PMW 2020-011 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
This is my third article on the identity of the seven-sealed scroll in Revelation. In this article I will deal with covenantal marriage, which is essential for understanding the covenantal divorce transpiring in Revelation.
We must recognize at the outset that Revelation is an extremely Hebraic book that draws heavily from the Old Testament. And we should understand that John’s theme verse warns of Christ’s judgment-coming against the Jews.
In order to understand John’s court drama better, we must consider the all-important Old Testament backdrop, which all agree is so important for interpreting Revelation. John’s book is the capstone of biblical revelation; it is “the crowning finish of the entire Scripture, both Old and New Testament.”
Not only does it draw freely from the Old Testament, but it presents in bold relief the enormous redemptive-historical implications of the incarnational coming and work of Christ in the New Testament era. His advent transforms the biblical faith from its temporary, national, typological seed in Israel into its permanent, international, full fruit in the Church as “the Israel of God” (Rev 6:16).
The particular imagery John employs to this end is remarkable. I will cite several scholars who help us understand the matter. We must recall that “throughout the Bible, God’s relationship to his people is pictured as a marriage.” In the Old Testament particularly, “the relationship between God and Israel was . . . very frequently viewed as analogous to that of husband and wife.”
Consequently, marriage appears as the dominant metaphor portraying Israel’s relation to God. As the Old Testament clearly declares: “Your husband is your Maker, / Whose name is the Lord of hosts” (Isa 54:5a; cp. Isa 50:1; 62:4; Jer 2:2; 3:14, 20; 31:32; Hos 1:2; 2:2, 7, 16; 5:4; 9:1, 10). Even the land is deemed “married” to God (Isa 62:4). Thus, when Israel falls into idol worship she is in essence seeking to marry foreign gods: “Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord which He loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god” (Mal 2:11; cp. Eze 23).
The Beast of Revelation
by Ken Gentry
A popularly written antidote to dispensational sensationalism and newspaper exegesis. Convincing biblical and historical evidence showing that the Beast was the Roman Emperor Nero Caesar, the first civil persecutor of the Church. The second half of the book shows Revelation’s date of writing, proving its composition as prior to the Fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. A thought-provoking treatment of a fascinating and confusing topic.
For more study materials, go to: KennethGentry.com
Another scholar notes that Ezekiel “develops the metaphor to its greatest extent,” presenting the clearest imagery of God’s actually marrying Israel (Eze 16). He adds: “ Ezekiel 16:8 reflects on God’s original taking her for his wife in the wilderness after leaving Egypt: ‘Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine,’ declares the Lord God.’”
Jeremiah comes in a close second to Ezekiel in this regard. He also speaks directly of Israel’s original betrothal to God: “Go and proclaim in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, “I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth, the love of your betrothals, your following after Me in the wilderness, through a land not sown”’” (Jer 2:2; cp. Hos 2:15–16 which also recalls that happy occasion).
Rabbinic Judaism picks up on this imagery and speaks of the Mount Sinai covenant as being Israel’s “Day of Espousal,” with the Shekinah cloud’s descent upon the tabernacle portraying the marital consummation. An Old Testament scholar observes:
“Rabbis extolled the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai as the marriage of Yahweh with Israel.” Her marital “I do” appears in her vocal commitment: “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!” (Ex 24:3). Interestingly, Exodus 24 also includes a throne vision when the elders “saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself” (Ex 24:10). God’s covenantal marriage is legally affirmed. Ezekiel 16:8 shows “that entering into berith [covenant] with Israel is called a marrying her”; Hosea “identified the berith-idea and his favorite idea of marriage between Jehovah and Israel.”
Thus, the temple (and its precursor, the tabernacle) is God’s “house” wherein he dwells with his wife: “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them” (Ex 25:8). Many references to the temple (or tabernacle) speak of its being God’s special dwelling place with his people (Ex 29:45; Lev 26:9–13; 1Ki 8:10–13; Ps 132:13–15; Mt 23:21; Jub 1:17; 25:21). This is emphasized in Ezekiel’s prophecy of the future temple, where he reminds Israel of her past failure to live in covenant with God: “when you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary to profane it, even My house, when you offered My food, the fat and the blood; for they made My covenant void — this in addition to all your abominations” (Eze 44:7; cp. 37:26–28). God’s house is located in the city of Jerusalem where he has chosen for his name to “dwell” (Dt 12:5, 11; 26:2). As Josephus laments after Jerusalem’s destruction in A.D. 70: “Where is this city that was believed to have God himself inhabiting therein?” (J.W. 7:8:7).
Blessed Is He Who Reads: A Primer on the Book of Revelation
By Larry E. Ball
A basic survey of Revelation from the preterist perspective.
It sees John as focusing on the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70.
For more Christian studies see: www.KennethGentry.com
As we continue reflecting on the marital imagery, “in the Pentateuch we hear of Yahweh’s jealousy, an emotion that is only proper to an exclusive relationship like marriage (Ex 19:3–6; 20:2–6; 34:14).” Jealousy is appropriate and even expected in marital relationships (Nu 5:14, 29, 30; Pro 6:32–34; Song 8:6). The word “jealous” (qanah) is the same as used in the law of jealousy designed for the husband to discover if his wife has committed adultery (Nu 5:11–31). As in a marital union “the jealousy of Yahweh insists that his people observe his exclusive claims upon them (Dt. 6:13–15).” The many references to God’s jealousy are significant in that “the word means conjugal zeal specifically, jealously in the married relation.” See: Exodus 20:5; 34:14; Numbers 25:11; Deuteronomy 4:24; 5:9; 6:15; 29:20; 32:16, 21; Joshua 24:19; 1 Kings 14:22; Psalms 78:58; 79:5; Ezekiel 16:38, 42; 23:25; 36:5–6; 29:25; Nahum 1:2; Zephaniah 1:18; Zechariah 1:14; 8:2.
Very early in her national history, Israel’s potential for worshiping false gods is portrayed as prostitution against her husband whose name is “Jealous” (Ex 34:14). Hence, Israel’s obligation to “cling/cleave” to the Lord (Dt 10:20; 11:22; 13:4) is the same word (dabaq) which is used in Genesis 2:24 of a man cleaving to his wife.
In Scripture God ordains human marriage from the beginning so that two “shall become one flesh” (Ge 2:24). Thus, later in Scripture we learn that human marriage is established by covenanting before God, which effects a binding legal union (Mt 19:6). We see this covenantal reality behind two important Old Testament texts: In Proverbs 2:17 the adulteress who leaves her husband legally “forgets the covenant of her God.” In Malachi 2:14 God is “witness” against Israel because men are dealing treacherously with their wives, and a wife is deemed a “wife by covenant.”
Stay tuned! To be continuedd.