Summary: A message detailing the nature of a quite different marriage contract (known as the New Covenant), by which Israel is to be finally reconciled to Yahweh.
The Bible: A Love Story
Pt 3: Reconciliation - the New Covenant
In the first two messages of this series, we saw that the Israelites were incapable of remaining faithful to their marriage vows made at Mt Sinai to their spiritual husband, Yahweh.
Why was this so? Did it mean that the Israelites were 'a bad lot' - a nation totally undeserving of God's love? The answer is, of course, 'yes and no'. Undeserving of God's love? Absolutely - in common with every other individual and nation on earth! 'A bad lot'? Certainly no worse than any other nation! In short - they were simply human - the same as all others (and, in fact, better (humanly speaking), than many)!
What made the difference between Israel and the other nations could not be found within the nation itself: it was due wholly to the nature and identity of her God! Yahweh Himself - the Almighty Elohim - had graciously chosen to enter into a relationship with this tiny nation - for reasons we've discussed in the first message of this series: Israel - a nation chosen by God.
And what a relationship! So loving and intimate (potentially) that it is symbolised in Scripture as a (spiritual marriage) between a husband (Yahweh) and wife Israel).
However, as we said a little earlier, the Israelites were merely human - and this lay at the root of the marital infidelity and betrayal on their part - Israel's inability to honour the contract she had made with her divine husband - namely: an inability to keep the law!
As we saw in the previous two messages , the law represented the obligations of the bride under the terms of the Ketubah - the book of the (marriage) covenant). If we examine its wording carefully, we see that, in this context (and there are others) it constituted nothing less than a declaration to the bridegroom of love and faithfulness on the part of the bride.
Under such terms, she would love and adore her husband alone (1st commandment), she would rid herself of any mementos of other men (2nd commandment), she would always act in complete sincerity in relation to her betrothed (3rd commandment), she would spend precious time with Him (4th commandment) and she would seek to please only Him by living in the way that pleased Him (commandments 5-10).
This is what makes God's law so unique - and explains why man's adherence to a moral code (no matter how well-intentioned or maintained) can ever please God! The whole point of the law lies, not so much in what is done (or not done), but in why it is done! It was, in Israel's case, a declaration of love - the voluntary submission of a loving bride devoted to her beloved husband - and nothing less!!
Let's look at the nature of God's law by contrasting it with human law - the law of the land!
As with God's law, keeping the law of he land certainly involves submission and obedience to a higher authority - but there the essential resemblance ends! And in one very vital respect:
Man obeys human law (with rare exceptions) for one of two reasons - as Paul points out in Romans 13:5
Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
According to this passage, the human being firstly obeys human law because he/she wishes to avoid the penalties incurred when we transgress the law! The second reason one will often strictly obey a legal and moral code is as a matter of conscience - doing the right thing and feeling good about oneself - as well experiencing the very natural satisfaction (in some cases) of helping others.
So what's the problem? Just this - that what man does not do - cannot do - is live a moral life as a result of (or even in order to show) love for God! How can this be the motivation when he has no relationship with God? When he doesn't know God? When, in fact, his whole nature instinctively rejects any impulse to submit to God (Rom. 8:7-8)?
But it's the inward motivation if the heart that God is interested in! Remember that when Yahweh gave the law, it was in the context of a marriage vow! It was designed to be the outward expression of a loving inward response - a means by which man (specifically Israel at that time) was to show that love which would naturally lead to a willing submission to God's wishes and display an earnest desire to be like Him a nd follow - much like a young bride with her beloved!
So then Israel, in her natural state devoid of spiritual life, could not keep the Old Covenant - the terms of the marriage contract between her and Yahweh. She could not remain faithful to her husband as evidenced by her consistent violation of the Ketubah - a violation that manifested itself in moral corruption and idol worship.