A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, so says the poet. There is more truth to this than meets the eye, especially in the realm of religion. During the earthly ministry of the Lord, He was challenged by those who were supposed to be custodians of the Law. The Lord was confronted on every front to prove Who He really was. The same happened to John the Baptist too.
The religious authorities were there to approve who they might consider to be their Messiah based on what they had learned from the Old Testament Scriptures. So they consistently opposed the Lord with their preconceived knowledge of the Holy Bible. Unfortunately, divine knowledge and discernment do not come from human understanding or seminary learning. For John the Baptist, it was so easy for him to point out the Messiah to Israel.
John 1:29: The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
John 1:30: This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.
While those sitting in Moses’ seat failed, John the Baptist got it right.
Proverb 14:6: A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth.
During one such confrontation, the religious liberals tried to corner the Lord with their own human understanding of the Scriptures. They took a Jewish custom to an extreme hypothetical case to prove a point that there was no resurrection in the afterlife thinking they could win their case and dispel the Lord’s teachings and His massive popularity with the common people.
Matthew 22:23: The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him,
Matthew 22:24: Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.
Matthew 22:25: Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother:
Matthew 22:26: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh.
Matthew 22:27: And last of all the woman died also.
Matthew 22:28: Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.
This seems to be a perfect case for these religious liberals to put forward their doctrine on such an inconvenient requirement of the Law of Moses where not every man fancies taking the sister-in-law to become his wife, what more to raise a child that eventually belongs to the deceased brother. But this is a Jewish custom enacted into law for the brother of the decease to perform the duty of a husband to the widow.
Deuteronomy 25:5: If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her.
Deuteronomy And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.
Deuteronomy 25:7: And if the man like not to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband’s brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother.
Deuteronomy 25:8: Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her;
Deuteronomy 25:9: Then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house.
Deuteronomy 25:10: And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.
Obviously these liberals knew their Bible well. Unfortunately, knowing the Bible and believing the Bible are not the same thing. Marrying the widow of a deceased brother is actually an act of charity. There are consequences and repercussions in so doing because this can complicate matters in the family. The case of Ruth is a case in point.
Ruth 4:1: Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down.
Ruth 4:2: And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down.
Ruth 4:3: And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech’s:
Ruth 4:4: And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee. And he said, I will redeem it.
Ruth 4:5: Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.
Ruth 4:6: And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it.
Ruth 4:7: Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel.
Ruth 4:8: Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe.
Ruth 4:9: And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi.
At least this next of kin who was supposed to take on the duty of a husband wasn’t confronted personally by Ruth otherwise, he would have been spat on the face by her. His reason was pretty obvious. He had his own commitments and didn’t want to complicate matters as far as his inheritance was concerned. So he withdrew his right and offered it to Boaz by removing his own shoe as a testimony to witnesses present. Hence the matter was amicably settled rather than an acrimonious confrontation with the widow of the dead brother.
Marrying a wife is a serious matter for a Jewish man. He has serious and important obligation to his wife and is exempted for military service for a year lest he perishes in battle and another man takes her.
Deuteronomy 20:7: And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.
Deuteronomy 24:5: When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.
In addition, a man is expected to marry a woman who is a virgin. Otherwise, the man has recourse concerning this marriage. Raising the issue of virginity of the wife is a very serious matter. This could result in the death of the wife or the man being chastised and forfeiting his right to divorce her.
Deuteronomy 22:13: If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her,
Deuteronomy 22:14: And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid:
Deuteronomy 22:15: Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate:
Deuteronomy 22:16: And the damsel’s father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her;
Deuteronomy 22:17: And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.
Deuteronomy 22:18: And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him;
Deuteronomy 22:19: And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.
Deuteronomy 22:20: But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:
Deuteronomy 22:21: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.
Which Jewish man in his right mind would want to marry a woman that is not a virgin! But marrying a dead brother’s widow is a different matter. It is a duty and an act of charity for the dead brother. This obligation however, comes with encumbrances.
This man might already have his own family and children. If he takes on the duty of a husband to his brother’s widow, it is a lifelong commitment. While it is true his primary duty is to raise up a child for his dead brother, this is not the end of that marriage transaction. He still has to be a husband to this widow as well as a father to this firstborn child. Subsequent children born after that will come under his estate. So his polygamous marriages have to be managed carefully where troubles at home may come his way subsequently.
If the man is single, on the surface, he may seem to have lesser constraints in exercising this duty and charity towards his deceased brother. This however, could change when he subsequently takes on a new virgin wife or marries a virgin wife earlier betrothed to him. This is especially so after having children with the deceased brother’s widow where the firstborn comes under his brother’s name while the rest are his own children. Then the right of the firstborn from this widow of the subsequent child cannot be ignored even after having children from his other wife or wives.
Deuteronomy 21:15: If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated:
Deuteronomy 21:16: Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn:
Deuteronomy 21:17: But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.
Hence, this Jewish custom and law requiring the living to raise up children for the deceased are not so simple in itself. There are factors to consider when making such a commitment. These are all known facts to the children of Israel and the Sadducees are no new kids in the neighbourhood.
In fact, when the Lord put restriction on divorce, even His disciples were unhappy about it. What more marrying the deceased brother’s widow and be burdened with all the encumbrances of a lifelong marriage!
Matthew 19:9: And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
Matthew 19:10: His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
So when these Sadducees brought up an extreme hypothetical situation to prove a point, that was bordering on insanity. Imagine the youngest brother having to labour more than six years to provide children for all the six dead brothers before him. Assuming this widow is able to conceive and bear children consecutively every year, he will only have his own child through this widow-wife after seven years to succeed him. This sounds worse than Jacob having to labour seven years before marrying his beloved wife Rachel. Of course Jacob was conned by his father-in-law having to labour fourteen years in total.
These Sadducees were extremists. While they denied the resurrection, they seem to hate this Jewish custom and law concerning raising children for the deceased kin. They could simply raise this issue with just two brothers and asked which wife should this woman be in the resurrection instead of seven men having been her husband.
Acts 23:8: For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.
Their liberal minds have messed them up and their hatred for the Scriptures are very telling. If there is indeed no resurrection, why do they still border with temple attendance, worship and rituals! Being born Jews they didn’t have a choice. After all, they couldn’t live like the Gentiles. They are indeed a very miserable bunch of people.
1 Corinthians 15:16: For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
1 Corinthians 15:19: If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
1 Corinthians 15:32: If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
However, the Lord’s correction came quick and fast. The truth of the resurrection was so simple and yet astounding. They had no answer to Scriptural revelation that is simply so obvious.
Matthew 22:29: Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
Matthew 22:30: For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.
Matthew 22:31: But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,
Matthew 22:32: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
Matthew 22:33: And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine.
Whenever the Lord identifies Himself to the children of Israel, He claims to be the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. If there is no resurrection, then Abraham, Isaac and Jacob do not exist anymore. How can God be the God of non-existing entities!
To tie the resurrection with earthly marriages and heavenly glorified beings just don’t tally. When God first created male and female on earth, their commission was to replenish the earth.
Genesis 1:28: And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
One main purpose of earthly marriages is for reproduction of humans on earth. God didn’t intend to create angels to replenish the earth. In particular, for the children of Israel, God has promised their forefathers a land grant, so boots on the ground are needed to occupy real estate. The children of Israel have a mandate to occupy a piece of land in the Middle East connecting three continents. They are never commissioned to occupy India or China for the matter.
So raising children for the dead is for this purpose of occupying the ground for that particular tribe and family in Israel. These religious liberals completely misses the point.
Which man really fancies marrying someone else wife when he could marry a virgin wife! But they have a duty to ensure the posterity of their brethren in Israel and that is why they have to fulfill this duty as much as some may not like this idea of marrying his dead brother’s wife. Otherwise, being known as the house of him that hath his shoe loosed and spat in the face by the widow may be the consequences for rejecting this obligation. This is definitely not some kind of title and reputation to be worn with pride.
Concerning the resurrection, those found worthy are as the angels of God in heaven. There are no heavenly marriages for angels in heaven. Angels don’t reproduce among themselves to populate heaven. Whenever angels appeared on earth in the Bible, they appear as men. Two of them are revealed with the names of Michael and Gabriel. There are no angels with feminine names revealed.
Hence, in the resurrection, marriages for the glorified state of the believer are irrelevant. Using Jewish custom on earthly marriages to disprove the resurrection is beyond ridiculous. Why border to be constrained by religious observances if there is no resurrection in the afterlife. Thinking to be smart with their unsurpassed intellects, these religious liberals turned out to be fools.
These bunch of Sadducees are really sad-you-see. There are modern days Sadducees walking the corridors of religious powers still dead in trespasses and sins. If only they would put away their pride and human understanding and allow the Divine Teacher, the Holy Spirit, to reveal Scriptural truth to them, they could also become partakers of the glory to come.
1 Peter 5:1: The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
It is so easy to intellectualize the Holy Bible and turn it into an academic exercise. Those mind worshippers in churches going through the motion in forms and not in substance are indeed wasting their time. Unless business networking and social status are the objectives, putting one under bondage of religious observances believing there is no afterlife is really meaningless.
Proverb 26:12: Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.