In this series we have been talking about what set-apart communities are, why they are so important, and why Yahweh expects us all to participate in set-apart community to help build His Son’s Kingdom.
What we are really talking with set-apart community is having people organized in the right relationship so as to build a governmental structure, society, or (in this case), Yeshua’s Kingdom.
Anytime you get people organized in the right relationship you will also end up with some people who are in a wrong relationship. Either they are not hearing in the Spirit, or they are quenching the Spirit, or they are not paying attention to those who do hear in the Spirit, who are trying to help lead them.
What we are talking about, in context, is the need for what is called the Matthew 18 process. We have talked a little bit about the Matthew 18 process in earlier installments in this series, but now we want to talk about how the Matthew 18 process works when there are cases of adultery. This will be a multi-part series.
So, when they train bank tellers to spot counterfeit currency, the first thing they do is teach them how to identify legitimate currency. Then, once they know what legitimate currency looks like, they can compare it to phony currency. Fake currency does not have the same characteristics (or hallmarks, so to speak).
To start this series on “Matthew 18 and Adultery”, we would like to first explain what proper Hebrew society and proper Hebrew marriages should look like. We want to teach people to identify proper relationships and then we can teach them to identify what goes wrong within relationships in the concept of Hebrew society.
As we have said in earlier sections, the nuclear family is considered the basic building block of society, or at least of secular society. In the dispersion we might say that the basic building block of Yeshua’s Kingdom is the set-apart community. In other words, a spiritual family. So let us talk a little bit about what that looks like.
Now, we are going to see that when we live in the land of Israel we are going to have physical set-apart communities made up of nuclear families that are all in the faith. So, whatever settlement or community we live in, all of the families are going to be in the faith together and our physical communities will be the same as our spiritual communities. But in the dispersion that is not always the case.
For example, we know that in Jeremiah chapter 3, verse fourteen, Yahweh is speaking to the northern house of Ephraim as well as to those of our brothers in Judah who are presently assigned to Ephraim in the dispersion.
Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 3:14
14 “Return, O backsliding children,” says Yahweh; “for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Tsion.”
Again, when we come back to the land, we are going to have physical communities made up of nuclear families that are all going to be in the faith. But in the meantime, in the dispersion, that is just not the case. Many of us are isolated, our families are not in the faith, some of our families are even very hostile to the faith. Sometimes you have one spouse that is devout while the other spouse is either not as devout or does not believe at all. So, in the meantime, we just need to do the best that we can. But we are going to try to talk about what community should look like and once we understand what spiritual community should look like, then we can understand how to help each other get there over time.
Now, when we come back to the land of Israel, there are going to be a lot of changes in lifestyle for those who have been raised in the democratic west. Because Scripture never advocates democracy for any reason. Sometimes people believe that Acts chapter 15 or Acts 21 were democratic processes. But democracy is not advocated in Scripture. Effectively, democracy is when people do what seems good and right in their own eyes, which is more of a mob rule. It does not work in Yahweh’s Kingdom.
What Scripture advocates instead is anointed servant leadership, which is what we see in both the Tanakh (The Old Covenant) and in the Brit Chadasha (The Renewed Covenant). And that is basically where you end up with those who are strong in the Spirit serving those who are less strong in the Spirit, and those who are less strong in the Spirit voluntarily follow the lead of those who are serving them. And that is the opposite of Babylonian culture where the strong exploit the weak. So in order to follow this model, those of us who do hear in the Spirit and do receive direction from Yahweh have to be disposed to serve others, and those who are not as strong in that need to know to take direction, leadership, and guidance from those who are attempting to serve Yahweh’s people in the correct direction.
The other thing is that in Yahweh’s system there is what we might call Spirit-led patriarchy. A lot of people are concerned about patriarchy. Many people mis-understand what patriarchy is. There has been a lot of abuse of the patriarchal system in the past, so some people are very hesitant with regard to it. But that is the model that Scripture speaks of. We cannot change that, nor do we want to change that. So let us talk about what patriarchy is and what it is not because that is going to form the basis for our society. We are going to have anointed servants leading, but we are also having a fraternal, patriarchal framework.
So, in a fraternal patriarchal framework, the husband and the wife are one flesh. And we all know from Scripture that this is when the man leads. He has both the authority and the responsibility and then the woman supports the man in the marriage, but together they form one flesh, one unit. That is not as in democracy where you effectively have split families. In democracy you effectively have two units instead of only one.
The way it works in Scripture is that husbands and wives are supposed to discuss everything together because they both have important points of view. The woman is given as a compliment to the man, so the husband and wife should discuss everything together and come to an understanding of each other’s positions. And then it is the man’s job as the priest of the household to go to Yahweh and to listen in the Spirit, so that the Spirit is the one to make the decisions. Because if the Spirit is not the one making the decisions then you have men and women (flesh and blood) making the decisions. And there is no way that can work in Spirit-led community. The only way Spirit-led community can work is when men and women let the Spirit make the decisions according to Yahweh’s model. It is especially important.
So again, if people are not able to hear in the Spirit, then they need to take direction from those who do hear in the Spirit. There is no other way that set-apart community can work. And so when we establish our own miniature set-apart communities in anticipation of the day when we come back to live together in the land, our set-apart communities need to be Spirit-led. Those who are strong in the Spirit need to serve those who are weak in the Spirit, and those who are weak in the Spirit need to listen and take the questions to Yahweh in the Spirit. That way the Spirit is the one leading and not men or women doing the leading. That is extremely critical, there is no way around that. And if people do not agree to that then basically, sad to say, they do not have a place in Yahweh’s spiritual set-apart communities, or even in the Kingdom for that matter.
Another factor in patriarchy which again, has been historically abused, is that the man is supposed to love his wife as he loves himself because husband and wife are one flesh. A man in Yeshua’s kingdom is supposed to love Yahweh his Elohim with all of his heart, with all of his soul, and with all of his strength, and he is also supposed to love his neighbor as he loves himself. And if he does not do that, then again, he has no place in Yahweh’s millennial Kingdom or in Yeshua’s set-apart community. One way or another, in a loving, gentle, kind manner, he needs to be put outside the camp, at least under the Melchizedekian model. We will talk more about that in future installments.
There is really no getting around this, this is another one of these basic prerequisites that people ‘pooh-pooh’, so to speak. But this is what Yeshua told us when they asked Him what the most important of the commandments was.
Marqaus (Mark) 12:29-31
29 Yeshua answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, o Israel, Yahweh our Elohim, Yahweh is One [united, integrated].
30 And you shall love Yahweh your Elohim with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind, and with all of your strength.’ This is the first commandment.
31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
He is quoting Deuteronomy chapter 6, verses 4 and 5 and He says this is the first commandment. Not a suggestion, it is a commandment and there are no other commandments greater than these two. A lot of times people forget that these are the two most important commandments. And if we do not live these as commandments, really, there is no way to make set-apart community work. We have to be our brother’s keepers, we have to look out for our brother, we have to value our brother at least as much as we value ourselves, and we have to love our wives as one flesh. So again, if people can do this, then set-apart community is possible. If we are listening in the Spirit, if we are taking direction from the Spirit. But if we are not listening in the Spirit and not taking direction in the Spirit there is no way to establish a spirit-led community. The only way to establish a spirit-led community is to let the Spirit lead.
Yeshua also quotes Leviticus chapter 19, starting in verse seventeen.
Vayiqra (Leviticus) 19:17-18
17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke [reprove] your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him.
18 You shall not take vengeance nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am Yahweh.”
When Yahweh says, “I am Yahweh”, what He is really saying is “I mean it, pay attention to this one, you can easily miss this so pay attention. Because this is important.”
This is a good example of what is sometimes called Hebrew block logic where you take these two opposite concepts, but you put them together in the same block of text. What Yahweh is doing is describing two sides of the same coin or two edges of the sword which cuts both ways. And so we are really talking here about a people who love both Yahweh and their neighbor so much that they want to help each other grow together in Yahweh’s ways day by day.
That is one of the things about set-apart community and it is something that is quite frankly lost in Ephraimite society. It is really ironic because you end up with people who believe in Yeshua and who say that they love their neighbor so much. And yet if someone says one word that they do not like, people break fellowship over the tiniest of things. We are commanded to not take offense easily and yet it is absolutely amazing how easily people take offense in the Ephraimite side of Israel.
And I believe that one of the reasons for this is because the Ephraimites do not have as clear of a concept as they need to have that our purpose here is building Yeshua’s kingdom. Brother Judah at least has the understanding that he is supposed to be building a kingdom. Sadly, those who reject Yeshua are building an anti-Yeshua kingdom, but they are actually building a kingdom. If you take a look at the news and you take a look at the revelation timeline, we know that the black horse is highly active in establishing an anti-Yeshua global kingdom. So, it is the wrong kingdom, but at least they are doing it. They understand that there is a need to establish a kingdom. And so they are going about it the wrong way because they do not understand what they are supposed to be doing, but at least they are attempting to build a kingdom. And this is why our brothers in Judah are so infamous for arguing. Because they know they are trying to establish a kingdom, they are willing to get in there, discuss, and argue things out with one another without taking offense. And so they are able to form extraordinarily strong bonds.
Scripture calls Ephraim beauty but it calls Judah bans or bonds. That is because Judah understands he has a mission to perform to build a kingdom, the wrong one but to build a kingdom. So Judah is willing to get in there and discuss things whereas with the Ephraimite, if you say one word wrong to them they are gone. Something that we need to understand is that both now in the dispersion and when we come back to the land of Israel we have a joint mission to perform. And that mission is to establish Yeshua’s kingdom by way of the Great Commission, the Five-fold Ministry, and the combined Foundation of Apostles and Prophets. We talk about that a lot in other sections of our studies,
But the idea here behind this Hebrew block logic of Leviticus chapter 19, verses 17-18 is that every man in society, who loves Yeshua and is trying to help build Yeshua’s Kingdom, is supposed to hold every other man (brother) accountable and then everyone else also holds him accountable. Ideally, the way this should work together is that each man helps each other and encourages each other day by day (as the apostle Shaul encourages us to do) that we try to encourage each other along and become better servants for our King. We also see another aspect of this in Proverbs chapter 27, verse seventeen.
Mishle (Proverbs) 27:17
17 As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
So the idea is that I am going to help you in your walk and if you see something you are going to help me in my walk. We are going to speak the truth in love together. And in the dispersion there is not always a family, but in the community all the families and all the individuals are going to help each other by speaking the truth in love. And day by day we are going to help establish and build the Kingdom. That is what it speaks of in Ephesians chapter 4, a particularly important aspect. It is a loving, but it is an active love. It is not a passive love, it is an active kind of a love, and we have to be grown-ups enough not to take offense easily and not to leave when someone brings us a word of discipline. It is amazing how many people consider themselves to be disciples, but they do not want to exercise any discipline. So we need to remember who it is that we are serving and what it is that we are trying to do. We are trying to build Yeshua’s Kingdom. There are some basics to this.
Another concept of what proper Hebrew culture looks like is that when boys and girls are born they are of course going to fall under the headship of their parents. But husband and wife are one flesh, and the man is in the position of the priest of the household, so he has both the authority and the responsibility. So boys and girls are going to fall under the headship of their father, but again, husband and wife being one loving flesh.
Now in western society, you end up with young men and women who grow up to be 18, 19, 20, or 21 whatever the age of majority is where they live. Then they turn out to be independent individuals, they leave home, and they have their own lives. And the thought is that ‘I am eighteen, I will do what I want’, and these kinds of things. But that just is not correct. The concept in Hebrew society is that, rather than growing up to become independent and leaving home, a different thing happens. First we will talk about men, then we will talk about women.
The sons are going to grow up to take their place in the family in relationship to the family. And not only in relationship to the family, but also in relationship to the greater community at large. And if we talk about the tribes, at least in ancient times, they would take their place within the tribe. So, whether they lived at home or whether they lived in a separate home, the sons were subject to their fathers so long as their fathers lived and in context, are obeying the Torah. It is similar to how a wife is supposed to obey her husband in Yeshua (or in the Master). So if the husband tells her to do something that is not in Yeshua she is not supposed to do it. But if he tells her to do something in Yeshua then he has the authority and the responsibility, and she should support him.
Sons are the same way, we live our lives in relationship. So as long as your father was in the faith and was telling you what to do in the faith, then you obeyed his instructions in the faith. If he told you to do something outside of the faith or something apart from Elohim, then you of course should not do it. Because even within families you would still help in a respectful and loving way to hold them accountable. So the relationship does not end at 18 or at the maturity age of 20 or 21 or whatever it is where people live. The age of maturity in Scripture is twenty, but the relationship does not end. You continue to live as part of your family, and you continue to live as part of the greater overall community. And again, the spiritual family is what holds that all together, at least in the dispersion.
For girls it is slightly different. Girls are also born under their father’s headship. But in Scripture, the role for men is to provide headship while women receive headship (or they receive covering). So girls were also born under their father’s headship. Now when a man takes a wife, technically, in a legal sense, her headship is being transferred from her father to her husband. And at least historically, this is why a groom would ask his wife’s father for his wife’s hand in marriage. Because he is asking for the father to consent to transfer her headship to him. That is what is taking place in a legal sense.
So, in the concept of a patriarchal fraternity we need to understand that there is a sense of honor in Hebraic society, especially in marriage and especially with regard to vows and promises. It is especially important when someone gives their word. But when we read Scripture, in the context of patriarchal fraternity, it was understood that a man is supposed to love his wife as much as he would want someone to love his daughters. Because when a man is asking his fiancée’s father for her hand is he is effectively asking, “May I have your daughter so that I can have her headship, so I can love her as much as you love her?” And he should do that because he should be able to expect that his sons in-law to also love his daughters just as much as he would. So that is the basic concept, and it has of course been forgotten historically throughout the years, but how especially important it is for the men to fulfill this role. Because look at what happens when the men do not fulfill this role. Society begins to unravel and fall apart.
So there is also the concept of honor in a marital sense. An honor in Hebraic culture is a huge, particularly important concept. And it is expected that we are going to love Yahweh our Elohim enough to use the Spirit to overrule and control and discipline our flesh. One of many manifestations of that is that we are going to be virginal at the time of our marriages. The apostle Shaul (Paul) speaks to this in context in First Corinthians, chapter 9, verse twenty-seven.
Qorintim aleph (1 Corinthians) 9:27
27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
This is the concept of weaning, and is a really a big concept that we are supposed to learn. When a child is properly weaned, he or she should begin to have his body in subjection to the Spirit. Today, to be weaned only means that you are no longer taking milk. But biblically speaking and even as recent as two or three hundred years ago, it was expected for children to begin behaving like young adults once weaned. That is such an important concept and one of these things that is, again, lost in democratic society. Because now people just let children grow up without discipline. Today, it is ‘Oh, just let the children grow up, let children be children.’ But that is not the Scriptural concept at all. In Scripture, the concept is that when we wean children we are teaching children to behave like young adults. So it is an entirely different concept of society, but it is something that is very necessary in set-apart community. It is important to teach children to be civilized, to learn to control their body and their flesh, to bring it into subjection to the Spirit, and to begin that early so that they have plenty of time to practice it before they themselves begin to raise children.
In Scripture there is not only a sense of honor and fraternal responsibility, but there is also the concept that we are not supposed to provide false witness or testify in a negative fashion against anyone else. For example, talking about adultery and the Matthew 18 process, one of the basic Torah rules is that if a man marries a virgin and they go through with the agreement, and then he tries to divorce her on the accusation that she is not a virgin, then the other men in the town are supposed to punish him. However, if she is truly not a virgin at the time of her wedding, then not only can the wedding be cancelled, but she is to be stoned with stones until she dies, so that the evil is put out of Israel.
Now that is a rule for in the land of Israel which is not a rule for outside the land of Israel. We will talk about this in more detail in two following sections. It is important, and I know there is certain questions that come up with regard to that, hang on and we will talk about that in future sections.
But the basic rule in Torah we find in Deuteronomy chapter 22, starting in verse thirteen.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 22:13-15
13 “If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and [later] detests her,
14 and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings a bad name on her, and says, ‘I took this woman, and when I came to her I found she was not a virgin,’
15 then the father and mother of the young woman shall take and bring out the evidence of the young woman’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate.
Remember, a man is supposed to love his wife as he loves himself. So if any man takes a wife, goes into her, and consummates the marriage, and then later on detests her, he cannot just decide to make an evil accusation and charge her with shameful conduct so that he can divorce and get rid of her. He cannot just bring a bad name on her by saying ‘Ah, I took this woman and when I came to her I found she was not a virgin’. So what are we supposed to do here? Now we are starting to talk about the Matthew 18 process.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 22:16-18
16 “And the young woman’s father shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man as wife, and he detests her.
17 Now he has charged her with shameful conduct, saying, “I found your daughter was not a virgin,” and yet these are the evidence of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.
18 Then the elders of that city shall take that man and punish him;
We talk about this in other places, but the concept was that, in ancient times at least, the parents would save the sheets of the wedding night because any blood that was shed would be there on the sheets. We do not have time to go off on a tangent, but recent studies have indicated that really only about half of women bleed when they lose their virginity. So there are all kinds of questions we do not have time to get into here. But what is supposed to happen is that the parents are supposed to provide evidence that the daughter was in fact a virgin at the time of the wedding.
And if the husband is found trying to give false witness against her and has charged her with shameful conduct, and he said, ‘I found your daughter was not a virgin’, then they are supposed to spread the wedding sheets before the elders at the city gates. Talking about the Matthew 18 process, when the elders of that city or in our context of the congregation see that the man is lying and conducting false witness, they are supposed to take that man and punish him. And that is probably a genuinely subtle way of saying that they are supposed to beat or thrash him until he repents and realizes that that is not something that is supposed to be done in Hebrew society. Lying and giving false witness is not acceptable. And again, that is something that no one who is a part of the nation of Israel or part of a set-apart community is allowed to do. We continue in verse nineteen.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 22:19
19 “and they shall fine him one hundred shekels of silver [four hundred day´s wages] and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name on a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife; he cannot divorce her all his days…
[One hundred shackles of silver works out to about four hundred days wages.]
There are a lot of things that we could say about this passage. It is a difficult passage for many to understand. But in ancient times it was typical for a father to give most (if not all) of the bride’s dowry to the bride. One would hope that the father would also give this hundred shekels of silver to the bride. And then it would be known in context what happened. So the young man who decided to bring the false witness would be under scrutiny to treat her correctly, and this would be of course watched by the elders of the city. And then again, in modern context, it would be watched by the elders of any spiritual congregation.
But then there are rules also for when the woman is guilty.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 22:20-21
20 “But if the thing is true, and evidences of virginity are not found for the young woman,
21 then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done a disgraceful thing in Israel, to play the harlot in her father’s house. So you shall put away the evil from among you.”
The concept again is that there is no room in Israelite society or in set-apart community for those who are not willing to obey the basic rules of honor and correct conduct. However, what we need to understand is that these are the rules that apply to judges and the rule for individuals was always that of forgiveness. And that is why we see the example of Joseph in Matthew chapter 1, verse nineteen.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 1:19
19 Then Yosef her husband, being a just man [tzadik in Hebrew], and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.
Judges in Israel would judge according to the Torah, but then the rule for individuals was to always forgive. And it was considered to be just if one forgave an offense. But once again, order and justice has to be maintained inside the nation.
So if you would like to know more about the rules for marriages in Hebraic community both for when living in the land of Israel under the Levitical order and also when living in the dispersion under the Melchizedekian order, we discuss it further in the study “Yahweh’s Heart in Marriage”, in the Covenant Relationships collection. We also have a video on our YouTube channel for that.
What we want to do now is to summarize the differences between the western democratic societies in which most people have grown up, and Hebraic community. And some of the differences that we see is that set-apart communities are considered the basic building-blocks of Yeshua’s kingdom. So it does not matter whether we are physically related or not, the thing is that we are all united in Yeshua’s Spirit and that is what makes us the basic building-block.
Now, in the dispersion many of us do not have physical families that are in the faith and all we have is our spiritual family. So again, that is especially why in the dispersion the spiritual family, or the congregation, or the set-apart community is the basic building block of Yeshua’s kingdom. We also saw that when we return to the land of Israel, we are going to have put together both the physical and the spiritual aspects. So our settlements or our communities in the land of Israel will be comprised of families that are all together in the faith. Such that at that time our physical communities are going to be the same thing as our spiritual communities. We are going to be all there together as one.
We also saw that set-apart communities do not operate by democracy but rather operate by anointed spirit-led servant leadership. We also saw that spiritual communities are based on the patriarchal structure in which husband and wife are one flesh. The husband has both the authority and the responsibility to lead, and he also has the duty to love his wife as he loves himself. And that is going to play a key role in the next couple of parts when we talk more about this. He also has the duty to love his wife as he would ideally want his own daughters to be loved. So there is a real sense of honor and duty that causes each member of the community to both do his part and also hold others accountable to do their parts. So every man in the set-apart community has the responsibility to help every other brother in the community with his walk.
Just as iron sharpens iron a man is going to help sharpen the face of his friend. And that is something that requires a lot of spiritual maturity. We cannot break fellowship just because someone spoke a word of discipline to us. If we love Yahweh with all that we have and if we also love our neighbor as we love ourselves. And what that really means is that we are going to want to help our brothers improve their walk. We are going to help our brothers to walk as good as they can before Yahweh because that pleases Yahweh, and it also helps our brothers to get their best reward in the day of judgment. And then in return, our brothers are also going to tell us when they see something in our walk that is insufficient.
So again, it is going to be a continually active form of love that goes on in Hebrew community. It is not that we are perfect or that everyone else is already walking in the Spirit. And no one can say anything to us because we will get offended and leave that place. That has no place in Yeshua’s Kingdom. In Yeshua’s Kingdom, we are all supposed to help each other forward day by day with the objective and the purpose of building Yeshua’s global Kingdom. And that purpose is oftentimes forgotten or lost in the Messianic Movement. We need to remember that in Nazarene Israel.
We also see that there is a strong code of honor in Hebraic community, especially in the marital sense. So as a husband you want to treat your wife just as you would want your own daughter to be ideally loved by your son in-law. And again, these are commandments. The commandment is to love Yahweh our Elohim with everything that we have and to put Him first, and then to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. And also, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. And if these commandments are not kept, then really, set-apart community cannot work.
So these are the basic ground rules that need to be followed in order for Hebraic set-apart community to work.
Now, with all that as a background, please join us again for the next two chapters, Matthew 18 and Adultery, Part 2” and “Part 3”, where we are going to talk about how to handle cases of adultery in the dispersion, under the Levitical Order and under the Melchizedekian Order. Please join us again for the next chapter, “Adultery and Matthew 18: Part 2”, where we are going to talk about how to handle cases of adultery in the dispersion, under the Melchizedekian Order. What we are going to see is that the principles and precepts are the same even though some of the specific applications are different.