"Addendum: Hosea’s certificate of divorce is rooted in Israel’s Betrothal Covenant."
"Upon further reflection, a slight modification needs to be made to this sermon series."
I have recently come to the conclusion that modern Christians have erroneously interpreted the Sinai Covenant through the lens of our modern American cultural conception and practice of marriage rather than the ancient Hebrew context and culture related to marriage.
In American culture, we have an informal, non-legal "engagement period" that precedes the formal marriage covenant in law. Our tendency to view Sinai as a wedding/marriage is a result of juxtaposing our American pattern onto the text of the Old Testament. Thus, we tend to (wrongly) view Israel as married to God through the Sinai Covenant.
The ancient Hebrews did things a bit differently. They had a legal covenant for Betrothal followed by a full Marriage covenant in law after the appointed time of Betrothal. In other words, the Betrothal Covenant was preparatory for the Marriage Covenant. Betrothal always preceded Marriage in a way that is foreign to us, but is obvious in the text of Hosea as viewed in its original Hebrew context. Significantly, unfaithfulness during the Betrothal Covenant period was grounds for divorce. You can see this plainly in the story of Joseph and Mary in the New Testament.
I have recently come to the conclusion that the Sinai covenant was not the marriage/wedding of Israel to God, but was the initial Betrothal Covenant with God’s promise to marry Israel at the appropriate time; this is what we call the consummation/wedding supper of the Lamb. Thus, the "certificate of divorce" we see in the Old Testament, and specifically in the context of Hosea, was the result of Israel failing (by idolatry) to remain true to God as a promised Virgin during the betrothal covenant period. Israel was an unfaithful wife only in the sense that she broke the Sinaitic Betrothal Covenant.
God never consummated a supposed marriage at the Sinai Covenant because it was, in reality, a Betrothal Covenant rather than a full Marriage Covenant. God’s intimacy with Israel during the Old Testament matched the status of a Betrothed Husband. God extended his love toward Israel by formal/legal covenant, but God’s relationship to Israel never reached to the level of the full intimacy of a marital union at Sinai. God saved himself for his long-planned marriage to his bride in Christ Jesus, completed at the Great Wedding at the end of the age in A.D. 70.
God, through the prophets (who called God’s people "Virgin Israel" as in Amos 5:2), foretold of a time when unfaithful Israel’s sin would be atoned for so that God’s long-planned marriage to Israel could finally come to fruition (see also Matthew 22:1-14). This is what we see going on in the NT with the work of Christ, the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, and (made-new) Betrothal Covenant between Christ and the Church (see also 2 Cor. 11:2). All of this detail is the extension of the story of Israel which begins in the Garden of Eden (see also Ezekiel 16).
I think this correction brings additional clarity and a necessary correction to the basic teaching in this Hosea Sermon Series.
I will post a link below for those who would like to investigate this significant issue further:
The Sinai Covenant as God’s Betrothal to Israel
Please listen to the linked sermon and read the comments for a complete explanation.