DID GOD DIVORCE ISRAEL & REMARRY A GENTILE BRIDE?
BY ELDER DANIEL MENA
God’s resounding displeasure against divorce and remarriage is clearly recognized in numerous New Testament texts. Matthew 19:3-6 says, “The Pharisees also came tempting him – saying – Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? – And (He) said, “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh – What therefore God bath joined
together, let not man put asunder.”
Paul instructed the Corinthians, “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord let not the wife depart from her husband, but if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband:
and let not the husband put away his wife.” (I Corinthians 7:10-11). We must remember, this was not an irrelevant suggestion, but the commandment of the Lord! He continues in verse 39, “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; only in the Lord.” Please note, he gives no exceptions!
The Romans 7:2-3 text, was not written to the unsaved. Paul identifies his audience in verse 1, as Brethren and in verse 2 he continues. “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so
long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband be dead, she is free from that Law; so that she is no adulteress though she be married to another man.” We ask again, “Was this just the apostles’ bias opinion one could disregard at will?” In I Corinthians 14:37 Paul says, “If any man think himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things I write unto you are he commandments of the Lord.”
In Mark 10:11-12, Jesus said, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth
adultery.” Jesus went on to state in Luke 16:18, “Whosoever putteth away his wife and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.” Why are we compassed about with so great a cloud of scriptural witnesses regarding God’s displeasure with divorce and remarriage? So men would be without excuse!
Some still protest by asking, What about Matthew 5:32? “But I say unto you that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry
her that is divorced committeth adultery.” Isn’t “Saving for the cause of fornication,” a scriptural exception clause allowing divorce and remarriage for the innocent party? We must remember the Bible was written with the ancient custom of marriage in mind, not the modern format. In the ancient procedure the engagement or espousal was the legal and binding part of the marriage whereas today the wedding
ceremony is the obligating part. The only way the engagement could be broken was for the cause of fornication, or immorality between singles. The proof text for this is found in Matthew 1:18-20, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: when as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband (both were called husband and wife upon engagement – Deuteronomy 22:23-24) being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream saying, — fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.”
Others however; probing to find a justification gap to support New Testament divorce and remarriage resort back to the book of Jeremiah. They quote chapter 3, verse 8, which states, “When – backsliding Israel
committed adultery I – put her away, and gave her a bill of divorce -” They attempt to explain that God divorced His first wife Israel, that olive skin, brown eyes brunette and married the blue eyed, blond headed, Gentile bride of the New Testament and conclude: if divorce and remarriage was permissible for God, then it should be scripturally lawful for the New Testament Church. They feel this logic should be
perfectly reasonable since Jesus did make the statement, “I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:15) They rationalize, “If it’s okay for God, then who could possibly object
to our emulating compliance?”
To begin our appeal, if God did divorce Israel and take another bride which is highly conjectural, He refused to solemnize the exercise until His mortal death on Calvary. Paul confirmed this when he said, “Feed the church of God, which He bath purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28). In Romans 7:1-6, Paul wrote, I “The woman which hath a husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband, so then if while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead she is free from that law: so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore my brethren, ye also are become dead – by the body of Christ – who is raised from the dead.” If God did espouse another bride other than Israel; being the perfect example of His own Word, He did so only after His death, burial and resurrection. His example could serve no criterion for New Testament divorce and remarriage however, since no one we know who has been dead and buried for three days could follow His example.
The next great encumbrance to impede the idea of a divorced and remarried God is His intrinsic repulsion to divorce. Malachi 2:16 states, “For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that He hateth putting away.” How could a just God detest divorce and remarriage and be guilty of the very offense? How could He transgress His own ordinance and claim equity? (Ezekiel 18:25). Job said there were those who would speak wickedly for God. (Job 13:7).
Second: if God did literally divorce Israel in Jeremiah 3:8 and remarry another bride, why did He declare six verses later in verse 14, “Turn; 0 backsliding children, saith the Lord for I am married unto you.” How
could He divorce her in verse 8 and still be married to her in verse 14? What kind of severance package is this? Evidently His putting away didn’t dissolve, loosen or disengage the legal contract because He declared after the divorce, “I am married unto you” (still joined, united, tied). This detail however, is never cited in their case evidence. If a man’s divorce went through on Monday, is it common practice for him to tell his ex-wife on Friday, “I’m still married to you?” God did! After God’s divorce He was still very much married. Is that the brand of divorce people are looking for today? Hardly! People who endeavor to use the Old Testament object lesson of God’s spurned love for Israel as a New Testament precedent for divorce and remarriage better proceed with extreme caution lest they encumber themselves in several embarrassing impasses.
Third, Jeremiah 3:14, says, “Turn Oh backsliding children, saith the Lord, for I am married unto you.” What is this? A father married to his own children? Be very careful now! Those loophole prospectors who
daringly demand absolute literalism instead of metaphoric symbolism regarding God putting away Israel have now left themselves vulnerable to any deviant who would demand scriptural support for incest claiming God was no different than drunken Lot who fathered his own grandsons which sin God clearly forbade in Leviticus 18:6-7.
No, God is not giving moral sanction for progenitive unchasrity. God, who is a spirit, was never a literal husband but was only speaking in figurative language, trying to combine earth’s two greatest loves
parental and marital in an object lesson to show His deep affection for Israel. We must rightly divide the word of truth. In Jeremiah, God was not giving approval for divorce and remarriage any more than He was
sanctioning incest. He was simply demonstrating His magnanimous benevolence that had been impudently rejected! First, the insulted care of a devoted father and second, the grief of a loving husband whose deserting wife had fallen into prostitution. (verse 6) God was simply employing a dual metaphor as a teaching tool many humans could relate to. Subsequent but no less in gravity, if Jeremiah 3:6-8, could be used as divine sanction for New Testament divorce and remarriage then it could also be misconstrued to legitimize polygamy. It would identify God as having plural spouses, both Israel and Judah. It would teach God was married to Israel because He put her away (verse 8) and her sister Judah because she committed adultery, a sin only the married can commit. It would ascribe to God no greater acumen than that of Jacob
who was beguiled in his marriage of Leah and Rachael. God said, (verse 4) “Turn 0 backsliding children (plural) — I am married unto you.” God called Israel by the name Aholah, and Judah. He named Aholibah, both of whom were only symbolically married unto the Lord. Ezekiel 23:2 states, they were two women, the daughters of one mother, and employed the statement, “their sons whom they bare unto me.” (Ezekiel 23:37) Again these are figurative expressions.
In very appropriate skill the Bible employs metaphors, similitudes (Hosea 12:10) and allegories (Galatians 4:24) without doing violence to the Word of God. The prophets in noble ethics utilized comparisons,
correlations and parallelism in the figurative sense rather than the literal to relate special lessons to God’s people. In judges (;8, it states, “The trees went forth to anoint a king over them.” We all recognize the metaphoric sense in which one object is compared to another without being literal. Psalm 80:8, states that God brought a vine out of Egypt and planted it to fill the land. Any junior Sunday School child could recognize the narration as being illustrative of Israel leaving Egypt.
Passages like Jeremiah 3:6-9 and Isaiah 62:5, must be understood in the metaphoric sense. If God in the literal sense did divorce Israel, then on what day in history was the original wedding performed? Can somebody provide us with the month and year? In which country, province or city was the ceremony celebrated? Who was the officiating Clergy that solemnized the oaths? Who were the attendants? How many guests gathered to witness the ceremony?
Bro Mena, you are carrying the emblematic into absurdity! This was only a comparative analogy, not an actual event! Then why do Apostolics justify a very literal and unimaginary divorce and remarriage on the
metaphorically symbolic against numerous New Testament texts that cry desperately to the contrary?
Men who craftily seek to force a New Testament example from Old Testament illustrative expressions will sometimes be allowed to proceed in their own pernicious way for a season. God did tell Jeremiah to make
the Rechabites into the house of the Lord and offer them wine to drink. God did tell Baalam to go with the princes of Moab against his former commandment and command Hosea to marry a wife of whoredoms. These were never intended to be examples the New Testament Church should comply with.
If divorce and remarriage is acceptable in God’s New Testament Church, because some people say, “Well, God did it,” then by the same logic, any polygamous arrangement must also be allowed. This, however, would fly in the face of Paul’s clear instruction that the bishop must be the husband of one wife (I Timothy 3:2) and Peter’s admonition to the elder (bishops) to be ensamples to the flock. (I Peter 5:3). Men who
erroneously divide the word of God always bring confusion to God’s people.
Some, however, stubbornly protest that God did forsake Israel and espouse a blond headed, Gentile bride at Pentecost. Any new convert knows the original, upper room church, born again on the day of Pentecost, was for all respects, Jewish. We observe this because of the testimony which declared, “Behold are not all these which speak Galileans?” (Acts 2:7) It wasn’t until Acts, chapter 11, that the Jewish apostles and brethren stated, “Then hath God also (likewise) to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” (verse 18). We must remember it was a Jewish preacher that said in Acts 13:46, “Lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” Paul simply declared, “Blindness in part (not total) is happened to Israel.” (Romans 11:25) We must view this divorce as only metaphoric and not all inclusive. I propose that God did not take a bride exclusively Gentile at Pentecost. The church that John described in Revelation was from every kindred, tongue and people,
including Israel. In Galatians 3:7, Paul stated, “They which are of faith (New Testament Church) the same are the children of Abraham.” No, God did not espouse a blue eyed, blond hair, Gentile bride but adopted
the Gentiles into the originally Jewish, upper room church. Paul proceeded to say, “and if ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.” (verse 28). We Gentiles, according to
Galatians 4:5, have been adopted into the promise bloodline of Abraham. We must remember Paul also said, “All Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26). If their rejection by God was literally eternal this would be
The reason for this discourse is to reveal the fallacy of human logic and defend the integrity of a Holy God, support His Word and honor His Holiness.
What is the conclusion we must draw from the Jeremiah 3:6-8 text? God’s arrangement with Israel was only a metaphoric comparison to depict His great forbearance with Israel. Jeremiah 3:20 says, “Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, 0 house of Israel saith the Lord.” Scriptural wisdom teaches Old Testament allegories understood to only portray symbolic lessons should never be compelled to establish literal examples.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY THE APOSTOLIC STANDARD, JULY 2004, PAGES 8-9. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.