After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus had calmed down, he remembered Vashti and what she had done, and what was decreed against her. And the king’s young men who served him said, Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king. And let the king choose officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, so that they may gather together all the beautiful young virgins to Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, to the hand of Hegai the king’s eunuch, keeper of the women. And let their ointments be given. And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king, and he did so… She went in the evening, and on the next day she returned to the second house of the women, into the hand of Shaashgaz, the king’s officer who kept the concubines. She did not come in to the king any more, unless the king delighted in her, and she was called by name. – Ester 2:1-4,14
For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication; from which, if you keep yourselves, you shall do well. Be prospered. – Acts 15:28-29
I want to look at the manner of seeking a wife in contrast to the way of the Gentile King Ahasuerus. You will remember that the people of Israel asked for a king like the Gentiles have, rather than have YHVH being their King. YHVH is holy, and searches the thoughts and intentions of the heart; whereas, Gentile (those not in covenant relationship with YHVH) kings are sinners. The people became sinners, rather than being a holy and righteous people who kept the Law of Moses with God’s commandments and judgments. As we read in the New Testament, God has shown that all people are sinful — Jews and Gentiles; those who have the Law and those who do not — and need the blood of the Messiah’s sacrificial death in order to be saved and cleansed from sin. It is good to remember that God has chosen us to be His holy people.
King Ahasuerus was looking for another wife, and had all of the pretty virgins from his large kingdom come to him, in the hope of being chosen by him to be his wife. It did not seem to concern all of his youthful servants or him that he was not leaving many eligible single women for many single men in his kingdom! All of these pretty women apparently had to sleep with the king as part of his selection process (Est 2:14). This is the way of kings – especially Gentiles. When Israeli kings – and other men — acted this way, it was against the Law of Moses, and against the holiness of the God of Israel. They became like Gentiles, which is what they wanted. It brought ruin and shame to the king and to the nation, and did not bring honor to the name of the LORD.
In the New Testament, all believers are called to a higher standard of holiness and purity than even the Law of Moses required. And to emphasize the seriousness and importance of this in God’s eyes, the apostles agreed with the Holy Spirit that Gentile believers needed to stop fornication of whatever kind. The Jewish believer was supposed to already know that from the Law. Fornication is a word that includes any sexual activity outside of marriage – whether before marriage or during marriage, and even after one has been married. Fornication includes sex for payment, premarital sex, adultery (illicit sex with another while married), homosexuality of men or of women, bestiality, pedophilia, pornography.
The Israeli news is full of political, judicial, military, religious leaders, entertainers, who are accused, and sometimes convicted, of sexual harassment and of rape. Most of these men are married, but no one is talking about adultery. The men usually do not deny that there was sex with the complainant, only that it was not rape; that is, it was done not by force but with consent. But adultery? Not a word in the public media! Yet the damage to the marriage and to the family is often irreversible. There is a breach of trust and security when there is unfaithfulness within the closest relationship that God has made between a man and a woman. Our security as the Bride of Messiah is His complete faithfulness in our relationship with the Lord Yeshua.
For one who loves God, who cares about him/herself in God’s sight, who respects the other person, in the fear of YHVH, they will be empowered to resist all temptation – and the Holy Spirit will help overcome the urge.
Today there is a BIG problem: fornication is not taken very seriously, even by many who say that they are believers, and even born-again! In a poll (conducted by The Nat’l Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy) taken in the U.S. a few years ago, 88% of all unmarried young adults (ages 18-29) are having sex. Among Christians, who identify as “evangelical”, 80% say they have had sex. 80%… even though, according to a Gallup poll, 76% of evangelicals believe that sex outside of marriage is morally wrong. There is not much distinction between the Body of Messiah and those still “of the world”. And consider, that if 76% of evangelical believers think that premarital sex is wrong, then 24% think it is okay! Which means that 56% of these young adult believers are hypocrites: they believe that premarital sex is wrong, but do it anyway!
In Israel there is a law which recognizes common-law marriage (publicly recognized couples). These are two persons living together in a manner that is as if they were married, and after only 6 months (!), they can be considered to be in a legal relationship that binds them under the law. (A true marriage is a covenantal relationship, which carries with it more serious benefits and consequences.) Some believers approve of such relationships. But what is the couple doing up until the time that they are publicly recognized?!: they are sinning by having sex outside of marriage, with some even having children. God’s standard of what is acceptable, and of what is holy, is being lowered even by some believers to fit the low moral level of today’s culture, which does not want the Holy One of Israel to be their God and King, but want to break the bonds of YHVH and of His Messiah from off of them. (Ps 2) We might lower God’s standard, but He has not!
King Ahasuerus wanted to know what the Persian law allowed him to do about Vashti his wife. Believers in Yeshua need to know what God’s law says in such matters, and not be hypocrites, but obey with faith what our Lord says. We live under the laws of our nation, but when there is a contradiction, we must obey God’s higher standard, and not use as an excuse, “it’s legal in our country”; or, “it’s culturally acceptable in our society”; or, “times have changed, and the Bible is not currently relevant”. All of these excuses say that our fleshly desire has higher priority and authority over God’s sovereign authority! This is no different than what Israel wanted in asking for a king like the Gentiles have. What does the Holy Spirit say about this?:
For let fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness not be once named among you, as becomes saints, neither baseness, foolish talking, jesting, which are not becoming, but rather giving of thanks. For you know this, that no fornicator, or unclean person, or covetous one (who is an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. – Eph 5:3-7
If anyone should say, I am not really a believer yet, so it is okay. NO! Then you put yourself in the category of “children of disobedience” that God’s wrath will come upon!
Do not test God, but in the fear of the Lord sanctify yourself; for without holiness, no one will see the Lord.
If any of you are already approving of sex before, or outside of marriage, please confess this sin to God, and He will forgive you. Do not justify sin, or return to it. If any of you are actively engaged in illicit sex, then confess this sin, stop the activity, and you will find favor with God. Isn’t inheriting the Kingdom of God, and being with Jesus worth it? Do we love Him more than even ourselves, more than someone who is not really respecting you if he or she is causing me to sin against my God and Savior, and threatening my eternal destiny!? God knows our deepest needs; He created and made us, and He is the one that gave sex as something good and holy between a man and his lawful wife. Part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit is self-control. In today’s world, there is a great battle going on for the souls of people, and for the dignity of human beings, whom God created in His image and likeness. Satan says that we can become like God by disobeying the Word of God and doing what we want. Satan is a liar and a murderer. The words of our Father are truth and life to all who trust and obey.
So, brothers and sisters – and especially those who want to find the right man or woman to marry, and who want to be the right person for someone – keep yourselves holy for that person, and for God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. You will never regret it!
The vision of our congregation Yeshua’s Inheritance Congregation is that we will be prepared for the coming again of the Lord, and to have part in the first resurrection. This matter of sexual purity is extremely important towards that readiness and overcoming the world by our faith, and being light in the increasing darkness.
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, April 17, 2016 and reposted with permission.