Honor and shame are concepts almost completely lost on western culture. We watch memes, gifs and video clips of foibles and disasters that befall others and consider it humorous to mock and laugh at their misfortune. We even encourage and rejoice in the sin and shame inducing behavior of others while entirely ignoring our own reproach for things Scripture considers abhorrent. Our culture ignores widows and orphans, glorifies divorce, practices all manner of sexual deviance, encourages abortion and we are generally irresponsible toward all but self.
In fact, like a man with no sense of smell, we have become a people entirely unaware of our own stench or that of those around us. Like pigs, we wallow in our filth and think it okay, maybe even funny. We glorify our stench.
As I have been studying Scripture regarding the two houses of Israel, God’s relationship with each house and His use of the relationship between man and woman to image Himself and His people, I have become increasingly aware of how very wretched we are on so many levels, and, how wrong is our theology.
One of the deep concepts that God refers to over and over is that of shame and reproach, so I had to begin to search out why God uses this concept and what we need to understand in both the spiritual and the physical dimension. Foundationally, there are several basic concepts that must be understood. If these are new to you, I recommend reading and processing the links to gain understanding and insight.
First, and covered in many places and ways on this blog, is the fact that God’s grand plan, His great Work, is the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel. Yeshua declares this as His purpose in Acts 1:6-7, something I wrote about several years ago. More recently, as co-author Jeremy and I are explaining in our Restoring Kol Israel series, we are seeing in Scripture that this restoration is a very real, physical, in our day restoration of both houses of Israel! I cannot begin to explain how incredibly real and amazing this is!! As we explain, the restoration is beginning at the family level and progressing from there. As men learn Torah and walk it out, their families are restored, and they are called to increasing levels of obedience and righteousness that begin and fuel restoration of kol (all) Israel. Restored families begin to gather and form a clan or a community allowing further application and obedience with regard to Torah which will then foster growth of larger connectivity toward tribal and national restoration.
The second major concept that is related is understanding the role of marriage and family both in the micro (personal) level, and in the macro (community) level. To fully understand the restoration of the two houses, one must understand that God has two brides. Scripture attests to this in multiple places, and the battle between the two is the story of Ephraim and Judah. God couches everything in Scripture within the construct of a plural, or Biblical marriage. Until one can wrap their minds fully around this fact, they cannot completely understand the restoration process in either the spiritual, or in the physical. Physically, the story begins with Jacob, Leah, and Rachel. Spiritually, the image is God, Judah, and Ephraim.
The final concept we must grapple with is that marriage is an image of the Messiah and the qahal/ekklesia/church/congregation. Most of Christendom readily accepts this as Paul clearly states it, but they do not understand that God has two brides, nor do they fully apply the image of Messiah and the church to marriage. Ephesians 5:22-33 spells out the relationship between man and woman and draws the clear comparison to Messiah and the church. Paul expounds on this understanding in multiple other passages. See, for example, Paul’s commentary in 1 Corinthians 11:3-15. Most understand this to mean something about a hat or doily on a woman’s head but do not understand the direct connection to the Torah principle of a man acting as the woman’s covering. (e.g., Numbers 5:11-31) The bottom line is that a woman who has no covering, no head/man, is considered to be in a shameful or reproachful position.
God has an order and an authority structure. Every single human has value, however each has a respective place in the order of creation as well as in the kingdom. Be careful not to confuse value and role. By way of illustration, horses and cows both have value on a farm, but their roles differ.
With relation to our topic, man is to portray the image of Messiah and woman is to portray the image of the qahal/congregation. If either is not operating according to their role, they are in a shameful or reproachful condition. Consider the abundance of Scriptures wherein the adulterous brides, Judah and Ephraim, are reminded of their shame and reproach. There are too many to list, but here are three examples:
Ezekiel 5:13 ‘Thus My anger will be spent and I will satisfy My wrath on them, and I will be appeased; then they will know that I, the Lord, have spoken in My zeal when I have spent My wrath upon them. 14 Moreover, I will make you a desolation and a reproach among the nations which surround you, in the sight of all who pass by. 15 So it will be a reproach, a reviling, a warning and an object of horror to the nations who surround you when I execute judgments against you in anger, wrath and raging rebukes. I, the Lord, have spoken. 16 When I send against them the deadly arrows of famine which were for the destruction of those whom I will send to destroy you, then I will also intensify the famine upon you and break the staff of bread. 17 Moreover, I will send on you famine and wild beasts, and they will bereave you of children; plague and bloodshed also will pass through you, and I will bring the sword on you. I, the Lord, have spoken.’”
Psalm 79:1 O God, the nations have invaded Your inheritance;
They have defiled Your holy temple;
They have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
2 They have given the dead bodies of Your servants for food to the birds of the heavens,
The flesh of Your godly ones to the beasts of the earth.
3 They have poured out their blood like water round about Jerusalem;
And there was no one to bury them.
4 We have become a reproach to our neighbors,
A scoffing and derision to those around us.
5 How long, O Lord? Will You be angry forever?
Will Your jealousy burn like fire?
Ezekiel 36:13 “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Because they say to you, “You are a devourer of men and have bereaved your nation of children,” 14 therefore you will no longer devour men and no longer bereave your nation of children,’ declares the Lord God. 15 “I will not let you hear insults from the nations anymore, nor will you bear disgrace from the peoples any longer, nor will you cause your nation to stumble any longer,” declares the Lord God.’”
16 Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, 17 “Son of man, when the house of Israel was living in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds; their way before Me was like the uncleanness of a woman in her impurity. 18 Therefore I poured out My wrath on them for the blood which they had shed on the land, because they had defiled it with their idols. 19 Also I scattered them among the nations and they were dispersed throughout the lands. According to their ways and their deeds I judged them. 20 When they came to the nations where they went, they profaned My holy name, because it was said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord; yet they have come out of His land.’ 21 But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations where they went.
Throughout Scripture, the image God uses to reveal Himself and His plan is that of marriage. He created Israel to be under His covering. In like manner, He created Eve to be under Adam’s covering. In fact, throughout Scripture it is a shameful thing, a matter of reproach, when Israel, whether the house of Judah or the house of Israel, is not under the covering of God. That is called rebellion. And when they place themselves under the covering of idols, false gods, or other nations, they are viewed by God as adulterous. (e.g. Ezekiel 23)
Just as with Israel and Judah, anytime man or woman is not operating within God’s design, Scripture regards that as shameful or a reproach. An example of this is Rachel. When she was barren, she and others regarded it as a matter of shame. Genesis 30:22-23 says, “Then God remembered Rachel, and God gave heed to her and opened her womb. So she conceived and bore a son and said, ‘God has taken away my reproach.’” In this case, Rachel’s reproach is because she cannot fulfill her God-given purpose of bearing children.
In a similar manner, anytime a woman is uncovered, or, not the help meet of a man, it is a matter of shame or of reproach. Culturally, we now accept it as perfectly normal for a woman to be divorced, single, on her own, etc. But Scripture never paints this picture; in fact, quite the opposite. She is in a state of shame that can only be removed by coming under the protective covering of a man, whether father, son, or husband. (e.g. Numbers 30) This is part of the reason why Paul says young widows are to be married, lest they give the enemy occasion for reproach!! I Timothy 5:14 (see 1-16)
If Messiah and the congregation are mirrored by man and woman, then Israel’s reproachful independence of Messiah is a mirror of woman’s reproach when she is not covered by a man.
Hear the heart of Yah for Israel in Isaiah 54. The whole chapter matters, but consider these verses especially,
Isaiah 54 “Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child;
Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed;
For the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous
Than the sons of the married woman,” says the Lord.
2 “Enlarge the place of your tent;
Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not;
Lengthen your cords
And strengthen your pegs.
3 “For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left.
And your descendants will possess nations
And will resettle the desolate cities.
4 “Fear not, for you will not be put to shame;
And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced;
But you will forget the shame of your youth,
And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
5 “For your husband is your Maker,
Whose name is the Lord of hosts;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
Who is called the God of all the earth.
6 “For the Lord has called you,
Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
Even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,”
Says your God.
There is another beautiful image of this rolling away of reproach in Joshua 5. After crossing the Jordan and coming into the Land, Israel reenters covenant with Yah and all the men are circumcised.
Joshua 5:8 Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. 9 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.
10 While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho.
(A side note: the Groom shows up right after this in Joshua 5:13-15!!)
I have additional thoughts exploding in my head right now regarding the fact that the men were circumcised, not the women… Men are under the headship of God/Messiah (I Cor. 11:3), but women are under the headship of a man. When a virgin is taken into her husband’s house, she has a bloody show at the time she enters into covenant with him. So it is when a man is circumcised and brought into the bond of the covenant with Yah!
When a man does not perform his duty of covering a daughter of Israel that he is supposed to cover, then he bears the shame. Consider the case of levirate marriage – and especially Ruth – wherein a man turns down his responsibility.
Deuteronomy 25:7 But if the man does not desire to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to establish a name for his brother in Israel; he is not willing to perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.’ 8 Then the elders of his city shall summon him and speak to him. And if he persists and says, ‘I do not desire to take her,’ 9 then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the sight of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face; and she shall declare, ‘Thus it is done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.’ 10 In Israel his name shall be called, ‘The house of him whose sandal is removed.’
Ruth 4:7 Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning the redemption and the exchange of land to confirm any matter: a man removed his sandal and gave it to another; and this was the manner of attestation in Israel. 8 So the closest relative said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself.” And he removed his sandal.
If he refuses, her shame becomes his shame. He bears the shame and it is his name that is tarnished in Israel! He has a duty to cover her shame and restore her honor, just as the Messiah chose to act for his wayward brides. (See Jeremiah 3 and Ezekiel 23. While Judah has never been out of covenant, she most certainly has acted the harlot and needs to be redeemed and covered in the same manner that Israel does!!)
The spiritual relationship between Yah and Judah/Israel is identical to the physical relationship between man and woman. The two are a mirror. Our relationship with God is directly reflected by how we understand and walk out the relationship between man and woman. A man who does not lead, protect, love, or provide for the woman (or women) God places under his covering demonstrates that he has no understanding of the relationship between God and Israel. If he treats his woman with unrighteousness, then he proves that he does not understand how Messiah treats the congregation. Likewise, a woman who does not walk in submission to a man, or who does not seek out covering as Tamar, Naomi, and Ruth did, does not understand what Scripture says regarding shame and reproach. She has little understanding of God’s role for her and His plan in her life.
As we learn about and understand the restoration of kol Israel, one verse keeps coming to mind that helped initiate this whole study:
Isaiah 4:1 For seven women will take hold of one man in that day, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach!”
The day is coming when women will realize their shame and their reproach if they are in an uncovered state. This will be true of the house of Israel as a whole, but also of the individual daughters of Zion. And men will cease to allow or in any way enable their impossible position by ignoring their plight or turning a blind eye to uncovered ladies. Righteous men will provide cover for those ladies who desire a Godly man and righteous women will take the initiative like Tamar, Ruth and Avigail. When a woman embraces her role as being covered and the man performs his duty of covering, both are restored!
As a body we need to cease to see divorced, widowed or single women as ‘okay.’ They are not. The restoration of kol Israel demands that we begin to be intentional about the covering and protecting of our ladies. We must be intentional about removing their shame and reproach, and as we do, our shame, individually and corporately will be removed!
We must begin to earnestly seek Yah asking that He break our hearts for the uncovered. Ask that He show us the depth of their shame in His eyes. Ask that He prepare us and show us how to move forward in His will.
2 thoughts on “Shame, Reproach and the Image of Marriage”
Thank you Pete for your thoughtful post. I am a Messianic Jew myself. I like what you said here: “First, and covered in many places and ways on this blog, is the fact that God’s grand plan, His great Work, is the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel.” May we continue to pray for the lost sheep of Israel. Blessing to you!
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Shalom and welcome. So glad to have you drop in!