JavaScript

This website requires the use of Javascript Explain This   to function correctly. Performance and usage will suffer if it remains disabled.
Where Is God’s Church Today?
New York, USA Jamaica Peru Idaho, USA India Belgium Kenya Arkansas, USA South Africa England Nigeria Ohio, USA

Jesus said, “I will build My Church…” There is a single organization that teaches the entire truth of the Bible, and is called to live by “every word of God.” Do you know how to find it? Christ said it would:

  • Teach “all things” He commanded
  • Have called out members set apart by truth
  • Be a “little flock”

Jesus Christ

The Missing Years

by Bruce A. Ritter

From chapter two of the upcoming book The True Jesus Christ – Unknown to Christianity.

When most people think of Jesus Christ’s time on earth as a human being, they either think of a dead Savior hanging from a cross or a helpless baby lying in a manger.

Few picture in their minds a growing, energetic boy who played games with His childhood friends and performed household chores. Few imagine God-in-the-flesh—a Man who sweated as He eagerly labored in His human father’s profession. Who may have had to diplomatically rebuff peer pressure from family and friends to get married and start a family. Who freely laughed and expressed a good sense of humor. Who was unafraid to shed tears in empathy for others. Who enjoyed delicious food and drink, and life in general, with perfect moderation.

Jesus was real—He felt, He spoke, He observed, worked, ate and breathed. He was both Man and God, physical yet divine. During his 33 1/2 years of human existence, Christ experienced life as a baby, then a toddler, boy, teenager and young adult, into manhood. God inspired Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to record the details of Jesus’ three-and-a-half-year ministry. Yet when it comes to His early years, from ages 12 to 30, the Bible reveals very little.

Some, relying on human reasoning and theory, have invented stories about these “lost” years. One tells of a young Jesus learning the mystic arts in Egypt. Another tale has Him journeying across the Atlantic Ocean to preach to the American Indians, who some believe to be the “lost ten tribes” of Israel. Yet none of these or other manmade tales are supported by the Bible.

Scripture gives a few details about Christ’s boyhood and coming of age years—and we should not be surprised. For example, God’s Word provides only a basic outline, along with a few highlights, of the Pre-Flood World, a 2,000-year period from Adam to Noah in which hundreds of thousands—perhaps even millions—of people had lived.

Psalm 12:6 states, “The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” The Bible says exactly what God wants it to say, and the Creator wants human beings, His creation, to focus on the things He wants us to know.

While we cannot know every event that occurred on Christ’s path from adolescence to adulthood, we can piece together certain scriptures, along with history and the traditions of the time, to capture a broad yet clear view of Jesus’ early life. As we do so, we will see God’s overarching two-fold purpose for His Son’s First Coming.

Wrong Expectations

God sent an angel to warn Joseph in a dream that Herod the Great sought to murder the Christ Child (Matt. 2:13). Joseph quickly followed God’s instruction to gather Mary and little Jesus, and take refuge in Egypt, which was outside of Herod’s legal jurisdiction. They returned to Judea after Herod’s death, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Hosea 11:1, in which God said He “called My Son out of Egypt.”

The Jews, reading Micah 5:2, expected the Messiah to publicly appear from Bethlehem: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall He come forth unto Me that is to be Ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

However, God had other plans. Though His Son was born in Bethlehem, God chose to rear Him in a place most people least expected: Nazareth, in Galilee, Joseph and Mary’s hometown.

The name “Nazareth” means “separated, crowned, sanctified” and “the guarded one.” Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary describes the town as being “situated among the southern ridges of Lebanon, on the steep slope of a hill, about 14 miles from the Sea of Galilee and about six west from Mount Tabor…The main road for traffic between Egypt and the interior of Asia passed by Nazareth near the foot of Tabor, and thence northward to Damascus.”

The people of Judea, especially citizens of Jerusalem, looked down upon the Galileans, whom they viewed as socially unsophisticated—in effect, “back woods” people. But God declares, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways…For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9).

When Christ’s ministry began, His Galilee upbringing became a stumbling block for many in “cosmopolitan” Jerusalem. (See John 1:45-46 and 7:40-42.) Of the many that God would call, only a few would look past physical appearances and social backgrounds and appreciate the “hidden treasure” (Matt. 13:44) of truth that was in Christ’s teachings.

The Dynamics of Family Life

Jesus had four younger brothers—James, Joses, Simon and Judas—and at least two sisters (Matt. 13:55-56; Mark 6:3). While all the siblings were born from the same mother, Jesus’ brothers and sisters were from the union of Mary and Joseph.

After Gabriel first appeared to Joseph in a dream, “Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: and knew her not [did not engage in sexual relations] till she had brought forth her firstborn Son” (Matt. 1:24-25). Joseph married Mary, but did not have marital relations with her until after Jesus was born.

This and other passages disprove the popular—yet unscriptural—tradition of Mary’s “perpetual virginity.” This false doctrine originated from pagan beliefs of various idol-worshipping mystery religions, tracing all the way back to Nimrod and the tower of Babel.

The “perpetual virginity” belief—which falsely teaches that Jesus’ mother “must” have been sinless and perfect for her to give birth to the Son of God—only serves to blur Mary’s true purpose, and elevates her to a godlike status. Today, a billion-plus professing Christians have been deceived into praying to Mary for her intercession in their lives—when it is Christ who is our Mediator between God and man (I Tim. 2:5; Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24).

As do siblings in other families, Jesus’ little brothers and sisters looked up to their big Brother. When they fell into mischief (as little ones tend to do), Jesus was there to set the right the example.

Nonetheless, growing up in Joseph and Mary’s household was far from being picture perfect. Wherever there is flesh, there is human nature (Rom. 8:7). Galatians 5:19-21 lists the “works of the flesh”—the natural tendencies of man’s nature. These include “hatred [enmity, hostility, antagonism], variance [quarrel, strife, discord], emulations [jealousy, zealous ill will toward others], wrath [fury, rage, anger], strife [selfish ambition, faction], seditions [division, dissension]” and “envyings.” In a family of at least six siblings, one can expect some degree of rivalry, jealousy and strife during the formative years.

Christ knew He had to rise above it, yet at the same time not allow Himself to fall into self-righteousness. He rejected the pulls and pressures of the flesh, society and Satan, and—being full of God’s Spirit from the womb—He actively exercised the power of God to produce the evident fruit of “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance [self-control]” (vs. 22-23). Jesus was balanced in all things. He had to be—He could not afford to sin, not even once!

No doubt Joseph and Mary told their children on more than one occasion to behave. Perhaps they may have occasionally added, “You should be more like your brother Jesus.” It is likely Jesus’ balanced, good-natured approach to life may have led a brother or sister to feel jealousy or resentment toward Him, as Cain did toward Abel. Carnal nature has a way of accusing the innocent of wrongdoing.

It is not uncommon for a child to receive blame, even punishment, for wrongs he or she did not commit. Sometimes a brother will falsely accuse another, or allow his sister to take the blame for something that was not her fault. Injustices happen in families—and they probably happened to Christ. When He was wrongly punished, He did not seek revenge; He allowed the injustice to develop and strengthen Him, to keep Him humble.

Such moments served to reinforce in Jesus the patience described in James 1:2-4, defined as “hopeful, cheerful endurance.” It is this godly, patient endurance that builds up holy, righteous character that is “divine and entire” [complete, whole, wanting nothing].”

Christ was the One who inspired the apostle Peter to write, “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when you be buffeted for your faults, you shall take it patiently? But if, when you do well, and suffer for it, you take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

“For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judges righteously” (I Pet. 2:18-23).

Jesus did not just teach the Way of God—He lived it!

At the Temple

Mary saving her virginity until marriage. The integrity and mercy Joseph displayed when he thought his fiancé had been unfaithful. Circumcising their Baby on the eighth day (Luke 2:21-24), as instructed in the Old Testament. Clearly, Joseph and Mary feared and worshipped God, and they reared Jesus in a loving, God-fearing, religious household.

As with other Jewish families, they traveled to Jerusalem each spring to keep the Passover season at the Temple (vs. 41). It was an annual pilgrimage that required faith, since their caravan of family, extended family, friends and perhaps acquaintances had to travel through dangerous secluded regions where thieves and robbers roamed.

One year, when Jesus was 12 years old, there was a mix-up: on the return home from the Temple, Joseph and Mary discovered that Jesus was missing. They had assumed He was among the caravan in the company of relatives or friends—but Jesus could not be found.

“The caravan has already traveled a day’s journey from Jerusalem,” Mary said to her husband. “By the time we reach the city, Jesus will have wandered around on His own for two full days!”

Joseph tried to console her, but she said, “He’s only a boy! What is He going to do for food? What if something bad happens to Him?”

Joseph comforted her with reassuring words: “Don’t worry. It will all work out.”

Jesus’ parents returned to Jerusalem and searched the streets for their little Boy for a full day, until they eventually found Jesus where they had last seen Him: in the Temple. Joseph and Mary were amazed to find Jesus “sitting in the midst of the doctors [scholars of the Law], both hearing them, and asking them questions” (vs. 46). Here was the Son of God, a 12-year-old, surrounded by some of the world’s foremost scholars and experts of the scriptures—“and all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers” (vs. 47).

From the time He was born, Jesus “grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him” (vs. 40).

Her Son being missing for three days brought mixed emotions for Mary: fear, worry, helplessness, sorrow, and—after she found her Firstborn safe, calm and without a hint of anxiety on His part—a touch of anger. “Son, why have You thus dealt with us?” she demanded “Behold, Your father and I have sought You sorrowing” (vs. 48).

The preteen calmly replied, “How is it that you sought Me? Know you not that I must be about My Father’s business?” (vs. 49) Jesus had never been irresponsible nor did anything that would have shamed the family. Mary and Joseph knew this. Being a responsible Child, Jesus stayed at the Temple where He would be safe and where He naturally expected His parents to find Him.

Joseph and Mary were aware that Jesus was a special Child, brought into physical existence to fulfill incredible and pivotal roles. In staying at the Temple, Jesus was already preparing Himself for His future ministry, even though it would not start for another 18 years. From a young age, Christ’s life was focused on doing His “Father’s business,” also known as the Work of God.

Throughout millennia, all of God’s servants have had a part in doing God’s Work. That same Work exists today, preaching and publishing the gospel of the kingdom of God “in all the world for a witness unto all nations” (Matt. 24:14; Mark 13:10), and in feeding, protecting, instructing and leading Christ’s sheepfold, the New Testament Church (John 21:15-17; I Pet. 5:1-4).

Though Joseph and Mary did not seem to fully grasp His future responsibilities (Luke 2:50), Jesus did not allow Himself to feel self-important. He humbled Himself and obediently submitted to their parental authority (vs. 51)—despite being the One who created the earth, moon, sun, stars and everything else in the universe! Christ understood that to someday wield authority one must first learn to respect authority.

“And,” as He walked meekly through boyhood, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (vs. 52).

Understanding the Plan of God

From His youth, Jesus Christ was well acquainted with the Law of God—His commandments, statutes, precepts and judgments. He should have been, since it was He who, as the Rock of the Old Testament (I Cor. 10:4), declared the Ten Commandments to Israel from atop Mt. Sinai! Being God, Jesus was also well acquainted with the customs and traditions of the Jews, their origins and how they had developed. He knew which ones to honor and how to properly approach them—and which ones to reject.

For example, Jesus kept the spring and fall Holy Days. His observance of them was far more than just a formality of Jewish tradition. As the One who instituted these millennia earlier among His people, Christ knew the significance of His annual Sabbaths and festivals, for they each represent a step in the fulfillment of God’s great Plan of Salvation:

  • Passover: On this day God provided the perfect sacrifice to remove all sin: the shed blood and death of Jesus Christ, “our Passover…sacrificed for us” (I Cor. 5:7).
  • To born into the kingdom of God, one must first have his or her sins forgiven and be released from the penalty of death.

  • The Feast of Unleavened Bread: This seven-day festival pictures Christ’s followers removing pride, vanity and the way of sin—“the leaven of malice and wickedness” (vs. 8)—replacing these with “the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (same verse), which is God’s Law (Psa. 119:142) and Word (Matt. 4:4; John 17:17), the Holy Bible.
  • God uses the number seven as a sign of perfection. The seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread pictures the lifelong process of removing sin from one’s life, to “be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).

    To be born into God’s kingdom, one must live according to the laws governing that kingdom.

  • The Feast of Firstfruits: Also known as Pentecost, this is the day Christ started the New Testament Church. From righteous Abel down through millennia to John the Baptist, only a few individuals have had the privilege of receiving the Holy Spirit—the awesome power and divine nature of God.
  • Yet on Pentecost in A.D. 31, God offered His Spirit to thousands, those whom He called to “come out of” (Rev. 18:4) the ways and pagan customs of this “present evil world [age]” (Gal. 1:4)—to become members of the Body of Christ, the Church of God (Col. 1:18). Without this Spirit actively at work—converting the thoughts and desires of man to develop into holy, righteous, godly character—“the carnal mind is enmity [hostile] against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7-8).

    For the past 2,000 years, the Father has been sowing “firstfruit”—spirit-begotten sons who, after having developed His perfect character within them, will be “raised in glory…in power” and “a spiritual body” (I Cor. 15:43-44), inheriting eternal life in the kingdom of God upon Christ’s Second Coming. At that time, God’s firstfruits will rule under Christ as kings and priests—Spirit-born leaders, judges and teachers who will assist Christ in preparing the rest of humanity for achieving its awesome potential!

    To inherit the kingdom of God, one must have God’s Spirit in them: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God…The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom. 8:14, 16-17).

  • The Feast of Trumpets: This pictures the triumphant day when Jesus Christ returns as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16) to establish the government of God and rule all nations. “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jude 14-15).
  • Those whom God calls now have been granted an opportunity to qualify for eternal life and rulership—to be resurrected into spirit beings at Christ’s Return (I Cor. 15:50-54; I Thes. 4:15-17) and reign with Him in administering God’s government throughout the earth (Rev. 5:10; 20:6).

  • The Day of Atonement: On this day, the collective sins of mankind will be placed on the originator of carnal nature: Satan the devil, who for the past 6,000 years, as the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2), has broadcast every sick, vile and perverse attitude, motive and thought imaginable. With man’s sins placed on him, the devil (and his demons) will be cast by God into the bottomless pit, where they can no longer influence humanity. Finally, man will be at one with his Maker (“atonement” means “at-one-ment”), ready to come under the merciful dominion of God’s supergovernment.
  • The Feast of Tabernacles: Next is the 1,000-year reign of Christ, during which He will rule over the wonderful world to come! No more wars—no violence of any kind. No more divorce, adultery, fornication or split families. People will learn to live God’s Way of give—the way of helping, cooperation, teamwork—as opposed to Satan’s way of get—cutthroat competition, stealing, robbing. The terror, despair and insecurity of this modern age will be replaced by true joy, prosperity and security—the fruit of diligently observing God’s Law.
  • Those whom God calls now celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles each fall—a foretaste of an incredible age, to be ruled by God’s kingdom, that is just over the horizon!

  • The Last Great Day: God will bring back to life every man, woman and child who ever died, described in Ezekiel 37:1-14, Revelation 20:12-13 and Isaiah 65:17-25.
  • Verse 20 states, “There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that has not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.” Apparently, mankind will experience a 100-year period of judgment—a lifetime of learning to reject one’s carnal nature and wholeheartedly submitting to God’s will.

    Today, God is judging His firstfruits, those He calls now: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God…” (I Pet. 4:17).

    God will judge the rest of humanity after Christ’s millennial rule. Those few called now and the many billions called later will be given an opportunity to qualify for eternal life in His kingdom.

Unlike His contemporaries, Jesus knew the true purpose of the annual Holy Days, for they outlined the steps by which man can attain his ultimate destiny.

What Did Christ Look Like?

For hundreds of years, artists have used their vivid imaginations to illustrate what Jesus looked like as a man. But in doing so, they err in two ways. First, this breaks the Second Commandment (Ex. 20:4-6; Deut. 5:8-10). Creating illustrations of Christ breaks God’s Law.

Second, artistic renditions of Christ’s image depict Him as deathly thin, with long hair, soft, effeminate features, and a sentimental, sanctimonious look in His eyes—ignoring scriptures that describe our Savior’s true human appearance.

Jesus was not “Hollywood” handsome (Isa. 53:2). In fact, His looks were so ordinary He could walk through a crowd and be unrecognized (Luke 4:30; John 8:59; 10:39); He had to be pointed out (Matt. 26:48-49). He had short hair, and possibly a beard (Isa. 50:6). We know that Jesus did not have long hair, or else it would not have been necessary for Judas to betray Him with a special sign—a kiss—to point Jesus out to His enemies. A longhaired Messiah would have stood out from the crowd!

Notice how the prophet Isaiah described Jesus’ human appearance: “For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: He has no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him” (Isa. 53:2).

Also, since He had been a carpenter by trade, He spent most of His life working outdoors (Mark 6:3). Jesus was physically strong, His skin tanned and weathered from working outside, and His hands callused from lifting and carrying heavy objects. Only a strong, physically fit human being could have survived being severely scourged (Mark 15:15) and fasting 40 days (Matt. 4:1-2), as Jesus did.

Ultimately, if we think about Christ’s appearance at all, we ought to think, in general terms, about how He looks today. Inspired by God, the apostle John described Jesus’ present appearance: “His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire” (Rev. 1:14).

Under a Nazarite Vow?

Many have been taught that Jesus had long hair because, they claim, He was a “Nazarite”—but what does the Bible say about this?

History shows that the practice of men wearing short hair has been around for a long time—much longer than many realize. At the time Jesus lived, it was the accepted and general custom. For proof, all one need do is pick up any illustrated history book relating to the period. You will find pictures of busts and statues of famous Greeks and Romans of Christ’s time. In every case, the men are portrayed with short hair similar to what we find today.

Two excellent books that one may reference are A History of the Holy Land (Michael Avi-Yonah, editor) and Daniel to Paul (Gaalyahu Cornfeld, editor). On pages 126 to 127 of the former, you will find pictures of the busts of Roman leaders, such as Augustus, Pompey, and one believed to be Herod. Each one has short hair. As a matter of fact, all the carvings and statues of the Roman legionnaires show them as having closely cropped hair. Motion pictures involving stories of this time period always portray men with short hair. It would have been quite an oddity for a Roman man to wear his hair long. It used to be the same for all men in our society. The reality is that before, during and after the time of Christ, every Roman emperor from Julius Caesar to Trajan had short hair. And it was the emperor who set the pattern in style and mode of dress for the entire empire.

The Hellenistic Greek culture dominated the Eastern Mediterranean area, influencing Judea before the Romans came on the scene. Quite a large segment of the Jewish population spoke the Greek language and had a Hellenistic view in the time of Christ. (Notice John 12:20 and Acts 6:1.) The style of hair for men of this culture was to wear it short (Cornfeld, pp. 15, 146).

You will find on page 146 of the book Daniel to Paul a picture showing a “marble statuette of an unidentified man of the Hellenistic period—a time of close contacts between the Jewish and Hellenistic civilizations in thought, art, and everyday life. Whether Jewish or Gentile, he evokes his age and environment.” The man shown in the picture of this statuette had short hair. From the comment made by the author, a historian and archaeologist, it is clear that he could not tell if the man was a Jew or a Gentile. Why? Because throughout the Near-Eastern region, the styles were the same—including short hair on men.

Some argue that those Jews who did not have a Hellenistic view may have worn their hair long. However, in the anti-Hellenistic Jewish Talmud is the instruction that every thirty days, all the priests should cut their hair. Why this instruction if they grew their hair long? These priests were well aware of Ezekiel 44:20: “Neither shall they shave their heads, nor suffer their locks to grow long.” God intended that the priests set the example for the rest of the community. (Mal. 2:7). Further examination of the Talmud reveals that the hairstyle was “Julian,” or what would be called “a Caesar cut” (Sanhedrin 22b).

Jesus Christ was never under a Nazarite vow. He did, however, grow up in Nazareth, fulfilling a prophecy that He would be called a Nazarene (Matt. 2:23; Mark 1:9; Luke 1:26; John 1:45). This is why early Christians were sometimes referred to as Nazarenes.

However, neither of these words has anything whatsoever to do with a Nazarite vow. Those under a Nazarite vow could not drink wine or touch a dead body. Notice: “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the Lord: He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. All the days that he separates himself unto the Lord he shall come at [touch] no dead body” (Num. 6:2-3, 6).

Jesus drank wine (Matt. 11:19) and, on occasion, touched a dead body (Matt. 9:25). If He were under a Nazarite vow, He would not have done either of these things. Those under this vow grew their hair long as a sign of humiliation. Men who wear their hair long today are anything but humble. Rather, they are very proud of their long locks and go to great lengths to show them off. It is a sign of pride. It is also a sign of defiance against traditional values.

Also notice that when the time of the vow was over, the person under the vow was to shave his head (Num. 6:18)—ending this shameful period!

How do we know it was a shameful time? I Corinthians states, “Does not even nature [the inborn quality of a man as contrasted to that of a woman] itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” (11:14).

It is a shame for a man to have his hair long. Apart from God’s Word, even nature shows this. A man should not look like a woman! For one thing, long hair is not manageable and would just get in his way. A man’s hair was never intended to grow long. Long hair on a man interferes with the duties and responsibilities that are part of the male role.

Jesus simply would not have grown His hair long. To do so would have contradicted His Word. Remember, it was Christ—the Word (John 1:1)—who inspired the Bible. II Timothy tells us, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (3:16). And since Jesus Christ also inspired I Corinthians 11:14, He would have been true to His word. And that Word guides and instructs us on the matter of hair lengths and styles for men and women.

Married, Divorced and Now Engaged

When a young man entered adulthood, parents, grandparents and other family members and peers would encourage him to settle down, get married and start a family. No doubt Jesus received the same pressure. But for Him, marriage was not an option. Jesus had already been married—in fact, He was divorced!

Scripture reveals that the One who became Jesus Christ—the Rock of the Old Testament (I Cor. 10:4)—was once married to ancient Israel, the physical “church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38). But the tribes of Israel—the northern kingdom of the house of Israel and the southern kingdom of the house of Judah—were unfaithful to their Husband. They rejected His divine protection, guidance and instruction and entered into sociopolitical/religious alliances—spiritual adultery in God’s eyes!—with nations that worshipped idols.

“They say,” the prophet Jeremiah wrote, recording God’s words, “if a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? Shall not that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to Me, says the Lord” (Jer. 3:1).

Verses 8-10 states, “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. And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks [idols]. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned unto Me with her whole heart, but feignedly, says the Lord.” (Also read Isaiah 50:1 and 54:4-8.)

God used the ancient Assyrians to conquer and deport en masse the house of Israel into national slavery for their habitual unfaithfulness. The Babylonian Empire did the same to Judah decades later, but the Jews were eventually allowed to return to their homeland.

Only upon Jesus’ death was He legally free to marry another, upon His resurrection. When He returns to establish God’s kingdom on the earth, Christ will marry spiritual Israel, His Church (Rev. 19:7-17).

“I Change Not!”

Again, the Bible does not give explicit details of Jesus’ life from age 12 to the start of His ministry. But piecing together Scripture, history and the customs and practices of the day provides a fuller and better picture of what Christ must have been like as a youth and young adult.

This we do know: Jesus Christ and the Word are the same (John 1:1-2, 14). He declares, “For I am the Lord, I change not” (Mal. 3:6). He is “the same yesterday, and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). The God of the Old Testament laughed, grieved (Gen. 6:5-6), was brokenhearted (Ezek. 6:9). He felt anger, suffered long with the failing of others, was gentle, astonished by men’s behavior (Jer. 32:32-35; I Kings 21:25-29), and was forgiving.

Jesus lived His physical life in the same manner.