A Question We Were Asked:
Is It True that Israel Remains the Wife of Jehovah and that this is Separate From God's Work with the Church?





QUESTION:
"According to my Scofield Reference Bible, Israel remains the wife of Jehovah and is only temporarily put aside and Christ's work with the Church is separate from that. I have been taught differently to this. Can you explain?" F.C.
California.




ANSWER
The Scofield Reference Bible was the standard work which originally popularised J. Darby's Dispensationalism ; however, even many who loosely hold to some form of dispensationalism are now distancing themselves from it. The book comprises a King James Version Bible but with Scofield's noted added at the bottom of the pages. But these notes are often in error and this dubious 'reference work' has lost the respect which it once enjoyed. My questioner picked the following quote out of his version of the Scofield Reference:

'..Israel is the wife of Jehovah, now disowned but yet to be restored, is the clear teaching of the passages. (the writer refers to Hosea 2:16-23) This relationship is not to be confounded with that of the church to Christ. In the mystery of the divine tri-unity both are true. The New Testament speaks of the church as a virgin espoused to one husband (2 Corinthians 11:1,2), which never could be said of an adulterous wife restored in grace. Israel is, then, to be restored and forgiven wife of Jehovah, the church the virgin wife of the Lamb. Israel, Jehovah's earthly wife(Hosea 2:23); the church the Lamb's heavenly bride (Revelation 19:7).'
(Scofield, page 922).

Truthfully this passage shows somewhat alarming confusion for one who has written a 'Reference Bible'. I am simply going to quote the answer to the very same quote which H.C. Heffren D.D. picked up about twenty-five years ago in his great little volume, Thine is the Kingdom:

'The above description given by the Scofield R.B. footnotes reveals a complete misunderstanding of the true Bible explanation of the situation, and it is also a very alarming misconception of the relation within the Godhead that the Father could have an adulterous wife on earth called Israel, and at the same time the Son have a chaste wife called the church. The mystery is very easily corrected by the first four verses in Romans 7, as follows: "Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law) how that the law hath dominion over over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then, if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress, but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God."

Paul used this analogy to emphasize and illustrate both the legality and the finality of our relationship to Israel and the Law, and the termination of the earthly kingdom of Israel. In Romans 7, he compares the law covenant with the marriage covenant. A woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. When he dies she is legally free to marry another without incurring guilt or wrong doing. This, Paul says, corresponds to our relationship to the law covenant. As long as the law was in effect, it was valid and binding upon its subjects (Romans 7:4).
It is as clear as words can make anything that the Law and its relationship to Israel is compared to the death of a husband, and the wife which in this case is the church, is free to marry another. So consequently the teaching is that the woman in this case, the church, is free to be married to Christ who is the Groom and the church is the Bride, and by this union to bring forth fruit for God.

(Thine is the Kingdom , Heffren, pages 97-98, Gospel Contact Press, Alberta, 1981).

Heffren summarizes the problem of Scofield's view superbly, but I would just add that to split the affinities and direction of the Father and Son the way Scofield does is virtually tantamount to a teaching of two Gods!
This seems to be a clear example of perverting the natural use of Scripture in order to accommodate a theory which is extra to that Scripture. Theologians call this the practise of eisegesis - that is, to put things into the Scriptures, rather than exegesis - which means to draw understanding out of the Scriptures.
Robin A. Brace.
2003

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