For your Creator will be your husband; the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth. [Isaiah 54:5 (NLT)]
But you have been unfaithful to me, you people of Israel! You have been like a faithless wife who leaves her husband. I, the Lord, have spoken. [Jeremiah 3:20 (NLT)]
Throughout the Bible, marriage is often used as a metaphor for man’s relationship with God. His covenant with Israel is seen as a form of marriage, their unfaithfulness as adultery, and their alienation from God as divorce. The book of Hosea is a story of a prophet with an unfaithful wife that parallels God’s relationship with his unfaithful people. Some scholars say the entire Song of Songs is an allegory of God’s love for Israel or the church. In the New Testament, John the Baptist describes the Messiah as a bridegroom and Jesus refers to himself as the groom in wedding parables. Marriage was ordained by God and the marital bond illustrates God’s relationship with His people.
In light of the many Biblical references to our spiritual marriage, I started to evaluate how I’ve done keeping my wedding vows with God. When a bride, I promised to love, comfort and honor my husband and to forsake all others, keeping myself only for him as long as I lived. I took him for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, and to love and cherish until we were parted by death.
Although I’ve done a pretty good job of doing all that I promised to my husband, I’ve not done so well with my God. In times of health, wealth and contentment, I often forgot who made those good times possible. Moreover, I was often distant or angry with God in times of sickness, scarcity and sorrow. I’m not sure I even forsook all others for Him. I followed my peers, often took the easy rather than right routes, and listened to the enemy when I should have listened to Him. Like a mistress or prostitute, I seemed to love Him for his gifts and often came to Him only because I wanted something. While I can’t comfort our Almighty God, I’ve probably caused Him a fair amount of discomfort and grief. Fortunately, there was nothing about obedience in my wedding vows because obedience hasn’t been my strong suit with God. While I haven’t failed completely as a spiritual wife, I haven’t fully kept our covenant relationship.
On His part, God, like the perfect husband, has been faithful and loved me in all circumstances. Knowing my every fault, He’s seen me at my worst but continued to love me. If I stopped believing in Him, He never stopped believing in me. If I rejected him, He never rejected me. No matter how unfaithful I have been, He has remained faithful to me. He’s been loving and true to me at my sickest, poorest, and most contemptible. He gave me unconditional love when my love often depended on circumstances. God asked Hosea to buy back his adulterous wife and continue to love her. God has redeemed me, as well. The gift of His only Son to save my sorry soul is evidence of that. As Hosea welcomed back Gomer, so God welcomes me.
At landmark anniversaries, people often remake their wedding vows. Our vows to God need to be retaken not just every ten years but every day. Merciful God, thank you for your unconditional and lavish love. Forgive us for being less than you deserve and thank you for giving us more than we could ever desire. In all circumstances, may we love, honor, cherish and obey you, now and forever.