How a Law-Abiding Family Prepares Us for Eternity
The second of two articles studying how God’s laws point to the incredible spiritual reality of the God Family.

God’s laws for marriage point to the spiritual reality it pictures: Jesus Christ marrying His Bride, the Spirit-born saints of God!

Of all those laws, the ones regulating the marriage of priests were strictest. God was particularly concerned that a priestly marriage resembled the spiritual antitype. “Private individuals might form several connections [that] were forbidden as inexpedient or improper in priests,” the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary states. “The respectability of their office, and the honor of religion, required unblemished sanctity in their families as well as themselves ….”

Read the law that God established concerning the marriage of priests in Leviticus 21:7. Combine this with Ezekiel 44:22, which shows that a priest could marry the widow of another priest. God wanted the priest’s wife to be a quality woman with an unblemished reputation. After all, she was marrying a man who represented God! Read the New Testament counterpart in 1 Timothy 3:11. This describes the conduct expected of deacons’ wives, but certainly applies to ministers’ wives as well.

Study Leviticus 21:13-15 to see the even stricter law God gave concerning the high priest. He could only marry an Israelite virgin, specifically picturing that we are the virgin Bride of the true High Priest, Jesus Christ (e.g. 2 Corinthians 11:2).

Who’s in Charge Here?

Notice this language regarding the wedding of a man and wife in the first part of Deuteronomy 24:1. The words hath taken are translated in other biblical passages as accept, buy, carry away, get, receive, seize and win. That is the way God views it. He presented Adam with a helpmeet, just as He will present His Son, Christ, with a Bride who has made herself ready. Read Proverbs 18:22.

The word translated married in Deuteronomy 24:1 is very interesting. It is ba`al, which means to rule, to be master or lord over. (Incidentally, Satan appropriated this word, and it is the name of a Canaanite god. However, even God calls Himself the Ba-al, or Husband, of Israel in Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 3:14; 31:32 and Malachi 2:11.) Lange’s Commentary says of Deuteronomy 24:1, “To marry a wife, according to this, is to take property into possession, hence to become her lord.”

Thus the word “married,” itself, actually describes the government God intends within a marriage. This precisely pictures what Christ does with His wife: He becomes our master—He has dominion over us!

This Satan-inspired world hates this idea because it is a government-of-God concept—it is a God Family government truth. It is expanded and explained far more in the New Testament (read, for example, Ephesians 5:23), but the basic concept is here in God’s law.

Read the first seven verses of Numbers 30 to see this principle reinforced. Under God’s law, a wife cannot bind herself or her family to an agreement without her husband’s permission. That is a strong statement about the government in the home.

One reason God created male and female was to establish family government! In a marriage, they are ready-made types of Christ and His Bride and their future relationship. A couple doesn’t have to figure out which of the two should be the leader or which role each will fulfill. God tells us in advance so there is order and harmony. Following the pattern God established sets up the relationship for success. In fact, it can’t work any other way!

God Commands a Honeymoon!

God loves marriage and wants every marriage to succeed. Read Deuteronomy 24:5 to see a wonderful law that demonstrates this desire in a special way.

That first year of marriage is the beginning of a new family. God wants the new bride and groom to rejoice! He wants this marriage to last, and this command helps ensure their love has a good start. Marriage is an adjustment, particularly for the woman. Generally the husband is already established with a job and maybe a house; the wife is moving into his life and taking up a new home and a new career. So, God says it is the man’s responsibility to cheer her up—to help her joy! Every young couple should follow the wisdom in this law and use that first year to spend extra time with each other.

Remember God’s command in Genesis 2:24. “Cleave” means cling, be joined together, follow close, follow hard after, pursue hard! Imagine how Christ will fulfill these laws with His new Bride in the future!

Consider how the spirit of God’s law places the responsibility of righteous leadership on the man’s shoulders for the benefit of the family. God demands that fathers love their wives, instruct their children, provide loving discipline, and work to provide for their families. Look again, for example, at Deuteronomy 6:6-7 and 11:18-19. God’s law commands that fathers be the spiritual guide of the family! In addition, it forbids child abuse, spousal abuse and all forms of domestic violence, molestation, rape, drunkenness, drug abuse and immorality. A woman in a godly society wouldn’t have to worry about her husband being an alcoholic, drug addict, abuser, adulterer or a deadbeat. These would all be crimes against the state!

This world paints God’s law as harsh and repressive. God calls it a “law of liberty” (James 1:25; 2:12). By repressing evil, it leads to freedom! What a wonderful world will result when that law is taught and enforced among families worldwide!

God’s Commands to Children

Read the commandment that focuses on the parent-child bond in Exodus 20:12. Take special note of what this law emphasizes: Government. The Fifth Commandment establishes God’s family government in every home. It puts father and mother in authority over the children.

Though this command is directed at the child, obviously we parents must train and teach our children to honor us, and then enforce the command to ensure it is being kept in our families. Other laws amplify this commandment and reinforce this vital parental responsibility.

God commands that children honor their parents. See what else He expects of them in Leviticus 19:3. The word fear means reverence and respect. It is the same word God uses when He commands us to fear Him (Deuteronomy 10:12, for example). We prepare our children to revere God by teaching them to revere both mother and father from an early age. At the same time, our obligation to obey this command toward our own parents never ends in our lifetime! Leviticus 19:3 specifically speaks to “every man”—every individual—of any age!

To better understand how serious this principle is to God, read His judgment in Exodus 21:15. This verse is talking about a physical, outward action—hitting. Now, notice how God makes the command even more stringent in verse 17. Imagine, in ancient Israel, how diligent parents would have been to teach this law, knowing the consequences if they failed! What a strong incentive motivating parents and children to respect government in their families.

The word curseth in verse 17 means to bring into contempt, to despise, to esteem lightly or make light of. Though this can obviously be an outward action, it has everything to do with a child’s attitude—what is in his heart. In our world, children break this commandment routinely without a second thought.

Read how Jesus Christ backed up this commandment in Matthew 15:4. He said nothing about it no longer applying. Today, under a New Testament administration, obviously we do not execute our children—but they do come under the death penalty if they act like this toward us! Parents whose young people have left God’s Church know that if their children don’t repent, they are headed for the Tribulation! If we love our children, we’re going to work to make sure they don’t come under that penalty! Remember the promise God gives in Exodus 20:12 for obedience to the Fifth Commandment.

Meditate on the effects if this law were implemented worldwide—a world where family government was right. No children dishonoring their parents, no juvenile crime, no upside-down families, no gangs. Grown children continuing to honor their parents—taking care of them in their old age. That is beautiful to think about!

Honor the Aged

Read God’s command in Leviticus 19:32 about how younger people should treat older people. It’s almost impossible to conceive of it because it’s so different from the world today, but imagine a culture centered on older people, rather than youth! Imagine a world where every parent was honored and every older person was respected. Where, rather than the aged being cast aside and ignored, their status and relevance increased as they got older! Rather than having old people trying to look and act like young people, young people would grow up wanting to emulate those older and wiser. And older people would enjoy the stature that came from being a positive spiritual authority over younger people.

This is World Tomorrow instruction! We must work to keep this law in God’s Church today! It should be taught and reinforced in our homes, our families and our congregations! In this spiritual family, older people must be honored. Younger people should rise in their presence. This law is vital to combating our culture’s destructive youth-centered mentality, which has turned society upside down!

God loves to see young people honoring older people. He loves to see young people who are friendly, who will answer and even ask polite questions, who will look older people in the eye—actually honoring “the face of the old man”—when being spoken to. Even those who are not parents can help the younger people by spending time with them, and being patient as they develop these habits. We are all one family! Let’s work together to include our children and help them to be comfortable around all types of people.

When this law is kept, the family—even the extended spiritual family—is a training ground for submitting to God! Read that verse again to notice how God links honor for the aged with the proper fear of God. One leads to the other.

The Right of the Firstborn

Our world today has many laws and policies that break down families—that encourage single-parenthood, for example. God’s laws promote families—even large, extended families. Here is one example:

Common law in ancient times dictated that a man’s possessions be passed on to his children at his death. Surely God gave that law, though the Bible doesn’t specifically record Him doing so. But He did affirm it and clarify it within Israel. Firstborn sons were given the greatest part of this inheritance—twice as much as the others. See how God emphasizes this in Deuteronomy 21:15-17. This was a special provision to regulate a situation that was actually contrary to the law, but this would apply in a normal family as well. What God called “the right of the firstborn” was binding. Thus, in addition to having the greatest responsibility among the children and being expected to serve the most, firstborn were also given the most blessings.

Spiritually, this law points toward Jesus Christ being God’s firstborn, and having the greatest responsibility and receiving the greatest inheritance! Read about this in Colossians 1:15-18. Romans 8:29 and Hebrews 1:6 also confirm Christ’s firstborn status. This firstborn Son will receive the greatest inheritance God has to give, a far bigger reward than any other of God’s many children to come.

This law also highlights the greater responsibility—and greater reward—that all of God’s firstfruits are going to receive! “There are more than one who will be firstborn. At the resurrection many sons will be born at once. These all will be first born ones,” said the Good News of October 1959. “They will have an earlier opportunity for service in the Kingdom of God. They will have a greater opportunity of serving than those who come afterward.”

Besides these remarkable spiritual corollaries, God’s laws of inheritance also bring many physical benefits to the nation that obeys them. Consider, for example, how the right of the firstborn contributes to the stability of the family from generation to generation. First, it makes it easier for that oldest child to support himself materially so he can take care of his parents as they age. It also increases the probability that the younger siblings would stay close by since they didn’t receive enough inheritance to just up and move away.

God’s inheritance laws preserve a family’s wealth. Here is a remarkable example. God designated the man as provider within the family, and he was the one generally to whom the inheritance would pass. Ordinarily, then, daughters would inherit wealth through marriage. But contemplate the details of the law in Numbers 27:8-11. Look how careful God is to keep wealth within the family! That wealth would accumulate generation to generation, making the family richer and richer.

Land Ownership Builds Family

God’s system of land ownership keeps families together. Recall that God assigned each tribe of Israel specific territory. Within each tribe, families received specific parcels of land to manage. See Numbers 36:1-2 as an example. Under this system, the people who live closest are those most closely related to you!

Continue reading in Numbers 36:3 to see a problem that arose. If daughters inherited land, and then married outside their tribe, ownership of that land would begin to transfer to other Israelite tribes. Read verses 4 through 9 to see how God resolved it in order to reinforce this arrangement. God did not want families to begin to fragment, and He established this law in order to protect the geographical integrity of the tribes and families of Israel.

Notice the term “jubilee” in verse 4. Now, read the source of that command in Leviticus 25:10. This is a spectacular law that underlines God’s determination to hold families together! Every 50 years, in the year of jubilee, the poor were released from their debts, and land lost because of poverty was restored to the family originally owning it. Note how God expresses it here: “ye shall return every man unto his family.” That is what this is about: It is a law that reunites families and keeps them together!

This law is also a wonderful prophecy. It typifies humankind’s future release from spiritual bondage and the restoration of each nation to its own God-ordained land. Just as God divided the land among the tribes of Israel, He intends for each of the peoples and races He created to enjoy and manage a specific, special geographic location on Earth. As Acts 17:26 says, He made all nations of men “of one blood,” and they are all equally precious to Him—and He has determined “the bounds [or boundaries ] of their habitation.” Following God’s system of organization will lead to peace among and within nations, and surely contribute to a flourishing of beautiful variety in culture all over the planet.

As with ancient Israel, individual families in those nations will receive specific land that belongs only to that family. And if that family has to sell that land and give it up, it will get it back during the year of jubilee.

In the world today, families are scattered. Children move away from home to make their way in the world, and the family divides into dozens of pieces. Most children grow up without the influence of grandparents. But this law helps keep the generations within a family together! It provides tremendous economic incentive to stay on the land God gave your family, the land of your ancestors. Build on someone else’s property, and you will have to relinquish those structures when the 50th year comes. If you are going to build a nice home, you want to build it on the land you’ll be staying on. This law encourages children to remain near their parents to develop the family land. It keeps grandparents and grandchildren together, aunts and uncles, cousins of all ages! It also does much to increase the wealth of each family—as families share labor, expenses and possessions. Wealth will remain within families and accumulate over generations.

This is God’s plan for taking care of older people. As children grow older, they are to honor their parents by caring for them. God never intended the state to look after retirement funds or to be in the health-care business. He never intended there to be retirement communities or nursing homes. He means for families to stay together, for children to honor their parents, for society to rise up before the aged! He wants a person’s honor to increase as he grows older and his family grows larger, so he can delight in watching his children become parents and his grandchildren grow. He wants a person who is reaching his mature years to take on a greater role as a teacher. He intends children to grow up with several generations watching out for them, teaching them, reminding them about the old ways, instructing them in history, showing them the family traditions. He intended a family’s legacy and heritage and history to grow richer with each passing generation.

He intended all this—so the whole family experience prepares every single member to enter the eternal God Family!