A Contaminated Covenant
Scripture: Genesis 6:1-8
Text: Numbers 25:1-3
Sermon by Rev. Donald Van Dyken
Orthodox Christian Reformed Church of Burlington, Washington, 1985
© Burlington United Reformed Church; The Preacher, Vol. 2, No.1
This sermon may be used in worship services for free; please state the author and church above.
Congregation, beloved of the Lord Jesus Christ:
Throughout Scripture, and indeed throughout the history of the world, there is a conflict. There is a war. In that war so many times the chief enemy of God and of His people has found that the silken glove works better and is much more powerful than the fist of iron.
Satan, of course, discovered that right at the beginning, when it was to Eve that Satan came, and through her caused Adam to fall. Adam said, “The woman...she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”
We know, don’t we children, that God came to Adam and Eve after they fell and He gave them a promise, and He began the line of the promise. In doing so, God said, “I will put enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman.” There must be enmity and warfare, because God placed it there. The fulfillment of the promise of life for His people again is found in the woman, in the seed of the woman.
Soon after that, Satan came with an iron fist through Cain and killed Abel. But he soon found out that there was a more effective way in which he could erase the enmity that God had established between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman: by making friends with them again. In Genesis 6 we read that it was through the daughters of the world that the sons of God were allured into joining again with the world, with the devil.
Church of Jesus Christ, the time of Noah was a time just before that first great destruction of the world. And in that time the devil used the daughters of men to try to break the line of the promise, the line of God’s covenant. We also see that the devil who had first used the woman, now fights against the woman. That’s because God had said it would be through the woman, through the seed of the woman that His promise would come. So Satan tried to use the women; those whom God had established as the main vehicle, the main way in which He fulfills His promise, to try to break that line of the promise. That is what we see in that time just before that first great judgment, the flood.
We see that also before the last judgment. If you go to the last book of the Bible, you will also see that there are two main figures in the world, and both are women. There is the woman who is the church, in Revelation 12; and in Revelation chapter 17 there is the world, which is Babylon, which is that great harlot. She is the great whore, who tries to allure the people of God. That is what the last times are about.
We have seen, church of Jesus Christ, the children of Israel as they go through that journey which is a picture of God’s people throughout history: leaving the slavery of sin and Satan and Egypt, and being brought through the wilderness of this life, all the way to the promised land. Now in the end time, just before they are about to enter to the promised land, Satan again comes using the daughters of men to break the line of promise.
As the children of Israel are encamped on the plains of Moab about to enter into the promised land, the devil wants to stop the promise of God. He wants to keep the line of the promise from continuing. He failed to do it by military force, as Balak king of Moab discovered. He failed again to conquer them through false prophets, because the strategies that Balak employed to get Balaam to curse the people of God finally failed.
Now Satan is going to use his ultimate weapon. When all else fails, when physical force fails, when false prophets and false doctrine fails, then he is going to use the daughters of men in order to break the line of the covenant, in order to break the promises of God, in order to stop the people of God.
Of course we must see what parallel there is to our time. Just as the days of Noah were just before that destruction of the earth, and the days of the children of Israel on the plains of Moab were just before they entered the promised land, so we too are in the end time. The Lord has brought His church throughout history to the end of the times, just before the time when Jesus shall return. Satan has found throughout history that force fails, and that false prophets and false doctrine fail too. Now he is going to employ this method that he used so successfully before the flood, that he seems to use so successfully in the time of Israel in front of the Jordan River.
As they were encamped there, we know from Numbers 31 that Satan worked through the counsel of Balaam to the people of Moab and Midian. Balaam advised them, “Now look, I couldn’t transgress the word of the Lord in cursing these people, and you haven’t got the strength to overcome them, but here is the way. Send your daughters over there. You’ve got good-looking daughters. They are decent, respectable daughters. Send them among the children of Israel.”
Our text says, “And they began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.” They began to be joined to them. From that point they were led to worshipping their gods. So it says they called the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people did eat and bowed down to their gods. Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor. Baal was the god of sex in those days, the god of fertility. He was the god that they worshiped. Satan, through sex, fornication, whoredom, prostitution, and through the attractiveness of the daughters of this world, was going to get the people of God.
Church of Jesus Christ, we must understand that Satan didn’t have so much in mind the individual Israelites who committed that fornication, but Satan has in mind God and His covenant. He wants to break the promises of God. Satan uses this means, the means of marriages, the means of the false joining of the people of God and the people of the world to bring them to their gods, to lead them to sacrifice unto their gods, in order that Israel might be joined unto Baal-peor, as it says.
“Joined unto him” — that is a covenant word. That is the aim of the devil: that through these daughters of Moab, the covenant people of God, the bride of Jesus Christ, God’s own peculiar people that He took to Himself, might be joined unto the devil again. He aims that they might be friends again with the devil. That is the point of it, of course.
The covenant of Jehovah is a covenant of marriage. God says, “You are My people, and I am your God.” That is what marriage is, isn’t it? — that the husband belongs to the wife, and the wife belongs to the husband. God says, “I am your husband. I belong to you. I am your God, and you possess Me.” He says, “You are My people, and I possess you.”
Satan is trying to break this union. He is trying to separate the union that God has made with His people. Satan knows that this God is a holy God, that He will only join Himself to a holy people. Satan also knows that God made them holy by His work, by redemption, by the price He paid to make His people His own. “I am Jehovah your God,” He says, “who doth sanctify you.” I make you holy. I am your God and you are My people.
Satan knows too that God is a jealous God. So if Satan can get the people to be defiled; if he can get the people whom God has washed and made holy, to be unholy; if he can get the people whom God has separated from the world to be joined again to the world, then Satan will have broken that covenant. Not only that, he will have aroused the anger of God against His people, as it says in the last part of verse three.
Satan knows that no unholy or profane people can stand before, much less be joined to, Jehovah God, but that God will destroy those people. Then there will be no covenant people, and no line of promise. The line of promise is what Satan wants to break. The line of the promise is through the seed, through marriage, through children and covenant. That is what Satan knows.
Church of Jesus Christ, why do you think that this world today is so full of...full of what? Name the terrible gross sins that are here today? — Divorce, marriage without marriage, just living together any old way, fornication, adultery, abortion, homosexuality, pornography, all those terrible things. What are they there for? Of what do they hit at the heart? They hit at the heart of the covenant, because they want to break families, they want to break the line of the promise, because Satan wants to break the promise of God, and because he wants to cut off this people from God. That is the point of it all. Here were the children of Israel, inviting the enemies who were being used by Satan to try to break God’s line in that way. They were joined unto them. We see later in the next chapter, that one of the leaders of Israel took one of those girls right into his tent.
As we see all these things in the world today, should we fight them? Yes, by all means, we should fight them as we see what they are attacking, not just in the name of decency, but in the name of the covenant of our God. We should fight all these terrible things as we see them all around in the world, because they are a threat to the covenant promises of God for us and for our children.
If the corner grocery store is selling peanut butter cookies mixed with razor blades, you will do anything to get that store to stop. But that is not half so bad as what is being peddled to your and my children in order to break the covenant of God. Should we fight it? Of course we should fight it.
We should fight it as we love our lives, as we love the lives of our children, and as all our hope is placed in the line of the promise of God: the promise that there will come a time when Jesus comes back. That line must continue on until then.
Let me add this, church of Jesus Christ. Before we go out and fight, let’s examine our homes, the tents of Israel. If you found out that every night an immoral girl slipped through an unguarded door in your house and went into the bedroom of one of your sons, wouldn’t you seal that door off? Wouldn’t you try every way to make at least your home secure, that there is no gate in your home through which the daughters of Moab can come in? A word to the redeemed and wise people of God ought to be sufficient in that regard. We ought to seriously examine our homes to see what kind of gates and doors we have there.
Must we fight it in the world? Sure, because it is an attack against our children, but mainly because it is an attack against Jehovah God. That is where the battle is — Satan against the promises of God, Satan against the Word of Jehovah. That is what he is trying to break. The importance extends beyond just the individual lives of us and our children. It is of much greater consequence because the battle is bigger. So do we fight it outside? Sure, we must, but let’s also at the same time examine the walls of our covenant homes to see whether there is not a hole that the daughters of Moab are slipping through.
I said that this situation in Israel is a picture of the end times. We saw it just before the flood, we see it in Revelation, we see it here just before the children of Israel are entering the land of promise. But I would also have you note from scripture that this same scheme of Satan is used in beginnings. When Adam and Eve began to live in fellowship with God, Satan used Eve. That is the way Satan began in the beginning.
Many years after our scene here in Numbers 25, after the children of Israel, because they had joined themselves to the world, were kicked out of the land of Canaan and brought into Babylon, God took them back to Jerusalem again, separated them from the heathen and to Himself. There was a new beginning. Right there in that new beginning was Satan with that same old attack. We read in Ezra chapter nine that Ezra said, “the princes came to me saying, ‘The people have not separated themselves from the people of the land, doing according to their abominations...’”
How did that come about? How did it come about that God’s people had joined themselves again to the heathen and their practices? How did it come about that God’s people whom He had separated from Babylon and embraced to be His covenant people, had broken and left covenant and joined themselves to the world?
The answer is in the next verse. “For they have taken of their daughters for themselves and for their sons.” That is how it came about.
What is the significance of those marriage arrangements? “So that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of these lands.” That is the purpose of the devil. He does not want a line of promise to continue. He does not want that seed of the promise, because he knows that from the seed of the woman will come his destruction. In the seed of the woman is the promise of God.
When Ezra heard that, being an old-fashioned man, he was shocked. He was not shocked just because he saw some things that ought not to be, but he was shocked because he saw the devil right at the heart of the covenant promises of God. He was shocked because he saw the word of promise in jeopardy.
“And when I heard this thing,” said Ezra, “I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonished. Then there assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away: and I sat astonished until the evening sacrifice.”
“And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness, and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God, and said, ‘O my God: I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to Thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.’”
This is what the devil does, church of Jesus Christ, in beginnings too. We are a beginning too, aren’t we? We must have a special wariness, must we not?
We not only live in the end times, but we live as those who have been called out. Force has not succeeded in destroying the church of Jesus Christ. False doctrine has not succeeded. But there is another thing, and that is this. We see from the history of God’s Word that this is what the devil does. Do we believe it or don’t we?
We not only see it in the Old Testament, but we see it too at the beginning of the New Testament church. That church had the same covenant, the same promise: that God and His people would be joined together. The New Testament church saw the fulfillment of that promise, for who is Christ? Christ is the seed of the woman and Christ is the Son of God. God fulfills the promise in that God and man were brought together in the person of Jesus Christ. So we see it fulfilled.
But does that stop Satan from his attacks? No. For he knows that there is another coming of Jesus Christ, and he knows that God says there must be a seed, a line of promise all the way to the time when Christ returns again. So right at the beginning of the New Testament church he starts. Paul has to write to the Corinthians in the first letter chapter six: “What? Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?”
That is, the New Testament people are those who can confess like we do: “That I, with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. Who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil…”
But is the devil going to stop because you say that? No. He is right there. So Paul says, “Don’t you know that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I take the members of Christ and make them members of an harlot? God forbid! What? Know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? ‘For two,’ saith He, ‘shall be one flesh.’ But he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body. But he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.”
Why does he sin against his own body? Because your body has been joined to Christ in covenant, in a bond, and when you make it members of an harlot — when you commit fornication, when you join your body in marriage to a daughter of the world, of Moab — you have sinned against your own body. How? You have broken the life of your body, your only comfort in life and death. You have separated your body from Jesus Christ, and you have joined it to the devil.
The significance is even greater than your own personal comfort. “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” The significance is even greater than just you being separated, but you are the temple of God.
Does Satan care about you as a person? He could care less, except perhaps to see you along side of him screaming in hell. It is not just to see you along side of him — that is no great comfort to him. He is against God, and he is against the Word of God. He is trying to break that Word of Covenant; that is what he is after. That is what he is after in you too, young people. That is what he is after in you, and for us too, parents, as we consider it for our children. Little children, that is what you are going to face as you grow up too, and as you approach the time when you can become married, when you can stand on your own. That is where the devil will try to break the covenant and the promises of God.
Again, church of Jesus Christ, the emphasis is on the covenant. It is on the covenant word of God. We go back to the children of Israel on the plains of Moab, and find that indeed, they had contaminated the covenant of God. They had broken it. Is it gone? For those who had broken it, it was gone. The covenant was still there, but they had broken out of it and they were goners.
You can look forward a few hundred years to Elimelech and Naomi. They too broke out of the covenant land and took their children Mahlon and Chilion with them and lived in the land of Moab. Did that break the covenant of God? No. But Elimelech and Mahlon and Chilion died there out in the land of Moab, and for them it was gone.
For these children of Israel too, it was gone, but yet, is the covenant broken? No. God will never allow that to happen. God will never let His name be blasphemed, because His name is our name. He has placed His Name on us. That is what covenant and marriage means, does it not, that the man gives his name to the woman? That is why it is so glorious, young ladies, that you can be a picture of the church of Jesus Christ, so that when a man asks you to be his wife, he will give you his name. That means that he gives you his person, himself, and you will bear his name.
Well, the Lord has done that with His people, and He will never let His name be blasphemed. Never! That is our comfort, isn’t it? That is the comfort of Israel, of the church of Jesus Christ. For we know that in Jesus Christ He has fulfilled the Word. He brought the covenant-breaking people of God and heaped their sins on Jesus Christ, and purified them from all their sins in Him.
Church of Christ, knowing the greatness of the sacrifice which it took to join us in covenant with God, Paul again comes to the Corinthians in the second book and says, “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” Yoke is a covenant word. If you look back in Numbers 25:3, it says that Israel joined himself to Baal-peor. In the original, it kind of gives the sense that Israel yoked himself onto the wagon of Baal. He got in harness to the wagon of that god, in harness with the world, with the devil.
Paul says, “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, what communion hath light with darkness, what concord hath Christ with Beliel, or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel, and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God.”
Again, it is more than just your satisfaction, young people. Parents, it is more than just the satisfaction of your child. Do we yearn for them? Do we long to see the day when they will be joined in marriage, and they will have a husband or wife? Would we do anything we could? Certainly. But the question is one that is beyond their individual satisfaction. It is that they are the temple of God, and we must see them as such. That temple of God may not be profaned. It may not!
“For ye are the temple of the living God, as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk in them, and I will be their God and they shall be My people.’” Again, Paul here too is linking that with the covenant of God: “they shall be My people.”
Church of Jesus Christ, what do we do? As young people you could probably ask me all kinds of questions and get me stuck anytime you want. “What am I going to do?” As parents you can say to me, “I can’t keep my kids locked up all their lives. What am I going to do? How am I going to know whether that boy or that girl they date is from Moab or not?”
First of all, neither me nor your parents can give you all the answers. All we can do is show you that the significance of marriage is far greater than just you and your wife or husband, or than you and your boyfriend or girlfriend…a lot greater. The question is the covenant of God. The question is the line of promise. The question is enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. The question is Satan against God. It has a lot greater proportion than just our life. The main word is always this: cling to the Word of your God. Cling to it.
Does that sound practical? Of course it doesn’t sound practical. You live by faith. That means that you do not ask God to give you a moment by moment and day by day future forecast. God is not some crystal-ball gazer. Does He know everything? Does He have everything in His hand? Certainly. He has everything in His hand, and every detail of your life has been planned out by Him according to His good pleasure. His good pleasure is the salvation and the joy of His saints.
But how do we know what to do? First of all we must know that our life must always be in a covenant setting. How do I know about a boy or a girl? Well, the setting must be covenantal. How do I translate that into practical terms? For one thing, this body, the church of which you are a member, is the covenant body of Jesus Christ, and that body must testify that your boyfriend or girlfriend is a member of Christ.
It must be within a covenant setting. That means church; that means family. Family means Mom and Dad. Not you, for of course you have a self-serving interest because you like her. Your parents must say the girl is of Israel, not Moab. There must be the testimony of family and of church. So you must learn to live within the covenant setting God provides.
What God says through Paul, He says to every covenant child of His, young or old, for parents, for young people, for children. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate.” That is not Old Testament; that is New Testament, II Corinthians 6. “...and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
Young people, you know your fathers and mothers, and you know me. I reach and yearn and long that God will provide you someone to whom you can give your love, and for someone who will give their love to you. O, how I would love to be able to provide you, and O how your parents would love to be able to arrange it for you, that you might experience the fullness of that joy. And here we sit. We can’t do it. We go so far, and it seems all we can say is where not to go.
You think that is easy to say. But do you know there are times when we could just lie down and die that you might be able to have that? And we can’t do it. But don’t ever forget that Christ has done it. He laid down His life and died. He died that you might be in covenant; that we might belong to Him. He died that He might say, as He says in Corinthians, “Ye shall be My sons and My daughters and I will be to you a Father.” And that is your Father.
When your preacher fails you, and your parents fail you because you ask of them things they cannot do, Jehovah is your Father. Shall He not provide for you?
We say, “My only comfort is that I belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, body and soul, life and death; who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins and delivered me from all the power of the devil — all of it; and then He promises so to preserve me that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; yea that all things will be subservient to my salvation.” Will He not then do it? Of course He will, in the way of believing His Word. You simply must believe it and obey it.
It is the Word of God, the Son of God, who so preserves us that He will provide for you, your sons and daughters. He will both preserve the enmity He has established, in order that He may preserve a seed to Himself. That is why. God will preserve a line of promise and it will continue until Christ comes.
There is only one question left. It comes to us in the middle of a faithless and perverse generation: When Christ comes again, will He find faith in our lives? Do we believe what He says? Do we believe it? Amen.