Jehovah established marriage. In fact, God conducted the very first wedding in the Garden of Eden when He created a woman from one of Adam’s surgically removed ribs and then brought her to the man. Evidently, wedlock was intended as the only human institution. We know the sad ending of that original marriage.
Marriage, though, with all of its connotations, is used by God metaphorically. God speaks through Jeremiah, saying to Israel: “I well remember the devotion of your youth, the love you showed when you were engaged to marry, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown with seed. Israel was holy to Jehovah, the firstfruits of his harvest.”’ — Jeremiah 2:2
When Jehovah led the Israelites out of bondage to Egypt He escorted them through a fear-inspiring wilderness. During the daylight hours, the Israelites followed a miraculously appearing column of smoke. During the night a pillar of fire lit the camp. Jehovah miraculously provided food in the form of manna and water flowed from the rock. Over the course of their 40-year trek, not even their sandals wore out. It was as though the nation was engaged to God. The relationship was made official when Moses ascended Mount Sinai to speak to God for the nation, mediate the covenant and officiate the marriage. Jehovah then became the husbandly owner of Israel.
Israel was a model. God’s dealings with that nation established a pattern. That is because it was never intended to be a permanent institution. It was only intended as an interim arrangement. Paul explained in his letter to the Hebrews that the Law covenant mediated by Moses was supposed to serve as a tutor ultimately leading to Christ. Once the Messiah arrived, though, the Law became obsolete. Paul also indicated that the things that befell the Israelites in the wilderness serve as a warning for Christians not to fall into the same pattern of unfaithfulness.
Most importantly, Paul wrote to the Corinthians and used the very same analogy as found in Jeremiah regarding being promised in marriage. At 2 Corinthians 11:2, the apostle to the nations wrote: “For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy, for I personally promised you in marriage to one husband that I might present you as a chaste virgin to the Christ.”
Furthermore, anointed Christians are described as the holy “firstfruits” of the harvest. Speaking of the 144,000, Revelation 14:4-5 says of them: “These were bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb, and no deceit was found in their mouths; they are without blemish.”
Given the overlapping similarities, it is evident that God’s dealings with ancient Israel and especially Jerusalem, apply to Christianity. That being true, when was Christianity engaged to marry Christ? In the first century, when “the Israel of God” was established, which is what Paul called the anointed congregation.
Christians emerged, as if from the wilderness of a wicked human civilization ruled over by the powers of darkness by closely following the teachings of the one who said of himself: “I am the light of the world”—Jesus. According to the apostles, Christians from all nations became the true people for God’s name. Just as God miraculously fed the Israelites manna, Jesus referred to himself as the true bread from heaven and the true drink.
By the close of the first century, though, the light was already beginning to dim. As the apostles gradually exited the scene wicked men became more influential. Of course, Paul foretold this very thing. So did Peter and John.
By the 4th century, Christianity had become so corrupt that the Roman emperor was able to insert himself as the de facto head of the church and made Christianity the official religion of the decaying empire. As a result, pagans were not Christianized—instead, Christianity was paganized. What had been God’s special property was infused with idolatry and superstition. The chaste virgin had become spiritually corrupt. That is why Jehovah stated: “I then brought you to a land of orchards, to eat its fruitage and its good things. But you came in and defiled my land; you made my inheritance something detestable.” — Jeremiah 2:7
And in another analogy, God poses the question: “I planted you as a choice red vine, all of it pure seed; so how have you turned into the degenerate shoots of a foreign vine before me?” — Jeremiah 2:21
Ultimately the truth concerning the special relationship between Jehovah and Jesus was completely submerged. Knowledge of the true God was exchanged for Babylon’s mystery triad. Hence, the question God posed to ancient Israel is relevant in the Christian era: “Has a nation ever changed its gods for those that are not gods? But my own people have exchanged my glory for what is useless.” — Jeremiah 2:11
From the time of Moses until Jeremiah covered almost 1,000 years. From the time God contacted Abraham until the appearance of the Messiah, it has been almost 2,000 years, roughly the same period from Jesus until the present. During the time of Jeremiah God contended with the Jews. He also contended with a later generation, as is stated as Jeremiah 2:9: “‘So I will contend further with you,’ declares Jehovah, ‘and I will contend with the sons of your sons.’”
All during the Christian era—almost two millennia—God has never entered into judgment with Christians. Judgment is reserved for the conclusion, or what is called “the final part of the days,” which is an expression that is used four times in the book of Jeremiah. Hence, “the sons of your sons” must be those living when the judgment commences.
Anointed Christians are God’s special property. They are the only ones whom God claims as belonging to himself; hence, “my people.” All during the centuries when Babylon’s popes reigned there was no detectable presence of any grouping of “my people” until the 1870s when the Bible Students suddenly emerged, distributing the writings of Pastor Russell far and wide. It soon became apparent that Christ was using the Watchtower to renew the work he had begun in the 1st century. Not since the Waldenses and Lollards had there been an organized attempt to preach and teach the Gospel.
When Jeremiah first began preaching Josiah was king of Judah. As a young king, Josiah responded positively to Jeremiah’s denunciation of idolatry. He made a determined effort to destroy the idols and high places and restore Jehovah’s worship in the temple. In cleaning out the temple and making needed repairs the priests actually found the sacred scrolls written by Moses. The scrolls had apparently been lost for a long time. In response Josiah had the Law read before all the people and then held a grand Passover unparalleled in the history of Israel.
The situation in Josiah’s day and his effort to restore the long-lost truth find a parallel with the religious reforms undertaken by Russell. Although the invention of the printing press ensured that the clergy would not succeed in preventing the Bible from being translated and published, still, though, after centuries of domination by Christendom it was as if the truth contained in the Bible had been lost and was newly discovered by the searching Bible Students. The fact that a small group of anointed Christians began observing the Lord’s Evening Meal was very similar to the renewal of the Passover during Josiah’s reign.
It is worth noting, even though Josiah instituted genuine reform Jehovah did not waive the punishment that the Law of the covenant stipulated. Even though the Jews had forgotten the terms of the covenant God did not forget.
So, God contends further with the leaders of his people even after reforms had been instituted and pure worship was reestablished. Speaking to those who handle the Law (after the scrolls were found) God states: “The priests did not ask, ‘Where is Jehovah?’ Those handling the Law did not know me, the shepherds rebelled against me, the prophets prophesied by Baal, and they followed those who could bring no benefit.” — Jeremiah 2:8
Anointed men serve as priests and teachers of Christian law. There are shepherds too—congregation elders. Christian prophets are those who interpret Bible prophecy.
Where is Jehovah? That’s a good question.
To be continued…