Sojourn: Toward an Enduring City
3:1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright (c)2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. http://www.esv.org
On Sunday, Mark read a quote from a book on marriage by Dan Allender called, Intimate Allies. Allender not only acknowledges the comparison between human marriage and God’s love for the Church, but he broadens the scope to make marriage a way of understanding the message of the Bible as a whole. He writes,
“The Bible is neither a marriage manual, nor a systematic statement of how to live. It is a love story, revealing the intimate relationship between God and His people. This divine-human marriage begins with fresh romance, devolves into a divorce, and then ends with a wedding. The Bible’s love story illumines the heart of our divine Lover, exposes our spiritual adultery, and woos us with the wonder of our Bridegroom’s persistent, unending love.”
To view the Bible as a story of love and marriage between God and His people is one that is certainly legitimate. The analogy of human marriage and Christ’s relationship to the Church is seen especially in books like Genesis, Hosea, Ephesians, and Revelation. But viewing the Bible as a story of love and marriage is also powerful. To use phrases like, “love story,” “fresh romance,” and “divine Lover,” gives a startling reminder of the relational and emotional dynamics between God and His people portrayed from Genesis to Revelation.
But what is perhaps most startling is how Allender describes our sin: he calls it, “spiritual adultery” which results in “a divorce.” As common as adultery and divorce are in our culture, the words themselves still evoke a sense of scandal and pain in us. To be accused of physical adultery and threatened with divorce is serious, and is no less serious if the adultery and divorce are spiritual. The prophet Hosea levels this exact accusation against Israel, and against us in Hosea 2:1-13. Our sinfulness is adultery (v. 2), and our sins the pursuit of other lovers (v. 7). To those of us quick to minimize our sinfulness and sins (which is all of us), those charges deserve our genuine consideration. And finding them to ring true, they deserve our earnest tears and pleas for mercy.
In Hosea 2:14, Hosea announces God's response to our spiritual adultery, and the first word, “therefore,” appears to be an ominous introduction to judgment. But listen to God’s response, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” God does not respond with rigid and angry condemnation, but with tender and loving compassion. For while God’s character is one of justice, His mission is one of redemption. So after exposing the scandal of our scandalous sin, God comforts us with the soaring wonder of His grace to us in Jesus Christ. As Allender says, “The Bible’s love story…woos us with the wonder of our Bridegroom’s persistent, unending love.”
Brother and sister, linger long in the wonder of our Bridegroom’s persistent, unending love as told in His Word. Pray for God to reflect your marriage to Him onto your marriage to your earthly spouse. And may the marriages of our church give glory where it is due: to God alone.