and the Holy Spirit
seeks a home! Think of it.
What a privilege we have.
God has put eternity in our hearts because He wants to spend eternity with us.

Whilst we are still in Genesis, let us take a quick look at something about marriage.

Now the Lord God said, It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him.
And out of the ground the Lord God formed every [wild] beast and living creature of the field and every bird of the air and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them; and whatever Adam called every living creature, that was its name.
And Adam gave names to all the livestock and to the birds of the air and to every [wild] beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found a helper meet (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him.
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; and while he slept, He took one of his ribs or a part of his side and closed up the [place with] flesh.
And the rib or part of his side which the Lord God had taken from the man He built up and made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
Then Adam said, This [creature] is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of a man.
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall become united and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
And the man and his wife were both naked and were not embarrassed or ashamed in each other's presence.
Genesis 2:18-25
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God thought that being alone was not  good thing. Being single or unmarried is OK for some people by personal preference. Paul remained unmarried. God’s ideal model however is marriage.  He made Eve to complement Adam when He took the rib (sēlāʿ) from the man. This word only appears once like this. It once talks of the side of a hill or a terrace and in architectural terms relates to the sides of an object, such as the sides of the Ark of the Covenant as seen in Exodus 25:12-14. Even here, did God start to
reveal His father heart? This word also refers to a side chamber. There were 3 levels of these chambers around the Temple (1 Kings 6:5; Ezekiel 41:6).
God took Eve from the side chamber of the man. Perhaps you can see that there is much more to the Divine plan hidden away in some of those in-depth verses we often gloss over and think  boring.

The bible says that God created woman by taking a rib from Adam while he was in a very deep sleep. A common belief is that men have one less rib than women but this is not true. Under normal circumstances men and women alike have 12 ribs each. If God actually took a rib from Adam, he had to have been made with more than 12 ribs originally, but was it a literal rib as we think? Look at man’s creation-

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:27.
 

Notice my emphasis. God created him as male And female. Was that person both male and female combined in one body or shell?  According to Adam, the woman was bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. Conceivably this means that God could have taken a good portion of Adam's side. If you study this further, it would seem that God made man from the dust of the earth in the way a potter would fashion a piece of artwork using clay. The references to God’s images and likeness suggest something like this. It was as if man was cast into a God shaped mould or cast. Check it out! If this is the case could it be possible that God took one complete side of that man away from the man and that part, comprised of clay, was Eve, the other half? Many a husband and wife call each other their other half! Is this why?

God created a being called ʾādām and from this being He made zākar the Male man and neqēbâ the Female man.

There is an intimacy between man and woman as they stand equal before God that does not exist anywhere else.
Since God made the woman, she is responsible to him in worship. She is not a mere extension of man; she possesses a unique individuality in her own right. There is no indication that woman is inferior. On the other hand, since her body is made from man's, there is a continuity between the two with the result that they can find a fulfilling relationship only in one another, but never with the same intensity in any other part of creation. Therefore woman's origin makes it possible for a man and a woman to establish a dynamic relationship in which they become one flesh (Genesis 2:24).

God did not take the woman from his foot so he could walk over her. He did not take women from his head so he could dominate and act superior to her. He did not take her from his back so that he could ignore her, or leave her behind. God took her from under his side so she would be close to his heart; be sheltered under his arm and that they could walk side by side as one.
 

Jesus referred to Adam’’s statement that a man should leave his mother and father so that they could cleave together and be as one flesh. This cleaving is interesting. It is dābaq that is  used quite often in the OT of physical things sticking to each other, especially parts of the body.
Job says that his bone cleaves to his skin (Job 19:20). When the Jews were in captivity they spoke of their tongues cleaving to the roofs of their mouths in Psalm 137:6 and Ezekiel 3:26. In God's description of leviathan, He says that the flakes of his flesh are joined together (Job 41:23 {was He referring to the plates of a crocodile's skin or the scales of a snake?}).

Dābaq also carries the sense of clinging to someone in affection and loyalty as seen when a man cleaves to his wife (Genesis 2:24); Ruth clave to Naomi (Ruth 1:14) and the men of Judah clave to David their king during Sheba's rebellion (2 Samuel 20:2).

Most importantly, we are to cleave to the Lord in affection and loyalty (Deuteronomy 10:20; 11:22; 13:4; 30:20; Joshua 22:5; 23:8). In Jeremiah 13:11 it is said that the Lord caused the Israelites to cleave to Him, and Hezekiah is approved because he clave to the Lord. In these verses parallel words and phrases that describe this proper attitude to the Lord are: fear, serve, love, obey, swear by his name, walk in his ways, and keep his commandments. Dābaq means to keep close to someone especially God. It all relates to allegiance. 

From the beginning, God planned for a man and a woman to be united as one with each other and united as one with Himself. This is why marriage is very important.

I said earlier that God brought Eve to Adam. It is as if He was a Divine matchmaker and said to Adam, “Id like you to meet this women. She is your wife”.

OK. That’s the platform. Let me say right now that any man or any woman does not have to go out trying to find his or her mate in life. Dating services can’t. Going to singles parties can’t. Deliberately trying to find your mate can be a risky business, because the tendency is to forget God’s involvement and try it yourself. It does not work! If God has planned things from the foundation of the earth, such as our salvation, surely He has planned two people to be as one—the right two people in a marriage that He ordained.
Chasing someone because they look good can link you up unequally yoked. The other person could have no substance, only good outward appearances. Sex is not and never will be the foundation for two people to marry, because this could be nothing other than pure lust. If your spouse is not equally yoked with you, life can be very difficult, frustrating and lonely. You may have Mr Universe or Mrs Universe, but all that won’t go far when you require a real prayer partner; a warrior who is faithful, led and driven by the Holy Spirit in difficult times.
All the tinsel and glitter is on the outside, but real gold is all the way through to the bottom, not just skin deep.
People can often marry the wrong person and regret it later. That’s why the divorce rate is high.

Two people are physically attracted to each other or meet because of mutual gain of some kind as a matter of convenience and after the initial tinsel and glitter wears away, drift apart.
There is no try it before you buy it. In modern society, couples live together to see if they are compatible, or if it does not work out they will find someone else. Heartache, divorce, unwanted pregnancies and so on are the result. It is all sin!

Let me illustrate how God can and does join Mr Right with Mrs Right! Let’s stay with Abraham for a while.
God considers marriage to the right people so seriously that when Pharaoh took Sarai, great plagues struck him—and his whole household—because of Sarai Abram’s wife (Genesis 12:17).

In Genesis chapter fifteen, God told him that He was his shield and exceeding great reward. The man was already Very Rich, so this reward was not gold, silver or cattle, so this reward has to be something else. Abram’s reply was that he was childless and that Eliezer was his right hand man.
God told him that his descendant would be his own son, by Sarai. The blood line had to be pure.

Isaac was 37 years of age when his mother died and was still not married. Abraham would have been concerned about the continuity of his blood line.

    Isaac’s wife, if there was to be one, had to be the next Sarah to God’s people. She had to be the right woman who would be a wife to Isaac, a mother of the succeeding generation and the matriarch of a nation yet to come.

Imagine the results of Isaac marrying the wrong girl!

Imagine the results of you or I marrying the wrong person!
 

Eliezer (whose name means the God of help) was more than a trusted servant. He was rosh yeshivah of Abraham’s household. He was the one who taught the principles of and exemplified Abraham’s way of life. This is very important because we just can’t trust anyone with important responsibilities. 

We know that for any real ministry to succeed in the task God gives, those who support it must see the ministry vision, believe it and work towards it! Loyalty, vision, trust, confidence, faithfulness are the things that are required more than anything else.

    Verse one says that the Lord had blessed Abraham in All Things. As his most loyal, faithful and trusted right hand man, Eliezer had been placed in charge of all of Abraham’s possessions (see verse 2).
Without an heir, being in possession of All Things meant nothing to Abraham. He had no one to leave it to other than his servant.

    

    That son had to come so that we could inherit the blessing also.
 

    Abraham made Eliezer swear an oath in a very serious manner. It symbolized strength. The thigh is supposedly the strongest muscle we have. The thigh is the closest point to where a man’s sword rested in its scabbard. The thigh is also an euphemism for the male organ. The covenant between God and Abraham was sealed by cutting the foreskin, so it could have represented the best way Abraham could make the most sacred vow to ensure a grandson. There is much symbolism involved.

    Eliezer was thus committed to the most sacred oath he could make to ensure the blood line was maintained.

    

    The mission was simple, “Find a wife for my son”. There was to be no second best or alternate plan—no frog kissing.
 

    Once he found the woman, he had fulfilled his task. The choice was then hers to return with him or remain behind.

    Eliezer could have turned this to his own advantage. He was a servant who had been born in the household approximately 60 years before. He knew what was at stake here. All he had to do was nothing or just wander off for a while and come back to say that his mission had not succeeded and he would have probably inherited everything himself. No one could ask for a better friend. I think we could use this man as a type of the Holy Spirit who does not push His own agenda but faithfully represents the Lord in all aspects.

Planning and preparation

I want to show you something more before continuing. It is one thing to have a call of God on your life, or be asked to do a certain thing, but another to get it off the ground. Many endeavors fail because of poor preparation beforehand. God operates this way. His planning is meticulous and precise and spanned centuries, but when the appointed time came, we can rest assured He left nothing to chance and everything went according to plan.


    There was a battle in the Old Testament and the king’s son was fighting. The general called some men to him and told them to deliver a two-part message to the king. The first one was that they had won. The first messenger ran off to deliver that message. He did not wait for part two. The full report was “We won the war, but your son was killed”.

    Some people do not wait to get the full picture and immediately start racing off to do things for God, but are not prepared. If it is a God ordained thing, it will happen In God’s way and in His good time and it can be frustrating. For example, we have numerous requests to visit churches in many different countries we have not visited before and all that the Lord has told us is that we are to go, but He has not given a timetable. Some of these people do not understand and all I can tell them is “soon”. We do not yet have the full picture.
In fact, it was only recently that God told us to let go of our representatives in another country because they were not faithful like Eliezer was. We had depended on them to accompany us as part of our ministry team because Marjorie and I will never travel alone as we once did. Travel is a risky business nowadays. We learned many good lessons the hard way. Their indifference, disobedience and lack of loyalty to the ministry vision cost us much and prevented us from conducting some crusades. We are now seeking and building a new team.

 

Travel takes much time in planning and preparation. Travel documents must be up to date. Various inoculations against diseases have to be taken with evidence to give to our government or we will not be permitted to reenter our own country without going through quarantine. Hotel accommodations have to be made. Car transport from airports to hotels have to be made. Foreign currency has to be acquired before we leave. These are only a few examples of what is involved.

Eliezer had to make his preparations and did so, choosing ten camels, food and water and presents to the damsel and her parents if he found her. That was but the beginning. Abraham gave specific instructions as to the kind of person she had to be and the task seemed formidable. (1) He had to find her somehow. (2) She had to come from the right family and not be just any woman. (3) She had to be willing to return with the him. (4) Her parents had to agree. There were many such factors to consider and to top it all off, the man didn’t even know how to go about it on his arrival.
Look at how he handled it. He prayed! I like that kind of prayer.

“O LORD, God of my master, Abraham,” he prayed. “Please give me success today, and show unfailing love to my master, Abraham. Genesis 24:12.

Eliezer did not ask for his own needs, but put his master first. Once he found her, he never spoke about himself. He kept talking about his assignment and about his master. He had a testimony and shared about the goodness of God and how He had blessed Abraham.

Stick to the script

Although Abraham was deeply concerned about his heir, he had a clear and distinct promise from God, some of which had already been fulfilled. He expressed this by telling his servant (note my emphasis)-

The Lord, the God of heaven, Who took me from my father's house, from the land of my family and my birth, Who spoke to me and swore to me, saying, To your offspring I will give this land—He will send His Angel before you, and you will take a wife from there for my son. Genesis 24:7.

    God will send His Angel. Did you see how the word Angel is capitalized? When we see references like the Angel, instead of an angel in scripture it usually refers to Jesus! If so, then the Lord went ahead of Eliezer. The phrase before thee deserves investigation. The Hebrew is Pānâ. It basically means to turn. One can turn toward something or someone, or we can turn around and look back at something.
It also means things like expect, pay attention, consider and often times refers to someone’s face.

 

    With regard to the face, it means more than the mere physical (good) looks we possess.
The human face often describes one’s attitudes, behaviors, sentiments, moods or personal qualities. For example a hard face speaks of defiance. A shamed face describes defeat, frustration, or humiliation. A fallen face stems from very strong anger or displeasure. The phrase to hide one's face means to show aversion or disgust. To raise the face often shows favor, respect, acceptance, or show partiality and favoritism.
We can often apply these things to God. God's face shines (Psalm 4:6) as a sign of favor and good will. His face may fall in anger (Jeremiah 3:12). God may hide his face (Psalm 13:1).

    God told Abraham that He would send His Angel (Jesus?) to watch over things; to lead the servant, occasionally looking back at him to ensure he was following behind and to generally make sure that Eliezer arrived at the right place at the right time. 

    I really do not need to elaborate more on that, other than to say that if you want to do the things that God wants, then stay focussed on the objective or the calling, give God the pre-eminence in all things and prepare to receive what is required from God to get the job done—in His time and as He wants it done. Ishmael came because Abraham failed there. He mistakenly thought that God said I will give You a son, but God meant I will give You AND Sarah a son! Don’t try to make things happen! Just follow instruction to the letter and someone will go before you to lead the way!

    As I was doing my research on this, the Lord reminded me of our ministry motto and the core foundation on which I created Bashan Ministries. We believe that this ministry is like a modern day John the Baptist, who came to God’s people (not the heathen) telling them to prepare for the coming Messiah. I talk often on this, referring to Isaiah 40, where it described Johns’ ministry. The prophet told God’s people (not the heathen) to repent and get themselves prepared for the Lord and there in verse 3, God told the people to Pānâ (prepare) for the event. What this means is that they had to turn and look at what God was doing. By looking at what God is doing, we will find ourselves at the right place, at the right time, in the right manner, for the right reasons and achieve the right results......

    Let us continue.

And the servant took ten of his master's camels and departed, taking some of all his master's treasures with him; thus he journeyed to Mesopotamia [between the Tigris and the Euphrates], to the city of Nahor [Abraham's brother].
And he made his camels to kneel down outside the city by a well of water at the time of the evening when women go out to draw water. Genesis 24:10-1. 

    If the Lord was indeed leading him on the journey as I described, He led the servant to the well. He had done what He needed to do up to that point. There are times when the Lord does what He needs to do and having done that, stops. We are to recognize it, and do our part from that moment on. If He opens the door, then walk through! If He closed the door, don’t keep trying! Eliezer prepared himself for the journey and was led to the correct destination, arriving at precisely the right time and the next step was up to him.

    What was he to do next? Put an ad in the local newspaper, “Man seeking woman. View matrimony”? Go to a bar and look at all the single girls there? Go door knocking? Go to a local church and join the Christian singles group? Don’t laugh! This happens too often, even in churches. I’m not being critical, but making an observation. They are at least trying, but Is it God’s best?

After all, how many frogs does one have to kiss to find your perfect husband or wife? The answer is “None”. I shall expand more on that later .....

    As any decent Christian should do, he stopped when the Lord stopped. At this point, many people fall into the trap  of assuming something or start doing something that seems to be the logical thing to do. They can start trying this or that to see if it works or not and I am becoming more convinced that this is a sign of unbelief or perhaps disobedience. God had made a promise that would affect every human being on the planet one way or another and He was not going to falter or deviate and had not failed Abraham yet—and the servant knew that.

    The best thing anyone can do is to stick to the script. Follow the Lord’s instructions to the letter and do not assume a thing erroneously or try to help Him. Eliezer was already doing the will of his master, so he did the best thing he could have done and asked for fresh understanding, revelation or direction. God could have given you an assignment and the best thing  you can do is to complete That assignment. It does not matter what the assignment is. The Lord once shared with me on that saying that if He asked Oral Roberts to build a university (which he did), he would be rewarded for his faithfulness! If He asked me to sit in the corner of my lounge at 4am every day and I did that, I would be rewarded for my faithfulness. The rewards are the same!

    The criteria is our obedience and faithfulness to the tasks allocated to us irrespective of what they may be.

Faithful to his assignment, Eliezer arrived late in the afternoon when most people on a journey would be thinking of rest, refreshing themselves and eating.

    As a good and faithful steward, he would have normally ensured that his master’s livestock were fed and watered, but he sat down and prayed about his assignment!

And he said, O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, let me do well in what I have undertaken this day, and give your mercy to my master Abraham.
See, I am waiting here by the water-spring; and the daughters of the town are coming out to get water:
Now, may the girl to whom I say, Let down your vessel and give me a drink, and who says in answer, Here is a drink for you and let me give water to your camels: may she be the one marked out by you for your servant Isaac: so may I be certain that you have been good to my master Abraham. Genesis 24:12-14.


    Did you notice how he kept asking God to bless Abraham? One version says that he asked God to help him find the woman God had chosen! This is the core of my message really. If you are not married and want to be married, then do not go out kissing one frog after another until your prince or princess is found. You could kiss a toad!
Let the first person you kiss be your spouse and no other.

    I have often said that God hears our prayers and can answer them before we start speaking. This presupposes of course that everything is in order and that we are praying the mind and will of God in accordance with His word.

I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! Isaiah 65:24.

    The man was still praying when the women came to the well with their water containers to collect water.

    He asked her for a drink and she could have easily given him a drink and that was the end of the story, but she offered to go further and water his camels. There were 10 of them.

    One thirsty camel can drink 30 gallons or 135 liters of water in 1/4 hour! That means it could have taken her two and one half hours to draw around 1350 liters of water—1350Kg in weight.

    Imagine the man’s thoughts whilst she did that! Let us see something even more interesting-

Silently the man watched her with interest to determine if the LORD had made his journey successful or not. Genesis 24:21.

    

    He did nothing for 21/2 hours, not interrupting her; not interjecting; not even shouting something like, “Wow, hallelujah, praise the Lord” and thus broken the moment—and eventually picked the wrong girl!

    Sometimes it is best for us to say nothing and do nothing and let God be God and do what He has to do! The Angel of the Lord had led him to that point and that was it, but something else remained to be done. The man had to do it.
The man could have gone from house to house, looking for a good looking single girl and picked the wrong one.

Was the Angel of the Lord now leading another person (Rebekah) to get the job done?

Sometimes in ministry it is best to stand aside; sit back and watch and let things develop. In our exuberance and excitement, our enthusiasm can actually drive people away. Sometimes the outward displays are necessary. Sometimes they are not.
The Christian life, especially ministry life is not weary-some. We are to strive to do our best and aim for excellence at all times, but not to start hard labor. The labor we are to do is to enter into our rest!

You see, if she was not The One she could have gotten weary of it all and quit prematurely. She could have given the man a drink and poured out a token supply of water for the camels and the man could then have thought she was God’s choice and made a bad mistake. He had to see it through to completion and find The One! Figuratively speaking, he was not about going from frog to frog kissing them in turn, or trying a trial lets live together thing to see if it works out.

When Marge and I first met, there was no romance. I was not physically attracted to her at all. All that I knew was that the Lord had spoken one night to tell me. “I have someone for you.” We were really just good friends and are still good friends!

We shook hands and our dating was a picnic lunch in a park and attending several Kenneth Copeland convention meetings. When the Lord told us to get married, it rattled our cages a little and did not know what to do and put things off until He chastised us. It now seems that we have always been married and are so alike it is uncanny. We did not try it or live together to see if it works. We were victims of an arranged marriage (the title of a book I once wrote and will have to reprint).

    When Rebekah came along, there was no romance or dating and no sharing of photographs. The faithful servant told the girl about his assignment and gave her some presents. He gave her 2 gold bracelets that weighed around 4 ounces. Current gold prices valued this at US$10722. Was that per bracelet or the combined weight of two bracelets? In any case, that was no cheap present at that time.

    He enquired into her family background and if he and his servants could stay somewhere and she ran home to tell her family what happened. When she told him that he could stay the night, he bowed his head and worshiped.

    If you read the story more, you will see that they brought him and his servants back to their home to spend the night, bedded the camels down for the night and offered him food and rest, but he had to tell his story first. He was still on assignment. He told his story again, continuing.

When he had finished his story, he requested an answer. He wanted to get on with his assignment.
 

    This brings us to something important for everyone of us!

    It is to recognize what God is doing.

It is surprising how many people miss the day of their visitation. When Jesus came to raise Lazarus from the dead, Martha was locked in her preconceived notions of how or when Jesus would come and when her brother would be raised and kept referring to the future. Jesus was right there! The resurrection and the life was standing right in front of her and she ignored what He was saying. The parable of the ten virgins is another. The bridegroom had arrived but all ten were sound asleep. The watchman was the only one who saw his arrival. Check it out. I for one do not want to miss what God is doing. I’d not like to stand at the airport with boarding pass in hand and not get on despite all the public address announcements saying to get on the plane, but people do that to God. 

This is what the LORD says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’
I posted watchmen over you who said, ‘Listen for the sound of the alarm.’ But you replied, ‘No! We won’t pay attention!’
Jeremiah 6:16-17.

    The girl’s family had enough sense to recognize that God was in this thing and got on side with it.

Then Laban and Bethuel replied, “The LORD has obviously brought you here, so there is nothing we can say.
Here is Rebekah; take her and go. Yes, let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has directed.” Genesis 24:50-51.

The servant, on hearing this, bowed to the ground and worshipped God! He then presented Rebekah with some more precious gifts and a wardrobe befitting a queen and gave presents to her family. He stayed the night and early in the morning, was ready to return. His assignment was nearing completion. The family wanted her to stay on a little longer, but he was on a Godly ordained mission and would not allow anyone or anything to hinder that. Procrastination is a killer. It is tentative to disobedience. God tells us to do something and we want to wait, make excuses, get a second opinion, then a third opinion and more confirmation than is necessary. If we know that God has spoken and we can recognize His voice, why delay? There are tests to ensure accuracy of course, but if the opportunity presents itself—take it. I mentioned procrastination. This is putting something off until tomorrow what is already put off from yesterday. Don’t do it!

He replied-

“Don’t delay me. The LORD has made my mission successful; now send me back so I can return to my master.” Genesis 24:56.

    They called the girl and put it to her.

“Well,” they said, “we’ll call Rebekah and ask her what she thinks.”  So they called Rebekah. “Are you willing to go with this man?” they asked her. And she replied, “Yes, I will go.”
So they said good-bye to Rebekah and sent her away with Abraham’s servant and his men. The woman who had been Rebekah’s childhood nurse went along with her.
They gave her this blessing as she parted: “Our sister, may you become the mother of many millions! May your descendants be strong and conquer the cities of their enemies.”
Then Rebekah and her servant girls mounted the camels and followed the man. So Abraham’s servant took Rebekah and went on his way. Genesis 24:57-61.

I’ve shared about our move to Adelaide before. The Lord had been talking to us for some time about this, but the time had to be right. We shared our hearts with our friends and miss them greatly, but we knew the day would come when the door opened. We did not force it open! We waited, and waited, and waited...then one day, the Lord gave us very clear and precise instructions, telling us to read a certain portion of scripture. That was our cue. We made the decision and committed ourselves to a course of action and when we did that—everything fell into place to fast, we thought we were dreaming. This stuff works. 

Israel had been in bondage in Egypt for 430 years with many promises. It seemed that God’s promises would never happen but in one night, everything changed. They went to sleep one night as slaves and woke the next morning as a free nation.


    A monumental decision was made, virtually on the spot for one woman to uproot herself from her family and everything near and dear to her, familiar countryside, friends, memories and all that to follow a man she had never seen more than 24 hours beforehand to marry a man she had never met! She didn’t have to go kissing frogs.

 She had heard from God and acted on that. Our destiny was in her hands right there and then!

Then Rebekah and her servant girls mounted the camels and followed the man. So Abraham’s servant took Rebekah and went on his way.
Meanwhile, Isaac, whose home was in the Negev, had returned from Beer-lahai-roi.
One evening as he was walking and meditating in the fields, he looked up and saw the camels coming.
When Rebekah looked up and saw Isaac, she quickly dismounted from her camel.
“Who is that man walking through the fields to meet us?” she asked the servant. And he replied, “It is my master.” So Rebekah covered her face with her veil.
Then the servant told Isaac everything he had done.
And Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother Sarah’s tent, and she became his wife. He loved her deeply, and she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother. Genesis 24:61-67. 

    Rebekah was a chaste and modest young woman who showed respect and courtesy. She dismounted from her camel. She covered her face with her veil. Oh how I wish such virtues were displayed today by both men and women. I still open the car door for my wife. We both dress modestly, but well. We have high standards in all areas of life to honor God and each other.
Isaac fell in love with a woman he had not seen! As the story goes, they fell in love and lived happily ever after,

But I must bring this story into modern day living. What about us today? Are we being old fashioned by expecting those qualities and if so what are they?  Isaac and Rebekah sure didn’t go around kissing frogs to find the right person with whom they would spend the rest of their lives.

I’m talking about marriage. Therefore let us look at what the bible says about this honorable estate.

  • Marriage is part of God’s intention for humanity from creation and forms the basis for the family which is the primary unit of society. Where marriage flourishes it blesses both the couple and the wider community.
  • Marriage is part of God’s plan for the human race, commencing from creation. See Genesis 1:27; Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6 See also 1Corinthians 11:11-12.
  • Man and woman are not independent of each other.
  • Marriage is to provide companionship Genesis 2:18-22, 3:12; Proverbs 31:10-12.
  • Marriage is to be a committed, exclusive relationship. Genesis 2:23-24; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7-8; 1Corinthians 7:2; Ephesians 5:31and is to be a lifelong partnership Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9; Romans 7:2; 1Corinthians 7:39.Marriage is the intended context for raising children. Malachi 2:15; 1Corinthians 7:14.
  • Marriage will not exist in the life to come. Matthew 22:30; Mark 12:25; Luke 20:34-35; 1Corinthians 7:29-31.

I have been asked if a husband and wife will recognize each other in Heaven Yes! We will. Somehow however, we will remain married, but it will be different. I do not know how different yet. You might ask what happens if a spouse dies and the remaining person remarries (all Christians of course) and again, this has to be examined in detail as we will all still know each other, but not in the way we do here. Things will be changed, but I really don’t know how or in what way.

Marriage is a covenant relationship. Malachi 2:14; Proverbs 2:17; Ezekiel 16:8.

The next obvious issue is about sex and marriage

Sex belongs within marriage (Genesis 29:21; 1Corinthians 7:9). Hebrews 13:4 states that Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Marriage is for the purpose of having children and sex is part of marriage, to be mutually enjoyed in the structure of marriage only. That’s all I will say on that matter.

Deuteronomy 22:13-21 reveals that a woman was expected to be a virgin when she married.

The sexual relationship is exclusive (Deuteronomy 22:22-24; Song 2:16). Marital unfaithfulness is thus condemned

(Proverbs 5:15-19; 1 Corinthians 6:16; 7:3-5).
Men who violated virgins were expected to marry them (Exodus 22:16-17; Deuteronomy 22:28-29).

Husbands are to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25-29; Ecclesiastes 9:9; Hosea 3:1; Colossians 3:19).

See also Genesis 3:16; Ephesians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:4-5; 1Peter 3:1-6.

Return for a moment now to the Old Testament and the manners and customs of the day.

In biblical times the father selected the bride for his sons, as we have just seen.

When arranging a marriage, the bridegroom’s family often paid a price for the bride (as seen in Genesis 34:12; Exodus 22:16 and  1 Samuel 28:25). The couple then entered the betrothal period, that usually lasted a year. It was much more binding than an engagement of today. During that year the man prepared the home for his bride and they both remained virtuous.

The betrothal was established in one of two ways. (1) A pledge was made in the presence of witnesses together with a sum of money or (2) A written statement and a ceremony with a concluding benediction.

Before Israel’s exile the betrothal was ratified by a verbal promise (Ezekiel 16:8).
In New Testament times the parents of the bride and groom met, along with others as witnesses, while the groom gave the bride a gold ring or other valuable item. To the bride he spoke this promise: “See by this ring you are set apart for me, according to the law of Moses and of Israel.”

Manners and customs

Return for a moment now to the Old Testament and the manners and customs of the day.

In biblical times the father selected the bride for his sons, as we have just seen.

When arranging a marriage, the bridegroom’s family often paid a price for the bride (as seen in Genesis 34:12; Exodus 22:16 and  1 Samuel 28:25). The couple then entered the betrothal period, that usually lasted a year. It was much more binding than an engagement of today. During that year the man prepared the home for his bride and they both remained virtuous.

The betrothal was established in one of two ways. (1) A pledge was made in the presence of witnesses together with a sum of money or (2) A written statement and a ceremony with a concluding benediction.

Before Israel’s exile the betrothal was ratified by a verbal promise (Ezekiel 16:8).
In New Testament times the parents of the bride and groom met, along with others as witnesses, while the groom gave the bride a gold ring or other valuable item. To the bride he spoke this promise: “See by this ring you are set apart for me, according to the law of Moses and of Israel.”

The serious nature of the betrothal is evident. If a man had sexual relations with a woman betrothed to another man, they were both subject to the death penalty (Deuteronomy 22:23–24). Had she not been betrothed, the man would have paid 50 shekels to the woman’s father as a dowry, and she would have become his wife (Deuteronomy 22:28–29). No Frog Kissing occurred.

The wedding was largely a social event during which a blessing was pronounced on the bride. We saw this in

Genesis 24:60. The blessing reflected the concept of God’s blessing, namely, a large family and victory over one’s enemies.

The marriage itself was secured by the formalizing of a marriage contract.

The parable in Matthew 25:1-13 describes a typical Jewish wedding. The wedding ceremony began with the bridegroom bringing his bride from her parents’ house to his parental home. The bridegroom, accompanied by his friends amid singing and music, led a procession through the streets of the town to the bride’s home. Along the way friends who were ready and waiting with their lamps lit would join in the procession (Matthew 25:7–10).

The bride was veiled and dressed in beautifully embroidered clothes adorned with jewels, and,  accompanied by her attendants, joined the bridegroom for the procession to his father’s house (See Psalm 45:13–15).

Isaiah 61:10 describes the bridegroom decked out with a garland and the bride adorned with jewels. Most brides remember their wedding day according to Jeremiah 2:32.

The bride and groom were considered king and queen for the week. Sometimes the groom even wore a gold crown.

Once at the home, the bridal couple sat under a canopy amid the festivities of games and dancing which often lasted an entire week or more. See Song 2:4. 

Guests praised the newly married couple and songs of love for the couple graced the festival. Sumptuous meals and wine filled the home or banquet hall and ample provision for an elaborate feast was essential—failure could bring a lawsuit (John 2:1-11).

The bridal couple wore their wedding clothes throughout the week.

Guests also wore their finery, sometimes supplied by wealthy families. It was more than an insult to not come adorned like this  (see Matthew 22:12).

On the first night, when the marriage was to be consummated, the father escorted his daughter to the bridal chamber (Genesis 29:21–23;. Judges 15:1). The bride’s parents retained the bloodstained bed sheet to prove their daughter’s virginity at marriage in case the husband attempted any recourse by charging that his bride was not a virgin (Deuteronomy 22:13–21).

In some cases the bride did not remove the veil from her face until the following morning. We see this in Genesis 29:25 when Jacob thought he was marrying Rachel, only to discover the next morning that his wife was Leah (you know... the one with the tooth missing in the front and the wart on her nose. Just joking folks). At other times the veil was removed during the feast and laid on the groom’s shoulder and the pronouncement made, “the government shall be on his shoulders” (see Isaiah 9:6).

Perhaps you can now start to see the importance of a proper marriage when you link us with Jesus.

Now I mentioned Deuteronomy 22 and do not want to get too involved in this sensitive matter, but it is important.
In marriage, the husband and wife enter into a covenant. The most profound covenant any two parties can have is one made in blood. As they consummate the marriage, that covenant is made.

Turn with me to Proverbs chapter 5. It is a lengthy passage but important. Solomon advised-

My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen carefully to my wise counsel.
Then you will show discernment, and your lips will express what you’ve learned.
For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil.
But in the end she is as bitter as poison, as dangerous as a double-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.
For she cares nothing about the path to life. She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn’t realize it.
So now, my sons, listen to me. Never stray from what I am about to say:
Stay away from her! Don’t go near the door of her house!
If you do, you will lose your honor and will lose to merciless people all you have achieved.
Strangers will consume your wealth, and someone else will enjoy the fruit of your labor.
In the end you will groan in anguish when disease consumes your body.
You will say, “How I hated discipline! If only I had not ignored all the warnings!
Oh, why didn’t I listen to my teachers? Why didn’t I pay attention to my instructors?
I have come to the brink of utter ruin, and now I must face public disgrace.” Proverbs 5:1-14 .

You may realize that he was talking about avoiding women other than your wife. To maintain my theme, “don’t go around kissing frogs”.

    OK. He was talking specifically about prostitutes, but why not include everyone who is not your God chosen mate?

    How many frogs do you have to kiss to find your prince or princess? None!

    Kiss your prince or princess on your wedding night!

    Let’s read the rest of the proverb.

Drink water from your own well— share your love only with your wife.
Why spill the water of your springs in the streets, having sex with just anyone?
You should reserve it for yourselves. Never share it with strangers.
Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth.
She is a loving deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love.
Why be captivated, my son, by an immoral woman, or fondle the breasts of a promiscuous woman?
For the LORD sees clearly what a man does, examining every path he takes.
An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him.
He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness. Proverbs 5:15-23.

The original text calls this well a cistern. We all know what a well is. It is a hole dug into the ground to find water and is not always covered. A cistern usually has a lid on it, The water within is covered up! The original text calls it bāʾar. The discovery of water was an occasion for rejoicing, often celebrated in song (Numbers 21:17-18). A flowing well or living water was a particularly good fortune (Genesis 26:19) and this reminds me that Jesus is linked with living water as seen in John 7:37-39.

I want to share one more thought and hope I am not boring you, but it is important. There is a well called Beersheba. It means well of an oath or well of a seven-fold oath. We’re in it!
We are talking about covenants here including the covenant of marriage. Solomon was telling his son (I wish he had followed his own advice for his sake) to drink water from his own well and not uncover it for anyone else!

Don’t go kissing frogs and don’t let other frogs kiss your spouse.  Share your love only with your own wife and vice-versa. Cover the living water in your own cistern.

Don’t let anyone else partake. When you and you alone partake of the  living waters within, they refresh you and are eventually replenished. Otherwise, the well can dry up. It is reported that many  prostitutes for example have mental problems and resort to drugs. The cistern that should be reserved for Mr Right is uncovered. I could continue with more illustrations, but the Godly principle is simple. Don’t go kissing frogs.

We are living in a promiscuous age. We are living in times when all that is decent and Godly is being attacked. People use the phrase partner instead of husband or wife. Virginity is no longer valued as it once was. The attitude is to experiment. They try living together to see how things work out. If that relationship does not work out they find someone else. They go around kissing one frog after another, wondering if this next kiss will produce flashing lights, the romantic music will waft the air as if by magic and, suddenly, after a brilliant flash... the frog is a handsome prince... 

    No! Our handsome Prince is the Prince of peace. One day very soon now, we will met Him. On that day, we shall be presented to Him as a radiant bride resplendent in glorious garments of righteousness and be taken into Father’s house to live forever.

Until that day however, we have to live in the here and now, but that’s OK. Prepare for what is to come. If you want to get married, then wait for God to lead you to the right one. If you want to remain single then remain single and be happy.

If anyone has had problems or bad experiences in such areas, this message is not meant to condemn you in any way. I am talking about God’s best, or His ideal.

I hope this has been a blessing and has taught you some truth from God's word.

Robert


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