It’s a new week and a new reason to thank God. My last post triggered a thought in me which I want to share on today’s post.
In a lot of countries in the western world, polygamy is not allowed by law. So a man cannot marry two wives at the same time. But my country Nigeria is a multi-religion country and because other religions that exist here permit multiple wives, there is no law prohibiting multiple marriages in one. And because there is no law prohibiting polygamy, even Christians are found in the mix. So today I will be sharing on the "Rights of the First Wife."
The fact that we have found a handful of polygamous marriages in the Bible, some so-called Christians have rested on that fact to bound themselves with the chains of polygamy and all the troubles and challenges that accompanies it.
It’s important to understand and appreciate the fact that if a man's wife dies and he marries another wife, that is not polygamy and the new wife is the only wife in the marriage so there is no right of first wife at play in this situation. This is different from a divorce situation and its different from a polygamous setting. But if your husband married another wife while you are still alive, I am sure this is for you and I will encourage that you read this.
Genesis 16 tells us the story of how Abraham became a polygamist when he took his wife’s maid servant and got her pregnant in the quest to have a child and so she became maid/wife by default. But in Genesis 17 God visited Abraham with a deep message which says, “Walk before me and be blameless.” These first few lines of God to Abraham are very deep in meaning, but that is not the focus for today.
Genesis 17:15-22 carries my message for today’s post. In the course of God’s conversation with Abraham He mentioned Sarah and the promise of a child to her. Even in a good old age of 90yrs, Sarah will still give birth to the promise of God to Abraham fulfilled in flesh; she will give birth to a son to be named Isaac. As far as Abraham was concerned, Ishmael was good enough a son to be a bona fide blessing carrier, but that is not so with God. This is because a covenant child must come from a covenant wife. Sarah is the wife of Abraham’s youth, she is the favor bearer in the life of Abraham and as such she is the one to give birth to God’s favor in the life of Abraham. God said in Genesis 17:20-21 that sure He will answer Abraham’s request and bless Ishmael, but as for the establishment of His covenant with Abraham was concerned, that will only happen through Sarah. This tells us how detailed God can be with the issue of His laws. It wasn’t just about bringing His covenant to pass in the life of Abraham, but the channel of making it happen also mattered to God.
Genesis 29:15-35 tells us the story of how Jacob married two wives outside of his will. He loved and worked for Rachael, but he was handed Leah. If only Jacob had prayed, he might have understood why God let that happen, but silly Jacob was blinded by love and so he labored additional 7yrs for love not worth it. But one thing that didn’t pass my eye in that story is found in Genesis 29:31, and it reads, “When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachael was barren.” Did you notice the rights of the first wife playing out in this story too? The first wife who was the wife of Jacob’s youth was the wife favored by God. She was the one the Lord chose to open her womb. Could this be mere coincidence or it's God speaking to our hearts through these occurrences?
Malachi 2:13-14 which I always love to make reference to says, “Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accept them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth.” From this passage God is not acting as a witness between the man and his wife, because there is the possibility of the man having many wives. But God is acting as a witness between the man and the wife of his youth; that very first wife that God blessed him with and gave him to marry, love and care for.
If you are indeed the wife of your husband’s youth I congratulate you so very much. You might not be the one loved by your husband, but you are the one recognized by God. It is in you that God packaged all of the favor of your husband’s life (Proverbs 18:22). This is the right of the first wife being displayed here.
I don’t mean to talk down on those outside of this category who happen to fall with the second wife category. We are all created by God and despite our shortfalls, challenges and circumstances surrounding our marital situation, we all are and will always be blessed by God. But from what we are discovering in the Bible there is a special accolade being given to the wife of his youth. There is a special recognition by God being bestowed on the wife of his youth; those who fall within the first wife category, and that is what this post is showing to us.
Are you a wife of his youth and you feel like giving up and throwing in the towel just because your husband does not love you but loves another, understand that you are the one God reckons with as your husband's wife; you are the one God is favoring as your husband's wife; it is your seed that bear God’s covenant to your husband; you are God’s choice and He loves. The moment you give up on that marriage, the moment you give up on your husband, that is the moment you give up God’s best for you; that is the moment you give up your rights as the first wife, the wife of his youth.
If you dear to persevere, you will dance like Sarah danced and those who laughed at you and said you were a fool for staying in that bondage called marriage, will rejoice with you and wish they were you. Those who mocked you will marvel at what God will make happen in your life and marriage. Remember, after all that Leah suffered, she eventually became the only wife after the death of Rachael. She had the last laugh. That and more is your testimony when you hold on to God’s love and fight on your knees for what God has blessed your life with which is your marriage.