31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:
One thing should be clear in the OT is that God married Israel. Herbert W Armstrong (HWA) used to call marriage a “God-plane relationship”. It was created by God in the Garden of Eden, and it is a type for God’s covenant relationship with His people.
The NT also makes it clear that Christ will return and marry the Church. Now that the series on how to interpret the Bible is complete (except for dotting a couple of I’s and giving the last couple of articles a permanent place), I hope to soon move on and resume talking about this particular item. However, the familiar words of Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:22-32 should not leave any doubt. In particular, note vv 24-25, 27:
24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
If that were the only reference to the Church being the Bride of Christ, then the doctrine of the Church being the Bride of Christ would be on thin ice, to say the least. However, Paul uses the analogy again in his second letter to the Corinthians:
2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
~ 2Co 11:2
Paul is, of course, addressing a congregation of the Church. He has “espoused” them, via introduction to the Gospel and providing them instruction in God’s way of life, to Christ!
Yet, the example of God’s marriage to OT Israel, and later to the House of Israel and House of Judah, did not go well. Why? Because loyalty of Israel and Judah were virtually nonexistent! God does not force people to love Him, and if He did it would not really be love. He does not force people to be loyal to Him. Yet, He is always faithful!
The entire OT testifies to God’s loyalty to His chosen people. The NT echoes those same sentiments:
5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
~ Heb 13:5
Commitment in marriage is a type on the human level of God’s commitment towards His chosen people!
There are many reasons to be committed in a marriage. However, the overarching message is that God is supremely committed to us even as He expects us to be in a marriage covenant. There truly are very few actual covenant rituals with all of the accompanying formalities in this life, and marriage and baptism are the chief among them. In fact, these are the only two dictated specifically in the Bible.
I recently read an LCG article on “How loyal are you in marriage?” It might border on trivializing loyalty in marriage in the minds of some, for it discusses the loyalty of Seaman, the dog of Capt. Meriwether Lewis of Lewis & Clark fame. However, there is a reason that a dog is called “man’s best friend”, and dogs that have been properly cared for (and sometimes even when not) are extremely loyal to their masters. In Seaman’s case, however, it was a loyalty that went beyond all expectations.
I hope you will read it. Even if you are single, the lesson of loyalty should be seared into your consciousness.