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sermon: Leadership and the Covenants (Part Six)



Given 23-Jan-16; Sermon #1305; 72 minutes

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John Ritenbaugh focuses on the apostle Paul's response to the bitter altercation between Euodia and Syntyche, women church leaders at Philippi, who succeeded in polarizing the congregation by their contentious pride, placing their obsessive desire to be right over unity. Paul urges them to follow the example of Christ, who emptied Himself of His divinity, assuming the role of a bond servant, exalting others over Himself, prompting God the Father to exalt Him above all others. Godly leadership is a function of submitting to the covenants God has made with us, including the marriage covenant, setting the proper pattern of all forms of institutions, including educational, governmental, medical, and religious institutions. Secular, progressive humanists, inspired by Satan, in their hatred toward God's covenants, through their endorsement of moral relativity and the new morality, fostering adultery, fornication, as well as feminism, homosexuality, polygamy, and transgender aberrations, have savagely attacked God's marriage covenant. Progressive humanists over the years have succeeded in making divorce as easy as falling off a log, and murder on demand (abortion) a convenience attended with no longer any trace of resistance. Paradoxically, hedonism, a philosophy which holds that pleasure is the highest aim in life, can never lead to real pleasure, but seeking to please God by serving others brings maximum pleasure. The marriage relationship, becoming totally one with one another as God the Father and Jesus Christ are at one with one another, provides the pattern of the true meaning of love—not feelings, but actions (consisting of serving and caring). Keeping God's Commandments demonstrates the highest form of love. Along with all the other gifts in the universal Edenic Covenant, identifying God as our benevolent Creator, who designed this earth for mankind to tend and keep, providing the marriage covenant as a God-plane relationship, the Sabbath Day educates us for service in God's Kingdom.

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In the openings of this entire series on leadership and the covenants, I have pretty much restricted myself to providing definitions of the terms that we have been dealing with. The definitions are definitely needed if we are going to make good practical use of the knowledge that is coming into our minds. If we do not understand what the terms mean then we in reality have nothing clear to seek for regarding our understanding or conduct.

A couple of weeks ago when we were in Atlanta, as I was listening to Bill Onisick's sermonette it dawned on me that he used three verses from Philippians 2 where God through the apostle Paul appealed for two ladies involved in that dispute that was going on, and that he wanted them to have encouragement to step up and become leaders for others to follow. Please turn to Philippians 2 and the first 16 verses, because it took that long to for him to get through what he wanted to get across to these ladies. What was going on there was a very serious fight between two women, an argument over something.

Philippians 2:1-16 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in the my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. Holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

Philippians is one that is commonly called by researchers, a prison epistle, that is, Paul wrote it while he was in prison. In this case it was following a visit from Hermaphroditus who was apparently the pastor of the Philippian congregation. There is a fair amount of material in Philippians regarding unity. This leads some researchers to believe that Hermaphroditus in giving a report to Paul about the congregation’s spiritual condition stated that though there were no serious doctrinal problems there were a number of disputes between members, and one dispute was especially serious.

Most specifically two lady members mentioned in chapter 4, named Euodia and Syntyche had an on going dispute and apparently it had been going on for a long time. There is no indication in the epistle as to what the issue concerned, but there is an indication of what the ladies were doing and that is in verse 14, where he said, ‘do all things without complaining and disputing.’

The effect was that it was being spread from person to person and the people in the congregation were taking up sides, thus even as leaven spreads infecting all around it, so was the effect of this argument. It was splitting the congregation and thus some advice Paul gives in this letter concerns how to solve the disunity. The solution involves leadership.

In order for the ladies to take advantage of his council, they were going to have to break new ground in their lives regarding both character building and leadership. They were leading the congregation into splitting. Something had to come from these ladies who were the source of the problem to turn things around, and this is where the leadership comes in. It is interesting that Paul in no case simply orders them to make peace by the force of his authority; rather he appeals to them in much the same manner as he does in his letter to Philemon urging him to accept his runaway slave Onesimus.

In the Philippians case Paul is exercising his leadership by logically, kindly, and earnestly appealing to them to act on four things. In verses 1 and 2, he urges them to remember their place and the benefits they had already received because of being in Christ, in the church. In verses 3 and 4, he urges them to humble themselves and forgive the other without attempting to win the dispute. We live in a very competitive age, where in order to feed our pride we have to win. That is satanic if we are feeding pride.

The third thing is in verses 5-11, he reminds them of Christ’s example as the model that they should follow, and in verses 12-16, he urges them to get working on solving their own problem in this issue because their salvation may very well be lost forever if they do not get with it.

I will go through that again but I am going to reword it quickly, and a bit more bluntly than the apostle Paul ever did. Verses 1 and 2: ladies you gain far more spiritually by following this advice than you could gain in a million years by contributing as you have been in order to win this stupid argument. These two ladies were not evaluating things properly, they had lost sight of the heart of the gospel, and the benefits of being in the church and having God's Spirit. Instead they were fighting each other in order to win.

Verses 3 and 4: he charges them to think about what they are doing by reminding them of their present pattern, it is self-centeredness and carnality. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit.” Those two verses were-not-so veiled accusations by him of how he perceived they were acting. He was nice and kind in what he said, but he was really being blunt.

Verses 5-11: he indirectly commands them to repent by humbling themselves which they already had the power to do in Christ. He reminds them of Christ’s example to illustrate how much less they are than Christ, and yet He went to an agonizing death to ultimately create peace. He did this even though every accusation laid against Him was absolutely, totally wrong and off base. Christ deliberately chose to make Himself of no reputation. That is the kind of leadership God desires from us. That is leadership, it is not what the world thinks is leadership, it is what God thinks is leadership.

What was Paul urging them to do? To literally follow Jesus Christ. I said in my last sermon that every leader is in reality a follower. What is important is who is he following? Jesus Christ humbled Himself totally, He never once tried to win and fall into Satan's trap.

I Peter 5:6-8 [it is within these ladies power and our power to humble ourselves] Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. [He will devour through pride. That was his sin, his downfall and that is what he is trying to lead us into doing.]

Humbling ourselves is a choice. I will read from the Philips translation.

If your experience of Christ's encouragement and love means anything to you [were you encouraged by hearing the gospel? That is what life is about.], if you have known something of the fellowship of His Spirit and all that it means in kindness and deep sympathy, do make my best hope for you come true. Live together in harmony, live together in love as though you had only one mind and one spirit between you, never act from any motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of one another than you do of yourself. None of you should think only of his own affairs but each of you learn to see things from other people’s point of view. Let Jesus Christ be your example as to what your attitudes should be, for He who has always been God by nature, did not cling to His prerogatives as God's equal but stripped Himself of all privilege by consenting to be a slave by nature, and being born as mortal man, having become man He humbled Himself by living a life of obedience, even to the extent of dying. The death He died was the death of a common criminal, that is why God has lifted Him so high and has given Him the name beyond all names, so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow when He made nothing of Himself.

Whether in heaven, or in earth, or under the earth, that is why in the end every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord of the glory of God the Father. So then, my dearest friends, as you have always followed my advice not only when I was present to give it, so now that I am far away be keener than ever to work out your own salvation that God has given you with a proper sense of awe and responsibility, for it is God who works within you giving you the will and the power to achieve this, His purpose. Do all you have to do without grumbling or arguing so that you may be God's children, blameless, sincere, wholesome, living in a warped and diseased world and shining there like lights in a dark place.

I will summarize. I gave this because Paul was appealing to these ladies who had been leaders in the church, but now they were in a deep spiritual crisis. He was urging them to once again become leaders by doing something that they were not accustomed to doing, it was not part of their character. He is urging them to become spiritual leaders by exercising their powers in Christ. He is reminding them that if they continue as they are Christ will put them out of His presence and they will have disqualified themselves by allowing their carnality to dictate their actions.

Without ever saying it he asks in this context, “Is winning this argument all that important?” Be a real leader by following what Christ did when He was accused. How real and how important is the gospel to you? Are you are willing to risk dividing the congregation and lose your salvation over a difference of opinion.

What we have just read through here is the appealing of the apostle to take up their leadership in the congregation and humble themselves and follow Christ. That is leadership.

In principle this is what we are doing in this series of covenant sermons. Leadership goes with the keeping of the covenants because in doing so we become different from the rest of the world. We become different than carnality, but it takes us making the choices to do this deliberately, committing ourselves to obedience to the covenants. They are the foundation that is under our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

When we left off I was expounding on the term that the King James Version uses and translates as cleave. The New King James has in place of cleave, joined. I told you I was having a difficult time because cleave means to me to split in two, whereas God was telling these people to be joined together. Dr Maas came to my rescue. He cleared up the mystery by doing a bit of research and passing it on to me in an email.

Here is what he found. There are two different words from different roots that became part of the English language and they mean diametrically the opposite. However, when transliterated into English they came to be spelled the same way. Both are spelled cleave, but they mean opposite things: one means to join or cling to, the other means to separate. So I was the one confused, not the Kings James Version translators because they translated it correctly by using the one with root that means to join or to cling to but still spelled cleave.

I am glad it has been modernized in the New King James because it is correct. The Hebrew word underneath that word is, dawbak. This word begins to have some spiritual importance. It means in Hebrew, to cling to. The ‘cling to’ aspect is important to understand because God is signaling to those studying into the purpose for marriage that cling to indicates you have to hang on to, it is going to take work to cling to that person that you are married to. It is not going to be easy.

The partner in marriage might slip away if one does not contribute to its oneness with much effort. Thus the more abstract and figurative applications of the intent of God's use of the term dawbak, in Genesis 2:24, it is that He is implying that what He is looking for from each partner is service to, loyalty to, devotion to, and affection for in order to produce oneness.

The clinging has figuratively uses rather than a definite physical use. This in turn leads to something very important to life. Why did God create marriage? You might recall in the previous sermon that I stated that this provision in this foundational universal covenant, may be overall its most important and significant gift. Talking about marriage, I will add to that it also carries perhaps its most significant human responsibilities.

This is because when God brought Eve and presented her to Adam, He did not merely supply her as a suitable companion, but at the same time He also established marriage as the most basic of all human institutions. Marriage came before anything else after the two were created. Always pay attention to those things that happen in the early chapters of Genesis because they have meaning that stretches out for centuries of time and maybe for all time.

Before marriage and family there were no governments, no churches, no schools, no business, or whatever that we might consider to be a human institution. All human institutions that exist came into existence to meet human needs as we humans see them. For example, following the pattern of the father’s authority in the family, governments were formed. It took a long time for them to form but as populations increased the need for government beyond the family was perceived, so community governments were then formed. What was the pattern? It was the marriage pattern.

God's marriage arrangements formed the model. The same basic process was involved in founding of elementary schools, then colleges, then universities, trade schools, because our offspring way back there in those early years within the family needed that education. How about medical facilities including doctors and hospitals? Again the same process. Generally it is true with the churches. Churches became needed once the community began expanding and spiritual teaching needed to be directed from on high.

You would be hard pressed to name any human institution existing that does not have some direct or indirect connection for meeting family needs, and this includes the true church. It is God's family so He is following the very pattern that He allowed mankind to develop. God has always faithfully supplied a witness of His truths so that mankind has access to the way that it should go.

Since those married to each other are to become one flesh, this feeds right into the spiritual reality concerning our spiritual husband to be, Jesus Christ, and what He is working out.

John 17:20-23 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one. I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”

Here plainly stated is the spiritual parallel to what we read there in Genesis 2:24. God is following the same basic pattern as He did to them.

Enter the word cling again. Is clinging to our Husband to be, Jesus Christ, easy? In battling this world in the face of the lying realities of this world under Satan, is it easy to hang on to the oneness that we are to form with the help of God with Jesus Christ? No, it is not. The loving efforts required by those married to each other who are to become one flesh feeds right into the spiritual reality containing Jesus Christ as the end goal.

Both partners in the marriage are to give themselves over to achieving human types of the oneness the Father and Son exhibit in their relationship. Even as our life in Jesus Christ requires a great deal of self-sacrifice, so does oneness in marriage require a great deal of self-sacrifice.

I can make this no plainer. Marriage is the type of the oneness that is being formed in us with Jesus Christ and the God family. This is where marriage requires the clinging attitude that God used that word for, so that we would understand marriage right from the beginning. God is telling us this is not going to be easy.

I Corinthians 11:3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of every woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

This is a very clear distinctive similarity between the two—oneness with God, and oneness within the family. The government of the human family is a deliberate parallel of the God family relationship and government. Government is very simply nothing more than a system of operation, a system of directing and controlling. Though the Son is one with the Father, Paul says that He is equal to the Father. The Son is of the same substance, power, and glory but He nonetheless voluntarily submits to the Father.

In human marriage husband and wife, like the Father and Son, are also essentially the same. Do you grasp that there is an ongoing spiritual war? In the case of marriage the submission of the woman to the man is voluntary even as Jesus’ submission to the Father is voluntary. According to Genesis 2:24, the overall issue here is oneness. However, humanists have managed to convince men and women that sex and love are the same. That is that sex and love are one with each other. This is a major departure from what was formerly believed, and it is untrue. Love is so much greater and more important than sex there is no adequate comparison.

Remember the object is always to become one, but the humanists have also managed to convince very many that everything is morally relevant and that too is untrue. Many fail to think this through. In real life this immoral relevance actually drives marriages apart. In God's standards regarding morality He is very specific, it is not just relevant.

For example, within marriage sex is totally, completely, and absolutely limited to one partner in that specific marriage. There is nothing relative about that. It is specific to the nth degree! There are no if's, ands, or buts.

Please turn to I Corinthians 7. I want you to see how far this one law, rule, principle—how specific this is regarding adultery, and specific regarding fornication as well.

I Corinthians 7:3-4 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but the husband does. [That rules out adultery, does it not?] And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

These two words, husband and wife, need to be understood. What if you are single? Who does your body belong to? Your body, ladies, still belongs to the husband that you eventually marry, and fellows, your body belongs to that woman whom you eventually marry. This is why fornication is illegal in God's eyes. You do not have the right to give that out even though you are single and unattached. So much for all of these people who shack up together. It does not cut a thing with God except death. To Him we do not have the right to do that, because our body belongs to somebody else. It is being set aside for the marriage that will take place some day. Each partner in a marriage belongs to each other even before the marriage takes place.

It is easy to pinpoint the three areas of this foundational covenant that Satan has striven most craftily to destroy in the past several hundred years before the return of Jesus Christ. Satan has made a three pronged attack to confuse and even to obliterate human reliance upon these three areas and he has achieved an incredibly high rate of success because mankind's carnality is open to his swan songs.

The foremost in importance of the three is the destruction of faith in the Sovereign God's existence and in His guidance given in His Word. Humanists teach very strongly that we are un-created, they say “everything we see simply came into being through natural resident forces.” Without belief in God there is no supreme authoritative voice providing a foundation for righteous, moral, and spiritual behavior, they in effect then make themselves gods. Thus people will gradually come to believe that they have absolute freedom for whatever behavior they choose for themselves.

Here in the United States I believe that we have not yet reached that point of saturation, but those who still hold a fairly strong belief in God's existence, even though they know very few specifics regarding what is actually stated in His Word, are about to be overwhelmed. They are about to be overcome by the sheer numbers of unbelievers already convinced by the humanists combined with the constant persuasions to join with the anti God dissenters by the media, and the entertainers.

The dissenters are easily identified. They are the liberal teaching staffs of universities, the feminists, lesbians, the homosexuals, transgenders, and the polygamist. Each group has organized their forces to put pressure on the courts and the politicians to bend to their will or those politicians will lose their support. Even the churches have been deceived, especially large liberal Protestant organizations have left God and the Bible to some degree and modified their doctrinal positions to accommodate the demands of the humanist to the morays of this society.

When they began this back in the '60s, they called it the ‘new morality.’ A major justification was that these relaxations were alright as long as nobody got hurt. I think that we can see from Adam and Eve that kind of thinking does not go, but that is what they told people. The flaw in this reasoning is that humans committing the sins cannot grasp the end result of their sins because they cannot look with any certainty far enough down the road. These people using this justification did not know what the end results would be, and they created damage all along the way. Adultery and fornication are so widespread now more babies are born out of wedlock than within marriage. Fornication is thriving.

The second major institution in this foundational covenant under attack is marriage. In our time marriage is under attack from every side by the rank immorality being promoted almost incessantly from within the culture that is approaching outright hedonism. Hedonism proclaims that the main purpose in life is pleasure. No it is not. The main purpose in life is to please God, not the self.

That is the inference in the overall thrust of this first covenant, the Edenic covenant. What persuades people? The justification is that everyone is doing it, and it puts people under constant pressure to give into and to go along with whatever immorality everybody is doing. Adultery is beyond merely being acceptable. It is even being used now as a justification for saving marriages from divorce.

An illustration of what this is: it is nothing more than committing more sin to save one from sins previously committed. It is like spending more money to save one from going bankrupt. That justification holds absolutely no water at all!

Another attack by Satan and his people was persuading the individual states by means of humanistic voters to make divorce as easy as following off a log, by such means as no fault divorce. You younger people may find it difficult to accept it but it used to be very difficult to get a divorce.

When I was in my 20s and 30s, about the only place you could get a divorce fairly quickly was Nevada. If you wanted to get a divorce in New York it would take you six months to a year, they put you through the ringer in order to make sure you did not go on the welfare rolls.

You could not get a divorce in Pennsylvania for under a year. Part of that was because the state was so Catholic and divorce for the Catholic Church was down the tubes. They had the right Idea but the wrong process. They did manage to keep people from getting a divorce. It was good because sometimes the marriages were saved by waiting a year. Now getting a divorce is about as easy as writing a check. In just about every state it is that way.

Another attack from Satan on the family is murder on demand—commonly called abortion. Even major church organizations have become so persuaded they cannot bring themselves to call abortion what it really is. It is murder.

An abortion is so easily obtained in many states that not only does the father of the child not have to give his permission for the murder of his child, but now a teenage girl in many states does not even have to tell her parents that she is going to participate in a murder either. Do you realize the power this gives to an abortionist who is not even a part of the family?

By permitting the hedonism making divorces easy to obtain, giving the power to murder the newest member of a family, the state becomes the major enemy of the family and we wonder why welfare is nearly breaking the economy of so many states in America. There are 45 million Americans now living with their total income from welfare.

I said earlier that the hedonists proclaim that the main purpose of life is pleasure. No it is not, it is to please God the Creator, as the first covenant teaches, not the self. Why did God ever enter into the creation of the entire solar system of earth and mankind and then proceed to give mankind life and many other gifts including dominion over what He had just created? The reason is, and this is why we are to worship God and Him only, and it is why He made everything: it was to give Himself, and of course others, pleasure.

He desired to share His quality of life with everybody. He did not keep it for Himself, the beginning is in the first covenant.

Ephesians 1:3-9 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world [He had it all planned out before the foundation of the world that He was going to build a family and share what He experiences with them.], that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.

Are you beginning to see this thing formed? He created everything, it was in His mind to do this so that He could share the kind of life He lives with what He produced.

Philippians 2:13 For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Why did He call us? Why did He grant us repentance? Why did He give us His Spirit? It is God who works in you to will and to do for His good pleasure. We get pleasure from what we make, accomplish. Where do think that gift to enjoy pleasure came from? It came from Him. He wants us to experience those feelings, those senses, the same way He does, so He created us with the ability to enjoy what we accomplish.

Revelation 4:11 “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for you created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”

God is telling us all of these things so that we have a solid base of understanding, a foundation for understanding that provides a basis for why we should do what we are commanded to do in a certain way, at a certain time. It is that His ways bring pleasures that He desires that we all have. If we desire the pleasures, it becomes our responsibility to please God in all that we do. People want pleasure from marriage, but it is being sought the wrong way. Solomon could clearly see this and so he wrote in Ecclesiastes 7:29 that God created man upright but he has sought out many schemes.

In today's Western world Satan has managed to deceive a huge percentage of people, perhaps especially through movies and novels, that to have a successful marriage oneness is built upon the sexual relationship. Much of this has been accomplished through the help of the entertainment industry. Marriage is God's creation and He did not create it to be built on sex. It must not be or it will not be as successful as God measure success. God intends that marriage be built on love.

Sex and love are not co-equal, they are not one in value to a marriage. We all should clearly understand that love is defined in God's Word as the keeping of God's commandments. Sex has no such definition anywhere in God's Word. Keeping infers the activity of guarding and doing. By commandments the Bible is inferring all of God's commandments, not merely the Ten Commandments, but all of the laws impacting on expressing love. There are a lot of commandments that express love.

In God's Word love is not a feeling, it is an action, an action that involves right attitudes. The context in which we do things is important. If that context in which we are doing things in order to glorify God, it is going to bring success and the right kind of enjoyment of life. Adultery will not do that, fornication will not do it, that is not God's way. Stealing will not do it, lying will not do it, it is keeping the commandments that brings pleasure.

A rape involves a sexual action but it is most certainly a forced attack against a person and that is not an affectionate circumstance at all. Godly love involves feelings but it is primarily conduct, behavior that seeks the good of the loved one equal to self concern, self love. It is that concern that greatly facilitates husband and wife becoming one in all aspects of life. If a marriage is built around sex it may indeed last, but it will probably lead to a tense frustration and may produce adultery by one or the other. In God's Word sex was not created for that purpose.

Sex can be one expression among many expressions of love. It is fully intended by God to be expressed but only within marriage, however. It is an intimacy reserved only for that one person sharing that oneness that the man and woman are creating.

Some major adjustments have to be made if marriage is going to work to its highest level possible. This is achieved by cultivation of the lawful interest and aspirations by both to each other. This is why we have to cling to each other because what I just said is not easy to do. It is not easy because we are so self-centered and attuned to this world. We are driven carnally, which means we tend to look out for ourselves before the other.

Satan has paid great attention to marriage destruction over the past 60-70 years. In my opinion if changes were made by men to correct all the things that he has managed to change and do it at the same pace that Satan was permitted to bring this deterioration on us, there is no hope that this could be done in the lives of all but the youngest person in this room.

I think it is clear that we have just about reached a point similar to that period just before the Flood. We are heading toward the kind of mind set, the kind of communities that people were having just before the Flood. It was so bad it took God Himself to solve that issue by wiping everything clean and starting all over again. That is how bad what we are heading toward is, and when Christ returns it is going to be a mess worldwide. It can only be stopped by the intervention of our Creator, and then comes a massive re-education of mankind into God's way.

Satan has attacked marriage in these last times as well. It too was a gift given during that period covered by the first covenant and it is a vital aid to man achieving what God created us for. That reason is to complete man's creation, the spiritual aspects of it. Too often the creation of the Sabbath is overlooked as a special gift of creation.

Mark 2:27-28 And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man [A gift, it ranks as the crown of creation week with all of the other gifts that were given during that time including life, dominion, marriage.], and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”

Exodus 31:13 “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying; ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you.

Exodus 31:16-17 Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.

It is indeed a gift in terms of its importance to mankind being able to achieve significant growth toward completing God's spiritual purpose. It was the final creation of the creation week. It was created for spiritual purposes, it most certainly is not an afterthought. It was not a leftover. The context reveals that it was deliberately planned to occur after the events of the first six days were completely finished.

A pattern for man regarding the day was thus established by God Himself at the end of His establishing everything else. The work was completely done, now comes rest. So God stopped His work. He did not need to rest to recover strength but He was indeed refreshed by reflections upon what He had accomplished and satisfaction in a job well done. He was contented and at peace. He then blessed the day, uniquely. This was an act He had not done to any other day of creation.

To bless indicates to bestow something good, and the blessing is that He dedicated the day, a recurring period of time that occurs every week, to a noble life and growth-promoting cause to be used by man for the completing of God's spiritual purpose. The next thing He did was to hallow it—He set it apart, sanctified it from every other day of the week. He consecrated it to be used following the pattern that God Himself established by what He did.

The effects of Satan's attacks in these last days has resulted in the pressures from this world that make it necessary for us to truly cling to Jesus Christ and the Father in order that His purpose in life be fulfilled.

Here is a summary of this first covenant. This universal covenant covers foundational principle—introducing our God and Creator, establishing His authority as Creator, His awesome gifts, our basic relationship to Him as His steward of the earth regarding its general care, the creation of Adam and Eve and the establishment of marriage, the defining of sin and the ultimate result, death, and the special creation and sanctification of the Sabbath as a holy day once every week on the seventh day of the week.

JWR/cdm/drm



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Next in this series

Leadership and the Covenants (Part Seven)