The word “love” is mentioned 551 times in the ESV version of the Bible, “wife” 384 times, “husband” 115 times, bridegroom 26 times, “bride” 27 times, and “marriage” 27 times. Love and marriage must be important to God.
Marriage begins the Bible with the creation of Adam and Eve and marriage ends the Bible with the marriage Supper of the Lamb and His bride, the church.
The Song of Songs, written by King Solomon, appears in the middle of the Bible and is often referred to by devout Jews as the Holy of Holies.
God refers to Israel as His wife, and the church is called the Bride of Christ.
There must be something special about marriage.
Could it be a reflection of what our relationship with God could be … intimate, serving, living for each other, passionate, sacred, and holy?
Let’s look at a few Scriptures.
From creation to unity
After God created the Garden of Eden and put Adam to work to name the animals, Adam realized that he did not have a suitable companion.
That’s the way God works in our lives. He lets us work to direct our careers, our lives, our marriages, and our happiness until we come to the realization that there’s something missing in our lives … intimacy with God.
So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:21-24
One flesh, blessed by God. Together, they walked with God in the Garden in the cool of the evening. A triune relationship: Adam, Eve, and God, walking together in unity, in perfection.
A honeymoon in Paradise.
From unity to separation
Then, the serpent deceived Eve. The serpent told her that she could be like God. He twisted the Scripture.
Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
“We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
“You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5
Deceived, Eve ate.
Eve gave it to Adam, and he ate.
Immediately, they knew evil and saw that they were naked, and they hid from God.
Unity with God torn.
Tension in marriage created!
The struggle in life began.
From self-focus to love-focus
Tension in marriage creates a focus on ourselves and how we can make our lives more comfortable.
There’s an infatuation stage in marriage, isn’t there? Although we love each other, much of the first weeks are about the physical.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine;
your anointing oils are fragrant;
your name is oil poured out;
therefore virgins love you.
Draw me after you; let us run.
The king has brought me into his chambers. Song of Songs 1:2-4
Notice that although the bride is focused on Solomon, the desired outcome is how he will make her feel good. The focus is on the Shulamite.
As their relationship matures, the bride’s comment about Solomon shifts from herself to Solomon,
She’s now living for her husband.
When a friend asked Keith what the secret was to our 45-year marriage was, he said, “Each of us lives for the other.”
That’s the key, isn’t it?
Before thinking of ourselves, we think of our beloved.
A few weeks ago, Keith said, “Have you noticed that when you get up first, you make my tea before you make yours, and when I get up first, I make your tea before mine?”
Thinking of the other first.
It’s easy with tea, but it can be challenging when children are involved, the mortgage needs to be paid, home is half-way around the world, or a chronic illness interrupts plans.
It’s a constant struggle.
That’s where God comes in.
Remember the cool of the Garden of Eden?
The love walk.
From separation to unity
The Jewish marriage is a picture of the church’s marriage to Jesus.
Before marriage, the young couple became betrothed, much more binding than an American engagement. It was a contract as binding as marriage, and divorce was the only way to break the betrothal.
After the betrothal, the bridegroom went away to build a suitable room at his father’s home where the bride and bridegroom would live. While the bridegroom was building the room, the bride prepared herself and her belongings for the day when the bridegroom would come to take her to her new home.
The father of the bridegroom inspected the construction of the room and once he was satisfied that it was fit for the bride, he gave the son permission to get his bride. The bridegroom gathered his friends, and they made a great procession to the bride’s home to take her to the father’s home for a week’s wedding celebration.
Does this sound similar to the story of Jesus?
The first time Jesus came to earth, He came to teach, preach, pay the sacrifice for our sin, and rise from the dead. Jesus became betrothed to His bride—the church.
He’s now in heaven advocating for us AND preparing our dwelling places.
When the Father tells Jesus that our dwelling places are ready, Jesus will come for us (the Rapture), take us to His home, heaven, and we’ll have a marriage feast—the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Like the biblical Jewish wedding, it will be for a week—seven years.
The Love Promise: Jesus is coming back for His bride, the church!
From Scripture to application
Marriage IS important to God. It’s the story of Jesus. It’s your story.
We don’t live in the Garden of Eden. We live in a fallen world. That’s why Jesus came to earth—to make it possible for all who believe and trust in Him to live with Him forever as His bride.
We’re waiting on Him to return, to take us to our new dwelling place.
In the meantime, He gave His Word to us in the Scriptures, and He summed it up in Matthew.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40
Love is a verb.
Love taught the multitudes, fed the 5,000, calmed the sea, healed the sick, touched the leper, opened eyes to see, and raised the dead.
Love watches the football game and learns about the rules and players even though she doesn’t enjoy football.
Love escorts her to a musical even though he doesn’t enjoy the musical.
Love is a choice.
Love looked down from the cross and asked the Father to forgive those who nailed Jesus to the cross.
Love prays for God to bless a supervisor who is unreasonable.
Love washes the dishes for her even when she snaps at you.
Love sneaks a love note in his lunch container even if the night before he came home, ignored her, and plopped down in front of the television.
Love is a story.
The love story is Jesus emptying Himself of His glory for one purpose: you. He loves you so much that He denied himself to live and die for you. That’s love, and marriage is a dim reflection of this love story.
The marriage love story is a journey of remembering the sacred connection to Jesus and living for the other as Jesus lived for us.
How are you living your love story?
Father, thank You for Your incredible love story. Thank You that You have created a reflection of that love story in the creation of marriage. Help us to remember that connection, and empower us to treat our marriages as holy and our spouses as special creations customized for us. Fuel our marriages with the power of Your love, grace, and mercy. Thank You, Father. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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