Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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May 2007 • Volume XI, Issue 13


Marriage in This Passing World (3)

Having considered marriage and weeping and rejoicing in this passing world (I Cor. 7:29-30), we now turn to the proper use of our possessions and the world itself (30-31).

Since "the time is short" (29), "they that buy [should be] as though they possessed not" (30). This does not mean that we do not own things by purchase and legal right. But all our possessions—clothes, books, car, house, and so on, including whatever we value most highly—will pass away. For "the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (II Peter 3:10). In all our shopping and with everything that we own, we need to take account of this. Those who believe that "they that buy [should be] as though they possessed not" will not run up crippling debts on their credit cards nor hoard up their treasures on earth (Matt. 6:19-24) nor fret and worry about what they shall eat or drink or wear (25-34).

Because "the fashion of this world passeth away," we must "use this world, as not abusing it" (I Cor. 7:31). Abusing the world includes polluting it and sinfully exploiting it out of selfishness and greed. Though not "abusing" it, we are to "use" this world. Here monkery and Anabaptist world-flight are condemned (5:10). We must use the world for the purposes for which the Most High has given it, filling it and exercising godly dominion over it (Gen. 1:26-28; 9:1-7), as prophets, priests and kings glorifying Jehovah. Even eating and drinking are to be done "to the glory of God" (I Cor. 10:31; Gen. 1:29-30; 9:2-3; I Tim. 4:1-6). In this life, our calling is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ as His stewards, in singleness or marriage and in all our relationships, in every sphere and institution in which God has placed us. To use this world as an end in itself—worldliness!—is "abusing" it. Against this the brute creation itself protests indignantly: "God made me for His glory; you must use me to serve Him!" (cf. Rom. 8:18-22). Right use of the world and everything in it is using it to seek first the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33); anything else is abusing it.

This instruction that "the time is short" and that "the fashion of this world passeth away" and its calling regarding marriage, weeping, rejoicing, buying, and using this world (I Cor. 7:29-31) ought to feature in the Christian’s worldview. We must use passages like this to think biblically about time, history and eschatology; the creation, its institutions and everything in it; and the believer’s culture in the home, in the market, in the workplace and in the state.

The Christian’s zealous and active life in God’s creation flows from the electing, regenerating and sanctifying grace of Jesus Christ and is guided by the sacred Scriptures. Obedience to the Word in an ungodly world, though blessed by God, brings persecution from the wicked.

The true children of Abraham, in both Old and New Testament days, are "heirs with him of the same promise" (Heb. 11:9) of the heavenly city and country. Thus, like him, we look "for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (10) and we "desire a better country, that is, an heavenly" (16). Emulating father Abraham, we "sojourn" in this world (9) and confess that we are "strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (13) and "declare plainly that [we] seek [the heavenly] country" (14). Those without this hope and confession are not Abraham’s seed, for God is "ashamed to be called their God" (16).

Thus a truly Christian worldview does not negate the believers heavenly citizenship (Phil. 3:20). It is precisely as one who is "dead," whose "life is hid with Christ in God," who seeks "those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God" and sets his "affection on things above [and] not on things on the earth" (Col. 3:1-3), that the believer is quickened and motivated to live in every sphere of life to which the Most High has called him in the consciousness, comfort and service of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must do all to the glory of God now, "while it is day," for "the night cometh, when no man can work" (John 9:4). "The end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober" (I Peter 4:7).

As regards "Christian Singleness and Marriage" (our theme for I Corinthians 7), this teaching about the brevity of time and the passing away of the fashion of this world has at least two further applications. First, it is of comfort to those in a bad marriage (including those in a mixed marriage). Christian spouses can grow in obedience in their God-given roles, with the husband loving his wife as himself and the wife reverencing her husband (Eph. 5:33). Through your prayers and godly example, your spouse’s behaviour may well improve. The submissive, chaste behaviour of a wife—no nagging!—may even be used to convert her unbelieving husband (I Peter 3:1-6). But even if there is no improvement, you must serve the Lord in your marriage, remembering that Christ comes quickly to reward His people (Rev. 22:12). Second, I Corinthians 7:29-31 is a warning to those (either married or desirous of marriage) who make an idol of marriage. Marriage is a good gift of God, a blessed union between one man and one woman, and a picture of Christ and His church. But for all this, it is temporary and will be superseded by a far greater consummation in the world to come. Rev. Stewart

Contact us if you would like us to send you one or both of these pamphlets: "The Reformed Worldview on Behalf of a Godly Culture" by Prof. Engelsma ( and "The Christian and Culture" by Rev. Hoeksema (

Esther (3)

And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti (Esth. 2:17).

Having responded to two specific objections in the last issue of the News, this time I conclude my treatment of Esther by replying to the reader’s remaining three points.

(3) "What principle kept Mordecai from reverencing Haman (Esth. 3:2)?"

I do not know why Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman. As a child listening to this story read from Scripture or told by my teacher or catechism instructor, I always thought to myself, "Mordecai was a proud Jew who would not bow before anyone." It may be, however, that his refusal to bow was rooted in some notion that a Jew should not bow before a heathen, although so far as I know there was no law in Israel that a Jew might not bow before someone as a gesture of respect or of submission to higher authority. Abraham bowed before the children of Heth (Gen. 23:7).

(4) "Mordecai used his advanced position of influence for the good of the Jews and their seed. In Esther 10:3, we read of his ‘seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.’"

It is entirely possible, and, I think, the case, that Mordecai’s motive through the whole affair was (1) a thirst for power and (2) a love for his countrymen. As far as the first is concerned, why did Mordecai almost force Esther into entering the beauty contest in the first place? He did not know that God intended it to be a means to save Israel. He knew the evil and promiscuity of the heathen court; he knew the laws of Israel; he knew the consequences of such conduct. It seems to me that he saw in all this an opportunity to advance himself in the court of the king. Even if Esther had not become queen, but had merely been added to Ahasuerus’ stable of concubines, he would have had some sort of inner access to power. That Esther would have become at least a concubine is almost certain.

As far as the second point is concerned, a man may have an entirely natural and patriotic love for his country that prompts him to do anything for his country’s welfare. I am three generations removed from the Netherlands, and the Netherlands has become morally bankrupt and apostate. Yet, even as a child, I hurt inside when the Nazis raped the Netherlands and held it in virtual slavery. They did the same to France, but that did not hurt me as much. I used an example of a soldier in the last issue of the News. There are many instances of soldiers willing to die for their country in the annals of British and American warfare.

(5) "Who wrote the book of Esther? We are not told, yet Esther 9:20 gives us a hint, and Mordecai himself would naturally seem to be the most probable author. If he was, would God use one not included in the covenant of grace?"

I do not know who wrote the book of Esther. I have read the suggestion that Daniel wrote it, for he may himself have been in the palace of Shushan (Dan. 6:1-3; 9:1-2; cf. 8:2). But whether he was still living at this time is doubtful. If Mordecai wrote the book, we might have an explanation why the book does not mention the name of God. In any case, we ought not build an argument for Mordecai’s salvation on the remote possibility that he was the man God used to write the book. We do not know the authors of many books in the Bible. We do not need to know (if we are not told). We do not need to know because God, through the Spirit of Christ, is the divine Author.

Anyone today who committed the sins of Esther and Mordecai would be excommunicated. In the Old Testament, the law required that they be stoned. God detests such sins. I find it difficult to imagine that God approved of these sins under these circumstances; or disapproving of them, nevertheless, left no hint in the book itself of His fury against such sins.

Finally, to take the position that both Mordecai and Esther were motivated by love for God not only creates the dilemma and Jesuistic casuistry that "the end justifies the means," but it also destroys the whole purpose of the book, namely, to show that God uses even wicked people to save His church. Prof. Hanko

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