"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."(Eph 5:32)
Daylight is treasured and treasures are re-discovered during the cold hours. Just recently, my little ones asked me to put on the richly embroidered Kashmiri skirt that served as my wedding dress. Drawing a deep breath to allow space for the intricately looped buttons to close over my waist, I twirled around in a whisper of silk. What a joyful day that was. A sun-dappled garden, filled with rich colours and textures, woven together with the sound of laughter and the faces of many loved ones. Vows exchanged so earnestly and full of trust.
What is, and will forever be honoured is the marriage covenant with God through Jesus. God's blessing is on the sanctity of a marriage anchored in Him, but the promise and the mystery, goes far beyond this.
Genesis 2:24 is the first mention in the Bible of a marriage covenant - one man and one woman becoming one flesh. Great "godly" men like Abraham, David and Solomon ignored this by taking many wives and concubines, and this area proved to be a major stumbling block in their walk.
Israel's unfaithfulness to their covenant with God is also referred to as a breach of the marriage bond, and Isaiah 54:5 reaffirms this bond so beautifully: "For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name". Jeremiah 3:14 cries to the people of Israel: "Return, O backsliding children, says the LORD, for I am married to you".
In the book of Hosea, the prophet takes (at God's prompting!) Gomer as his wife. A woman who is a prostitute. This becomes a powerful metaphor for the relationship between God and Israel, meaning that despite Israel's unfaithfulness to God, he continues to cherish her. As in-grafted covenant people of God through Jesus, our heavenly husband will truly never stop loving us, regardless of how far we have strayed, how "untrue" we have been to him - his arms are always open, if we are willing to repent and turn back to Him as his forgiven bride.
Bridal love for the Lord is not the same as the love between a bride and bridegroom in a human relationship. It is divine love - pure, genuine and truly satisfying. Isaiah 62:5 says "As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you." Bridal love for Jesus is a blissful secret you carry in you heart like an earthly bride who has found someone who not only loves her, but whom she loves in return. Jesus has many ways to answer the secret longings of the soul. Loving Jesus means owning the most precious treasure in heaven and on earth, and giving Him your all in return as a sacrifice. You either love Jesus with an undivided heart, or you do not love Him in truth. (Excerpt from M Basilea Schlink - Bride of Jesus Christ)
In Revelation 21:9 the Church is called "The Bride, the Lamb's wife." We will get to sit down at the greatest wedding reception ever imagined. "The Marriage Supper of the Lamb" (Rev. 19:7-9). In glorified bodies, accompanied by a heavenly choir we will sing, each in perfect harmony, without distraction, distress, disappointment or discomfort, doing what we were created to do - worship Him.
Marriage is used in both the Old and New Testament as a metaphor for the relationship between God and His covenant people. The Old Testament refers to the covenant between God and Israel under the law. Through Jesus we enter into a New covenant, where we are not under the law, but called to a higher obedience through his Spirit who now lives in us. It is worked out on a corporate (Israel and the Church) and an individual level. God not only values marriage, it is the ultimate example of how we relate to Him through Jesus.
With the strength of my Saviour, I can endeavour to love my husband in a way that reflects the greater love that the church (his covenant people) should have for Him, the bridegroom without flaw. But what a wonderful and huge responsibility our men have, to reflect Christ's unconditional love for his bride to the world. I pray that we may have a heavenly understanding of what this means, so that we can pray daily for them to have holy purified hearts, free from the constant lure of the world.
The beauty of why God uses the sacred marriage relationship between man and woman as an example of the bond we have in him, is (in part) still a mystery.
We get a glimpse into the "mystery" in Ephesians 5:32 where it says: "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church." It could be seen as man and wife becoming "one flesh" before God and being one in Spirit in all aspects. But then Paul puts in a little twist. This is what I love about Scripture. Just a hint, following a small conjunction like "but". Causing you to look again. Revealing here, that Christ has married "her", the church, to him through his death. And we will become one again when he returns as the triumphant bridegroom, to fetch his spotless bride to be with him in the only perfect marriage that ever existed.
Why sleep for sorrow now?
The hope of glory, Christ, is thine,
A child of glory thou.
From earthly joy apart,
Hath sighed for one that's far away,
The Bridegroom of thy heart.
His crown, His joy divine;
And sweeter far than all beside,
He, He Himself, is thine.
(Sir Edward Denny)