“And I will betroth thee unto me forever.” (Hos. 2:19).
Yes! She was a beautiful woman and in the eyes of her beloved, she was a most desirable creature. She had just recently been rescued from the most unfavourable environs of bondage and slavery and was not as of yet used to the ways and manners of her soon to be husband, but he loved her with an unwavering love and hoped that with some loving corrections and instructions she would soon become a faithful and loving wife. And so a wedding took place (Ex. 19:3-8) and at that wedding feast the husband (Jer. 31:32) gave the new bride a set of guidelines and instructions as regarding her conduct and behaviour, to which she readily agreed. (Ex. 19:8). But it soon became apparent that she, although she tried at times, was not able to remain faithful to her husband and her vows. Whether this was because of the fact that she had been in bondage for a long time in an idolatrous society, is not immediately apparent, but she did seem addicted to and have a propensity for idolatry and adultery, although the husband reprimanded and chastised her for her follies, after which she would be faithful to him for a short while. Things became gradually worse until at long last the patience of the husband wore out to the point that the only alternative left to him was to divorce his adulterous wife, which he did, although reluctantly, for through all this he still loved her. Even though she was not aware of this the husband vowed to keep an eye on her and someday in the future he would again woo her and win her devotion and again be married to her.
“But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” (Isa. 43:1).
“I, even I, am he who blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” (Isa. 43:25).
“For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.” (Isa. 54:7).
“Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem….The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” (Zeph. 3:14,17).
These verses show that the husband’s love and affection for his bride never waned nor diminished, even throughout all her unfaithfulness.
Yes, my dear friend, this is a true love story, one unparalleled in all the annals of history. Great and wonderful stories about love and affection can be found in the literary and cinematic realm. Songs have been written about it, great and beautiful operas have been composed, but none can hold a candle to the love story that we find in our Bible. We have all heard about or read the stories of Romeo and Juliet, Don Juan, Casanova, and in our Bible the stories of love of Isaac and Rebekah, of Jacob and his love for Rachel and of David and Michal at first and later Bathsheba, but there is no greater lover than the Lord God of Israel, and in my humble opinion there is no greater love story found than in the first two chapters of the Book of Hosea. In it we read the story that I tried to outline at the start of this article.
In the Book of Jeremiah in chapter 31 we read, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:” (v. 31,32).
And in Isa. 9:6 we read, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
So now let’s fast forward and enter Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Saviour and Redeemer of Israel. (Mat. 15:24). It was He who inaugurated and implemented the New Covenant at His death and Resurrection, for it was at His crucifixion, when His blood was shed, that the New Covenant had its beginning. “For this is my blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matt. 26:28). It was at this time that Christ redeemed Israel, the Bride, from all her sins, both past, present and future. The New Covenant is in essence a new marriage contract, but unlike the Old Covenant which was primarily written on stone, this new contract was written on our hearts, on flesh, (Jer. 31:33) and it therefore becomes an agreement not adhered to by compliance but a matter of feeling and conscience, thus more of a personal commitment and desire to serve God.
Now the death and Resurrection of Christ had a twofold purpose, the first of course was the redemption of His people Israel, the divorced bride, but the second purpose was just as important and necessary. Under the Old Covenant law, a divorced woman could not remarry unless her former husband had passed away. So you see, in order for the Lamb to prepare Himself for marriage, the husband of the Old Covenant had to die, in order to make the new marriage legal according to God’s own Law. Thus Calvary was the first step to clear the way towards the future wedding of the Lamb and His new bride, redeemed Israel!
There are two distinct differences between the two Covenants, or as used in this article, wedding contracts. The first is that in the Old Covenant God entered into this marriage right at the beginning with the intent to change and purify His bride in the process, something that failed, due to the fact that the bride herself was not ready and willing. Also God is a spirit. The bride had never seen her Husband, she could not touch him, He was abstract and unapproachable to her in the physical sense.
Now in this new relationship, Christ came in the flesh, we beheld Him, we could touch Him, we can have a personal relationship with Him, He is tangible. Also since His First Advent Christ is purifying His future bride. He is weeding out the dross, He is making her clean and ready, He is making her acceptable as a bride fit for a King.
When the Lamb returns He will come as a conquering Lion and subdue all those that oppose Him still and when all His work is done, then He will truly be known as King of kings and Lord of lord’s and only then will take place the wedding of the Lamb to His perfected bride, redeemed Israel.