A good marriage is a covenant.
Biblically speaking, a human marriage is a real-life illustration of two covenant relationships: the relationship between God and Israel, and the relationship between Christ and the church.
The covenant between God and Israel is shown through the parallel life story of the prophet Hosea. God used not only Hosea’s words, but also his life, to reach the people of Israel. Hosea 1:2 says, “When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, He said to him, ‘Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.’” (NLT)
As Hosea’s life unfolds, we see him marry a prostitute named Gomer, take her out of her immoral lifestyle, and give her everything she could possibly want in life. She has three children while they are married. By all accounts, this should be her “happily ever after.” Alas, she also returns to prostitution, but Hosea takes her back, showing his love for her and his commitment to their covenant. All this shows how God’s love redeems Israel time and time again.
Hosea’s life also gives a stark example of Christ’s love for the church. Hosea saved his wife from a life on the streets and cleansed her by taking her under his protective covering as his wife. This is what Christ does for us. He saves us from a life that is hopeless, filthy and wretched by covering us with His banner of love. He redeemed us by sacrificing Himself on the cross, washing away every one of our iniquities by taking them on Himself. He continues to take our sin from us as He forgives us over and over again for every indiscretion, every selfish word or deed, every vain ambition, every betrayal. Jesus takes on more and more of our sin each time we offer it up to Him. This is the definition of true love: continual sacrifice for the glory of God.
Do we truly realize and appreciate this sacrifice? How many times have we, as Christians, turned away from God’s love simply because we have other things we want more at that present moment? We “pull a Gomer” each time we put something else before God. We trample on Christ’s sacrifice when we allow our selfishness to take over our lives.
Just as this selfishness creates a wedge between us and God, so it does between spouses. I hereby attest to this and challenge anyone to prove it wrong: every single problem in any marriage has selfishness as its root cause.
Hosea could have easily given up on his wife because of her selfishness. She left him to go back to prostitution. Instead of getting mad and seeking separation or divorce, and instead of lying down and giving up, he went after her and brought her back. Not only does this demonstrate an incredible love, but also a full commitment to their covenant. This is the same steadfastness Christ has toward us, and that we should have toward our spouse. The covenant is what marriage is all about. A successful marriage is that in which both spouses honor their covenant by laying down their lives daily for God and each other.