The Old Testament prophets often used marriage as an allegory (type or picture) of the relationship between God and His people Israel. They likened God’s relationship with Israel to a faithful husband married to one wife (Isa 54:5,6; Jer 3:14; Hos 2:19,20). To turn away from a relationship with the one true God and turn instead to another (as in idol-worship) was like the sin of adultery (Jer 3:8,9; Ezek 23:37).
But God was like a faithful husband to faithless Israel (Isa 54:5; study also the Book of Hosea). God did not reject Israel even when He brought judgment upon them for their unfaithfulness. He was always calling them back to renew their “marriage covenant” with Him. What an inspiring picture of God’s love and grace, and of the importance He places on covenant relationship!
The use of covenant terms for marriage – “forsake”, “stick to” or “cling to”, and “one” – reveals two powerful truths:
First, marriage in its most ideal form is an image or “type” of the kind of relationship the Church is to have with Her Bridegroom the Lord Jesus Christ (see Ephesians 5:22-32). This most important of all relationships is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s covenant with His people through our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Second, marriage in the Old Testament was much more than just a convenient way to further the human race through having offspring. Rather, the union of a man and woman in marriage is the first institution established by God and should therefore be regarded as a holy relationship.
Marriage is a sacred covenant relationship between a man and woman. Marriage is sacred and holy in the eyes of God (Matt 19:6). It is a long-term commitment that requires personal sacrifice and the full involvement of each spouse. Therefore, marriage should not be entered into lightly or with only selfish desires in mind.
The covenant of marriage is a sacred, life-long agreement between one man and one woman. Once this agreement is entered into, it remains in effect at all times. It is to be adhered to even when it is inconvenient, difficult or seemingly unfulfilling. The marriage covenant is a sacred binding agreement for life. There are great blessings for upholding the marriage vows and cherishing your spouse – and sad and serious consequences for breaking those covenant vows.