In Isa.49, God is outlining the future for Israel, and He is putting it in relation to what at that time was her future following the Gentile inclusion into His plan. As for Israel herself, the northern part of her tribes had in long past history been dispersed due to their adultery with other gods. Thus we hear of the 10 lost tribes. Though some from these tribes returned to Jerusalem before her destruction, still most had already been scattered among the nations of their day.
Within all of this there is another, not unusual, but seeming contradiction within scripture concerning their having been divorced by God, and part of what confuses occurs in this discourse by Isaiah where God says:
Isaiah 50:1 Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away. (KJV)
This dialog is taking place in what is still today a future time, which is following the addition of Gentiles to Gods plan (Isa 49:23).
Then we read:
Jeremiah 3:8 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. (KJV)
As stated one might become confused when reading these verses. There are actually three groups of people present in them. There is the mother and daughter, and the sister Judah. How do they fit? Judah is here listed as a sister to Israel, and yet at the same time she is in Israel since Jacob who is their father is Israel. Who then is the daughter? There is a possible explanation given in scripture in Revelation chapter 12 where those who are not of mother Israel are still seen as Israel’s offspring. This daughter is also found in the Gentile inclusion into the covenants and promises as recorded in Ephesians chapter two, and although she is not therein called a daughter, she is still made to be a part of Israel’s commonwealth.
So who was given this bill of divorcement?
Paul when explaining these things concerning the future for Israel to us says: For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved:
Blindness in part has happened to Israel. And Paul tells us in the same chapter in Romans, why this has happened. It is because of their unbelief. Some in Israel have gone totally blind in unbelief, and apparently they were given the writ of divorcement, some are partially blind, and some have seen fully. Paul is of Israel and is faithful as were the disciples, they are part of the remnant that he describes. He goes on:
There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer (Jesus), and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob (who is Israel): For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. (Romans 11:25–27)
You may have picked up on the fact that I left out some words here. Paul says here “as it is written”. So Paul is expounding in his writing about what God has promised to Jacob (Israel) in His word. Paul wants us to know that the believing who are from Israel as he is, will not see all Israel added into this covenant of which he speaks until all the Gentiles will all be added. The covenant here Paul has represented in the olive tree which is seen containing God’s people of promise. You can read all about this in this passage. He wants us to know that this must occur as it is written, before the salvation of those who are of the nation Israel at the end of this age can occur. He makes clear the sequence in which this will take place.
So as we think of the divorce spoken of in scripture it is only understood as Paul describes it when explaining the mystery of being cut off and grafted in. These acts represent divorce and salvation. Both are on an individual basis rather than concerning the whole nation. This makes sense, because divorce is an act of ending a relationship. In Israel’s history never did all men in Israel end their relationship, so God has not Divorced the nation. He in fact is regathering it in preparation for some who will remain in the end to be saved.
But salvation is individual.
This fact is made very clear in Zechariah 13:8-9, where two thirds of her people will be cut off or divorced during a time of firey trial, known as Jacobs trouble. The remaining one third will be included in the final salvation of men from this age. So when Paul states that “all Israel” will be saved he is not meaning all members of those 12 tribes who have ever lived. His definition of a true Jew explains what he means. It is found also in Romans:
Romans 2:29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. (NASB)
The covenant of the promised new heart, which makes this possible has included even us Gentiles, thus making us one with the saints of Israel; included in their commonwealth. One new man. Seen as the New Jerusalem — the bride in the Revelation. And it is not until all is fulfilled that the bride will have made herself ready, as seen in Revelation 19.
If you desire to be in His bride you must accept the gift of His Christ; the payment for your sins; the new heart that He offers; the Spirit who births you to lead you.
Paul says that we are to work out our salvation in fear and trembling. Remember what God said to you the daughter of Israel: Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away. (Isa. 50:1b KJV)
Jesus the Christ has told us: “Abide in Me”. Divorce if it comes will be of your own doing. God is the grantor of the writ of divorce.