All through Scripture we find how the marriage union between the man and woman is a picture of the relationship between God and His children. In the Old Testament, Israel is pictured as the wife of Yahweh. When Israel became adulterous and worshiped other gods, she was described as a harlot – Jeremiah 3:1 “They say, 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 thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.” ( See also Ezekiel 23)
Israel’s spiritual unfaithfulness became so disgusting in God’s eyes that He issued a writing of divorcement – Jeremiah 3:8 “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.” This was actually more of what we might call a separation, because God in His great love for His chosen people could not bear to cut Israel off without a promise of renewal – Hosea 2:14-20; 5:15 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali. For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name. And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely. And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.”; “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.”
The Book of Revelation and the Epistles, describe the church as the Bride of Christ. The experience of taking a bride is similar for both Adam and Christ–Adam was put to sleep; Christ was laid in a tomb. When Christ came to earth in human form, He left His Father. When He began His earthly ministry and ultimately died on the Cross, he left his mother. This was for the purpose of cleaving to the object of His love–His people. As each sinner receives Jesus into their heart, they become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24 “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” 1 Corinthians 6:15 “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.”
The entire focus and course of a life is changed both by marriage and a personal experience with Jesus Christ. Marriage – 1 Corinthians 7:3 “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.”, and becoming a child of God – Mark 8:34 “And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”; 1 Corinthians 6:20 “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”; 1 Corinthians 7:23 “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.”
Both marriage and becoming a child of God demand death to self and accountability to God and to others. A wife or husband cannot be faithful to more than one partner, just as a Christian cannot serve any other God – Matthew 6:24 “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
When we become believers, we ought have no hesitation in giving ourselves completely and totally to God, because of the high price He paid for our souls – 1 Peter 1:18, 19 “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” God has given ALL He has to give; He now rightly expects our ALL in response – Romans 12:1, 2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
In marriage two hearts are grafted together, making them dependent on each other for life. This is illustrated in John 15, with Jesus as the vine and believers as the branches. Through the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, and His control in the life of both partners, this picture of marriage and the parallel relationship of Christ and his Bride come into focus. The Holy Spirit fills and fulfills both.
When we compare our relationship with our LORD to the marriage relationship, it makes it so much easier to understand His great love for each and every individual soul and life of the human race.