“In those days I saw that Judah had married wives of Ashdod, Ammon and Moab.”
How marvelous are the works of God from beginning unto end and how contrary is Adam. Abraham told Isaac to return unto the land of his father’s house and take a wife of his own people, so, Isaac took Rebekah. Isaac told Esau and Jacob not to take wives of the Canaanite and while Jacob returned to the house of Laban for Rachel, Esau married a Canaanite woman and this displeased Isaac. God separated the sons of Jacob in the land of Egypt making them a spectacle and an offense to the people of that land because they were sheep herders. When God gave the Law at Mt. Sinai, He forbade the children of Israel from marrying the people of the land, not because these people were unclean, but because they would draw away the hearts of the children of Israel when they began worshiping their gods. This statute was rehearsed while wandering in the wilderness for forty years until Joshua crossed the Jordan and gave the inheritance unto the tribes according to their lots yet despite the examples, commandments and warnings, as God had ordained, so this very trespass came to pass.
The practice continued, even into years of the Babylonian captivity, as the hearts of the people of the nation of Israel were drawn to the ‘common’ inhabitants of the world. They sought what they thought the world had and were blinded to what God had given them. As they grew as a nation, they desired to be like other nations and God gave them the desires of their hearts and brought leanness to their souls. As they became many and fruitful, so they abounded by His grace and as these blessings were poured out upon them, they forgot the goodness and mercy of God. These abominations brought them to a point of desolation and the captivity (Jer. 7:17-34).
The faithfulness and long suffering of God for His remnant according to grace is manifested in type in the record that is left as a testimony to His glory. He sustained the people through the captivity and, according to His Word, brought them forth at the end of 70 years to re-build the Temple. The Spirit of God had raised up a select group of properly equipped people to lay the foundation and construct a replica of the Temple of Solomon on about twenty years but the walls of the city remained in ruins. Amidst adversity and accusation years passed by and the work languished until God raised up Nehemiah (the comfort of Yah) from the courts of the King Artaxerxes. The Spirit gave him a burden for the condition of the people of Jerusalem and empowered him to return and oversee the re-building of the walls of this unique city. Time and time again God demonstrated His good hand upon His servant, the people and the work as the walls were finished about 100 years after Cyrus gave the edict for the Temple.
There were promises and curses given by God concerning His law. If a man should live by the law he must perfectly keep the whole Law. If he offends in one point, he has violated every aspect of the law and stands guilty of this iniquity before God. Since by the deeds of the law no flesh should be justified in His sight, therefore no man can live by the law. The law, which was the law of life, became the law of death and condemnation. Israel could not keep God’s Law and as this daily came to pass, God was wroth with the people. They were a stiff-necked and rebellious people from the beginning (Deut. 31:27), therefore He polluted His inheritance and gave them into the hands of their enemies (Is. 47:6). He showed them no mercy as a nation but destroyed their land and the city of Jerusalem for their wickedness and lewdness. First He destroyed the ten northern tribes of Israel and then her treacherous sister Judah fell and was taken captive into Babylon.
Yet His promise remained true, for God is not a man that He should lie (Num. 23:19) and nothing could separate the Israel of our God from His eternal love, so, at the end of the captivity He showed forth a type of His salvation and all the nations of the land saw the work of His mighty hand (Is. 52:10). No human logic could have predicted the kindness of King Cyrus. No fortune teller or prognosticator could have foreseen his benevolence and mercy in dismissing a captive people to build a temple to another god. No amount of fund raising and philanthropic endeavours could have matched the king equipping these exiles with the materials to perform the work. Every political analyst would advise against the risky moves of defending this outcast people who were taken captive. Remembering that Israel had offended their god and that this could bring the wrath of the deities of Babylon against them would be stronger than any public opinion poll in preventing this good will gesture. No fact finding poll would have concluded that this altruistic foreign policy would be beneficial to the kingdoms of Cyrus, Darius, Ahasuerus or Artaxerxes yet God moves in marvelous ways His wonders to perform.
The Temple was completed, the sacrifices resumed. The walls were constructed and the people rejoice to see the hand of God is the midst of the wilderness but the ways of Adam were not utterly destroyed from off the land. As the dedication of the walls of Jerusalem grew “with gladness both with thanksgiving and singing” (Neh. 12:27) all along the wall, the singers of the temple were appointed like in the days of King David. The people gave portions for the singers and porter and the Levites were sanctified (12:47) and in that day, the book of the Law of Moses was opened, in the audience of the people, and read.
What a revival!! The walls were filled with two groups of people giving thanks unto the Lord. The work of the sanctuary was active in the great sacrifices of the Law and the people, men women and children, rejoiced “so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off” (12:43). Everyone was caught up in the jubilation of the grace and blessings of Yehovah God as “the Levites sanctified the children of Aaron” (12:47). “On that day” the book of the law was read and they found that “the Ammonite and Moabite should not come into the congregation of God, for ever” (13:1).
What an added bonus! The deliverance from their captivity, wonderful and mighty outward demonstrations of the favour of God in the restoration of Jerusalem and the exclusion of the infidels from your land, who could ask for anything more? Real tangible proofs that God had chosen this people to be His own above all other nations of the world. These visual evidences that He loved them were before their eyes as a daily reminder and a memorial to His presence and power.
Who could ask for anything more? The bleating of animals in the court yard of the Temple, the Levites and the sons of Aaron all in their courses, the smell of the burnt offerings and the stains of the blood, sprinkled upon the altar, were indications that the ministry of the Temple worship was active. The hearing of the singers singing the songs of deliverance and praise, the throng of people rejoicing and the euphoria of the atmosphere of the days should be enough to convince even the most hardened atheist of the presence of God and lead His people to keep the law and have victory over sin and transgressions.
“While we look not at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen, for the things that are seen are temporal but the things which are unseen are eternal” (II Cor. 4:18).
That which can be seen can not change the nature of Adam or the sin that dwells in his flesh. In the midst of the physical manifestation of all the wondrous works of Almighty God, Judah had married wives of the very people whom God said should never come into His assembly. The first of these groups were those of Ashdod (powerful, fortified place). The second group mentioned is the Ammonites (tribal related people) and the third group is the Moabites (of his father).
The fact that these marriages took place or that these groups of people even existed should never be doubted. Indeed the children of praise (Judah) were drawn away after their lust of the flesh and, finding no wives of the house of Israel and having their hearts drawn out after a strange woman, they took wives of these groups. This offense was discovered in the day that the Law was read and the Spirit revealed the transgression of the people.
It may be asked, how did these groups come in contact with the children of Israel since they had been in captivity to the Babylonians, Medes and Persians for an extended period of time? Why was it not that the children of Israel were rebuked of the Spirit for marrying the Babylonians, the Medes or the Persians? Many nations were conquered by Nebuchadnezzar as God made him grow strong and his greatness increased and grew unto heaven (Dan. 4:22) and it is feasible that these groups could have come into contact with the children of Israel in the cities of Babylon. Many of the children of the captivity were elevated to prominent positions in the government (Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah) and many were assimilated into the society of the land. What is more important is the types these three groups represent for they are the man Adam. They are the nature and attributes of the earthen vessel, the flesh and blood that each child of grace is made a partaker of and they serve as an explanation of the conflict within; “For whatsoever things that were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Rms. 15:4).
The nation of Israel was small and God made it mighty. He told them they did not need for anything for He would supply them their daily bread. He would fight for them and protect them and when He brought a need into their lives, He would supply that which was needed. They, in type, dwelt in Him, in the shadow of His hand, which is a secure and safe haven and no man can pluck them out of His hands (John 10:29). Yet they sought to establish their own might and a ‘fortified place’ or ‘a castle’ with walls and bulwarks not only as their defense but for power over others. Ashdod is powerful in a violent and devastating manner. He is of the children of the ‘long neck’ (Anak) being greatly feared as giants. The children of Ashdod have fortified (Gaza) their wine press (Gath) and through fear and intimidation they claim it as their righteousness (Josh 11:22). Their god is Dagon, the fish god of fertility and abundance of the Philistines, the sojourners of the land, and their king is ‘Abaddon’ the destroyer (Rev. 9:11).
These do not need the wine press of the fierceness of the wrath of God, wherein the Elect Servant of Yehovah tread the righteous judgment of God for His people. They have their own wine press and therefore their own wine, which is the blood. They do not need the blood of the covenant, they know nothing of the fearfulness of the hands of an angry God and they profess their righteousness as acceptable and sufficient. They lord over the weak in their great numbers and height and adorn themselves as chains around their necks (Anak) but these chains are the collars which God given them. Here He has placed the leash whereby He leads them about to do His will.
God established His people as the 12 sons of one man. They were bone of bone and flesh of flesh as the sheep of the same pasture and were tribal unto themselves. But they were given the lust of the eyes to see other nations and to desire what they had seen. They did not trust the idea that the will of the country could be determined by the Urim and Thummim and they had no idea what it meant to ‘walk by faith’. Thus were they drawn to a people of the land who they were related to in Esau (Ammon), they were enchanted by the serpent (Nahash - I Sam. 11:1) as Eve in the garden and the result has been a fissure that divides (Zeleck - II Sam. 23:37).
These are the children of Ammon, son of Benammi (son of my people) the son of Lot (Gen. 19:38). They are at war against the ‘judgment of Yahovah’ (Jehoshaphat - II Chr. 20:1), ‘the strength of Yah’ (Uzziah - II Chr. 26:8), ‘the perfection of Yah’ (Jothan - II Chr. 27:5 and the saints of the Lord (Rev. 6:2; 11:7; 12:11; 13:7; 15:2; 17:14 and 21:7). These giants of this world cannot overcome the saints of God because they are sealed of God and He has given them the victory by the blood of the Lamb of God (Rev. 12:11).
The last group is of the son of Lot. Moab is ‘of his father’ and represents the work of Adam which is after his father. He was formed from the dust of the earth and he acts accordingly. He knows good and evil and is like God yet he has no power in and of himself. He is disobedient to the law and commandments, he receives not the things of the Spirit, is a liar and dead in trespasses and sin. Each and every one of his seed, after his kind, walks according to the works of their father, Adam, in deference to the glory of God and in ignorance to His ways. Moab is unto God as Sodom and Ammon as Gomorrah (Zeph. 2:9). These are the wives whom the sons of Judah took unto themselves and these are the strangers that dwell among the true house of Israel today in the habitation of this dwelling.
“And their children spoke half in the speech of Ashdod and could not speak in the Jew’s language, but according to the language of each people” (Neh. 13:24)
Adam wars against the Spirit because he desires what he can discern from his senses and finds comfort in what he can feel. He knows only the tongue of his nature and can only hear the language of the land. He has not the ability to speak the language of Praise because he was created incapable to “frame to pronounce rightly” the words of Zion (Judg. 12:6). So, the children of Adam speak the voice of the power of the arm of his flesh and sing the free will of man as the family dialect of the dust of the earth. His reasoning, his logic and his conclusions are of the earth earthly for he “savours not the things of the God but the things of men” (Mark 8:33). This tongue is heard by the children of hope as they are partakers of flesh and blood for they are made subject to this vanity. It will never tarnish them or have any effect upon the beauty of the holiness of God in them, but they groan within themselves as they hear the philosophy, doctrine and logic of Adam emanate from their own Adamic tongue and find it festering in their desperately wicked heart (Jer. 17:9). They read the doctrines of Adam and see how men of much speaking and great swelling words are ‘giants’ among the people, greatly revered and prominent. They see the hordes of people flocking to the meeting places of the deep thinkers and silver tongued individuals who tickle their itching ears of ignorant audiences. They wonder how it is that, if the Word of truth be among His people, there sits only two or three gathered together in His name or why they sit in isolation without the fellowship of the brethren. They indeed may understand these things as being the will of God and an indication of the wickedness of man, yet still they are confused and saddened when they hear these same words from their own mouths and think the same in their hearts and minds. How can I be a child of grace when I think and speak like the Canaanites of Ashdod?
The contention of the comfort of Yehovah (Nehemiah) with the people of his day was not for separation but identification and so it is today. These things have been written for those whom the Spirit has enlightened to the ever present nemesis called Adam. This is not a lesson in isolationism, arrogance or divorce but an understanding that we, if we be born from above, have this treasure in a weak, corrupt earthen vessel; that this earthen vessel is subject to the lust and desires of the flesh and that he delights in humanistic ways for hedonistic results to the praise of the flesh and the worship of the earth he came from. The example is that even the great king Solomon was subject to this very same temptation, for it is common to Adam. But though Solomon, the man, was drawn away after the love of many women and the worship of the strange gods, yet the true Solomon, our King of Peace, endured the same temptation, without sin, and has overcome the world.
“Shall we then hearken unto you and do all this great evil and transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?” (13:27).
We cannot separate ourselves from anything for what we are, what we have and our station in life has been ordained of old and none can stay the hand of Almighty God. Yet the admonition of the Apostle to the church at Galatia is the same as the words of Nehemiah to the people of the captivity; “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” (Gal. 4:8). If we have been born by the Spirit from above, not of the will or power of the flesh, why do we turn again to the deeds of the flesh in attempt to demonstrate our righteousness in the flesh? These are the wives of Ashdod, Ammon and Moab that we are married unto ‘till death do us part’ (Josh. 23:12f). These are the people of the land that dwell among us and this is the language of Ashdod that we read, hear and speak after the nature of Adam. This is the strange apparel that we have been clothed in (Zeph. 1:8) which is not acceptable at the kings table (Matt. 22:11).
Ammon and Moab shall never stand in the congregation of the redeemed of Yehovah (Deut. 23:3) and the Bride of Christ is not adorned in Babylonian garments with Egyptian embroidering. He has turned unto His people a pure language that they may call upon the name of Yehovah to serve Him with one consent (Zeph. 3:9) and no residue of Adam shall stand in His sight (Ob. 17) . Adam speaks the praise of man and slanders people and people (13:24) but the children of grace sing praise unto their King saying; “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, which is and which is to come” (Rev. 4:8).
“Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).
Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
August 18, 2013