God Married to the Backslider?

A friend asked me a while back about the idea she’d heard about God being married to the backslider. What did it mean? Does it apply to today?

Here’s what I told her. It’s not a thorough study, but it gets the main point across.

Jeremiah 3:14 makes a reference to God being married to the backslider. Below I’ve copied verses 6-15 so you can see the context it fits in. Then I’ll add a couple of comments.

Jeremiah 3:6-15–
6. The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot.
7. And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
8. And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
9. And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.
10. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.
11. And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah.
12. Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever.
13. Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.
14. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:
15. And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

The passage goes on from there to prophecy about the future time when God will regather all of Israel in a time when there will be peace. Obviously, that’s not something that’s happening now. At any rate, verse 14 speaks about the nation of Israel, both northern and southern parts, as does the whole chapter. They had practiced idolatry and were not following the Lord.

The book of Hosea sets forth a picture of this idea because Hosea married a harlot who went astray, and he bought her back. It, too, is all about Israel.

There’s nothing like this stated in the New Testament, so I’m persuaded that this doesn’t apply to the church today. Christians today are not spiritual Israel.

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