Summary: It is firmly against God’s will for a believer to marry an unbeliever. But what are the applications for those of us who are already married?
How many of you; if you discovered your children had begun hanging around with the drinkers, druggers and doers at school would be content to let them continue associating with them? Not a one of us would ratify that arrangement – or at least none of us should. In fact I think it’s safe to say that if you discovered that your child was a part of that group your hearts would be broken right? Is it safe to say that the term “Vexed in spirit” would apply? I think so.
In light of that I want you to turn again to Genesis 26:34-35 because I want to share with you, “The Folly of Mismatched Mates.” What happens when you hook together the Holy and The Profane? Read these two verses with me and I’ll let you puzzle over them for a moment.
So have you gathered the personal application yet? Just in case you haven’t let’s look at this and work through it with the rest of scripture. In Genesis 26:34 we see that Esau ignored the foundation which Abraham had laid when he forbade his servant to get a foreign wife for Isaac back in Genesis 24:3. The next verse tells us that these Hittite wives were “a bitterness of spirit to Isaac and Rebekah.”
I don’t want you to miss the result of Esau’s action on his parents; and here’s where we start to get some application to our own lives. When we yoke ourselves with unbelievers we become a bitterness of spirit to our heavenly father. It grieves Him for his children to “hang with the hoodlums.”
To see where that application comes from we need to look back to the text, we have to wonder what is was about these women that caused this grief to Isaac and Rebekah. Was it their nationality? Was it their particular faith? I would suggest together with Commentator Matthew Henry that there were a number of problems.
1) Esau refused to respect his parents wishes by asking for their blessing or heeding their advise in a wife, this would be illustrated in Genesis 28:8 where Esau seeing the grief caused to his father adds a third wife from Ishmael’s family to his wives, I think in an attempt to please his father.
2) The women were not “of the faith” being Canaanites.
3) the comment in Genesis 27:46 where this is slightly expanded seems to indicate that the women were openly hostile in some way to Rebekah.
4) There is a fourth possibility involved that made Esau’s choice of wives disconcerting and that is the nagging knowledge that it was Isaac’s fault that Esau had the wrong wife(wives). As you go back to Genesis 25:20 you discover that Abraham had sought a good wife for Isaac by the time he was forty.
The result is a dual implication. Surely The emphasis is given to Esau’s continued moral failure. But the stage is also set from Isaac’s ineptitude and the pending moral failure at playing favorites by desiring to bless Esau in an underhanded manner. How is it set? By not taking positive action to ensure his son’s faithfulness he ensured faithlessness.
And let’s not forget just by way of addenda that Polygamy is not portrayed positively in Genesis. Lamech the first polygamist was a violent and godless man. Jacob’s two wives are a cause of constant irritation to each other. And don’t forget that God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Eve and Brenda. God’s plan and design for marriage always has been and continues to be one man and one woman.
For his multiple union, Esau is called a fornicator (Heb 12:16(NIV/KJV); 13:4) it is but another demonstration that he lived according to the Lusts of his flesh rather than according to the Holy and Spirit of God.
These two verses display the strife in the family which is caused by unwise marriage. It also displays the importance of marrying within one’s faith, for ultimately the several marriage prohibitions in scripture all revolve around marrying women who worship foreign god’s. (note that it doesn’t mention marrying men because in that society – the man was the instigator of marriage. Nowadays men, we’re still instigator’s but that’s another story right :-). )
Now what are the principles for application in this section?
1) There can be no separation of Church and Mate!
No Christian should ever marry an unbeliever. Now I realize that all of us but the kids are already married but hang on a few moments. Once I’ve established this first point I want to build off of the principle for the rest of us.
Several passages are relevant but let me show you just a few. Start with 1 Corinthians 7:12-13 which presents the balance of the principle.