Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
ISRAEL: The Wife of YEHOVAH God!
The northern ten-tribed Kingdom of Israel is depicted in the Bible as an unfaithful wife whom YEHOVAH God divorced and sent away into Assyrian bondage. YEHOVAH's prophets had warned the people of impending judgment for their sins, making it very clear that they would not escape punishment if they persisted in breaking the commandments, statutes and judgments of YEHOVAH God and taking part in the idolatrous practices of the surrounding nations. Yet, in the midst of their evil ways, YEHOVAH God held out the hope of a coming glorious deliverance when the unfaithful wife would be cleansed and the bill of divorcement blotted out.
by John D. Keyser
In Christian circles it is well known that the biblical nation of Israel was chosen by YEHOVAH God to be His peculiar people. What is not so widely understood is what that "chosen" status means. They were chosen, not for their own power and glory, but to be a servant, and a blessing to all the nations of the earth -- as YEHOVAH God promised in His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, when He declared,
"I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great...and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:2-3 and 28:14).
And the prophet Isaiah stated plainly, "But thou, Israel, art my [YEHOVAH's] servant, Jacob whom I have chosen" (Isaiah 41:8).
A Marital Relationship
However, though YEHOVAH calls Israel His servant, the relationship between YEHOVAH and the nation was much closer than that of Master and servant; it was, in fact, THE RELATIONSHIP OF HUSBAND AND WIFE!
The children of Israel had been in bondage in Egypt for more than four hundred years when YEHOVAH God brought them out in the Exodus by many plagues and miracles, culminating in the parting of the Red Sea so that the people could cross on dry ground. From there they journeyed into the wilderness, eventually encamping at the foot of Mount Sinai in the land of Midian. There YEHOVAH called their leader, Moses, to come up the mountain, where He gave him the laws for the nation -- beginning with the Ten Commandments or Words.
YEHOVAH God then made the people an awesome promise, saying, "Now therefore, if ye will OBEY my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me ABOVE ALL PEOPLE." These words were actually A MARRIAGE COVENANT, and by the people's response, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do," they made their WEDDING VOW (Exodus 19:5-8).
This relationship between YEHOVAH God and the children of Israel is confirmed many times in scripture, as for example in Jeremiah 3:14, where we read the words, "Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I AM MARRIED UNTO YOU."
And the prophet Isaiah, in a chapter about the wife of YEHOVAH, plainly states, "For thy Maker is thine HUSBAND; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 54:5).
Breaking the Wedding Vow
So Israel started out as YEHOVAH's VIRGIN BRIDE; but it was not long -- in fact only a few days -- before they were unfaithful! The first commandment of the Decalogue establishes YEHOVAH's primacy: "I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt...Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:1-3). But even before Moses had come down the mountain with the tablets of stone, the people had made -- and were worshipping -- a golden calf. This was to continue to be the pattern throughout the long, troubled history of Israel.
Even in the Promised Land, which YEHOVAH had given them, they worshipped and made sacrifices to the other gods and idols of the surrounding nations. In YEHOVAH's mind this VIOLATION OF THEIR WEDDING VOW -- worshipping false idols -- was equivalent to ADULTERY; YEHOVAH's chosen Bride was continually PLAYING THE WHORE!
YEHOVAH God sent dozens of mighty judges and prophets to Israel to proclaim His word and to bring the people back into their covenant relationship with Him. But the prophets were mostly ignored or, worse, persecuted, leading Jeremiah to admonish the people, "And the LORD hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear" (Jeremiah 25:4).
In fact, virtually all the prophetic books -- more than one quarter of the Old Testament -- are concerned solely with YEHOVAH's dealings with the SINS of Israel and with the other nations which negatively influenced them. For over seven hundred years YEHOVAH continually pleaded with His people, giving them every opportunity to return to Him, but they would not.
The Bill of Divorcement
Finally YEHOVAH's patience ran out and reluctantly He gave them a BILL OF DIVORCEMENT, declaring: "And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also" (Jeremiah 3:8).
Having wholeheartedly accepted the idolatrous worship of pagan religions such as Baalism, the House of Israel refused to heed the warnings of YEHOVAH God through the prophet Hosea. There was only a faithful few among them who had not bowed their knees before the heathen gods. So Jeremiah records the fact that such a bill of divorcement was given to the Northern Kingdom, or House of Israel.
It should be noted that even though YEHOVAH God had divorced the House of Israel they were not free from the terms of His covenant with them. Explains Howard B. Rand --
"His intention was to compel them to come under its terms by the operation of the 'But' clauses of the covenant which set forth the penalties for its violation. Incidentally, the very fact that that the House of Israel was to suffer in accordance with the penalties set forth in the covenant clearly demonstrates that the covenant was not set aside" (Study in Hosea. Destiny Publishers: 1955, page 25).
In confirmation of this fact the prophet Ezekiel records the words of YEHOVAH God:
"'As I live,' says the LORD God, 'surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you. I will bring you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face. Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you,' says the LORD God. 'I will make you pass under the rod, and I WILL BRING YOU INTO THE BOND OF THE COVENANT'" (Ezekiel 20:33-37).
What this divorce meant was that Israel was NO LONGER UNDER YEHOVAH's PROTECTION and so it was soon conquered by Assyrian and Babylonian armies and most of the people carried away captive into exile, from which the majority never returned. They became known as "the lost sheep of the House of Israel."
"The House of Israel," writes Howard B. Rand, "was sent away into Assyrian captivity and about 130 years later Judah was carried away to Babylon. Because Israel had been given a bill of divorcement, and Judah had not, Israel was UNABLE TO RETURN to Palestine, while a remnant of the House of Judah did return after the Divinely-set term of the Babylonian captivity had expired" (Study in Hosea, p. 21).
So according to the law, when YEHOVAH God gave the House of Israel a bill of divorcement, He expelled them from the "promised land." So long as that bill of divorcement was in force, HE COULD NOT TAKE HER BACK into His house (into His land) to dwell again.
The New Covenant
But the story does not end in tragedy as YEHOVAH God is long-suffering and ever faithful, and He had not given up on Israel. Instead, in spite of their great sins, He made them a promise of great hope. As Jeremiah records it:
"Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a NEW COVENANT with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers...which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days [i.e. in the future], saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Jeremiah 31:31-33).
Divorce and Deuteronomy 24
However, there was a problem with making a new covenant with Israel that was inherent in YEHOVAH's own law. In Deuteronomy 24:1-4 the law states:
"When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement...and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, SHE MAY GO AND BE ANOTHER MAN'S WIFE. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement...her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD."
And yet, through the prophet Jeremiah YEHOVAH God said:
"They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, AND BECOME ANOTHER MAN'S, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou [Israel] hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD" (Jeremiah 3:1).
How could this be? How could Israel return and be remarried to YEHOVAH God in violation of His own law?
The answer to this question is quite simple -- and overlooked by most commentators. The KEY to this is whether the divorced woman remarries or not. Notes the Insight On the Scriptures --
"Doubtless the very fact that the original husband could not remarry his divorced wife after she became another man's, even if that man divorced her or died, made the husband contemplating divorce action think seriously before acting to end the marriage. (Jer. 3:1) However, nothing was said that would prohibit him from remarrying his divorced wife IF SHE HAD NOT REMARRIED after the legal severance of their marriage tie" (Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: 1988. Volume 1, page 641).
If the divorced woman NEVER REMARRIES she can be TAKEN BACK by the man who divorced her. In the case of Israel, the only thing now standing in the way of being taken back by YEHOVAH God is the SINS of the nation since Israel never entered into another legal marriage with another god!
This is WHY Yeshua the Messiah died on the tree! His death not only brought salvation for all mankind, but also REDEEMED Israel, the wife of YEHOVAH, from her defiled (sinful) and divorced state. When the Messiah died on the tree after taking Israel sin's upon Himself, YEHOVAH God was then free to REMARRY the now redeemed and cleansed Israel -- to become once again Husband to His beloved Bride. Thus, the New (Marriage) Covenant between YEHOVAH God and Israel was made possible by the death, and sealed by the precious blood, of Yeshua the Messiah.
Some point to I Corinthians 7:39 which says: "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will..." From this they extrapolate that the only way Israel could be freed from that law was if her husband -- YEHOVAH -- died. Which is, of course, impossible; YEHOVAH GOD CANNOT DIE! The trouble is, people get the physical and spiritual covenants all mixed up! Here Paul is talking about the Church -- the called out ones who will eventually be resurrected to form the spiritual rulers in the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. The Church is supposed to adhere to a stricter requirement and a higher standard than those whom the Messiah spoke of --
"They [the Pharisees] say to him, 'Why then did Moses [with YEHOVAH's approval] command to give a Writ of Divorce, and dismiss her?' He says to them, 'Moses, indeed, permitted you to divorce your wives, on account of your STUBBORN DISPOSITION [lack of the holy spirit]; but from the Beginning it was not so'" (Matthew 19:7-8, The Emphatic Diaglott).
Thus divorce -- regulated by YEHOVAH God -- was allowed among the carnal Israelites on various grounds as a concession.
The Plan of YEHOVAH God
That REMARRIAGE was already in the plan of YEHOVAH God is shown by the foreshadowing of it in the Old Testament book of Hosea, written in the eighth century BC. Speaking through the prophet, YEHOVAH says:
"Therefore, behold, I will allure her...and speak comfortably unto her...And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou [Israel] shalt call me ishi [Hebrew "my husband"]...And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies. l will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD...and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God" (Hosea 2:14-23).
This prophecy was to be fulfilled in a remarkable way. After seventy years of exile in Babylon, a remnant of the House of Judah (that is of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi) -- a mere 42,360 souls in all -- returned to the land of Palestine.
The vast majority of Israel and Judah gradually left their homes in exile and journeyed north and west across the Middle East and Europe, settling eventually in the isles and coastlands of northwestern Europe. These lands, and the far-flung nations which sprang from them -- the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples -- are the "lost sheep," the modern day descendants of ancient Israel. And through the preaching of the word of YEHOVAH God over the centuries, a number have become Christians, fulfilling Jeremiah's prophecy that they would be in a new covenant relationship with YEHOVAH God -- a covenant made through His first-born Son, Yeshua the Messiah. By this covenant they have been forgiven of their sins, and the stigma of an adulterous wife has been put behind them.
That there is to be a RETURN to the land in the future is clearly stated in the Bible -- and it is Israel who is to return to the land of their fathers and regain possession and control of the territory. Ezekiel announces --
"Thus says the LORD God: 'On the day that I CLEANSE you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to DWELL in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt. The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. So they will say, "This land that was desolate has become like the GARDEN OF EDEN; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited." Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the LORD, have REBUILT the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the LORD, have spoken it, and I will do it.' Thus says the LORD God: 'I will also let the House of Israel inquire of Me to do this for them: I will increase their men like a flock. Like a flock offered as holy sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem on its feast days, so shall the ruined cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they shall know that I am the LORD'" (Ezekiel 36:33-38).
But before this can come to pass, the bill of divorcement given to Israel by YEHOVAH God must be annulled.
Following their redemption, Israel will then be in a position to have everything restored to them that had been lost. They will be permitted to RETURN to the land that was previously theirs -- from the Euphrates to the river Nile -- for it is to the modern nations of Israel, truly Christianized and sincerely repentant, that the prophet Zephaniah addresses the following to:
"The remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness and speak no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth....The LORD has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy. THE KING OF ISRAEL, THE LORD, IS IN YOUR MIDST; you shall see disaster no more. In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: 'Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The LORD your God IN YOUR MIDST, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you in His love, He will rejoice over you with singing....At that time I will BRING YOU BACK, even at the time I gather you; for I will give you fame and praise among all the peoples of the earth, when I return your captives before your eyes,' says the LORD" (Zephaniah 3:13-20).
It should be noted, however, that it is only as a truly Christian people that Israel may regain possession of their land in the Middle East.
The Coming Remarriage
The remarriage of YEHOVAH God and His Israel people -- pictured in Revelation 21:2 by the New Jerusalem "coming down out of heaven from God, PREPARED AS A BRIDE ADORNED FOR HER HUSBAND" -- has not yet been realized. That this city represents Israel is obvious from its description, as on its twelve gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. The Bride is the Israel nation itself, in all its many disguises today. Their reunion with YEHOVAH God, bringing to fruition the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God on earth, will yet disseminate the blessings, promised of old by YEHOVAH God to the patriarchs, throughout all the world.
Jerusalem, the Holy City and capital of YEHOVAH's Kingdom, is represented as His Bride in the description of that city by the apostle John. But since the capital of a kingdom stands for that kingdom, the New Jerusalem therefore designates the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. YEHOVAH God said to Israel --
"I will set My tabernacle [dwelling place] AMONG YOU, and My soul shall not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people" (Leviticus 26:11-12).
Later on -- through the prophet Zechariah -- the call goes out, "Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I COME, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD" (Zechariah 2:10).
The fact of Israel being His people and YEHOVAH God dwelling in their midst now becomes a reality as John witnesses the consummation of the promises made to Israel. YEHOVAH God establishes this close relationship with His people now and forever more -- and they will never again be alienated or divorced from Him.
The Messiah's Marriage Supper
This is not to be confused with the Church, which is the Body of the Messiah, set apart within the nation. The marriage of the Church (YEHOVAH's called out ones) to the Messiah is pictured in Revelation 19:7-9. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb (the Messiah) precedes the taking over of the Kingdom rule by YEHOVAH God. Writes Howard B. Rand:
"It [the Marriage Supper] is the induction into office of his [the Messiah's] friends who are present with him at the Marriage Supper. They are destined to reign and rule in the Kingdom. These constitute the true Church or his Body, the spirit-filled men and women who are overcomers and will sit down with him in his Throne even as he sat down with his Father in His Throne" (A Study in Revelation. Destiny Publishers: 1985, page 289).
The Prophesied National Glory
With the description of the New Jerusalem by John in mind, let's now turn to Isaiah's account of the coming glory of national Israel. "The abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces [or wealth] of the gentiles shall come unto thee." Then follows the statement of untold wealth that will flow into Israel. Isaiah continues, "Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces [wealth] of the gentiles...and they shall call thee, The City of the LORD, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 60).
"And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life." This testimony is given regarding the Holy City. But Isaiah says this is the condition within the nation of Israel: "Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders....Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified" (Isaiah 60).
Truly, in that day, "all the families of the earth will be blessed."
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
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