This post is also available in: Español
In my weekly post of 16/08/2019, I published an article entitled, “Why Give Your Wife a Ketubah?” (a Hebrew wedding certificate). A disciple brother then wrote with some questions, and Yahweh helped me to summarize the issue while writing him. I thought the summation might help someone, so I posted it along with the regular weekly post:
The [disciple’s] question was about why we cannot divorce our wives permanently, when Yahweh uses the term “divorce” in Scripture. And the answer is, the definition of the word [divorce] has changed. Today (thanks to our Pharisee / Orthodox brothers), when you divorce your wife, she is gone, and you are done. But that is not the way Yahweh uses the word [divorce].
The way Yahweh uses the word “divorce”, if you divorce your wife it is more like legal separation in today’s terms. You cannot be held legally liable for her, because she is not listening to you, or obeying your authority. However, because of the way covering works in Scripture, when you marry her, her covering transfers out from under her father, to you. And her covering stays with you unless or until she marries someone else [Elohim forbid].
If she marries someone else then you [truly] are done, because her covering transfers to another man, and she can never come back [to you]. But if she does not marry another man, her covering remains with you. And this is why Yahweh seeks to bring Ephraim back, is that even though she has defiled her skirts [adulterated], she has never technically remarried. So after she repents deeply, and from her heart, she can come home.
Then another disciple then sent me another question about my summation. And because his question touches on not only our relationship with Elohim, but also the change in the priesthoods of Hebrews 7:11-12, I felt I should also reprint it, because it brings out some outstanding teaching points that we all need to know.
[The original email is in Spanish. I am translating, but also copying and pasting the Scripture quotations from the New King James Version (and changing the names) to make sure I do not mistranslate anything.]
Shabbat Shalom, Brother.
About your last email, I write because, [in your post you use] this phrase:
[Quoting me:] And this is why Yahweh seeks to bring Ephraim back, is that even though she has defiled her skirts, she has never technically remarried. So after she repents deeply, and from her heart, she can come home.
In my understanding, Efraim, when he was given a divorce letter, yes he married another (and this is why the Orthodox currently do not know what has to happen for Efraim to return with respect to the Law; “if he joined another husband, cannot return to her first husband.”
Then in the book of Hebrews it says [NKJV]:
Ivrim (Hebrews) 9:15-17
15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
16 For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
17 For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.
So, what I see in this (and other texts that I don’t remember where they are now), is that Efraim did join another husband, and when Yeshua came, one of the reasons He had to die was to comply with this by law, “the first husband died, so the bride is free from the law of the husband and can marry another:” “he who rose from the dead “, and thus, this law that prevents Efraim from being taken as a wife again, already had its fulfillment, when the first husband died, and now he can rejoin the One who rose from the dead as a new man.
Romim (Romans) 7:1-6 [NKJV names corrected]
1 Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the Torah), that the Torah has dominion over a man as long as he lives?
2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the Torah to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the Torah of her husband.
3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that Torah, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.
4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the Torah through the body of Messiah, that you may be married to another — to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to Elohim.
5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the Torah were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.
6 But now we have been delivered from the Torah, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
What do you think about this?
Shabbat Shalom, brother.
What do I think about this? I think it is an excellent question, and I am glad he asked. Both arguments work. I also used to use the Romans 7 approach until about +/- 2008, but then I quit using it because at the time there was a big argument in the Ephraimite movement about whether or not Shaul was a legitimate apostle (which he absolutely is). Yet those who were saying that Shaul was NOT a legitimate apostle were trying to use Romans 7 as an alleged “proof text” that Shaul taught against the Torah, so they couldn’t hear Romans 7. Yet it is instructive to dive deep into this argument, because it will show us many very important things about the nature of Torah, and the reason for the change in priesthoods. Those who doubt Shaul typically misunderstand what the Torah is, and since such people abound (and need help), let us cover these materials here. It can be difficult to follow, but it is well worth it.
In my experience, those who doubt Shaul’s apostleship typically don’t understand the difference between the Torah of Moshe and the Levitical Torah—and many of them do not even realize that there is a difference at all. But there is a huge difference between the two, and we need to know what the difference is, if we are to obey the Torah of Moshe. And perhaps because this is so very rudimentary and basic, many Messianics and other Two-House types seem to have a hard time following this, so let us take it very slowly, and carefully.
At the risk of sounding overly basic, the Torah (Law) of Moshe is a name for the first five books of Scripture (and to turn this around, the first five books of Scripture is also called the Torah of Moshe). However, this is a different term than the term Levitical Torah (or the instructions given to Levi). While the Torah of Levi is contained inside the Torah of Moshe, the Torah of Moshe contains much more than just the Levitical Torah.
The Torah of Moshe mentions three different priestly orders, and in doing so it gives authorization for them to operate, when the conditions are right:
- A Melchizedekian order
- An order of the Firstborn
- A Levitical order (with a Levitical Torah)
The Torah of Moshe gives us detailed information about the Levitical instructions, but it does not give us any information about the instructions to the other two priestly orders. Perhaps because of this, a great many Ephraimites mistakenly assume that the term Levitical Torah is the same as the Torah of Moshe. But it is not.
Both the Torah of Moshe and the Levitical Torah were given to Israel for all time, yet while the Torah of Moshe always applies (both inside the land and out), the Torah to Levi only applies when we live in the land of Israel and have a cleansed tabernacle or temple, and also have a cleansed Levitical priesthood. So while the Torah of Levi always exists, it does not always apply (perhaps like if we have a car, but don’t have authorization to drive). To understand this, let us imagine that a driver has three cars. He can only drive one at a time. Perhaps other drivers may drive his other two cars, but not legitimately. And further, to drive any of these cars, one not only has to have authorization, one has to obey the rules of the road. This is to say that only one of the three priesthoods can be active at any given time, and that whichever of these three priesthoods has the active anointing must also obey the instructions given by Elohim.
As we explain in Torah Government, the Levitical order lost the active anointing when Yeshua died (which is one reason why the veil of the temple was rent in two). At that time, the Levitical order stepped down, and the Melchizedekian order stepped up to take its place. That is, the Levitical and Melchizedekian orders traded places—and when they traded places, the active operating instructions (or the active Torah) also changed, because the instructions for operating in the dispersion are necessarily different than when we operate in a cleansed tabernacle or temple in the land. And that is why Hebrews 7:12 tells us that when the priesthoods changed, there was also a change (or a transposition) in the Torah.
Ivrim (Hebrews) 7:12
12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change [transposition] of the Torah.
While we believe in a Semitic (Hebrew or Aramaic) inspiration for the Renewed Covenant, because we no longer have the Semitic originals, we use the Greek for textual analysis. And in Greek, when it says there was a change of the Torah, this word change is Strong’s New Testament NT:3331, metathesis. Metathesis refers to a transposition (i.e., trading places, or changing sides), and hence, a disestablishment of the Torah that was displaced.
NT:3331 metathesis (met-ath’-es-is); from NT:3346; transposition, i.e. transferral (to heaven), disestablishment (of a law):
So in Romans 7, Shaul is not saying that we have become dead to the Torah of Moshe—far from it! Rather, what he is saying is that we have become dead to the rule of the letter of the Levitical Torah, which stresses obedience to the letter (and in which the punishment always involves a death). Instead, right now we are to obey the Spirit of the Melchizedekian Torah, which focuses on repentance unto life. And while the Levitical Torah still exists (and will be active again one day), because it is not active, we are not governed by the letter of Deuteronomy 24 right now. Instead we are governed by the same precepts, but only as understood in the Spirit of repentance, mercy, and forgiveness.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 24:1-4
1 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness [sexual immorality] in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house,
2 when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife,
3 if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife,
4 then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before Yahweh, and you shall not bring sin on the land which Yahweh your Elohim is giving you as an inheritance.”
We explain this in more detail in “Yahweh’s Heart in Marriage” (in the Covenant Relationships collection), but where our Orthodox brothers miss the mark with their mis-interpretation is that in the first place, Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is not a law, or a statute, or even an ordinance. Rather, it is one of Yahweh’s judgments. A judgment applies to train-wreck situations in which everything has gone wrong. In such train-wreck situations, a judge (and in this case, Yahweh) has to make the best of a bad situation. But it is never supposed to be used to set legal precedents (but because Orthodox Judah does not have His Spirit, they cannot sense what Yahweh’s precepts are–and hence they cannot apply them correctly).
Second, because our Orthodox brethren don’t know who Yeshua is, they also do not understand that it was Yeshua we betrothed at Mount Sinai (because Yahweh the Father has never left the throne room in heaven). Therefore, they do not understand how it can be that when Yeshua died and was born again, that now we are dead to the letter of Deuteronomy 24, but are alive to the precept and the Spirit of repentance upon which it is founded. And that is not to suggest that Deuteronomy 24 has been deleted from the law books! It only means that if we have Yahweh’s Spirit, we are not supposed to focus on the letter of punishment right now, but rather on the Spirit of repentance (so that we might walk in repentance before Him). The laws are the same, but the focus is completely different, and this different focus is mercy.
Third, I have not found any record anywhere in Scripture that Ephraim technically did remarry—only that she played the harlot with many lovers. And that is why Yahweh is able to call us back in Jeremiah 3.
Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 3:1
1 “They say, ‘If a man divorces his wife, And she goes from him And becomes another man’s, May he return to her again?’ Would not that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many lovers; Yet return to Me,” says Yahweh.
Notice that Yahweh does not say Ephraim actually married anyone else. Rather, what He says is that she played the harlot with many lovers. He only refers to Deuteronomy 24 to point out the seriousness of the situation (because technically she is deserving of death).
It was exhausting to try to explain all of that to people who (for whatever reason) can’t or won’t acknowledge the difference between the Torah of Moshe and the Levitical Torah, so once I realized it was easier just to point out that Ephraim never technically remarried, I started doing that. And I thought about including this in the article on why married men should give their wives a ketubah, but the article was already 16 pages long, so I decided against it. And yet I am glad for this disciple’s letter, because this distinction makes all the difference.
[For more details about why it was Yeshua we became betrothed to at Mount Sinai, and why Yahweh has never left the throne room, see “Yeshua: Manifestation of Yahweh” in Nazarene Scripture Studies, Volume 1.]