TODAY’S READING: 1 Kings 7; 2 Chronicles 4
Both the patron of the temple, Solomon, and the chief architect of the temple, Huram, were a part of mixed marriages (1 Kings 7:8, 13–14). Solomon’s main wife was Egyptian and Huram’s father was a Phoenician. The temple itself was a mixed marriage, patterned after temples of its time. Always in the center of the biblical story is God’s intentional inclusion of all peoples. As a product of a mixed marriage myself (my mother born and raised in Greece, my father in America), I am glad that God smiles down upon blended races, wanting all combinations of all races around His heavenly throne.
What is common, however, to all who marry into God’s family is that they check all other gods at the temple door. Though Jehovah’s temple was patterned after Syrian temples of the day, it was not Syrian, nor did it make room for Syria’s gods. Though Solomon’s wife was Egyptian, no false Egyptian idol should ever cross the temple threshold. Though Huram was Phoenician, no evil cultic practice (like child sacrifice) should have any part of Israelite’s worship. The nations are welcome, but they must marry in on God’s terms, and that pre-nuptial agreement includes forsaking all gods and idols other than Jehovah.
Missionary marriages—the contextualization of the gospel that welcomes all peoples into God’s family—is not without guidelines and riverbanks. It’s not a syncretistic free-for-all theologically in which God allows any idea or practice to be adopted unscathed into Christian worship. Andrew Walls says it well: “Perhaps the real test of theological authenticity is the capacity to incorporate the history of Israel and God’s people and to treat it as one’s own.” God’s gospel is freely offered to all peoples. Yet that gospel is rooted in a specific story and all who would join the Kingdom have to join that story, not reshape or change it. That story is the heart of the Bible and it is missionary. It’s the old, old story that we love so well.
God created the world good. Through Adam, sin entered the world and all fell. God promised Eve that her seed would break the curse. God chose Abraham as the father of the one through whom the promised seed would come. God gave Abraham’s family (Israel) the means to be and stay holy through law, priests, and prophets. God gave Abraham’s descendent David the same promise—a seed would be born that would reign eternally. Jesus is the seed of Eve, Abraham, and David. Jesus is our God who saved us from our sins. We are His holy people. Jesus lives in us by His Spirit and blesses us so that we bless all peoples of earth. When we have proclaimed to all peoples in all the earth this central story, King Jesus will come back. When King Jesus comes back, representatives of every tribe and tongue will worship and enjoy Him and each other forever. We live and die for that eternally magnificent life; it is our one holy ambition.
We cannot, must not read the Bible nor live our daily lives outside this one story. We should not breeze through the logistical details of the Scripture without remembering the point of it all: God living with all men, a mixed multitude of every race, joyfully forever. We dare not go from day to day waking up, drinking coffee, going to work and returning home, paying bills, reading the news, working out, reading a book, falling asleep, all to repeat tomorrow, outside the story, forgetting why it is we work, sleep, eat, and repeat. King Jesus is coming in glory. King Jesus is coming to destroy all that is wicked. King Jesus will live forever with His mixed-marriage family. Our purpose in this short life is to make that family as big, as diverse, as variegated, as colorful, and as wonderful as we possibly can.
Mixed marriages include all relatives, historic and global, but that doesn’t mean there are no family rules, nor that we don’t have a family history. We are the children of Abraham. We are spiritual Israel. Our story must merge into and submit to the family story. We can’t bring old gods or idols into the temple. If we are going to be authentic family members, then we all have to adopt the history of Israel and God’s people as our own. We have to sign the same covenant. When we marry into the family of God, we have to change our name and take up His.
 Andrew Walls. Understanding Insider Movements: Disciples of Jesus within Diverse Religious Communities (Kindle Locations 7327–7358). William Carey Library. Kindle Edition.