First of all, I have to admit that I never gave much thought to the difference in these identities, or what impact understanding them might have on how I walked out my faith. But as I dug in to see what the Word reveals on the matter, I was actually astonished at how some of our modern theology has disregarded [as well as distorted] the true identification of both the Wife of Yahweh and the Bride of the Messiah. As I said, I'm still figuring all this out myself, but this is what I've come to understand so far...
Now therefore, if you will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people... And when the people responded, All that the Lord has spoken, we will do, it was their vow to be faithful to that wedding covenant.
True, the word "wife" is not mentioned in this particular passage, but as one looks upon the history of Israel's relationship with Yahweh, there are Scriptures that make it clear as to her relationship with Him. We are all familiar with how quickly Israel abandoned her covenant with God to be holy and faithful as a virgin bride, and began worshiping false idols and chasing after other lovers. Both Jeremiah 3:14 and Isaiah 54:5 make it clear that God considered Himself married to Israel ... Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you (Jeremiah), and For your Maker is your Husband—the Lord of hosts is His name—and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; the God of the whole earth He is called (Isaiah).
God loved Israel so much that He sent prophets and judges to try to convince the unfaithful people to return to the marriage covenant He had established with them. Time and again, they would go astray and backslide. Finally, running out of patience, God declares, "And I saw, even though [Judah knew] that for this very cause of committing adultery (idolatry) I [the Lord] had put faithless Israel away and given her a bill of divorce; yet her faithless and treacherous sister Judah was not afraid, but she also went and played the harlot [following after idols]" (Jeremiah 3:8). It was at this time in history that the northern kingdom of Israel [including 10 of the twelve tribes] was taken into captivity by the Assyrians and dispersed throughout the known world. It would be a little over 100 years later that the Southern Kingdom of Judah would be taken into exile in Babylon. But it is clear from these passages that God considered the twelve tribes of the nation of Israel as His wife.
In a nutshell, this is how the course of events took place: The Marriage Contract. The entire format of the Book of Deuteronomy is that of both an ancient treaty and an ancient marriage contract. In this book, Moses took all the various facets of the three earlier books and presented them in the form of an ancient marriage contract. In this book we find the marriage contract signed between Israel and God whereby Israel becomes the Wife of Jehovah. The Acts of Adultery. In Jeremiah, Chapter 3, Israel is compared to a wife who has turned away from her husband, and in verse 20, the Bible says, Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, So have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel, says Jehovah. The Separation. God spent nearly 100 years, [as the Book of Isaiah shows us], sending judgments against Israel, in the hopes that she would return to covenant. The Divorce. When judgment and separation failed to produce repentance, God had no choice but to serve a bill of divorce to His beloved nation. The Lord said to me in the days of King Josiah: “Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore? And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore (Jeremiah 3:6-8).
But make no mistake about this ... although Israel was served a bill of divorcement, God has not abandoned them and the Bible makes it clear that there will be future restoration and a new marriage contract between Israel, Judah, and God. It couldn't be more plainly stated than in Jeremiah 31:31-34: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” This is the glorious hope of a future reconciliation between God's treasured people and the One who has loved them with an undying love.
By now, I hope you can at least reflect on the idea that God considers Israel as His wife, and He as her husband. I think there is a mistaken theology in the modern Church that says we Christians, as the Bride of Christ, are married to Jesus and He is our husband. In the next post, I would like to take a look at who is the Bride of Christ; what is the significance of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb; and how is the Wedding Feast different? I think it is incumbent upon us as serious students of the Bible, and the redeemed children of God, to understand these distinctions and their significance for us in the Kingdom of God. We need to know who we are!
Hosea 2:16 And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’
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