The Advantage of Genealogy--Part 3
May 21, 2008
God married Israel at Mount Sinai and asked Moses to officiate. The Old Covenant was a marriage covenant. For this reason Isaiah 54:5 says,
"For your Husband is your Maker, whose name is the Lord of Hosts, and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, who is called the God of all the earth."
The book of Hosea shows that God had married Israel even as the prophet had married Gomer, the harlot bride. The marriage was not exactly the model of Christian unity, but the prophets speak of it as a marriage. Israel was "faithless" (Jer. 3:8) almost from the start, having relations with other gods (the golden calf) while still on their "honeymoon."
Perhaps they were drinking too much Babylonian wine. It was common Babylonian tradition for the bride's father to supply his new son-in-law with as much wine ("mead") as he could drink for a month after the wedding. The wine was "mead," an alcoholic drink made of fermented honey and water. Since a lunar cycle was a "moon," from which we get our English word month, this is the origin of the term honeymoon.
Israel followed false gods throughout the book of Judges, and God put them into captivity to those other nations who worshipped those other gods. He did it to show them what it would be like to have those gods for a husband.
Finally, though, God simply divorced the House of Israel according to the law in Deut. 24:1-4. The law said that if a man intends to divorce his wife, he must give her a bill of divorce and put it into her hand before he could lawfully separate from her and send her out of the house. Armed with that written proof that she was really divorced, she could remarry whomsoever she wanted (Deut. 24:2), and her former husband had no further claim upon her.
So we read in Jer. 3,
" (1) God says, 'If a husband divorces his wife, and she goes from him, and belongs to another man, will he still return to her? Will not that land be completely polluted [if he were to do that]?' . . . (8) And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also. . . (10) And yet in spite of this, her treacherous sister Judah did not return to Me with all her heart, but rather in deception, declares the Lord. (11) And the Lord said to me, 'Faithless Israel has proved herself more righteous than treacherous Judah'."
In other words, Israel was open about her harlotry, but Judah only returned to God deceptively (vs. 10) because she wanted the benefits of being married to God, but wanted the sexual freedom to have affairs with other gods. Judah wanted the advantages of being "chosen" as the wife of God, but she also wanted the freedom to sin with immunity from divorce.
God then expresses preference for Israel's open harlotry over Judah's deceptive practice. Take note that Jeremiah speaks of Israel and Judah as two separate nations. Israel had already been given her bill of divorce a century earlier. Yet in spite of this, God still did not divorce Judah. Instead, Judah was given a temporary separation for 70 years in Babylon. She was given the opportunity to remain in the land under a wooden yoke, but after rejecting God's judgment, God put her under the iron yoke (Jer. 28:10-14).
Even so, God did not divorce Judah, because Jesus still had to be born of Judah to fulfill the promise to Judah. If God had divorced Judah, and if Jesus had later been born of Judah while she was married to other gods, it would have been a case of divine adultery, and Jesus would have been an illegitimate child according to the law.
So instead, God brought Judah back into His house (Canaan), and five centuries later, Jesus was born through Mary, who was of the tribe of Judah and the seed of David. Once the King was born, who was to rule all nations, the promises to Judah and to David were fulfilled. Though He died on the cross, He was raised from the dead and ascended to the throne in heaven, where He lives in immortality. No further succession of kings is necessary. We need not look for another king to succeed Jesus, because He will never die (again).
Meanwhile, however, because "treacherous Judah" had revolted against the King in the same way that Absalom had revolted against David, the bulk of Judah lost their marital status with Jesus Christ. Or, to put it another way, they violated the law of sacrifice (Lev. 17:1-9). Jesus was the true and final Sacrifice. It was prophesied that the priests would offer the Sacrifice to God, and indeed, the priests did so with Jesus. But they violated the law in Lev. 17:8, 9 which says,
" (8) Then you shall say to them, Any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice, (9) and does not bring it to the doorway of the tent of meeting to offer it to the Lord, that man also shall be cut off from his people."
The people were required to recognize it as a sacrifice at the tabernacle or temple. Under the New Covenant, we are the temple of God, and His name is now in our foreheads (Rev. 22:4). Those who do not recognize Christ as the Sacrifice for sin at their "temple," will be "cut off from his people."
In other words, they will lose their citizenship in the tribe of Judah and thereby (as individuals) lose their marriage relationship with God. No Scripture says that they were free to sin or that they would be saved regardless of what they do with the Sacrifice of Christ. The advantage of genealogy did not include the privilege to sin with immunity. Salvation was never dependent upon their genealogy from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Salvation was a matter of faith, not genealogy.
Most of the people of Judah, along with "the aliens who sojourn among them" (Lev. 17:8), particularly the Edomites who had been forced to convert to Judaism in 126 B.C., violated the law of sacrifice and were therefore "cut off from his people." In the sight of God, they were no longer of Judah, regardless of their genealogy.
The disciples, however, and all who recognized Christ as the Sacrifice for sin, remained as the tribe of Judah. This was true, whether they were genealogically of Judah or one of "the aliens who sojourn among them." The law makes it clear that non-Israelites and non-Judahites were to offer sacrifices, and this included them in the New Covenant form of Sacrifice--having one's heart sprinkled with the blood of Jesus.
Some try to prove that the Jews of Jesus' day were mostly Edomites, and that the genealogical Judahites (or Judeans) did accept Him. They do this to try to explain why some accepted Him and some did not, and they assume that genealogy explains everything. If they rejected Him, it was because they were Edomites or at least part Edomite. That explanation is based upon the belief that one's genealogy will determine whether or not he is a believer.
Of course, the prophets would disagree. Their criticism was not against the other nations, but against Israel and Judah. Esau was Jacob's twin brother, having the same genealogy and DNA, but they were very different in their character. Solomon was David's son through Bash-sheba, but he fell into very grievous sin in his later years. Paul himself persecuted the early Church. Yes, even those with faultless genealogy are sinners, because "there is none righteous, no not even one" (Rom. 3:10).
I assure you that Eph. 2:8 does NOT say, "For by race are ye saved through face."
This is the third part of a series titled "The Advantage of Genealogy." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones