Subject 24 : Sermons for Those Who Have Become Our COWORKERS

[24-69] Marry Within Your Own Tribe (Genesis 34:18-27)

(Genesis 34:18-27)
“And their words pleased Hamor and Shechem, Hamor’s son. So the young man did not delay to do the thing, because he delighted in Jacob’s daughter. He was more honorable than all the household of his father. And Hamor and Shechem his son came to the gate of their city, and spoke with the men of their city, saying: ‘These men are at peace with us. Therefore let them dwell in the land and trade in it. For indeed the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters to us as wives, and let us give them our daughters. Only on this condition will the men consent to dwell with us, to be one people: if every male among us is circumcised as they are circumcised. Will not their livestock, their property, and every animal of theirs be ours? Only let us consent to them, and they will dwell with us.’ And all who went out of the gate of his city heeded Hamor and Shechem his son; every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city. Now it came to pass on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came boldly upon the city and killed all the males. And they killed Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went out. The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because their sister had been defiled.”

The Lord Tells Us Not to Marry People of This World

Jacob had many sons but only one daughter. This daughter’s name was Dinah. But an incident occurred where Dinah was raped by Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite as she went out to see the daughters of the Gentile land. Because of this incident, Shechem, a prince of the Hivites wanted to marry Jacob’s daughter. To this, Jacob’s sons said to the Hivites, “If you want to enter into a marriage with us, you all must be circumcised,” informing them that this was their tradition. When considering these words from the sons of Jacob, Shechem and his father Hamor thought, “If we were to receive circumcision and enter into a marriage with the tribe of Jacob, all their many sheep, goats, and oxen will be ours as well. So, if we were to enter into a marriage with the Israelites, wouldn’t all their wealth become ours too?”
Yes, this was a reality. So the Hivites were circumcised to marry the Israelites because along with Shechem’s love for Dinah the daughter of Jacob, they coveted the wealth of the Israelites. But what were the inner thoughts of Jacob’s twelve sons? They told the Hivites to be circumcised so that they would be able to kill the one who had defiled Dinah their sister.
During the Old Testament times, circumcision involved the removal of the foreskin, and much pain and discomfort ensued as a result. And so, on the third day after they were circumcised, every male Hivite was in great pain. It was at that time that the sons of Jacob slew and killed all the male Hivites.
Through this Scripture reading we must be able to perceive what God is saying to us. We also must discern what the will of God is toward us? It says here that the will of God teaches us that the Israelites and the Gentiles should never enter into a marriage union. Yes, this is the truth. The people of Israel who can claim themselves as the children of God must never enter into a marriage union with the Gentiles. This was because the Gentiles usually believed in various gentile gods and so, the Israelites were forbidden to mix with them spiritually. Actually, from a worldly perspective, marrying a prince of a tribe isn’t a bad condition at all. If Jacob had not believed in Jehovah God like he did, he would have thought that it would be a good opportunity to enhance the influence of his tribe. But for those who believe in the righteousness of God, they could not compromise with the Gentiles who did not believe in God. Therefore, the Israelites did not allow a marriage between them and a Gentile. The Israelites not only despised the thought of marrying a Gentile but actually destroyed them.
If this be true, why then does the Bible have such an event recorded in it? It is because God wants to tell us who truly believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we must not be mixed together with those who believe in other gods. If someone who believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit were to enter into a marriage union with someone who does not, they then would meet a great calamity spiritually. Just as the truth of salvation cannot be mixed in together with any doctrine weaved by human thoughts, so those who have become God’s people cannot enter into a marriage union with those who do not know the righteousness of God.
Dear fellow believers, you and I must go on living upholding the Word of God just as it is. Of course, we can think erroneously with our fleshly human thoughts. For example, we might think, “Couldn’t we marry those who do not believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and make them believe in it eventually?” It is quite possible for us to be thinking like this. But God admonish us in today’s Scripture reading. If we go against His commands we will suffer terribly. He admonishes us sternly that if a saint who knows and believes in the righteousness of God marries someone who has not yet born again, then that saint will surely suffer death.

We Must Be Wholly Saved by Believing in God’s Word of the Gospel of the Righteousness

We must be saved from the sins of this world. In the Book of Genesis chapter 40, there appears a record about Joseph. He was sold to the land of Egypt and lived as a slave of Potiphar, the captain of the guard for Pharaoh. And Joseph worked diligently in that house and eventually became the overseer of his master’s house.
However, one day Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him. She lured him into a room and caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But rather than succumbing to that temptation, he shrugged her off and in the process left his garment in her hand, fleeing outside. What happened to him after that incident? She blamed Joseph for having refused her request. She then falsely confessed to her husband that this Joseph had actually tried to seduce her and because of this had Joseph locked up in prison. And soon afterwards the chief butler and the chief baker of the king were also confined in the very prison where Joseph was confined, and this became an opportunity for Joseph to be released from prison.
After their imprisonment, the butler and the baker had a dream. The chief butler’s told his dream like this: “Behold in my dream a vine was before me, and in the vine were three branches; it was as though it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and its clusters brought forth ripe grapes. Then Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. When he described this dream to Joseph, Joseph gave him the following interpretation: “Three branches budded from the vine are three days. Within three days from today, you will be restored of your previous post and live. You will leave this prison and be restored to your previous post. But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this rotten place.”
Seeing that the interpretation was good, the chief baker also spoke to Joseph about his dream. He said, “I also had a dream and in it were three white baskets on my head. In the uppermost basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, and the birds ate them out of the basket while it was on my head.” Then upon hearing it Joseph interpreted his dream also. He said, “In three days from today you will be hanged by your neck on a tree.” And before long, Joseph’s interpretation of these dreams came true both to the chief butler and the chief baker. In three days, the chief butler of the king was actually reinstated to his position while the chief baker was hung.
Dear fellow believers, what do you think these interpretations of these dreams tell us? The dream of the chief butler teaches us that Pharaoh’s cup was in the chief butler’s hand, that the vine brought forth ripe grapes, and that the chief butler pressed out juice from the grapes and brought it to the king. This teaches us that as long as you and I accept the God-given gospel of the water and the Spirit as spoken by God, we will be saved from our sins. Put differently, whoever believes in the Word of the water and the Spirit just as it is given, they will reach their salvation exactly in accordance with that Word. The chief butler of the king was released from the prison and was restored his office because he accepted what God had given him just as it is.
But the chief baker was killed just as Joseph had said. In his dream he said that he made various baked goods for the king on his own will and added them on top of the three baskets. Why was this chief baker put to death? It was because he believed in not only the Word of God but also the doctrines made up by his own notions. Like this chief baker, there are many Christians who try to come before the presence of God while tightly holding onto their Christian doctrines which they have weaved together by their own thoughts. And because of this they will eventually be cast into hell by the Lord God.
Yes, this is so. Likewise, the Lord teaches you and me regarding the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit and about the remission of sins, that if we were to believe in it just as it is without adding anything to it or taking anything away from it, we will receive the remission of sins by that faith. If we accept the Word of the gospel of the water and the Spirit as written in the Bible just as it is and believe in it, then we will receive the salvation from our sins. But those who try to reach their salvation by doing something for God on their own will not be able to receive salvation from their sins. People like this will suffer death, just like this chief baker. In other words, if we do not believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit we will not be able to receive the remission of sins, but instead will end up in hell.
Actually, for you to receive the salvation from sins isn’t that difficult inside the gospel of the water and the Spirit. You will receive salvation from all your sins as long as you recognize fully and believe that the gospel of the water and the Spirit as spoken by God is His plan. This is indeed the perfect plan of salvation that God has arranged for you and for me.
However, you will surely fail if you try to make up something and believe in that in order to cleanse away your own sins, thinking that these notions is gospel Word of the water and the Spirit that the Lord gave to us humans. People like this become trapped in their sins because they refuse to believe in the salvation plan with which the Lord has delivered them from all their sins. The Word of God speaks to us about this salvation with which the Lord has delivered us human beings from all our sins once and for all. It deals with the gospel of the water and the Spirit which is essential to us the saints, and the faith that allows us to go on living in this world, and provides all the answers to our problems.
For example, the Bible even deals with the issues about ‘marriage’ and uniting with God’s Church which is very important to the saints in them living out their faith. It teaches us that the born-again who truly believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit must never marry those who do not believe in the righteousness of God. Yes, this is true. God deeply abhors these marriages between those who do believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and those who don’t. When we read the Old Testament, we see some Israelites who were taken to Babylon marrying the Gentiles. But the children born out of wedlock between the people of Israel and the Gentiles are not accepted as the Israelites. Those Children of mixed blood were regarded as the unclean both spiritually and physically. Pointing out to people like that, God said, “Cast them out from My people.” He said, “Rip out their hair, pluck their beards, and banish them.”
You might wonder, “Where does God say that we must not marry people who do not believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit?” However, our Lord is clearly speaking to us about this very thing in today’s Scripture passage. He is telling us that we must not marry the Gentiles on any account. He tells us also, if we want to do this, then do it. If we disobey God He tells us that its result will be tragic, just as depicted in today’s Scripture reading. Our God is clearly showing all of us His will through the account of Dinah.
Dear fellow believers, I am not teaching you all just because someone among us has married a non-believer. I offer you these words because this is an hour set aside for the youth ministry and because I think this admonishment might benefit you.
You might wonder, “Alas, who am I suppose to marry then when there is no ideal partner in our Church?” But please bear this in mind. Even if your situation seems to be grim, it is the will of God that the righteous must marry the righteous. The righteous must never marry someone who has not been circumcised spiritually. Being circumcised spiritually means to be saved from all your sins. People who have been saved from their sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit must never marry with those who have not. The Hivites were circumcised to achieve their physical purposes and such circumcision could never be a genuine one. What then is a genuine circumcision before God? It is to transfer all one’s sins inside one’s heart over to Jesus Christ by believing in the baptism He had received from John the Baptist. Also, it is to believe that the punishment that Jesus bore on the Cross is none other than the punishment for your own sins. Genuine circumcision of the heart means the perfect remission of sins that can be attained once and for all through the very faith of believing in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit.
God knows us very well. There is much filth inside our hearts spiritually. Many dregs actually arise from our hearts and thoughts. Not all thoughts and desires that arise from our hearts are pure. We often have spiritual minds from deep within our hearts when we devote ourselves to the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but filthy fleshly thoughts also arise in contrast because we are still living in the flesh. In other words, filthy fleshly thoughts arise so often, even for those who have received the cleansing of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. However, dear fellow believers, please bear this in mind. Even if our thoughts are filthy and ugly like this, God has saved us by cleansing all our sins away once and for all through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Therefore, for this reason, we must never enter into a marriage union with those who have never been circumcised spiritually.
Are you perhaps thinking, “I guess even if I marry a sinner, that doesn’t matter?” Nonetheless, there isn’t a single person who was not cursed for having these thoughts. Everyone among the disobedient has failed. Every disobedient person fell to destruction. It is the same for those who received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Psalm 133:1-2 says,
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Running down on the beard,
The beard of Aaron,
Running down on the edge of his garments.”
What does this passage mean? It means that it is God’s Word of promise that He would bestow His grace in all things upon those who have been born again from sin by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, if they were to unite with those who have the same faith.
Jacob’s daughter Dinah went out to the country where Shechem the prince of the Hivites lived and felt happiness as she encountered a new world which she had never seen before. “O my, there are so many things our tribe do not have. These women adorn themselves with wonderful jewels that I have never seen before. How beautiful they are!” Being elated like this, she entered deep into that tribal village, and there, she suffered a mishap. Shechem the prince of Hivites raped her. She now was in a situation of having no choice but to marry Shechem.
Like this Dinah, we also are faced at times with circumstances which we cannot do anything about with our own strength. When these things happen, what do we start thinking? “I am sure God is well aware of my circumstances. My circumstances are like this, so God will understand me fully and overlook my disobedience.” It is easy for us to think like that. But just because our circumstances are like that, is it right for us to be marrying the Gentiles? It surely is not.
God does not speak by considering our circumstances. Yes, this is so. God speaks to us once more with the Word He had spoken before. Here He says it once again. “Did I not tell you? Did I not record it here like so?” He is telling us that we must not marry the Gentiles on any account. According to the Word of God, the born-again can never marry someone who has not been circumcised in his or her heart.
“Then, do you mean all I have to do is to receive circumcision?” Dear fellow believers, just because you have cut off your foreskin, does it mean that you have been circumcised spiritually? These days, there are many people who are circumcised physically. If this is enough, is it right for sinners to marry the born-again without any restriction? Is it right for those who have been circumcised in their flesh to be marrying the spiritual Israelites who are the born-again? No, that is not right. Only those who have really received spiritual circumcision are the people of God.
The Bible tells us to be circumcised in the heart (Romans 2:28-29). Here the circumcision in the heart mentions precisely receiving the remission of sins in one’s heart by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit can never marry those who do not believe in it. The Word of God always resides inside the hearts of us the righteous and speaks to us. God speaks to us like this now through His Word, saying, “Make sure that you do not marry those who have not received the remission of sins. If you do this, I shall surely kill you.” He is telling us that He will make us fail for certain by making our circumstances and surroundings difficult.
Dear fellow believers, we must never interpret the Word of God in a flexible way. Of course, with our human thinking we are able to do something this way or that way, but the Word of God does not allow us to do something this way or that way according to the existing state of things. This is the reason why God recorded His holy Word. God wrote it in the Bible clearly. The Word of God is exactly the way it is written. Even now it is unchanging. Through this written Word of God, we are able to meet our Lord who is all so wonderful and eternally unchanging.
Dear young brothers and sisters, I am not speaking these words because some of you are now trying to marry a person among the Gentiles. However, there is a strong possibility that you might do this. It is possible that you might turn away from the Word of God thinking, “I have no choice but to marry this person because I am in such a dire situation.” But please bear this in mind. Even though your circumstances may be like this, it is merely your situation, and because of this it cannot amend the Word of God. I am saying that we human beings cannot change the will of God.
I repeat. If we who have been born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit want to marry, we must marry those who have been circumcised spiritually. This is God’s command.
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