Last night I watched a show that in the end I wished I hadn’t watched. It was detailing the stories of the children involved with the Branch Davidians and what went down at Waco, Texas years ago. The reason I wished I hadn’t watched it was because there were stories of things that ought not be done to children and ought not be taught to children. Yet those things happened. And that broke my heart. A couple of times I found myself asking, “Why did the parents let this go on?” and “Don’t they see that what this one man was preaching wasn’t in obedience with the rest of Scripture?” Of course not. They studied what he wanted them to study. They understood what they studied on the basis of his interpretation, not based on the broad spectrum of Scripture, with proper exegetical study and proper hermeneutics, which is a fancy way of saying proper interpretation (understand the historical context, understand the cultural context, understand the textual context, understand the context within all of Scripture, and look for the most straight-forward interpretation based on all of that). As a result, the Scriptures couldn’t protect them. It couldn’t provide them safety. For if they had been more familiar and more understanding of the Scriptures, they would have seen that Koresh’s interpretation of an apocalyptic end did not meet with the full body of Scripture, that his taking of child wives and his theology of polygamy did not hold up under proper scrutiny. They would have heeded warnings like the following:
You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. – 2 Peter 3:17-18, NASB
It is important to note that this warning comes after when Peter talks about Christ’s return. It warns us not to be carried away by the mistakes who don’t hold true to what is right. And based on what was going on in that compound, what that man was saying wasn’t right. For instance, how can you annul this, which Koresh was doing?
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24, NASB
Yes, there will be a time when earthly marriage will be no more, but Christ gave a specific time frame:
But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. – Matthew 22:29-30, NASB
He said “in the resurrection.” That’s after His return. That’s not now. And given that, this goes completely against Koresh’s teachings:
But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” – Mark 10:5-9, NASB
Koresh was a man and he was separating married couples, declaring them no longer to be married. If only those couples had clung to Scripture! If only they had seen in God’s Word that what this man was preaching did not measure up to God’s instruction! The Scriptures would have provided them protection. It would have provided them safety. And the Scriptures will do the same for us. God’s Word will protect us from false prophets and those who seek to do evil in His name. But we have to know the Scriptures. We have to understand them. And that means we have to read them and study them. They have to be part of our lives. Otherwise they can offer us no protection. Cling to the safety of the Scriptures. Know them. Meditate on them. Store them in your heart.