Book One in the series is Naked Venom. General Gavin Theron is a troubled man and nothing for him comes easy. Plagued by lust for his reluctant human lover, Harlan and threatened by a band of bloodthirsty marauders at his border, it's all he can do to keep his leaderless kingdom from civil war. Fortunately for him, a new king is on the horizon, a leader who even the roguish general can respect.
But before this new king can take the throne, the general will have to fight for what he wants, both on the battlefield and in the bedroom. And a good thing too, for soon both his love for Harlan and his loyalty to a new king will be tested and if he fails, he'll loose everything. Get A Copy. Kindle Edition. Published first published More Details Original Title. AEssyrian World Series 2. Other Editions 2. Friend Reviews.
To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Carnal Ambition , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing That is naturally good which does not admit of comparison with what is bad, and is not eclipsed because something else is preferred. Or can one walk upon hot coals, and his feet not be scorched? Heathen fables relate how  Mithras and  Ericthonius were begotten of the soil, in stone or earth, by raging lust.
Hence it was that our Joseph, because the Egyptian woman wished to touch him, fled from her hands, and, as if he had been bitten by a mad dog and feared the spreading poison, threw away the cloak which she had touched. Is it lawful for them to do what our Lord forbade in the Gospel, and to put away their wives?
He bound himself voluntarily that he might be under compulsion to render it. The same Apostle in another place commands us to pray always. If we are to pray always, it follows that we must never be in the bondage of wedlock, for as often as I render my wife her due, I cannot pray. The Apostle Peter had experience of the bonds of marriage. Paul before, because in both cases the spirit is the same, so S. Peter now, says that prayers are hindered by the performance of marriage duty.
Whose adorning let it not be the outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing jewels of gold, or of putting on apparel: but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in the incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. Husbands and wives are to dwell together according to knowledge, so that they may know what God wishes and desires, and give honour to the weak vessel, woman.
If we abstain from intercourse, we give honour to our wives: if we do not abstain, it is clear that insult is the opposite of honour. He lays down the law for husbands and wives, condemns outward ornament, while he praises continence, which is the ornament of the inner man, as seen in the incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit. In effect he says this: Since your outer man is corrupt, and you have ceased to possess the blessing of incorruption characteristic of virgins, at least imitate the incorruption of the spirit by subsequent abstinence, and what you cannot show in the body exhibit in the mind.
For these are the riches, and these the ornaments of your union, which Christ seeks. Take the case of the man who outraged his step-mother. Does not the Apostle, after delivering him, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit might be saved, in the second Epistle take the offender back and strive to prevent a brother from being swallowed up by overmuch grief. If a wish be expressed, it confers a right; if a thing is only called pardonable, we are wrong in using it.
This, says he, I wish, this I desire that ye be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ, who was a Virgin born of a Virgin, uncorrupt of her who was uncorrupt. The former was the blessed prerogative of divinity, the latter belongs to our human condition and is part of human effort. I would that all men were like me, that while they are like me, they may also become like Christ, to whom I am like.
But since in the Church there is a diversity of gifts, I acquiesce in marriage, lest I should seem to condemn nature. At the same time consider, that the gift of virginity is one, that of marriage, another. I grant that even marriage is a gift of God, but between gift and gift there is great diversity. Hence it is that by way of type Joseph has a coat of many colours. Let burning lust be absent, and he will not say it is better to marry. The word better always implies a comparison with something worse, not a thing absolutely good and incapable of comparison.
It is as though he said, it is better to have one eye than neither, it is better to stand on one foot and to support the rest of the body with a stick, than to crawl with broken legs. What do you say, Apostle? You know the meaning of language, or you would not quote  Epimenides,  Menander, and  Aratus. What I want is not a smaller evil, but a thing absolutely good. So far the first section has been explained. Let us now come to those which follow.
That the wife depart not from her husband but and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband : and that the husband leave not his wife. And so ordain I in all the churches. For he ordains, according to the mind of the Lord, that excepting the cause of fornication, a wife must not be put away, and that a wife who has been put away, may not, so long as her husband lives, be married to another, or at all events that her duty is to be reconciled to her husband.
But in the case of those who are already married at the time of conversion, that is to say, supposing one of the two were a believer, he enjoins that the believer shall not put away the unbeliever. And after stating his reason, viz. They do not understand that they are part of His body though indeed they are His ribs.
The Apostle is lenient to the union of unbelievers, who having believing husbands, afterwards come to believe in Christ. He does not extend his indulgence to those women who, although Christians, have been married to heathen husbands. And what concord hath Christ with Belial? And what agreement hath a temple of God with idols? For we are a temple of the living God. I will say what the Apostle has taught me, that they are not on the side of righteousness, but of iniquity: not of light, but of darkness: that they do not belong to Christ, but to Belial: that they are not temples of the living God, but shrines and idols of the dead.
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He who allows second and third marriages in the Lord, forbids first marriages with a Gentile. Whence Abraham also makes his servant swear upon his thigh, that is, on Christ, Who was to spring from his seed, that he would not bring an alien-born as a wife for his son Isaac. And Ezra checked an offence of this kind against God by making his countrymen put away their wives. The Lord will cut off the man that doeth this,  him that teacheth and him that learneth, out of the tents of Jacob, and him that offers an offering unto the Lord of hosts. In the above discussion the Apostle has taught that the believer ought not to depart from the unbeliever, but remain in marriage as the faith found them, and that each man whether married or single should continue as he was when baptized into Christ; and then he suddenly introduces the metaphors of circumcision and uncircumcision, of bond and free, and under those metaphors treats of the married and unmarried.
Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing: but the keeping of the commandments of God. Let each man abide in that calling wherein he was called. Wast thou called being a bondservant? Care not for it: but even if thou canst become free, use it rather.
Ye were bought with a price; become not bondservants of men. Brethren, let each man, wherein he was called, therein abide with God. Moreover, what has the argument about our abiding in the vocation wherein we were called, to do with circumcision? We must conclude, therefore, that a higher meaning should be given to circumcision and uncircumcision, bond and free, and that these words must be taken in close connection with what has gone before. Again, if anyone was called in uncircumcision, let him not be circumcised. You had a wife, he says, when you believed: do not think the faith of Christ a reason for disagreement, because God called us in peace.
Accordingly he does not so strongly urge virgins to be married, as forbid divorce. And as he debars those who have wives from putting them away, so he cuts off from virgins the power of being married. But even if you can find some causes of discord, do not, for the sake of thoroughly enjoying the liberty of chastity, seek your own welfare by destroying another. Keep your wife awhile, and do not go too fast for her lagging footsteps: wait till she follows. He therefore says, I command that Gentiles who believe on Christ do not abandon the married state in which they were before embracing the faith: for he who had a wife when he became a believer, is not so strictly devoted to the service of God as virgins and unmarried persons.
But, in a manner, he has more freedom, and the reins of his bondage are relaxed; and, while he is the bondservant of a wife, he is, so to speak, the freedman of the Lord. What happiness to be the bondservant, not of a wife but of Christ, to serve not the flesh, but the spirit! I think therefore that this is good by reason of the present distress, namely, that it is good for a man to be as he is.
And rightly too. For what is enjoined is commanded, what is commanded must be done, and that which must be done implies punishment if it be not done. For it is useless to order a thing to be done and yet leave the individual free to do it or not do it.
If the Lord had commanded virginity He would have seemed to condemn marriage, and to do away with the seed-plot of mankind, of which virginity itself is a growth. If He had cut off the root, how was He to expect fruit? If the foundations were not first laid, how was He to build the edifice, and put on the roof to cover all! Excavators toil hard to remove mountains; the bowels of the earth are pierced in the search for gold.
And, when the tiny particles, first by the blast of the furnace, then by the hand of the cunning workman have been fashioned into an ornament, men do not call him blessed who has separated the gold from the dross, but him who wears the beautiful gold. Do not marvel then if, placed as we are, amid temptations of the flesh and incentives to vice, the angelic life be not exacted of us, but merely recommended.
If advice be given, a man is free to proffer obedience; if there be a command, he is a servant bound to compliance. The Apostle will reply: Do you wish me to give orders where the Lord has offered a favour rather than laid down a law? The great Creator and Fashioner, knowing the weakness of the vessel which he made, left virginity open to those whom He addressed; and shall I, the teacher of the Gentiles, who have become all things to all men that I might gain all, shall I lay upon the necks of weak believers from the very first the burden of perpetual chastity?
Let them  begin with short periods of release from the marriage bond, and give themselves unto prayer, that when they have tasted the sweets of chastity they may desire the perpetual possession of that wherewith they were temporarily delighted. The Lord, when tempted by the Pharisees, and asked whether according to the law of Moses it was permitted to put away a wife, forbade the practice altogether. But He said unto them, all men cannot receive this saying, but they to whom it is given.
He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. And therefore Christ loves virgins more than others, because they willingly give what was not commanded them. And it indicates greater grace to offer what you are not bound to give, than to render what is exacted of you. You rightly think, said He, that it is not expedient for a man who is hastening to the kingdom of heaven to take a wife: but it is a hard matter, and all men do not receive the saying, but they to whom it has been given.
Some are eunuchs by nature, others by the violence of men. Those eunuchs please Me who are such not of necessity, but of free choice. He who is able, he says, to receive it, let him receive it. It is a mark of great faith and of great virtue, to be the pure temple of God, to offer oneself a whole burnt-offering, and, according to the same apostle, to be holy both in body and in spirit.
These are the eunuchs, who thinking themselves dry trees because of their impotence, hear by the mouth of  Isaiah that they have a place prepared in heaven for sons and daughters. Their type is  Ebed-melech the eunuch in Jeremiah, and the eunuch of Queen Candace in the  Acts of the Apostles, who on account of the strength of his faith gained the name of a man. These are they to whom Clement, who was the successor of the Apostle Peter, and of whom the Apostle Paul makes mention, wrote letters, directing almost the whole of his discourse to the subject of virgin purity.
After them there is a long series of apostolic men, martyrs, and men illustrious no less for holiness than for eloquence, with whom we may very easily become acquainted through their own writings. Seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife. If thou art bound to a wife, give her not a bill of divorce. If I am loosed from a wife, I will not seek a wife. As I do not dissolve marriages once contracted: so you should not bind what is loosed. And at the same time the meaning of the words must be taken into account. He who has a wife is regarded as a debtor, and is said to be uncircumcised, to be the servant of his wife, and like bad servants to be bound.
But he who has no wife, in the first place owes no man anything, then is circumcised, thirdly is free, lastly, is loosed. Let us run through the remaining points, for our author is so voluminous that we cannot linger over every detail. But, if our adversary objects that this saying relates to widows, we reply that it applies with still greater force to virgins, since marriage is forbidden even to widows whose previous marriage had been lawful.
For virgins who marry after consecration are rather incestuous than adulterous. Yet such shall have tribulation in the flesh. But if they who are married have tribulation even in the flesh, which is imagined to be the sole source of their pleasure, what else is there to marry for, when in the spirit, and in the mind, and in the flesh itself there is tribulation. I am coming to the married.
The time is short, the Lord is at hand. Even though we lived nine hundred years, as did men of old, yet we ought to think that short which must one day have an end, and cease to be. But, as things are, and it is not so much the joy as the tribulation of marriage that is short, why do we take wives whom we shall soon be compelled to lose? For after the resurrection there will be no wedlock. But if death be the end of marriage, why do we not voluntarily embrace the inevitable?
And why do we not, encouraged by the hope of the reward, offer to God that which must be wrung from us against our will. The virgin longs to please the Lord, the husband to please his wife, and that he may please her he is careful for the things of the world, which will of course pass away with the world. This is not the place to describe the difficulties of marriage, and to revel in rhetorical commonplaces.
I think I delivered myself fully as regards this point in my argument against  Helvidius, and in the book which I addressed to  Eustochium. At all events  Tertullian, while still a young man, gave himself full play with this subject. And my teacher,  Gregory of Nazianzus, discussed virginity and marriage in some Greek verses. But every virgin is of course unmarried. But he immediately points out the contents of her thought—that she may be holy both in body and spirit.
For there are virgins in the flesh, not in the spirit, whose body is intact, their soul corrupt. But that virgin is a sacrifice to Christ, whose mind has not been defiled by thought, nor her flesh by lust. On the other hand, she who is married thinks of the things of the world, how she may please her husband. Just as the man who has a wife is anxious for the things of the world, how he may please his wife, so the married woman thinks of the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
Let us, however, use the passage as we have translated it. But if anyone considers that his virgin, that is, his flesh, is wanton and boiling with lust, and cannot be bridled, and he must do one of two things, either take a wife or fall, let him do what he will, he does not sin if he marry. Let him do, he says, what he will, not what he ought. So then both he that giveth his own virgin in marriage doeth well; and he that giveth her not in marriage shall do better.
In this last lies perfection. But where there is something good and something better, the reward is not in both cases the same, and where the reward is not one and the same, there of course the gifts are different. The difference, then, between marriage and virginity is as great as that between not sinning and doing well; nay rather, to speak less harshly, as great as between good and better. He has ended his discussion of wedlock and virginity, and has carefully steered between the two precepts without turning to the right hand or to the left.
He has followed the royal road and fulfilled the command  not to be righteous over much. But she is happier if she abide as she is, after my judgement: and I think that I also have the Spirit of God. So then if, while the husband liveth, she be joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if the husband die, she is free from the law, so that she is no adulteress, though she be joined to another man. For as on account of the danger of fornication he allows virgins to marry, and makes that excusable which in itself is not desirable, so to avoid this same fornication, he allows second marriages to widows.
For it is better to know a single husband, though he be a second or third, than to have many paramours: that is, it is more tolerable for a woman to prostitute herself to one man than to many. For where there are more husbands than one the proper idea of a husband, who is a single person, is destroyed. At the beginning one rib was turned into one wife. Lamech, a man of blood and a murderer, was the first who divided one flesh between two wives.
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Fratricide and digamy were abolished by the same punishment—that of the deluge. The one was avenged seven times, the other seventy times seven. The guilt is as widely different as are the numbers. The age is therefore limited, so that those only may receive the food of the poor who can no longer work. But if she be deprived of the bread of charity, how much more is she deprived of that bread which cometh down from heaven, and of which if a man eat unworthily, he shall be guilty of outrage offered to the body and the blood of Christ?
The passages, however, which I have adduced in support of my position and in which it is permitted to widows, if they so desire, to marry again, are interpreted by some concerning those widows who had lost their husbands and were found in that condition when they became Christians. For, supposing a person baptized and her husband dead, it would not be consistent if the Apostle were to bid her marry another, when he enjoins even those who have wives to be as though they had them not.
And this is why the number of wives which a man may take is not defined, because when Christian baptism has been received, even though a third or a fourth wife has been taken, she is reckoned as the first. Otherwise, if, after baptism and after the death of a first husband, a second is taken why should not a sixth after the death of the second, third, fourth, and fifth, and so on? For it is possible, that through some strange misfortune, or by the judgement of God cutting short repeated marriages, a young woman may have several husbands, while an old woman may be left a widow by her first husband in extreme age.
The first Adam was married once: the second was unmarried. Let the supporters of second marriages shew us as their leader a third Adam who was twice married. But granted that Paul allowed second marriages: upon the same grounds it follows that he allows even third and fourth marriages, or a woman may marry as often as her husband dies. The Apostle was forced to choose many things which he did not like. He circumcised Timothy, and shaved his own head, practised going barefoot, let his hair grow long, and cut it at Cenchrea.
And he had certainly chastised the Galatians, and blamed Peter because for the sake of Jewish observances he separated himself from the Gentiles. As then in other points connected with the discipline of the Church he was a Jew to Jews, a Gentile to Gentiles, and was made all things to all men, that he might gain all: so too he allowed second marriages to incontinent persons, and did not limit the number of marriages, in order that women, although they saw themselves permitted to take a second husband, in the same way as a third or a fourth was allowed, might blush to take a second, lest they should be compared to those who were three or four times married.
If more than one husband be allowed, it makes no difference whether he be a second or a third, because there is no longer a question of single marriage. Things that are equally lawful must be weighed in an even balance. He next confronts us with Peter and the rest of the Apostles. We are therefore bound to traverse the same course of argument and show that chastity was always preferred to the condition of marriage. And as regards Adam and Eve we must maintain that before the fall they were virgins in Paradise: but after they sinned, and were cast out of Paradise, they were immediately married.
When difference of sex is done away, and we are putting off the old man, and putting on the new, then we are being born again into Christ a virgin, who was both born of a virgin, and is born again through  virginity. Hence it was that all the animals which Noah took into the ark by pairs were unclean. Odd numbers denote cleanness. And yet by the double number is represented another mystery: that not even in beasts and unclean birds is second marriage approved. For unclean animals went in two and two, and clean ones by sevens, so that Noah after the flood might be able to immediately offer to God sacrifices from the latter.
But if Enoch was translated, and Noah was preserved at the deluge, I do not think that Enoch was translated because he had a wife, but because he was  the first to call upon God and to believe in the Creator; and the Apostle Paul fully instructs us concerning him in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Noah, moreover, who was preserved as a kind of second root for the human race, must of course be preserved together with his wife and sons, although in this there is a Scripture mystery. The ark,  according to the Apostle Peter, was a type of the Church, in which eight souls were saved. When Noah entered into it, both he and his sons were separated from their wives; but when he landed from it, they united in pairs, and what had been separated in the ark, that is, in the Church, was joined together in the intercourse of the world.
And at the same time if the ark had many compartments and little chambers, and was made with second and third stories, and was filled with different beasts, and was furnished with dwellings, great or small, according to the kind of animal, I think all this diversity in the compartments was a figure of the manifold character of the Church.
He raises the objection that when God gave his second blessing, permission was granted to eat flesh, which had not in the first benediction been allowed. But after the deluge, like the quails given in the desert to the murmuring people, the poison of flesh-meat was offered to our teeth. The Apostle writing to the Ephesians  teaches that God had purposed in the fulness of time to sum up and renew in Christ Jesus all things which are in heaven and in earth.
Thus we reached the deluge. But after the deluge, together with the giving of the law which no one could fulfil, flesh was given for food, and divorce was allowed to hard-hearted men, and the knife of circumcision was applied, as though the hand of God had fashioned us with something superfluous. What shall I say of Abraham who had three wives, as Jovinianus says, and received circumcision as a sign of his faith?
If we follow him in the number of his wives, let us also follow him in circumcision. We must not partly follow, partly reject him. Isaac, moreover, the husband of one wife, Rebecca, prefigures the Church of Christ, and reproves the wantonness of second marriage. And if Jacob had two pairs of wives and concubines, and our opponent will not admit that blear-eyed Leah, ugly and prolific, was a type of the synagogue, but that Rachel, beautiful and long barren, indicated the mystery of the Church, let me remind him that when Jacob did this thing he was among the Assyrians, and in Mesopotamia in bondage to a hard master.
But when he wished to enter the holy land, he raised on Mount Galeed  the heap of witness, in token that the lord of Mesopotamia had failed to find anything among his baggage, and there swore that he would never return to the place of his bondage; and when,  after wrestling with the angel at the brook Jabbok, he began to limp, because the great muscle of his thigh was withered, he at once gained the name of Israel.
But I wonder why he set  Judah and Tamar before us for an example, unless perchance even harlots give him pleasure; or  Onan who was slain because he grudged his brother seed. Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children?
As regards Moses, it is clear that he would have been in peril at the inn, if  Sephora which is by interpretation a bird, had not circumcised her son, and cut off the foreskin of marriage with the knife which prefigured the Gospel. This is that Moses who when he saw a great vision and heard an angel, or the Lord speaking in the bush,  could not by any means approach to him without first loosing the latchet of his shoe, that is, putting off the bonds of marriage.
And we need not be surprised at this in the case of one who was a prophet, lawgiver, and the friend of God, seeing that all the people when about to draw nigh to Mount Sinai, and to hear the voice speaking to them, were commanded to sanctify themselves in three days, and keep themselves from their wives. In the law also it is enjoined that the  high priest must not marry any but a virgin, nor must he take to wife a widow.
If a virgin and a widow are on the same level, how is it that one is taken, the other rejected? But if she be married, she is despised as though she belonged not to him. He who has  married a wife, and he who has planted a vineyard, an image of the propagation of children, is forbidden to go to the battle.
And the laver in the tabernacle was cast from the mirrors of the women who  fasted, signifying the bodies of pure virgins: And within,  in the sanctuary, both cherubim, and mercy-seat, and the ark of the covenant, and the table of shew-bread, and the candle-stick, and the censer, were made of the purest gold.
For silver might not be brought into the holy of holies. I must not linger over Moses when my purpose is at full speed to lightly touch on each topic and to sketch the outline of a proper knowledge of my subject. I will pass to Joshua the son of Nun, who was previously called Ause, or better, as in the Hebrew, Osee, that is, Saviour. For he,  according to the epistle of Jude, saved the people of Israel and led them forth out of Egypt, and brought them into the land of promise.
As soon as this Joshua  reached the Jordan, the waters of marriage, which had ever flowed in the land, dried up and stood in one heap; and the whole people, barefooted and on dry ground, crossed over, and came to Gilgal, and there was a second time circumcised. If we take this literally, it cannot possibly stand. For if we had two foreskins, or if another could grow after the first was cut off, there would be room for speaking of a second circumcision. Moreover, the very foreskins were heaped together and buried, and covered with earth, and the fact that the reproach of Egypt was taken away, and the name of the place, Gilgal, which is by interpretation  revelation, show that while the people wandered in the desert uncircumcised their eyes were blinded.
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Let us see what follows. After this Gospel circumcision and the consecration of twelve stones at the place of revelation, the Passover was immediately celebrated, a lamb was slain for them, and they ate the food of the Holy Land. Joshua went forth, and was met by the Prince of the host, sword in hand, that is either to shew that he was ready to fight for the circumcised people, or to sever the tie of marriage. And to pass over endless details for it is not my purpose now to unfold all the mysteries of the Old Testament ,  five kings who previously reigned in the land of promise, and opposed the Gospel army, were overcome in battle with Joshua.
I think it is clearly to be understood that before the Lord led his people from Egypt and circumcised them, sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch had the dominion, and that to these, as to five princes, everything was subject. And when they  took refuge in the cave of the body and in a place of darkness, Jesus entered the body itself and slew them, that the source of their power might be the instrument of their death.
It is written that Moses had a wife. We read that Moses, that is the law, had a wife: shew me then in the same way that Joshua the son of Nun had either wife or children, and if you can do so, I will confess that I am beaten. Again in the book of Judges we read of him as though he had risen and come to life again, and by way of summary his works are extolled.
The former was buried in a valley over against the house of Phogor, which is, being interpreted, reproach for the Hebrew Phogor corresponds to Priapus  ; the latter in Mount Ephraim on the north of Mount Gaash. And in the simple expressions of the sacred Scriptures there is always a more subtle meaning.
But we who fight under Joshua our leader, even to the present day know not where Moses was buried.
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For we despise Phogor, and all his shame, knowing that they who are in the flesh cannot please God. For marriage ends at death; virginity thereafter begins to wear the crown. And although Samson continues to be a type of the Saviour because he loved a harlot from among the Gentiles, which harlot corresponds to the Church, and because he slew more enemies in his death than he did in his life, yet he does not set an example of conjugal chastity. But why he enumerated Deborah, and Barak, and the wife of Heber the Kenite, I am at a loss to understand.
For it is one thing to draw up a list of military commanders in historical sequence, another to indicate certain figures of marriage which cannot be found in them. And whereas he prefers the fidelity of the father Jephthah to the tears of the virgin daughter, that makes for us.
Their meaning is that God so ordered events that he who had improvidently made a vow, should learn his error by the death of his daughter. And if Samuel who was brought up in the tabernacle married a wife, how does that prejudice virginity? As if at the present day also there were not many married priests, and as though the Apostle did not  describe a bishop as the husband of one wife, having children with all purity.
At the same time we must not forget that Samuel was a Levite, not a priest or high-priest. Hence it was that his mother made for him a linen ephod, that is, a linen garment to go over the shoulders, which was the proper dress of the Levites and of the inferior order. And no one doubts that the priests sprang from the stock of Aaron, Eleazar, and Phinees. And much fruit truly did Samuel reap from his children! But if in support of second marriage, he urges the instance of Boaz and Ruth, let him know that in the Gospel S. He boasts that David bought his wife for two hundred foreskins.
And I do not say this because I am bold enough to disparage holy men, but because it is one thing to live under the law, another to live under the Gospel. David slew Uriah the Hittite and committed adultery with Bathsheba. And because he was a man of blood—the reference is not, as some think, to his wars, but to the  murder—he was not permitted to build a temple of the Lord. But as for us,  if we cause one of the least to stumble, and if we say to a brother  Raca, or  use our eyes improperly, it were good that a millstone were hanged about our neck, we shall be in danger of Gehenna, and a mere glance will be reckoned to us for adultery.
He passes on to Solomon, through whom wisdom itself sang its own praises. For every one is judged not for what he will be, but for what he is. And what is more they were figures of those that were to come. What folly it was to include Elijah and Elisha in a list of married men, is plain without a word from me. What a powerful statement from a leader of God!
That is what God wants from you as well. But that statement is probably even stronger than you realize. No matter what happens, no person on Earth could cause me to turn away from God! What a leader! This is the kind of courage God wants from every single one of us! Do you love God that much? Do you have such faith and courage—that if the whole nation turns away, or your whole family, you keep right on going?
We need to pray that God will give us such people, no matter how few, who are that eager to do the Work. Armstrong said he had to learn to give up anything. That is what Joshua had learned as well. And that is what God wants you to learn. If you have that attitude, great things are going to happen in your life! You have a truly magnificent future. In this last sermon, Joshua took the Israelites all the way back to the beginning of their history, starting with Abraham.
He reminded them of their past and how God blessed them and did wonderful things for them when they obeyed Him. Joshua had been right there as a slave in Egypt. He had seen many miracles during his lifetime. He died at years old verse God really blessed him in many ways. After Joshua was gone and the elders who were under him had also died, Israel forgot all about that history. The Israelites had marvelous examples in Joshua, Caleb and others—men who were loyal and inspiring and encouraging.
But once those men were gone, everything fell apart. In the book of Judges, everybody began doing what was right in his own eyes. That is exactly what is happening to the Israelites today, and our nations are also falling apart! But when we study this history and see these wonderful examples like Joshua, we can recognize the tremendous value of godly leadership!
If we follow these examples, we can have a real, positive, wonderful impact on people! We are here to learn how to become strong leaders and to build the strongest leadership we possibly can. As we do, we will be building strong congregations and a strong Work of God. And we will be establishing a strong foundation for our future in the real Promised Land— the wonderful World Tomorrow! It is a story that should be taught today to all the world. If we could learn this lesson, it would prevent massive pain. Achan had committed a frightful sin and caused hideous suffering in Israel; as a result, God had him executed.
So the Lord turned from the fierceness of his anger. He wanted this lesson to remain in their memory. Here is the story. That expression is from the Hebrew word maal, which means treachery. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin Romans When we stop walking by faith, we stop walking with God. God was having the Israelites fight for the Promised Land.
Today, that means we begin to lose our fight with Satan, ourselves and the world. It is no small sin. Israel was about to fight what seemed to be an easy battle. Scouts thought the city could be taken by just two or three thousand men. But when they attacked, they were driven back by the men of Ai, who killed about 36 Israelite soldiers. Joshua and the elders were deeply depressed. Joshua lay upon his face before the ark for hours! O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?
Joshua was actually trying to blame God! God spoke with Joshua very directly and bluntly: Get up! Why are you lying on your face? Then He pointed Joshua to the cause of the problem: Israel had sinned! There is a giant lesson here. When we stop winning our battles, sin is the cause! But even if only one person sins, there is sin in the congregation —and it needs to be gotten out!
God condemned all of Israel for this because it happened in Israel—this theocracy, ruled by God! This lesson was for ancient Israel but applies even more today. If you break faith, you will begin to lose your spiritual battles. That is happening to the Laodicean churches right now. There is cause and effect. True education revolves around learning cause and effect! God tells the Laodiceans, as He told Joshua, Israel has sinned!
That is the cause of their problems. Unfortunately, they have not learned the lesson as Joshua did. But they must if they are ever to start winning their battles again. Joshua 7 is not talking about the sins we all have to battle daily. He is talking about a blatant, calculated turn away from God motivated by lust or some other character flaw. God instructed Joshua how to discover who was responsible for the problem and what to do about it. God was establishing a new nation. He wanted to demonstrate to everyone what makes or breaks nations.
Today, the nations of Israel should punish severely for gross sins like the one Achan committed. And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? Coveting is a great sin—it breaks the Tenth Commandment. God had all Israel stone Achan! Everybody had to see the ghastly horror of how God punishes for sin! The burning was a type of Gehenna fire, portraying the final death from which there is no resurrection Revelation That is how God deals with carnal nations.
You see why people today tend to not like the Old Testament? They can say whatever horrible things about God they want, but God knows how to keep carnal men in line! Better to destroy a few people than have the whole nation fall! Look at Joshua again. God wants us to make a memorial like this today when we sin.
He wants us to do something to etch it into our memory. The world has paid little attention to God. This world is about to be blown apart with nuclear bombs! Now man is about to destroy himself. Only God can guide and save us. There is actually hope in the bad news. If man reads the sign carefully, he will see how to get out of this deadly valley.
That will happen. Then Israel will seek God. The valley of Achor will be a valley of peace. May God speed that glorious day! A fter Joshua and his elders died, Israel moved into a period covered in the book of Judges. While Joshua was alive, people were directed by this one man under God. But once he died, things changed. There was a change of government under the judges, which God allowed. People now had to voluntarily come to the judges for counsel and direction. There were not even enough judges to go around.
And sadly, most of the people did not take advantage of what help they did have. This new form of government proved to be a catastrophe. Judges is the bloodiest book in the Bible. The Israelites no longer had a Moses or Joshua to point them to the ark. Many judges also went astray. It was just another human government that failed—just as they all do, sooner or later! Armstrong died. This lukewarm Church is going to experience the bloodiest time ever on Earth: the Great Tribulation.
Fifty percent of the Laodiceans are going to lose their eternal lives Matthew In this first verse, you can see the connection to the book of Joshua, which originally was combined with Judges in a single book. This book starts out with Judah being strong, on commission from God to drive the Canaanites out of the land. In the first part of the chapter, the people were on the attack, and God was blessing their efforts with victories.
But things changed quickly. Judges gives the first sign of trouble. If these soldiers were using the power of God, no weapons of the enemy would have stopped them! The people were compromising in exactly the way Joshua had warned them not to! When David came along some years later, the Jebusites were still there, creating problems. But David handled the situation very differently 2 Samuel 5. Judges shows that the tribe of Manasseh also left some of the inhabitants rather than driving them out.
God told the Israelites to get rid of all the people living in the Promised Land. Verse 28 shows that the Israelites decided to put them to forced labor instead! The rest of the chapter shows others throughout the nation making similar compromises. It is very difficult for human beings to simply do as God commands. We tend to lack faith; we reason for ourselves how things should be handled. But if God says do it, our job is simply to do it —and do it the way God says do it! How rare such an attitude is on Earth today. Israel seems to routinely exhibit this weakness of not doing what God says—especially when it comes to driving people out!
God commanded that there be one law for everybody Leviticus Any foreigner who chose to live among the Israelites was to keep the same law—and practice the same religion and worship the same God—as the Israelites did. That is the only way a nation can ever work! Yet in the modern nations of Israel, we allow millions and millions of people to come in while still clinging to their own languages, customs, religions and practices.
In America—the modern descendants of Manasseh—we host even those who are hostile to the Constitution, the law of the land. Making matters worse, we give them all kinds of welfare benefits despite our already having a gargantuan debt that we cannot pay! And of course, it has the side benefit of buying these liberals votes and keeping them in power. Their way will never work out.
It always leads to disaster. Judges shows the Ephraimites allowing the Canaanites to live in their land. Modern Ephraim, Britain, does the same thing. Today, Muslims practice sharia law there, in some cases with the blessing of the British government! There is no way you can live in peace with such individuals for long. God commanded one law for everyone , both Israelite and stranger. We must learn to think like the God of Israel!
Ultimately, everybody is going to become Israel. That is the way salvation works. In the New Testament, the command is the same, on a spiritual level: God tells His people to separate themselves from anyone in the Church who tries to pollute the religion by bringing another doctrine e. Some people criticize us for it, reasoning that it is harsh and cruel.
We always want to act out of true love—the love of God. God is love! God always chooses a man, as He did with Moses and Joshua, to apply His law. God needs people who will look in the Bible, understand it the best they can—and just do it! Things always work out beautifully when you do that. The book of Judges covers over years of history. War was a way of life. Israel endured much instability as a nation mostly because of its weak leadership. During that awful period, there were a few good judges, like Jephthah and Samson.
God raised them up from a seriously corrupted area and used them for His purposes. Of course, Samson had some problems and really let those overwhelm him. We must conquer our problems! Several examples in the former prophets illustrate that point. The book of Judges, more than any other book in the Bible, graphically illustrates how the character of a leader does affect the people. The first judge, Othniel, feared God and kept His commandments. Living in sin, the Israelites did not prosper. They were not successful. In His mercy, God raised up Ehud to deliver them from the Moabites.
Israel had rest for 80 years. After Ehud died, they again sank into the depths of evil and despair.
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Through this period, there are seven repetitions of this miserable cycle: The people fell away from God, they suffered captivity, they cried out to God, and then God delivered them through a judge. One notable judgeship was that of Deborah Judges 4. In one sense, this is a bright spot in Judges. But in another sense, it is a terrible tragedy! Deborah was a prophetess, and the Israelites could see that God was using her and revealing truths to her verses But this exposes so much about the state of Israel at the time: The only reason God was using this great woman was that there were no men strong enough to lead!
God wanted to use Barak to deliver Israel. Deborah chided him for his lack of manliness verse 9. Israel had 10, soldiers, yet here was a woman running everything, and she was apparently the only one capable of doing it! After God gave Israel the victory in this battle, Deborah and Barak sang a victory song. But it is also a prophecy about the problems that tend to arise within Israel when it gets away from God. There were no great men trained to be like Joshua. We see horrifying tragedies today in America and Britain.
But there is usually silence. The question is why? When we depart from God, Satan moves in. One thing he is always pushing for is to get women in charge. Isaiah prophesied that this would be the state of affairs in Israel in the end time Isaiah Israel today is very much like it was at the time of Deborah —there are no strong male leaders. That spells disaster for any nation. And to make matters even worse, there is no Deborah to lead any of the nations of Israel!
Families reject the rule of God. We may call our marriages a rule today, but God says the women rule! What are the fruits of such a marriage? Such a family produces very weak and effeminate boys! It also causes the girls to become overly aggressive, and the problem is perpetuated.
When that happens, then children become oppressors, and it becomes an absolute catastrophe for the nation. The first five verses of Isaiah 3 prophesy that all the strong leaders are gone because of family breakdown. This is a terribly serious problem. It shows, again, the crises that arise because Israel simply will not do things the way God commands! It is a prophecy of doom. Some people will get angry at these words. They need to understand that they are really angry at God! The state of a physical family reveals where we are spiritually.
The husband and wife are to submit to God and each other—but still, the man is to be the head. And if the woman cannot submit to him, she cannot submit to Christ Ephesians The man must love his wife so much that he would die for her—as Christ died for His wife, the Church. That is the kind of family government that builds great nations. Judah is not even mentioned, and historians have wondered at the isolation of this tribe, which after Othniel did not produce a single judge. This tribe was so strong under Joshua, but it fell apart after he was gone.
God used Gideon in a powerful way Judges This is a particularly interesting story because Gideon was such a coward. God calls the lowly of the world—we are cowards! Yet God really used this man and made him very courageous! That is what God wants to do with all of us. Gideon assembled an army of 32, Israelites to fight the Midianites.
God wanted to reduce the size of his army. God wanted the nation to give Him credit for the victory. That is important to God. We won a mighty victory! But God wants us to know that He is the one responsible for those successes. The first thing God did was have Gideon tell the army that anyone who was fearful and afraid could simply leave. An astounding 22, of the soldiers left! Are you fearful of spiritual warfare?
God wants us to have courage in our battles! Even though the army was now less than a third as large, God had more whittling to do. God is doing the choosing of His spiritual Marines. And God is going to choose the ones He wants to do this final work in the Philadelphia Church. Remember, this is prophecy for this end time! You and I are being tested right now. God is learning a lot about all of His people. God put these soldiers to the test. He had them go to the water to drink, and instructed Gideon to observe how they gathered the water. He separated those who got down on their knees and put their lips to the water from those who scooped the water with their hands and brought it to their mouth.
The latter group—the men who remained alert and vigilant even in drinking water—amounted to only men verses If you are not eager to fight, you will lose crucial battles! God is looking for people who are eager to do battle and go on the offensive. God said he would send out this after the Midianites, and they would go on the offensive and destroy them. Notice, though, that God said, I will save you. God is going to have to save us. They were afraid. We can easily become afraid. But God says, I want you to go on the offensive. These are powerful words!
God said, I have already beaten them, just go down and reap the fruits of your victory. But you have to know that God is doing it. What an honor to be among the ! The time line in the book of Judges ends with chapter Chapters 17 and 18 show how common idolatry had become, and how corrupt the priesthood was. A woman had saved a great sum of silver, and her son, Micah, stole it from her. He confessed his crime, and she revealed that she intended to use the money to make an idol to worship.
She went ahead and had an idol fashioned, and Micah consented. This was all in complete rebellion against God. Here is the big problem! This verse encapsulates the real trouble with what was happening in this chapter. It also sums up the big lesson in the book of Judges! After this, Micah found a Levite and hired him to be his pagan priest. He fooled himself into thinking God was pleased with his actions. Spies from Dan found Micah, and they got caught up in his abominable paganism, along with breaking other commandments of God.
Chapters 19 through 21 have probably the most depraved and tragic story in Judges. So an old man invited them into his home. Then a gang of homosexual thugs came and demanded that the old man turn his male guest over to them so they could sexually abuse him!
These are the fruits of upside-down families. They abused her until she died. God made sure this shameful incident was recorded and canonized in the Bible as an indictment of the horrifying state of Israel at that time. To make matters even worse, Judges 20 shows that the nation was so divided that they could not even agree on how to deal with this vile atrocity! A civil war that killed more than 60, people followed! A bloody history indeed.
God inspired that statement to be repeated over and over. He concludes the book with it. After a certain point, nobody really cared what the leaders were doing. Everyone just did his own thing. Sound familiar? Remember, this is a book of prophecy. You can find Israel on Earth today by understanding this verse! What nations are passionately into democracy? America, Britain, the Jewish state and most of the democracies in northwestern Europe. This is exactly the state of affairs in the modern nations of Israel! Everybody wants to do it their own way —whatever is right in their own eyes. That is prophecy for right now in the nations of Israel!
People talk so much about freedom—but the freedom they cherish is really just the freedom to wreck their lives! They are plagued by wretched sins; they hate law and government. Who can lead these people into anything constructive or profitable? This history vividly shows the terrible results of that kind of lawlessness.
Everybody today wants to do what is right in his own eyes. The book of Judges prophesies the terrifying outcome of such a democracy! This is always the fate of Israel without a strong Moses or Joshua to lead the people to God. Satan knows how to exploit the many weaknesses of a democracy to bring it down. Even though democracy is probably the best government man has created, it is always destined to fail. There is an important lesson here even within the Church of God. They had a lot of freedom, and they allowed that to destroy them.
He helped us a great deal. I was making mistakes, but I wanted to solve them! And I know God honored that attitude. Thankfully, He is the one in charge of this Church, not any man. The whole book of Judges illustrates the truth that carnal men will not come to God to get the help they need.
That is a huge lesson for us! How carnal are you? How much are you like the people in the time of the judges? We are carnal too, but God still uses us. This is a fundamental lesson we all need to learn. The wonderful thing about this prophetic history, though, is to see how God set the course of Israel back on track. The priesthood was degenerate, but God was going to make some changes.
The government was in disarray, but God was going to establish a king! Likewise today, this time of everybody doing his own thing is about to end forever. There is going to be a King. Jesus Christ is going to rule on that throne! We need to see deeply how important it is that we have that King. It is inspiring to see how God began the process of turning things around anciently. As we will see in the next chapter, it started with one family. I srael endured nearly dark years of history under the judges when everybody was doing what was right in his own eyes. That was a disastrous time for Israel—and it is exactly where we are in the United States, Britain and the Jewish nation today.
Many Bible authorities refer to Samuel as the father of prophecy. In many ways he institutionalized prophecy, especially the prophecy about the scepter promise and the throne of David. Samuel is the next book of the former prophets. That is the throne Christ is going to sit on and that we will share as kings and priests—and this glorious future is recorded in the books of Samuel!
These are prophetic books, and they have a lot to teach us today. Samuel raised up three or four colleges and prepared the way for the great King David.
He laid a foundation—a foundation we have been building on ever since. Samuel laid the foundation for Elijah, and Elijah laid it for us. There is a blueprint that will continue on and on. Tradition says Samuel was just 13 years old when God first appeared to him. That was quite an experience. Samuel had to grow up very fast! I believe Samuel was able to accept that challenge from God because he had probably one of the greatest mothers in the whole Bible.
We need to recognize that it was her dedication in godly child rearing that really constitutes the foundation of the schools that Samuel established! In the inspired order of the books of the Bible, Samuel follows immediately after Judges. The book of Ruth occurred during the time of the judges, but that book is not part of the former prophets. It actually belongs in the last of the three divisions of the Old Testament, called the Writings, or the Psalms—the first two are the Law and the Prophets—see Luke Translators came along and, in their vanity and ignorance, decided to reorganize the books of the Bible and confuse everybody, including themselves.
Satan is always working to confuse and deceive people. Events in Judges lead right into those in Samuel. The transition occurred around b. A man named Elkanah had two wives 1 Samuel A man with two wives is not a perfect family. No matter what people say, that is the truth. It was a terrible, terrible time, and God let them go through all of that suffering to learn the hard way that their way would not work.