I was slightly amused a few years ago, when reading a Biblical Archaeology Review. Many of the writers for the magazine and archaeologists working in Israel are not believers. Often they are Israeli academics who are mostly irreligious and not overly familiar with the Bible. In an ironic twist, some even consider knowing much about the Bible to be prejudicial to their work. But the source of my amusement was an article title, which was clearly intended to grab the reader’s attention — something to the effect of “Was God Married?” It was an article about how some of the idolatrous Israelites sometimes tried to merge the two major religious streams of the region, the worship of the true God and the worship of Asherah. But the truth was of course that God does consider Himself to be betrothed — to His people, Israel. Today’s readings speak of this.
“The nations will see your righteousness, And all kings your glory; And you will be called by a new name Which the mouth of the LORD will designate.” Isaiah 62:2 — New names in biblical times were not just vanity matters, like the modern Chad Ochocinco. They reflected a change in life, a change in who you were: Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, Naomi to Mara, and Saul to Paul. This new name given to God’s people would reflect not their faithlessness and stubbornness, but rather a new character of righteousness and glory. Verses 4,5 tell us that it will be essentially a “married” name — no longer “forsaken” or “desolate”, but “My delight is in her” and “married”. This promise found its fulfillment in the New Testament designation of God’s people, (Romans 16:16) the church of Christ — the called out belonging to Righteousness and Glory incarnate!
“For as a young man marries a virgin, So your sons will marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So your God will rejoice over you.” Isaiah 62:5 — So this redemption of the remnant will be like a marriage. Interestingly enough, the first and most common example of covenants in the ancient world was marriage itself, and the renewal of the covenant with Israel is directly symbolized here with a marriage or perhaps a remarriage. In the New Testament fulfillment there is a new covenant prophesied (Jer. 31:31) and fulfilled (Luke 22:20) with the last few chapters of Revelation carrying a theme of the great wedding consummation of the Lamb and His people. The Lord is married (betrothed), but her name isn’t Asherah, it is the church (Ephesians 5:22-33).
“I have trodden the wine trough alone, And from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger And trampled them in My wrath; And their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, And I stained all My raiment.” Isaiah 63:3 — Lest anyone be deceived into a false sense of security, however, that God will now be a God of all-love-all-the-time, we are reminded here of the God who does not change and who demands justice. His justice is satisfied in Jesus, His Son on the cross; but for those who refuse to believe in Him, there is only the wine trough. Jesus, in Revelation 19:13 the Lamb is shown to also be a Lion. Like the figure in Isaiah 63:3, the robes of the Word of God are dipped in blood of the enemies of God.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.