The question of Israel continues to perplex and intrigue Bible students around the world. We are constantly told that Israel remains the chosen people of God and that the events of 1948 or 1967 (take your pick) constitute the fulfillment of prophecy, proving we are in the last days. (Never mind that Israel’s return in 1948 was in a state of rebellion and unbelief- in total opposition to the conditions for her return! See my Israel 1948 Countdown to No Where book for a demonstration that those events had nothing whatsoever to do with the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. And what was true of 1948 is equally true of 1967.).
Nonetheless, it is important that we understand God’s promises to and about Israel, and one of the most significant doctrines in that regard is the marriage / divorce / remarriage doctrine. Recently, a viewer of my YouTubes and visitor to our websites submitted some questions on 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?”
I will address these questions (briefly) in a series of articles. One brief article simply cannot do justice to this topic. But, let me suggest that you read my book We Shall Meet Him In The Air, The Wedding of the King of kings, for a fuller discussion of this issue. In fact, this book has one of the most extensive discussions of this issue to be found anywhere.
The first part of the question has to do with the distinction between Israel and Judah, in regards to God’s dealings with them. “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.”
My Response: There was indeed a distinction between the two kingdoms of “Israel” to use the broad term of “Israel” to encompass both Judah and the ten norther tribes. It is important to be familiar with Hosea, as well as Amos and Isaiah, to better understand these issues.
Due to the spiritual unfaithfulness of the ten northern tribes of Israel, God “divorced” her, and illustrated that spiritual reality with having Hosea the prophet marry Gomer, a “daughter of whoredoms.” Gomer became increasingly unfaithful until at last, Hosea realized that the children she was bearing were not his, and, directed by YHVH, he divorced her (Hosea 1-2). This “living parable” powerfully and poignantly illustrated God’s covenantal relationship with the ten tribes, and the pain He felt over her infidelity.
While God did divorce Israel (the ten tribes) He promised that in the last days, He would once again marry her, making a new (marriage) covenant with her (Hosea 2:18f). Let me just say here that the failure to see the marriage / remarriage of God to Israel behind the NT references to the New Creation, the New Covenant, the Wedding, etc. leads inexorably to a gross misunderstanding of Biblical eschatology– and theology as a whole. But, back to our discussion.
Notice that in Hosea 1:4, the Lord threatened the ten tribes: “I will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.” Notice the emphasis on the kingdom. Significantly, in the parallel book of Amos, in chapter 9:8f, YHVH promised this: “The eyes of the Lord God are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, says the Lord.” What follows then is the promise of the salvation of the righteous remnant, at the time when Adonai would “raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen down” (v. 11).
What is significant here is that God promised to destroy the kingdom of Israel, but not the house of Israel! The kingdom of Israel was the nationalistic, geo-political expression of the kingdom. But, that would come to an end, and in Amos 5:1-2, God said, “the virgin daughter of Israel is fallen, and will never rise again!” Needless to say, this has profound implications for those who say that “the kingdom of Israel” must one day be restored to her former nationalistic glory! It is a total falsification of those who claim that 1948, or 1967 was the restoration of the “kingdom of Israel.” God declared that the nationalistic kingdom of Israel would cease, and never rise again.
Now, in Hosea, as God threatened to destroy the ten tribes forever, nationalistically, even though Judah was as evil as the ten tribes (See Ezekiel 16 / 23; and Jeremiah 3, written at a later time, when Judah had become even worse), He noted that evil. Yet, Messiah had not yet come, therefore, God could not destroy Judah. But this did not mean that He would hold them guiltless!
In Hosea 6:10-11 YHVH said “I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel: there is the whoredom of Ephraim, Israel is defiled. Also, O Judah, he has set a harvest for thee, when I return the captivity of my people.” For a really great discussion of the term “whoredom” and “harlotry” in scripture, and its covenantal significance, see Stephen Temple’s excellent book, Who Was the Mother of Harlots, Drunken With the Blood of the Saints? This is an excellent and important book.
So, the ten northern tribes had “sown the wind, and they would reap the whirlwind” of captivity and the total, permanent loss of their nationalistic kingdom. Judah was just as guilty, and would one day suffer the same fate as her sister! But, for the time being God would foregoe His wrath. However, the time was coming when Judah, just like the ten tribes, would reap what they had sown! Judah, just like the ten tribes, would cease to exist as a “kingdom” i.e. a nationalistic, geo-politic, theocracy.
Notice that Judah’s harvest– reaping what she had sown– would come in the days of the salvation of the righteous remnant. This has tremendous implications for our understanding of the harvest at the end of the age in the NT, for correctly understanding Paul’s doctrine of the salvation of “all Israel” and, his emphatic declaration that the salvation of the remnant was taking place in his day, and even in his ministry. We will explore that a bit more, as we continue to answer “Chris’” good questions. Stay tuned!