SIFC was privileged to attend a recent live lecture this past week with bible teacher / historian Ray Vander Laan. This evening was eagerly anticipated because it was the series of episodes, That the World May Know, around Holy Land history and archaelogy tours hosted by Vander Laan that electrified the word of God in my well-worn bible some 10 years ago. I had known deep in my spirit from the earliest days of walking with the Lord that His covenants were indissoluble and that He fiercely guarded their integrity, but this was basically the extent of my understanding until Vander Laan’s “Come! Let’s go see…” [that week’s episode] took me deeper and deeper into the context of what the Lord was doing in Israel, in prophecy, and in His broad purposes. It was, in fact, all cast against a background of faithful covenant. I started to gain some very rich depth of understanding of the textures that our indissoluble marriage covenant was to represent to the world, even under siege as it was, and even in its violated and tattered condition. Vander Laan’s previous series on the 7 churches of the Revelation is, in my opinion, a “must-watch” in these days of explosive culture war and Christ’s imminent return.
The purpose of the live presentation was to introduce and preview the newest series called “Becoming A Kingdom of Priests in a Prodigal World”, a series very much about engaging the culture we face. The producers see this as a new undertaking in light of the rise of LGBT totalitarianism and the resulting defilement of marriage. Astute standers would say that the prior series begun in 1993 were massively important in rebuking the culture of divorce and immoral remarriage that long preceded the current wave of marriage redefinition.
This preview episode places the tour group at the top of a mountain in the general vicinity of Mount Sinai where Moses received the 10 Commandments:
“Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” – Exodus 19:5-6
What did the Lord mean by “keep My covenant”? Vander Laan pointed out that the 10 Commandments were actually a marriage vow between the Most High and His people Israel. It struck me that the “grafted-in” (Gentile) body of Christ has institutionalized serial monogamy / sequential polygamy in the last 50 years by embracing the pretense of covenant dissolution because it has “irreconcilable differences” with the 1st, 7th and 10th commandments in that marriage vow on stone tablets. Additionally, its shepherds have “irreconcilable differences” with the 4th commandment as they misuse the Lord’s name in pronouncing holy matrimony over unions that Christ would call adulterous. In that sense, the bride of Christ is herself a prodigal in these last days. The word “prodigal” literally means “wasteful”, though prodigals are the last to see what is squandered in undermining covenant families while giving unrighteous preference to “blended” ones.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. – 1 Peter 2:9-12
I’d like to share a few additional highlights of the lecture before directing you to click here to view a 30-minute full-length episode:
- Vander Laan points out that the mission of a priest is to put the full glory of the Lord on display for all to see, and that the biblical kingdom is where the King is obeyed. The kingdom of God expands in proportion to that obedience.
- He next points out that context is everything when it comes to reading bible text, he quoted Acts 16:12 (Luke’s narrative with Paul): “…and from there to Philippi which is a leading city in the district of Macedonia, a Roman colony, and we were staying in this city for some days…” What was the significance of the Roman colony? Romans set these remote cities up where all features of Roman life were to be on display, and all inhabitants would be bestowed all the benefits of Roman citizenship. Luke was likening the kingdom of God to this model Roman colony in how we live, already being citizens of heaven, before others. This was evidenced in the conversion of the Philippian jailer and his family, verses 31-34 after the Lord responded supernaturally to Paul’s and Silas’ singing of hymns and praises to God. Our culture will be strange to the aliens we live among. We are a “peculiar people”.
- It’s OK to wrestle with God, for He favors “chutzpah” – intense persistence and a passionate refusal to give up, such as that which characterizes long-standing covenant keepers. According to Vander Laan, there is a saying, “when life becomes a desert, the Greeks question whether there is a god, but Jews question God.”
- Most of us know the account in Genesis 15:9-17 of the blood covenant God made with Abraham in the splitting of cow, goat, and ram, where the custom was to walk through the blood implying “so may you do to me, if I do not keep my covenant”, yet something unique happened in this situation. Abraham knew the minute he passed through he was a dead man, because his end of the covenant was to walk blamelessly before his God, yet the Lord had it covered for him:
“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….Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him…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.”
The Most High not only made the covenant unconditional, He took up Abraham’s part in passing through the blood. God’s end of the covenant? Land, descendants and the Messiah, the means of covenant fulfillment.
SIFC note: In a covenant marriage, the covenant is between God and the one-flesh entity He has supernaturally joined. (In a non-covenant union that Jesus calls adulterous due to the unbroken prior covenant, there is merely a contract between two people without God’s participation). God’s participation in the same manner as with Abraham also makes a way for the fulfillment of that covenant despite circumstances or human faithfulness. All covenant marriage standers should read the account of Abraham’s faith in Romans 4 for encouragement.
- Priests were instructed through Moses to sew long tassels on their garments, with one blue thread which was the color of the priesthood. The significance to today’s covenant standers is that the tassels were a reminder as follows (Numbers 15:37-40):
The Lord also spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue. It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, so that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God.”
Are we remembering our role in His priesthood every day? Are we sewing those tassels to the garments of our prodigals, as our privilege as their one-flesh enables? Non-covenants lack this privilege and are acting as a counter-witness to the kingdom of God. The rebellion of remarriage adultery shrinks the kingdom, rather than expands it. Their “colony” represents temporal life in this world only.
Wrapping up, I will mention that since 1993, the producer of That the World May Know is Focus on the Family. I can say that apart from FOTF’s Adventures in Odyssey, this is the best of all that they sponsor, and probably their only adult programming that builds up covenant families rather than undermining them through their support of adulterous remarriage. I hope other standers gain rich encouragement from all of these series and episodes from the Holy Land.
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