Note: This post continues the series on The Marriage Covenant.
We observed previously that Yahweh uses parables to provide understanding to His people. We looked at the parable of the soul in its two halves, as it is manifested in the cutting of a blood covenant. We observed many truths as we looked at the parable of the body being a temple of God. With the laying of this fifth foundation stone we will look at the truths that are revealed through the parable of the land being a married woman.
We should not be surprised that Yahweh compares the bodies of men and women to a portion of the earth, for man’s body was formed of the dust of the earth.
Then Yahweh God formed man of dust from the ground…
“For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Let us begin by looking at a Scripture where Yahweh compares the land of Israel to His wife.
For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet… It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,”Nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate”; But you will be called, “My delight is in her,” And your land, “Married”; For Yahweh delights in you, and to Him your land will be married… And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you.
If God uses the imagery of His being married to the land of Israel, then there must also be a parallel image between man and his bride, for man was created to be the image and likeness of God. We find this parallel in Scriptures, for a man’s wife is at times spoken of through the analogy of land.
God says, “If a husband divorces his wife, and she goes from him, and belongs to another man, will he still return to her? Will not that land be completely polluted?
When the Holy Spirit inspired Jeremiah to write of land being polluted, we understand that land is a metaphor for a man’s wife. To this day it is still common to refer to a nation in terms of a woman. The following picture is of Lady Columbia, the female personification of America.
(Click on picture for larger image)
I do not think that Yahweh would depict America as a beautiful woman dressed in white. The land of America has truly become polluted by the grievous sins committed in the land. The blood of more than 50 million babies has stained the land, and the stain cannot be washed away.
So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it. Therefore do not defile the land which you inhabit, in the midst of which I dwell; for I Yahweh dwell among the children of Israel.'”
Describing the land as a married woman is a well utilized device used by Yahweh in the Scriptures. There is benefit in examining these passages, for they reveal many things, including Yahweh’s abhorrence of sexual defilement, as well as the grounds for divorce, and the restoration of one who has been divorced.
In the following passage we see Yahweh describing the adulterous behavior of His wives, Israel and Judah. He speaks of divorcing Israel and sending her away from His presence, for she had stained herself with the pollution of her adultery.
Then Yahweh said to me in the days of Josiah the king, “Have you seen what faithless Israel did? She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she was a harlot there.” And I thought, ‘After she has done all these things, she will return to Me’; but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. And , yetI saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also. And it came about because of the lightness of her harlotry, that she polluted the land and committed adultery with stones and trees.”
In the previous post in this series we looked at the scourge of venereal disease. Yahweh so designed His creation that when men and women act in an adulterous or sexually immoral manner, their bodies become infected with disease. The many diseases are often abhorrent in appearance, resulting in cankers, blisters, pustules, and various physical deformities. The blood stream of those infected can be compared to a polluted river within a nation. Death is present in that current that should be devoted to the preservation of life.
Whenever God’s chosen people embraced another god, He viewed the act as infidelity, and described it as whoredom and adultery. As the Israelites built their high places for the worship of these foreign gods, Yahweh viewed the land as polluted and greatly defiled. Israel and Judah embraced many gods. They worshiped the Baals. They worshiped Molech and Ashtoreth and Milcom and various other gods from the nations around them.
As we have observed in previous chapters of this series, man could have more than one wife, but a wife was permitted only one husband. This is a parable of God with man. Yahweh may take many peoples and nations to Himself, but the nations are only permitted to serve Him as God. For Israel or Judah to embrace another deity was viewed in the same way as the wife of a man spreading her legs and inviting strange men to be sexually promiscuous with her.
“You built yourself a high place at the top of every street, and made your beauty abominable; and you spread your legs to every passer-by to multiply your harlotry.”
These are profound parables. Yahweh uses this metaphor of His people being His wife throughout both the Old and New Testaments. He speaks of the faithlessness and treachery of His people as they forsake Him and embrace foreigners. Yahweh testifies that He finds such betrayal and lewd behavior to be abhorrent.
They did not destroy the peoples, as Yahweh commanded them, but they mingled with the nations, and learned their practices, and served their idols, which became a snare to them. They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons, and shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with the blood. Thus they became unclean in their practices, and played the harlot in their deeds. Therefore the anger of Yahweh was kindled against His people, and He abhorred His inheritance.
Yahweh has created man so that he too would be jealous of his wife. Man is created in the image and likeness of God, and Yahweh is jealous for His people. He is always angered and abhorred when His wife acts in an adulterous manner. When He found no repentance in His wife for her harlotry, He gave her a writ of divorce and sent her away. This He did with both Israel and Judah. Israel was sent away to the land of Assyria, and when Judah repeated the sins of her sister, she was sent to Babylon.
It should be understood from this that Yahweh sees nothing unrighteous in the act of sending away a wife that has acted in an adulterous manner. For the reason of unchastity, He has ever permitted a man to send away a wife. Yahweh would have mankind understand through the marriage relationship between a man and his wife the jealousy with which He looks upon His people.
You are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim – for you shall not worship any other god, for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God – lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they play the harlot with their gods, and sacrifice to their gods, and someone invite you to eat of his sacrifice; and you take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods, and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods.
Jealousy toward a wife is not an evil thing. It would be an evil thing for a man to not care whether his wife was having sexual relations with other men. Some who are hardened in their sin practice such “open marriages” today, but those who do so have departed far from God whose name is Jealous.
The Jews were hard-hearted, and the men were prone to send their wives away for any transgression at all. If the wife simply did not please them anymore, they would send them away. This is something Yahweh would not do. It was only for the sake of unchastity, for sexual immorality, that Yahweh would send away His wife.
The Jewish leaders came to Christ and inquired of Him concerning this matter. They asked Yahshua if it was permitted for a man to send away a wife for any reason at all. He responded:
“I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality (porneia) causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.”
The Greek word rendered here as “sexual immorality” is porneia. It is translated in a variety of ways, including “unchastity,” “fornication,” “adultery,” and “uncleanness.” Christ was declaring that sexual immorality was the only justification for a man to send away a wife with a writing of divorce. If a man sent her away for any reason besides sexual impurity, he would be causing her to commit adultery.
It is a terrible thing for any man to influence another to commit adultery. It is an act of great treachery for a man to cause his own wife to have to commit adultery by sending her out from his presence for any reason other than that she had already acted treacherously toward the marriage covenant by opening her legs to another man.
God viewed His wives, Israel and Judah to be polluted and defiled when they embraced other gods. It is natural that a man would hold the same view toward his wife when she has embraced other men.
Yahweh has created men so that those who are righteous as He is righteous, have an aversion to being joined to a woman who is polluted. Yahweh speaks of a man taking back a wife who has been polluted by another man as an act of abomination.
“When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house, and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man’s wife, and if the latter husband turns against her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her to be his wife, then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before Yahweh, and you shall not bring sin on the land which Yahweh your God gives you as an inheritance.”
Some have contemplated whether it is right for a man or woman today to return to a spouse that has been divorced and married to another. The Law delivered to Moses strictly forbid such an action. Yahweh said that the wife in such a case had been defiled, and that it was an abominable thing in the sight of God for the wife to return to the first husband after she had been polluted by intercourse with another man.
The Law was given in order that man might identify sin and transgression as Yahweh does. The Law reveals those things that are clean in Yahweh’s sight, and those things that are unclean. The Law makes a distinction between the holy and the profane.
A woman who has acted adulterously is unclean. She is described as polluted and defiled. It is a very detestable thing in God’s eyes for either Himself, or a man, to be joined to one who has polluted herself and made herself abhorrent. This is the language that the Bible uses to describe these things.
Although the Law describes for us those things that are clean and unclean, it does not reveal the entire counsel of God. The Law was without mercy. “The soul that sinned must die.” Aaron was the first High Priest of the Law, and he observed firsthand the merciless character of the Law. When Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu transgressed the command of God, failing to show reverence to His holiness, and the offered strange fire before Him, fire that God did not recognize as holy, Yahweh struck them both dead.
Aaron was confronted with the death of two of his sons in a single moment of time, and the loss was tremendous. Yahweh was revealing to Aaron that those who serve Him must treat Him as holy. Yahweh was demonstrating the awfulness of His Holy character. Men who are unclean cannot stand in His presence. The Law was given to show mankind the vast gulf between the holiness of Yahweh and the sinfulness of man. Those who understood the difference should truly tremble in fear, realizing their uncleanness.
This is the purpose of the Law, to show the abominable depths to which mankind has fallen, and to show to them their need of a Savior. The law included types and shadows of the mercy of God to come, for their were sacrifices and offerings that could be made to atone for the sins of mankind. Yet, the central purpose of the Law was to present all men as unclean before God that every mouth my be stopped, and that no flesh should glory in Yahweh’s presence.
This severity of the Law was revealed in what happened to Aaron’s two sons. Not only were they slain, but God forbid Aaron to even mourn for them.
Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before Yahweh, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of Yahweh and consumed them, and they died before Yahweh. Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what Yahweh spoke, saying, ‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored.'” So Aaron, therefore, kept silent… Then Moses said to Aaron and to his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not uncover your heads nor tear your clothes, so that you may not die, and that He may not become wrathful against all the congregation. But your kinsmen, the whole house of Israel, shall bewail the burning which Yahweh has brought about. You shall not even go out from the doorway of the tent of meeting, lest you die; for the Lord’s anointing oil is upon you.” So they did according to the word of Moses.
If God in His holiness were to treat us with justice we would all perish. Yet He has determined to show to mankind mercy.
For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
The Law revealed the justice of God, and its judgments were accordingly severe. An adulterer, or adulteress was to be stoned to death. One who violated the Sabbath was to be stoned to death. A rebellious son was to be taken outside the camp and stoned to death. Mankind has fallen into great transgression, departing from the holy character of Yahweh, and the consequences are severe. The Law showed this seriousness of man’s fall. Christ came to reveal the mercy of God. If we stop at the Law, we will all be accounted transgressors.
A man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Yahshua, even we have believed in Christ Yahshua, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.
Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.”
What does this mean, but that no man can attain to the righteousness that is revealed in the Law. We are altogether unclean. We stand condemned by the Law, for this was its ministry; it was given to reveal to man his condemnation.
II Corinthians 3:7-9
But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how shall the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.
What was engraved in letters on stones? It was the Law of God delivered to Moses. The apostle Paul describes the role of the Law as “the ministry of death,” and “the ministry of condemnation.” The error of those who want to be ruled by the ministry of the Law is revealed in Christ’s confrontation with the Jewish leaders over the woman who was caught in the act of adultery.
Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Yahshua stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Yahshua was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Yahshua had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Yahshua said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
The ministry of the Law was condemnation, but Christ’s words were “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” The Law was given to condemn the world, but Christ did not come for the same purpose.
“For God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.”
And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them, [and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”]
Moses delivered the Law to God’s people. The Jews thought that this Law could save them, for they were greatly deluded in thinking that they could attain to the righteous standards of the Law. In His sermon on the mount, Yahshua revealed that they were mistaken. He revealed the perfection that Yahweh required for men to be justified in His sight. It was not enough to keep from committing adultery, for if a man looked upon another man’s wife with lust, he had committed adultery with her in his heart. It was not enough to not murder another man, for if one were to be angry with his brother without a cause he was in danger of judgment. It was not enough to love one’s friends and hate one’s enemies, for God causes the Sun to shine on the just and the unjust, and He sends the blessing of rain upon all.
Over and over, Yahshua revealed to the Jews that the Law could only condemn them. It could never present them as righteous in the eyes of Yahweh. The law was given to accuse and convict men of sin before a holy God.
“Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope.”
If we understand these things, then we can begin to understand why God at times violates the commands of His own Law. The Law only revealed one aspect of Yahweh’s character, His holiness, but it did not reveal His mercy. The Law demanded that the one caught in adultery should be stoned, but Christ expressed forgiveness and mercy to the adulteress, while admonishing her to sin no more.
Let us the consider the words of the Law that we have read in Deuteronomy chapter 24, verses 1-4. Yahweh said that a woman who had been sent away and joined to another could not return to the first husband, for that was an abomination. Such a woman is defiled, and according to the righteousness of God this is true. Yet there is mercy even for such an one as this.
Yahweh revealed this when He sent Israel and Judah away with a writ of divorce. They were joined to their lovers, and played the harlot with abandonment. Yet a time came when Yahweh remembered His love for them, and He decided to express His mercy. He took them back, which is something that was detestable to His righteousness. Yet mercy triumphs over judgment! Hallelujah!
“And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce…”
Yahweh has declared that the adulteries of Israel are as abominable to Him as the adulteries of an unfaithful wife. He declares through Jeremiah:
God says, “If a husband divorces his wife, and she goes from him, and belongs to another man, will he still return to her? Will not that land be completely polluted? But you are a harlot with many lovers; Yet you turn to Me,” declares Yahweh.
What is Yahweh declaring? He is saying that Israel has acted just like one who has been divorced due to her adulteries and has been joined to another. She is completely polluted. He asks, “Will such a woman return to her first husband? Will not that land be completely polluted?” The answers are rhetorical, “Yes, she is polluted. No, she has no right to return to her first husband for she has defiled herself.”
Yet, the remarkable thing is that Yahweh allowed her to come back. Indeed, He even sought after her to bring her back to Himself. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
“Return, faithless Israel,” declares Yahweh; “I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious,” declares Yahweh; “I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against Yahweh your God and have scattered your favors to the strangers under every green tree, and you have not obeyed My voice,” declares Yahweh. “Return, O faithless sons,” declares Yahweh.
We see this same merciful heart of God overcoming His righteous indignation and judgment as recorded in the book of Ezekiel.
Therefore thus says Yahweh God, “Now I shall restore the fortunes of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I shall be jealous for My holy name. And they shall forget their disgrace and all their treachery which they perpetrated against Me, when they live securely on their own land with no one to make them afraid. When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall be sanctified through them in the sight of the many nations. Then they will know that I am Yahweh their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer. And I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,” declares Yahweh God.
In His righteous anger and jealousy Yahweh could have cast His wife away forever, for she had played the harlot. Yet in His mercy He sought after her and drew her back to Himself.
As we proceed to address the specific questions that arise concerning marriage, divorce, and remarriage, we must ever keep in mind the mercy of God. The Law of God is a minister of condemnation. The Law slays men and women in their sins. Yet God, being rich in His mercy, has put away His anger and ever seeks to save that which is lost. Christ came to save mankind, not to condemn, yet at the same time He says, “Go and sin no more.”
We must ever keep the kindness and the severity of God in mind. His grace does not give men and woman license to sin. All who seek to abuse Yahweh’s grace will reap the consequences of their error. “Do not be deceived, for God will not be mocked.” Men and women will reap what they sow. If they continue to sow to the flesh after having been made partakers of the grace and mercy of God, will they not reap according to their error?
Where should we end this post? Should we end saying God is merciful, or should we end saying God is righteous and holy and to be feared? Let us end by declaring both.
Lovingkindness and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
The land that is polluted can be redeemed. That which has been defiled may yet again be sanctified. Let us take hope, and let us “go and sin no more.”
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