A Question About Israel / Judah and God’s Divorce and Marriage #3
A regular visitor to our websites recently submitted some questions about the issue of Israel / Judah / God’s promises. Here are the questions followed by my response. The post was submitted by “Chris” and we appreciate it very much.
“In Hosea 1:4 what is the meaning of the cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel (not Judah)? I see a distinction between Israel and Judah because of the promise made to David and the lineage of the Messiah. Jeremiah says that God gave Israel a bill of divorce but not Judah??? It seems unfair. Does Judah get divorced in 70 Ad and immediately get gathered together with Israel? Is there a scripture for that? Are those that are gathered together the righteous remnant from both houses? Lastly, “so all Israel shall be saved”, is this the righteous remnant and those who did not forsake to assemble themselves together as they saw the day approaching?”
In part one, we noted that there is indeed a distinction in the OT between Israel, the ten northern tribes, and Judah. In both Hosea and Amos, the Lord said He would cause the kingdom of Israel to cease, and never rise again, but, He would not destroy the “house” of Israel. This is incredibly significant. Those who insist that God promised to restore the kingdom of Israel, i.e. the geo-political, military kingdom of the nation, must deal with the fact that God said He would cause that kingdom to cease, and never rise again. In part two, we noted that God promised that in the last days, Judah would have the same “harvest” as Israel, and that this harvest would be when YHVH saved the remnant (Hosea 6:11). Be sure to read article number 2 as well.
Our questioner, “Chris” asked: “Does Judah get divorced in AD 70 and immediately get gathered together with Israel?”
I believe the answer to this is found in numerous of Jesus’ parables, as well as the book of Revelation. I will focus briefly on Revelation.
In Revelation 7 and 14 John say the 144,000 who were out of the twelve tribes of Israel. The number 144,000 is pretty clearly a symbolic number and represents the righteous remnant. I will not take the time here to document the fact that in Revelation 7 and 14 numerous OT prophecies of the salvation of the remnant in the last days are echoed, demonstrating that what we see in Revelation is the fulfillment of Israel’s eschatological hope.
If Revelation is depicting the fulfillment of the OT prophecies of the salvation of the remnant out of all twelve tribes, then we can investigate the other motifs that are at work in the OT prophecies and in Revelation.
Notice that in Hosea, God promised to “re-marry” the ten tribes, in the last days (Hosea 2:18-23). Of course, we must remember that this remarriage would not be in the form of the Old Covenant kingdom, which the Lord said would never rise again. Furthermore, the Lord promised that in the last days, the two houses of Israel, the ten tribes and Judah, would be reconciled and restored under Messiah (Ezekiel 37). This would be in the time of the New Covenant, agreeing with Hosea 2:18, and the time of Messiah and the Messianic Tabernacle (Ezekiel 37:25-26).
So, the key motifs in both Hosea and Ezekiel, are Harvest of Judah (national destruction), at the time of the salvation of the remnant, the “re-marriage” of YHVH to all of Israel (i.e. the righteous remnant), and the establishment of the tabernacle of God. Of course, any serious student of Revelation knows that these tenets and motifs are fundamental to the Apocalypse. But, let’s look at the divorce / remarriage motif.
Remember that Hosea spoke of the divorcement of the ten northern tribes. That divorcement takes the form, in Hosea, of three issues: Divorcement, Departure, Death. God divorced Israel (2:1-2). When He divorced her, He departed from her (Hosea 5:15f). And, when He departed from her, He killed her, she Died (Hosea 5:15f; 6:1-6). However, the story of redemption in Hosea– and in Revelation!– is the reverse. God promised to Remarry Israel (and from Isaiah and Jeremiah, all twelve tribes). The time of the remarriage would be the time of His “Return” (Hosea 5:15), and that would likewise be the time of the Resurrection, “He will raise us up and we will live in His sight” (6:2, 5).
Before this time of redemption and salvation, there would first be another “divorce” and this is precisely what we find in Revelation. We find Judah receiving her “harvest” at the time of the salvation of the remnant, just as Hosea foretold.
In Revelation, Babylon, the mother of harlots, is the city, “Where the Lord was slain” (11:8). She is the city guilty of killing the prophets, and Jesus was emphatic in identifying Old Covenant Jerusalem as the city guilty of killing the prophets. Babylon is likewise the city guilty of killing the apostles and prophets of Jesus, and one has but to look at Matthew 23:29f; Luke 11:49; Luke 13:28f, to know once again that Jesus identified Jerusalem as the city guilty of these internecine crimes. In fact, Jesus never pointed to any other city or entity when ascribing blood guilt.
A quick side bar here. Stephen Temple, in an excellent new book, Who Was the Mother of Harlots, Drunken With the Blood of the Saints? does an excellent job of demonstrating that in scripture, the term “harlot” is not used as indiscriminately as in the modern world, to speak simply of an immoral woman. Rather, in scripture, the term “harlot” speaks most often of a wife that has become unfaithful and broken the marriage covenant! This is precisely what we find in Hosea for example.
The implications of this are clearly tremendous. In Revelation, Babylon is a “harlot.” Thus, this would indicate she had been married, but, had become unfaithful to the marriage covenant, and was now, in Revelation, being divorced, yea, even slain for her adulterous ways! No other city, no other entity fits the bill; this is only Old Covenant Judah / Jerusalem! Revelation is thus about the divorcement of Judah, her“harvest” of national destruction, just as the ten northern tribes received their harvest of national destruction / divorcement.
But of course, there is the other, wonderful side to the story. Not only is Babylon / Jerusalem divorced, as promised, but, the God who keeps His promises likewise fulfilled His promise to save the remnant, and “remarry” all of Israel. Of course, as we have seen, this remarriage would not take the form or the nature of the prior marriage.
The nationalistic, geo-political, Theocratic kingdom would cease to exist, never to rise again (cf. Isaiah 24-27). Instead, the New Covenant bride would be the spiritual body of Christ, transformed from the “natural body” of the Old Man, to the New Creation created in the image of Christ. And so, Revelation 19:6f depicts the marriage of Christ at the fall (divorcement) of Babylon. And, the New Jerusalem, “adorned as a bride for her husband” came down from God out of heaven. The promise of Ezekiel and Hosea was fulfilled: “The Tabernacle of God is with man!” And how is this depicted? Why, just as Hosea depicted the Divorce, the Departure, and the Death of Israel, followed by the promise of the Remarriage, the Return and the Resurrection, in Revelation we find the Divorcement of Judah. And, we find the Return, the Remarriage, and the Resurrection resulting in the New Creation.
So, the question from “Chris” is answered when we honor and recognize what is happening in Revelation. The simple, yet profound answer to Chris’ question is that Yes, Judah did get divorced and immediately “remarried” / restored in the body of the righteous remnant, at the parousia of Christ. This is what is depicted not only in Revelation, but, in the Olivet Discourse as well, when we honor the prophetic background of that great Discourse.
When or if, we “divorce” (pun intended) Revelation from its covenantal context, and apply it “generically” to the span of human history, or to pagan cities or entities, we abandon proper hermeneutic and exegesis.
In my book, We Shall Meet Him In The Air, the Wedding of the King of kings, I develop these concepts even more in-depth. Also, Kenneth Gentry has a book, Navigating the Book of Revelation, in which he offers some significant and helpful insight into the marriage covenant language in Revelation. That book is also now available from me, but is not yet listed on my websites. We will have more to say in our next article which will deal with the salvation of the righteous remnant, as promised in Hosea, as it relates to Paul’s ministry. Stay tuned!