Questions From Readers
● The Watchtower (March 1 and 15, 1976, on Hosea) speaks of Jehovah God, the heavenly Husband, as being married to spiritual Israel. How can this be in view of what the apostle Paul says about the Christian congregation as being promised in marriage to one husband, Jesus Christ? (2 Cor. 11:2) Is this not contradictory and confusing?
Care should be taken, when considering Scriptural figures of speech, not to confuse them but to consider each one in its own setting. For example, Jehovah God refers to his heavenly universal organization as his wife. We find this as early as Genesis 3:15 and a number of times in the prophecy of Isaiah. Yet the chief one of his organization is his only-begotten Son. From one standpoint, Jesus Christ is the chief member of God’s “woman,” and from another standpoint he is the firstborn of all of God’s sons. Did God marry his only-begotten Son? No; we must be careful not to confuse figures of speech. From one standpoint he is God’s Son; from another, part of God’s “woman.”
Thus also the Scriptures refer to Christ’s followers under various figures of speech. They are termed his brothers. (Matt. 25:40; Heb. 2:17) They are also referred to as Christ’s body. (1 Cor. 12:27) And they are further spoken of prospectively as “the Lamb’s wife.” (Rev. 21:9) But to speak of Jesus as marrying his brothers, or his own body would be a confusing of figures of speech. From one standpoint his followers are like this, and from another standpoint, like that.
There is no question about Jehovah God as describing himself as the “husband” of the fleshly nation of Israel. (Hos. 1:2; 2:16) Since fleshly Israel was a type of spiritual Israel, it must follow that Jehovah could also be spoken of as the husband of spiritual Israel. Even as he became husband of fleshly Israel by means of the Law covenant, so by means of the new covenant he became husband of spiritual Israel. (Jer. 31:31-33; Heb. 8:6-12) This is only as regards anointed Christians being viewed as a nation of spiritual Israelites.
However, from another standpoint they, as the Christian congregation, are viewed as Christ’s prospective bride. This is because they will be united with him, as husband and wife are united, and they will share heavenly glory with Christ as a bride shares regal honors and position with her king-husband. So, from the standpoint of the 144,000 being the spiritual nation of Israel, it can be said that Jehovah is its husband. From the standpoint of their being the Christian congregation, they bear Christ’s name and are his prospective bride, even as a wife bears the name of her husband.
In this regard it might be noted that the Christian Greek Scriptures avoid all confusion by never referring to the anointed followers of Christ as having Jehovah as their husband, but only as promised in marriage to Jesus Christ. He is the bridegroom of the “New Jerusalem,” Jehovah is the husband of “Jerusalem above.”—Gal. 4:26; Rev. 21:2.
(For further information, please see the article “Identifying the Bible’s Jerusalems” on page 537 of this magazine.)