“O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!
Go say to them, Get you into your tents again.
But as for thee, stand thou here by me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it.
Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.”
When it comes to the truth that God presents to his people in his word, we are commanded to not veer from his truth to the right hand or the left. The LORD must give this warning because it is certainly the tendency of man to fall off the cliff on one false extreme or the other. Staying on the strait and narrow path means that we are going to be opposed from both sides of the issues of our day.
Think about the issues of how we should take care and steward God’s creation. On the left, we have environmentalist wackos who hug trees, want to reduce the population of the earth, worship animals and so forth. On the right you have the advocates of abusing God’s creation in the name of the free market and capitalism. They endorse a system in which the life of animals is not respected, in Confined Animal Feeding Operations–(CAFOs). They endorse destroying the soil through chemicals and abuse of the land in order to have cheaper goods, which does nothing but enrich the wicked corporations while our future generations are ruined.
God endorses neither side. God has given man dominion over the animals and all creation. Man is to exercise rule and order by using the creation, including animals, for man’s needs and desires, under God’s law. (Genesis 1:28)
At the same time, “a righteous man regardeth the life of his beast” (Proverbs 12:10) Man is to respect and honor the life of animals but never elevate them to the status of man, who was created in God’s image.
In light our current happenings and as a continuation of our previous studies, I want to talk about the topic of “having respect of persons” or, in other words, partiality. You could also insert the word discrimination here; as discrimination in its truest form simply means to put a difference between or the act of distinguishing. (The world out there wants to demand equality for everyone — how it’s unfair for one group of people to having any privileges above another.) We will discuss related topics such as privilege and loving and caring for certain people above others. The holy scriptures have a whole lot to say on this topic. We will show when the Bible teaches in favor of partiality or respect of persons. And we will show when the Bible teaches against partiality or respect of persons.
We are going to take a balanced, scriptural approach. Our beliefs and actions stemming from this topic must be wholely based on God’s word and not influenced by the current political and social climate that we live in today.
While it is true that we are to use discretion and be wise as serpents and harmless as doves, we must not have our Doctrine be informed by culture and we must stand fast in what is true and just according to God and not man. We are Christians who stand on the authority of God’s word, not humanists who base what we believe and practice with the changing winds of society rooted in the fear of man, which brings a snare. Our beliefs as Biblical Christians are also not reactionary to the world; our doctrines and practices are not to be the opposite extreme of the world’s present extreme.
As mentioned previously, the church in our land in many forms holds to doctrines that are more compatible with the world and antichrists than their own Christian fathers. It is certainly difficult to ward off even a little bit of the fear of man in these situations; situations where, if you hold to a Biblical worldview that your Christian fathers held to, you are considered hateful, bigoted, judgmental, unsympathetic, and so on. Those of us who wish to hold to the same Christian views as those who founded America are deemed to be akin to Hitler or whatever other monster the left creates in the minds of the people.
And then the church, not wishing to be viewed in such a negative light, slowly shifts its doctrinal and practical decisions to accommodate the world. As the generations pass by, moving inch by inch toward compromise, the 21st century church is so entirely compromised and conditioned toward falsehood that its members genuinely believe they are defending the truth of God’s word when in fact, they are defending the precepts of Jacobins from the French Revolution.
So let us begin with our scriptural examination of the practice of respecting of persons, or, partiality.
God-fearing Men Showing Respect of Persons
“And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.” — Genesis 24:1-4
“And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me? —-Genesis 27:46
“And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughers of Laban thy mother’s brother. And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.” — Genesis 28:1-4
We can see plainly from these two passages of scripture, that the very original patriarchs of our faith acted in a manner that, if practiced today, would be considered a sinful act in the eyes of the 21st century Christian church. But this was normal thinking for all people of all nations prior to the last 50-100 years of history.
The goal of this study is not to delve into the details of why Abraham and Isaac chose to show partiality against Canaanites and in favor of their own kindred, but rather to establish the fact that it was considered important to men of strong faith to have respect of persons in the area of marriage. Canaanites were considered off-limits for Abraham’s seed and God continued to affirm this decision in his commandments (Deuteronomy 7:1-8) wherein he forbad marriages with certain tribes of people because of their general sinful tendency. He gave no exceptions to Israel for a Canaanite (or one of the other tribes listed) that might be converted to their religion.
God Showing Respect of Persons in Election
“The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” — Deuteronomy 7:7-8
It is no mystery of scripture that God specifically chose Abraham. Abraham did not choose God. And God chose a physical lineage of Abraham after him to establish his covenant. The lineage was not to be through Ishmael, but through Isaac. This was God’s choosing. God then goes on to specifically choose Jacob for no particular reason other than his own good pleasure (see Romans 9:11-16). God’s calling is not based on merit. It is based on whom he wants to love and show mercy to. God is discriminatory in his actions and the decisions he makes in favor or some above others is not based on equality. God does not love everyone equally.
What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. — Romans 3:1-2
What does the word “advantage” mean in this passage? In modern terms, it basically means “privilege”. The Jews had Jewish privilege in that to them were committed the oracles of God. They had God’s law and God’s special favor in a way that other nations did not. It was based on God’s promise to a family lineage. This certainly goes against all the principles of the religion of Communism being pushed on us. How unfair of God! How “unjust”, right? Clearly social justice is the opposite of Biblical justice. If social justice doctrine were true, then God himself is wickedly unrighteous.
God Commanding Respect of Person in Personal Affairs
“Honour widows that are widows indeed. But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.….
But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” –1Timothy 5:3-4, 8
Here we see such a strict and stern command from God, that, if not obeyed, professing Christians are deemed to be “worse than an infidel”. That is a very strong statement. What is so bad, that if you fail to do it, you are worse than an infidel? Showing a special love, a respect of persons to your own relatives. You are not condemned if you do not provide for my relatives. But if you fail to provide for your own relative, you are worse than an infidel.
This is common sense, but common sense has been lost on our generation; a generation that believes itself to be more righteous and more just than God. As husbands, we have a special obligation to our own wives. We are to love them as Christ loved the church. We are not obligated to love other men’s wives in this manner, nor to provide for and protect them in the same manner.
Our wives likewise have a similar duty to honor, reverence, and obey their husbands. They do not owe this duty to someone else’s husband.
There is a respect of persons that is evident in our family relationships. We have a particular obligation to show partiality to our own children. They have privileges that other people’s children do not possess. And this is righteous in the eyes of God.
There is a family in our congregation that owns a very large, very nice in-ground swimming pool. It would never be a sin that the children of their home are permitted to swim in their family pool an unequal amount of time, to their benefit, compared to my children. In fact, my children possess no inherent right to swim in their pool at all. The father of their home has zero obligation to share the privilege of his pool with my children.
In the passage we examined in 1Timothy, we saw the word “parents”, which in the greek refers to not only your direct parents, but your ancestors. Furthermore, in Jeremiah 35, the Rechabites were a tribe commended by God for obeying the voice of their “father”, who was an ancestor; a patriarch of their tribe. They were obeying the 5th commandment to honor their father and mother. Even though we have a general command to “honour all men” (1Peter 2:17), there is a special honor that is due to our direct parents and ancestors. The Bible also gives us instruction that a special honor is due to the elderly (Leviticus 19:32) that is different from the honor we give to others.
The Bible teaches that partiality is a good thing. Jesus had a contention with the Pharisees in Mark 7:1-13 over the very issue spoken of earlier regarding 1Timothy 5:8. The Pharisees were forbidding the honoring of father and mother based on their wresting of the scripture. Jesus rightly condemned them and upheld the law of God which required a partiality toward our parents.
Nations, historically, are extended families. There are families, clans, tribes, and nations. No family, no clan, no tribe, and no nation is obligated to share their privilege with any other outside of their own. To say this based on out of context passages of scripture about partiality is a perversion of God’s word and a wicked thing. It is unrighteous to make any group of people feel guilty about the privileges and advantages of their descendents.
Paul had a special love for his kinsmen according to the flesh, even going so far to say that he could wish himself accursed from Christ, so that his physical brethren could be saved (Romans 9:1-5). Was Paul unrighteous for his not having the same kind of love for other kindreds of people? Certainly not.
God Commanding Respect of Persons in National Affairs
“He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD. A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.
An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever: Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee. Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee. Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever.
Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother: thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land. The children that are begotten of them shall enter into the congregation of the LORD in their third generation.” —Deuteronomy 23:1-8
In Israel, certain people could not enter the congregation of the LORD based on their lineage– whether it was from being a product of a mixed marriage or whether it was from being outside of the tribes of Israel. As Matthew Henry points out in his commentary, it is not always agreed upon what was meant by entering the congregation of the LORD. Nevertheless, whatever it was, there were privileges within the nation that were withheld from certain people.
For Ammonites and Moabites, Israel was to withhold their children from the congregation of the LORD forever because “they met you not with bread and water” and because they hired Balaam to curse Israel. Did their children perform this act? No. Nevertheless, generations after bore the consequences of their fathers’ trespasses against God and his people. Is this not further confirmed by the LORD’s statements in the 2nd Commandment (Exodus 20:4-8) that God would visit (punish in judgment) the iniquities of the fathers upon the children to the 3rd and 4th generation of those who hate him?
Why was Israel not to abhor an Edomite? “Because he is thy brother”, God answers. The discriminatory measures were not to last as long for those of their brother’s tribe who were in their nation.
I strongly recommend to read Matthew Henry’s commentary on this passage. I once presented it to the Pastor of a church we were part of and he concluded that “it must have been an area where Matthew Henry was weak”– which is the standard response to any of our fathers who do not subscribe to the Marxist brand of Christianity of our day.
And this form of discrimination was commanded by the LORD. Therefore to condemn our Christian forefathers on basis of certain forms of discrimination that they practiced, simply because it was discrimination on the basis of uncontrollable physical characteristics, is a grave and wicked judgment and a violation of the 5th commandment.
Note that for certain tribes or classes of men, the discriminatory actions were basically forever (10 generations) and for others it was only three generations. It was not strictly because they were not Israelites and a blanket policy was given to them all. Certain conditions required different societal precepts. If the law of God and if God’s character were inherently against such discrimination, these commandments for how Israel was to govern their own nation would not be in the scriptures.
We can conclude thus; that in principle, God favors discrimination in the laws of nations in certain situations. God commanded it as part of his perfect, righteous, and holy law. Even those who had some sort of deformity had a prohibition of sorts, which would be utterly contemptible in the eyes of our current generation. It is “not their fault”, right? That is a true statement, exactly.
I do not claim to understand the full details of whatever the discrimination entailed; I simply am pointing out the fact that discrimination existed that was sanctioned by God and that it was righteous. How do we know it is righteous? Because God says it was. That is our standard, not modern humanistic reasoning.
God Commanding Respect of Persons in Ecclesiastical Affairs
“The priests the Levites, and all the tribe of Levi, shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel: they shall eat the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and his inheritance. Therefore shall they have no inheritance among their brethren: the LORD is their inheritance, as he hath said unto them.” –Deuteronomy 18:1-2
“And the priests the sons of Levi shall come near; for them the LORD thy God hath chosen to minister unto him, and to bless in the name of the LORD; and by their word shall every controversy and every stroke be tried:” — Deuteronomy 21:5
The scriptures explicitly teach that for national Israel, the Levites held a special role in the offices of ministering duties. There were certain duties and responsibilities that only applied to Levi. The Levites even held certain cities within various territories of Israel for their possession so that they could exercise their duties.
The family of Aaron in particular held an even more specific task of the office of the priest. Aaron’s sons alone were permitted to minister in the tabernacle and then in the temple. Only one of Aaron’s descendants could become the high priest.
These forms of partiality or respect of persons were embedded into the law of God. Not only did the ministers have to be men, but they had to be of a specific tribe or a specific family of that tribe. So you could say that God discriminated based on tribe and showed respect of persons for Levi and Aaron’s descendents. God had even commanded that the sons of Aaron were to take them to wife only a virgin of their own people (Leviticus 21:14).
When Israel strayed from God’s law, God records how bad things are by describing how the office of the priesthood is handled.
“After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places.” –1Kings 13:33
“And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him (Rehoboam) out of all their coasts. For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest’s office unto the LORD:” — 2Chronicles 11:13-14
In Numbers 16, we read of a dispute, as certain of the sons of Levi gathered themselves against Moses and Aaron, seeking the office of the priesthood.
“And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?” — Numbers 16:3
Apparently these Levites had a little in common with those who push equality in our day. But in the end of that ordeal, those who had joined with them were swallowed alive by the earth and they went alive into the pit.
Amazingly, we read this afterward:
“But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the LORD.” — Numbers 16:41
Other Examples of Righteous Respecting of Persons
Since the concept of partiality being generally a good thing is so prevalent in scripture and so abundant, there will not be time to cover every example. But here are a few more examples to consider:
The king must be someone from your own people
“When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me; Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.” — Deuteronomy 17:14-15
“Then came all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron, and spake, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh.” — 2Samuel 5:1
The Firstborn son had special privileges/responsibilities
The principle of the firstborn son goes back well before the law given to Moses. In Israel, the firstborn son had special rights and privileges that the other children did not have. But he also had special obligations and responsibilities that the others did not have. Despite this being a practice that preceded God’s law given to Moses, here are a few scriptures that confirm the practice as righteous before God.
“Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.” — Exodus 13:2
“If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated: Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn: But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.” — Deuteronomy 21:15-17
While it is true that the phrase “respect of persons” or “partiality” is not used in these scriptures, the concept certainly is present. Showing special favor to certain people based on factors other than merit is:
- Demonstrated by God
- Commanded by God
- Rewarded by God
- Practiced by God’s people
Showing favoritism is also demonstrably righteous in scripture in the following:
- Election of Saints
- Personal Affairs
- Family Affairs
- Ecclesiastical Affairs
- National Affairs
May we seek to imitate God in these attributes and obey his commandments. May we shun the wisdom of the world and conformity to it and be transformed by the renewing of our minds to the image of Christ.
In the next lesson, we are going to look at the negative forms of showing respect of persons (partiality). These negative forms primarily are related to judgment.