If you have spent any time studying scripture, or even just listened to sermons preached over the years, the topic of marriage to God – being the bride of Christ – will eventually come up. And this is very interesting terminology, and can jump-start the imagination in a bunch of different ways. Countless pastors and theologians have gone in many different ways regarding this single idea of a marriage to God; and some have gotten into deep trouble with it as well. Yet since Jesus was the one who taught on this topic and used this terminology, and the Father even spoke along the very same lines back in the Old Covenant, we can make a couple of conclusions:
First, that it is not out-and-out wrong to think of our relationship with God in marital terms. It is not high-minded, or presumptuous.
And secondly, there is something very important about this perspective of our relationship with God, that He wants us to see and receive.
So today in this study, we will be examining our relationship with God, from the perspective of marriage, and what this means for us today in Christ as part of the New Covenant.
Now as I mentioned in the opening, it was God Himself who originally used the language of Marriage to describe His relationship with His people. This was not an invention of man… it wasn’t man’s idea; although men have corrupted and distorted the idea over the years and turned it into to something else entirely. But for now, let’s put the man-made stuff aside and just focus on what God said about it, starting with a scripture that you might not expect… Proverbs 18:22:
“Whoever finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor of the LORD.”
On the surface, we don’t think very much of this scripture. I mean, it’s just talking about finding love, finding a wife, right? That’s what we typically think, and so we kind of skip over it, on our way to what we consider to be more enlightening or more important scriptures.
However it’s the second-half of this verse that first caught my attention… and obtains favor of the LORD. This struck me as very intriguing, and a bit of an odd thing to say. The Hebrew word (רָ֝צ֗וֹן), translated here as favor, means “good-will, and acceptance”. Is this scripture actually saying that in order for a person to obtain good-will and acceptance of God, one must find a wife? One must be married? Is the scripture truly saying that all the single people out in the world are out of God’s favor, and rejected by Him?
Well, not exactly. You see, this verse comes after an earlier Proverb – one which explains what is actually being spoken of here. Marriage is required to obtain the good-will and acceptance of God, but it is not marriage to a human, that is being referred to, but instead it is marriage to God. Go with me ten chapters back, to Proverbs chapter 8, and let’s take a look at verse 35:
“For whoever finds me finds life, and shall obtain favor of the LORD.”
This verse here is speaking about wisdom, specifically wisdom that is of God, which all throughout Proverbs is poetically personified as a woman. And what we see that the phrasing used here is the same as in chapter 18, verse 22. Whoever finds Me, finds life (a very good thing indeed), and obtains favor of the LORD.
The Hebrew word for favor, here in this verse, is the same as in the other verse as well.
So we see that it is indeed marriage, that causes us to obtain favor of the LORD, but it is in-fact marriage to Him!
It is our union with God, our joining-together with Him, that causes all favor, all blessing and all acceptance to come upon us. And that’s exactly what God wants. He greatly desires to gather us in His arms and under the safety and shelter of His wings. (Deuteronomy 33:27)
Take a few moments, and just read some of the passionate language that is used by God to describe His marriage, and the details of it, in Jeremiah 3:14-15:
“Turn, O backsliding children, said the LORD; for I am married to you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:
And I will give you pastors according to my heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.”
Notice the details of what God is saying here. This is a passionate plea from God for His backsliding people, the ones who were being unfaithful to Him (with idolatry / spiritual adultery) to return. And the same cry is going out today as well.
He says in the rest of verse 14, that He is married to them, and that His will is to bring them to Zion.
Now this, again, is very interesting, because we know from Hebrews 12, that Zion is the mountain of Grace; the mountain of the New Covenant of Christ.
And in verse 15, we see one of the effects of such a marriage: that God will give His people pastors according to His heart. These are not legalistic, condemning pastors who are preoccupied with the behaviors and performance of men. Not at all!
Instead, these are pastors who will feed the people (not beat them down), and they will feed them with knowledge and understanding.
This “understanding” here is the Hebrew שָׂכַל, meaning wisdom. So you see, how this is all centered around Christ, for He is our wisdom (Colossians 1:30), and His finished work; His New Covenant of Grace is the knowledge and wisdom that you are to be fed with. (2nd Peter 3:8)
So when does this marriage actually happen? There are some who believe that we are still waiting for it to happen. That it isn’t done yet, we are are merely engaged to God and are waiting for the wedding.
That would certainly give you something to look forward to, but it wouldn’t help you much right now. But is it the truth? Check out 2nd Corinthians 11:2-3:
“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.
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
The word “espoused” here in verse 2, means to be joined. Not going to be joined in the future, but joined right now. It’s already done. But there is more.
We see in the next verse, that Paul here is afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve, that the minds of the believers in Corinth would be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
Now we have studied that before in detail. However for the sake of time, here I will simply mention that the way in which the serpent tricked Eve, was by causing her to think that she was still lacking something that she already had. She was placed into a finished work, an already completed Garden paradise, and she had full unbroken fellowship with God. Yet the enemy tricked her into believing that something else was required… and sabotaged her perfect relationship and union with the LORD.
The significance of this, and why it was mentioned by Paul here, is because the same thing was happening in Corinth, and the same exact thing is happening today for many people as well.
Many people have been duped, deceived, and otherwise convinced that their marriage, their union with Christ has not happened yet… they are waiting for it, suffering for it, enduring and striving for something that in their minds, is still a ways off.
And so in closing today, I want to leave you with a thought. Even in the face of the many scriptures (not only the ones we’ve read today, but the many others in addition) there will be some that still doubt that they are married to God in Christ right now.
So I will leave you with this thought: In traditional wedding ceremonies, the bride is covered (veiled) prior to the ceremony, and her veil is removed after the ceremony when she is officially pronounced as married to her husband.
Knowing this then, when was the veil removed and taken away in the temple, that had separated the people from the presence of God?
As you think on this, you will see that you are united to Him and His Spirit, right now (1st Corinthians 6:17). With this union comes all of the benefits of marriage and family in the Kingdom of God.
So now you know. And you can rejoice in your relationship, and enjoy the benefits that are yours in Christ Jesus.