Jeremiah 3.1-5: Thoughts on Israel's Divorce

Would not that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many lovers; Yet return to Me,” says the LORD. “Lift up your eyes to the desolate heights and see: Where have you not lain with men? By the road you have sat for them Like an Arabian in the wilderness; And you have polluted the land With your harlotries and your wickedness. Therefore the showers have been withheld, And there has been no latter rain. You have had a harlot’s forehead; You refuse to be ashamed. Will you not from this time cry to Me, “My Father, You are the guide of my youth? Will He remain angry forever? Will He keep it to the end?’ Behold, you have spoken and done evil things, As you were able. (Jeremiah 3:1-5 NKJV)

I want to speak a bit more about the divorce of God and the children of Israel.

Humanity has never had a steady walk with God. Throughout the covenants established by God with His Creation, God has never broken His promises while those on the other side have on a regular basis. During the past few weeks, there has been a conversation going on on this blog concerning the Law and Grace. I and others have taken the position that we are under Grace, and because of this we are no longer required to obey the Law, specifically the ceremonial Law detailing the sacrificial system, the holy days, and the holiness code of physical cleanness.

I have attempted to put forth a previous argument concerning another view of the Cross of Christ, and I will take this time to add to it.

The Book of Jeremiah was God’s bill of divorce to Israel and Judah. It laid out the reasons why God had now been forced to withdraw from the Covenant (the Law) that He had made, as in reality, the Covenant was broken many times over. But a mere withdrawal was not enough for our righteous God.

Below is a passaged from Romans 7.1-6 (NKJV) with some slight modification

Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the Torah),

Paul was speaking to the Jews.

that the Torah has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the Torah to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the Torah of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that Torah, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.

We already know that the marriage between a man and wife is a motif that represents the relationship between God and Israel as well as Christ and His Church. Paul is not creating a new allegory, but using something very familiar to his Jewish audience. Ideally, a man and a woman would stay married until the end of life – how rare that seems to be today – but if a divorce occurred for ungodly reasons , then it took a death to finalize the agreement.

Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the Torah through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another–to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by theĀ  Torah were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the Torah, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.

Paul is speaking, I believe directly to the Jews, and indirectly to the entire Church when he says ‘my brethren.’ We have become dead to the Torah because of the body of Christ. This is not the Church or the communion, but the death of Christ on the Cross. Yes, Christ was a substitution for us, in that we could not offer a sacrifice for our sins, but it was also the end of the Old Covenant. The day that Christ died, the Torah’s letter ceased to exist as a means of salvation.

Are we free from the law? Yes, we are under grace instead (6:14). Does this mean sin is irrelevant, that we can be indifferent to the distinction between sin and virtue (6:15)? No, as slaves of God we are still under absolute obligation to obey his commandments (6:16-23).

In the body of Christ, we can find peace because the enmity – the Law – has been removed,

For he himself is our shalom – he has made us both one and has broken down the m’chitzah which divided us by destroying in his own body the enmity occasioned by the Torah, with its commands set forth in the form of ordinances. He did this in order to create in union with himself from the two groups a single new humanity and thus make shalom, and in order to reconcile to God both in a single body by being executed on a stake as a criminal and thus in himself killing that enmity. (Ephesians 2:14-16 Complete Jewish Bible)

For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. (Ephesians 2:14-16 NKJV)

Chapter 7 of Romans is not a new and complete conversation, but a continuation of chapter 6. Death to sin is accomplished by baptism,

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Far be it! Seeing that we have died to sin, how can we live any longer therein? Are you ignorant that all we who were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we were buried together with him through baptism into death, and just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, so also we should walk about in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of his death, certainly we shall also be sharers of his resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man was crucified together with him, that the body possessed by sin might be destroyed, that we should no longer serve as a slave to sin: For he that has died in baptism, stands free from sin. Now, if we died with Christ, we know that without a doubt that we shall also live with him, Knowing that Christ having been raised up from the dead, no longer dies; death has no more dominion over him. (Romans 6:1-9 CTV-NT)

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