Can God Remarry Israel?
On February 4, 2012, Cyndi asks:
I was wondering this: According to the Torah, if a man divorces his wife for adultery, and she marries another, then he cannot re-marry her in the future. So, since God divorced Israel, and Israel "married Baal" by what mechanism can He re-marry her so as not to break His own Torah/Law?
You are correct that God commands us after a wife's adultery and a man divorcing her, the first husband cannot remarry his previously divorced wife who since has remarried whereupon her second husband divorces her. This is in Deut. 24:1-4.
However, this principle does not apply to Israel because Israel did not remarry another. Israel may have been led by King Ahab into worship of false gods (1 Kings 16:31, Baal -- Ahab's wife Jezebel was a priestess of Baal). However, it is never said Israel married any false god / Baal, i.e., created a new covenant of fidelity with the false god. Instead, God reveals Israel committed adultery (Jeremiah 3:6-11) and God says He will take Israel "back like a wife abandoned." (Isaiah 54:6.) God does not prohibit a husband to forgive a wife previously abandoned and divorced who has not remarried. And hence God can legally fulfill the promise to Israel to take her back as a wife abandoned.
Second, even though God divorced "Israel" it meant in context the northern kingdom and not the kingdom of Judah. See Jeremiah 3:6-11. The nation was split in two at the time of this 'divorce' statement -- Israel and Judah. God says He gave a certificate of divorce to Israel but does not say the same to Judah -- the other half of the nation of Israel. (This may be confusing but the two kingdoms of Israel were called (1) Israel in the north and (2) Judah in the south after the split and the dual kingdoms.) Hence, one part of Israel, the region Judah was not divorced but the other part of Israel known by the same name--Israel--was divorced. See Jeremiah 3:6-11. For more information, see "Kingdom of Judah," Wikipedia.
Third, as alluded to briefly already, God is very clear in numerous passages that He is going to take back Israel as a wife abandoned. See next paragraph below. This proves that God does not regard Israel, whether Judah-Israel or Israel-Israel having ever remarried anyone. Adultery is not a marriage. Hence, these verses prove my first interpretation is the correct one -- since there was no remarriage, Israel is like an abandoned wife whom a husband may indeed reconcile with -- forgiving the adultery and taking her back.
Here are the passages to consider -- which is an excerpt from my book JWOS at this link http://www.jesuswordsonly.com/JWOS/chapter-28jwos-conclusion.html:
In Isaiah 54, the new covenant clearly means a re-union to an abandoned wife-Israel — a renewal of God’s covenant relationship with Israel. God in anger previously expressed His intent to abandon Israel. (See Isaiah 50:1; Hosea 2:4,9; Ezekiel 16:35-40.) However, now in the new covenant, the “Holy one of Israel...Adonai has called you back like a wife abandoned... ‘A wife married in her youth cannot be rejected,’ says your God.’” (Isaiah 54:6 CJB.) God intends to “woo her [Israel]... I will speak to her heart.” (Hosea 2:16.) “Briefly I abandoned you, but with great compassion I am taking you back.” (Isaiah 54:7 CJB.) “I am taking you back.” (Isaiah 54:8 CJB.) Just like the promise after “Noah’s flood,” God says “I swear [to Israel] that... my [new] covenant of peace will not be removed.” (Isaiah 54:9-10.) “Instead of being told ‘You are not my people,’ it will be said to them, ‘You are the children of the living God.’” (Hosea 2:1.) “I will satisfy my fury against you, but after that...I will calm down and no longer be angry.” (Ezek. 16:42.) This is a new covenant which God promises to the nation Israel and to no other. It is a renewed covenant relationship.29
Cyndi, I trust that helped. Let me know if it did, or if you think I missed something. Blessings,