Maxey - Broking Discussion
A Critical Review and Defense of
Down, But Not Out

Thursday, August 3, 2000

A Response by Al Maxey to
Broking's Comments on Chapter 3

Chapter 3 of Down, But Not Out examines five separate prophetic books in the OT canon within which one can find insight into God's view of marriage, divorce and remarriage. These five books of prophecy are: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Micah and Malachi. There is a wealth of helpful and healing teaching conveyed by these inspired men of God, and I sought to convey this teaching in as clear and concise a manner as possible in Chapter 3. Once again, however, Darrell, in his "critical review" of my work, has chosen to cast aside without comment 99% of this chapter and focus his attention upon only one point made within that study, and then try and draw attention once again to Matthew 19 (the "final word" in all the Bible on MDR!!!). In his haste to get to his favorite passage, my critic seems almost unwilling to consider anything else presented in God's word on this subject. That is indeed a shame, and this lack of a broader biblical perspective will become clearly evident as he seeks to exegete the passage in Matthew which he seems to believe is the Lord's "final word" on this matter.

Darrell wrote: "The truth of the matter is that God entered into his marriage relationship with Judah and Israel at the same time. According to the Bible this occurred before the division of Israel and Judah." Darrell is absolutely correct in this statement, and I point out this fact several times in my book. In Exodus 19, when God brought His people to Himself at Sinai and entered into a covenant with them, they were one people; they were united. God did not "marry" TWO women at that time, Israel and Judah, but entered into a covenant of marriage with ONE bride.

This united kingdom would not last, however. In time, the people of God would divide into two separate nations. The northern kingdom would come to be known as Israel, and the southern kingdom Judah. They would have separate kings, and even to some extent separate religious observance. They grew to hate one another, and often went to war against the other. Although often in a state of heated conflict, nevertheless they were regarded as "sister" nations.

God often dealt with them separately, clearly recognizing the distinction between the two nations. Even when He sent His prophets, some were sent specifically to the northern kingdom, while others were commissioned to go only to the people of the south. The northern kingdom fell first, and was enslaved by the Assyrians with the fall of Samaria in 722 BC. The southern kingdom endured a bit longer, and was led into Babylonian captivity with the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. Later, this southern kingdom would be restored when Cyrus allowed the Jews to return in 536 BC.

It is extremely important to note that at the time the prophets wrote, there were two separate and distinct kingdoms in existence: Israel and Judah. Hundreds of years earlier God had indeed "married" ONE bride, but historically that situation had changed drastically. There were now TWO nations, not just ONE.

It is also important to remember that the marriage imagery of the OT writings (with reference to the "marriage" of God and His people) is just that: imagery. It is figurative language, and figures can be changed or modified to suit whatever theological point needs to be made at the moment (and also to account for historical changes). For example, in Revelation (which is filled with imagery and symbolism) Jesus is characterized in a single passage as both a lion and a lamb (Rev. 5:5-6). Obviously, He can't literally be both, and in reality is neither. This is figurative language, and allowances need to be made in one's interpretation of such language.

At the time the prophets wrote their warnings from God, there were TWO distinct nations which the Lord sought to bring to repentance. SISTER nations. The northern kingdom was the first to seriously depart from their God, and whose existence was in jeopardy. God sought repeatedly to restore this relationship, but they were more concerned with pursuing other lovers (the pagan nations). Thus, God finally had to recognize that the relationship was ended with this adulterous nation, and He divorced her. "I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear" (Jeremiah 3:8).

God divorced Israel. (Her adulterous relationships, by-the-way, produced an "offspring" known as the Samaritans.) He hoped this divorce would serve as a warning to Judah, Israel's SISTER. But this sister also proved to be unfaithful to her covenant relationship. She too went after other lovers, and mocked her "wedding vows." She made overtures of returning and repenting, but they were short-lived and insincere. "In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to Me with all her heart, but only in pretense" (Jeremiah 3:10).

In time, God would send away Judah also. However, this would not be a divorce (no certificate was issued), but merely a time of separation. After a period of time, the union would be renewed, and from this union with Judah, Israel's sister, would come a child --- The Messiah!!

Darrell wrote: "Maxey's divorce and remarriage scenario does not agree with the Biblical record." He further wrote: "Chapter 3 of Down, But Not Out is based upon the erroneous assumption that God first married Israel, then after divorcing Israel he remarried Israel's sister Judah ..... the teaching in chapter three is based upon error." I disagree, Darrell. The Bible clearly states that God divorced Israel and sent her away. It also clearly states that He had a covenant relationship with Israel's SISTER Judah, and that a Child was born by that union. I don't know that I would characterize the union of God with Judah as a "remarriage," although I suppose one could make a case for that (and I at times have referred to it as such myself), but it is clearly viewed as a marriage (figuratively speaking, of course). Such is always a problem when one seeks to take too literally images which are clearly designed to be figurative in nature. Forcing images and figures and symbols to be literally TRUE, rather than conveyors of TRUTH, will lead to some obvious factual inconsistencies. One could make a case, for example, that God was married to both Israel and Judah at the same time. This would mean we have God being a polygamist or bigamist, something few would care to declare, although such a view could be drawn from the biblical text if one imposes too great a literalness upon these figures. What we can safely glean from the figures, however, is the TRUTH that God severed His covenant relationship with a nation (Israel) for her adulteries, and sent her away to live with her pagan lovers. Scripture then details the nature of His relationship with the SISTER of this nation (Judah), a later separation and restoration, and then the birth of a Child through this union with the sister. Beyond these figures and their interpretation (with which Scripture provides us), we dare not impose too much literalness lest we encounter some delicate theological dilemmas.

Darrell further notes: "If it were true that God put away Israel then married Judah, then God was just because Israel was the guilty party. When this scenario is viewed in light of the New Testament doctrine of marriage, divorce and remarriage, God would be allowed to remarry..." I agree with Darrell on this. God was indeed the "innocent" party in this divorce, and Israel was clearly guilty of breaking covenant with her "Husband." It is also true that God's relationship with Israel's sister Judah was entirely legitimate and approved. And the Child born by this separate union, the Messiah, would therefore be legitimate and not illegitimate.

Darrell states, "...but not Judah (Matt.19:9)." I assume you meant to say "Israel" here, and not "Judah." Correct me if I'm wrong. Your point, then, would be that since Israel was the "guilty party" in the divorce, she was thereby NOT allowed the privilege of remarriage. You seem to verify this in a later statement: "This writer agrees with Maxey that God knows when a divorce takes place. The point of contention, upon which the discussion will soon focus, is the right of unscripturally divorced persons to remarry." Your view, then, is that Israel does not have the right to remarry, but God does. And, further, that Judah would not be guilty for her marriage to God. If this does not correctly state your view, then please let me know.

As you indicate, Darrell, we do indeed differ on the matter of whether one who is divorced has the right to remarry. I think we may also need to analyze your phrase "unscripturally divorced" and see if it is a biblical concept. In my view, ANY divorce is contrary to the IDEAL of our God, and thus, I suppose, could technically be termed "unscriptural." You, however, have a much different view of what constitutes "unscriptural divorce," and we will need to pursue the validity of that theory of yours. And we will soon do so in our examination of the teaching of Jesus Christ.

Darrell wrote: "No, the guilty party is not without hope. Guilty parties may choose to become eunuchs in order to enter into eternal life (Matt. 19:12)." Again, I have somewhat of a problem with your exegesis of this passage. Also, I would hardly characterize castration or life-long self-imposed celibacy as "hope." But, we will also deal with this further when we get to that passage.

Darrell wrote: "The blood of Christ will not take an adulterous union and re-create it into the state of purity anymore than it can re-create homosexuality into purity." I would have a tendency to agree with you on this statement, but I believe you and I have a vastly different concept of what constitutes "an adulterous union." In time, we will seek to determine which of our views (if either) is more in harmony with the biblical view. In my opinion, yours is not.

I look forward to your next attempt at a critical review of my work, although I continue to be frustrated by your complete lack of comment on the vast majority of what I have presented in this book. There was much in Hosea, Micah and Malachi, for example, that reflects the thinking of our God, and you totally ignored it. However, I content myself with the thought that the reason is because you were simply unable to discover anything "out of harmony" with God's Word in all of that material. If you had found something, I feel sure you would have pounced upon it. I encourage the readers, therefore, to take the time to read chapter three for yourselves, and determine if, in your view, this chapter is filled with such damnable doctrine that it will send a person to hell if they embrace it (if you find such false doctrine, then please e-mail me privately and inform me of it). Apparently Darrell has little desire to substantiate his charges against my book, but merely to elaborate on his views concerning a single passage in the writings of Matthew. I hope this attitude is as revealing to the readers as it is to me!!

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