16On that day, says the LORD, you will call me, “My husband…” 19And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. 20I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the LORD.
Hosea 2:16a, 19-20
7Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready; 8to her it has been granted to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure — for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
Reflection: The marriage of the Lamb has come.
I like how this passage doesn’t say “the wedding of the Lamb has come.” Instead, the focus is on the whole marriage. Wedding culture has become a big business over the years, oftentimes overwhelming young couples who feel as if they have to keep up with the latest trends. By the time their marriage starts, they are overstressed, in debt, and exasperated with one another. Yes, the wedding is supposed to be a feast, but only if it looks ahead to the goodness of the marriage itself. Marriages last a lot longer than one day (or should, at least!) and they take a lot of work. But the benefits are well worth the work.
I’ve seen a picture of my grandparents’ wedding. They were young. It was 1946, I believe. My grandfather, at 22, had just gotten out of the Navy, having served in the Pacific in WWII. My grandmother was 19 and probably not expecting that she would soon be raising seven boys. She looked beautiful in her modest dress and he was handsome in his simple suit. The priest stood before them and beside them stood all their guests – just a few friends and family. That was it. The day was not about one ceremony, but about the hope for a family and life they would build together – hope you could see on their faces. Unfortunately, they did not get to grow old together, like the couple in the photo above, as Grandpa died at the age of 54 from a heart attack, just two years before I was born. But in their 32 years of marriage, they remained focused on that family of seven sons and that shared life together.
My other grandparents celebrated 68 years of marriage in March. They are fun to watch, as they have always had fun innocently picking on each other over the years. But a couple years ago, we were visiting them and they were sitting on the couch together. Their heads fell to the side and they sat there, dozing off, each one with their head nestled against the other’s head. At the time they were 90 and 84, and you could see the love, faithfulness, and dependence (in a good way!) on one another.
I guess what I am getting at is that when we enter into marriage, we must have a focus on more than just that one wedding day. In our marriage vows, we are entering into a covenant that is life-long. I admit, it is hard to think about 50 years in the future when you are 23 (that’s the age I was when I got married). But perhaps we need to instill that vision in our young people as they make the very important decision to marry.
God’s never-ending faithfulness to his people was the primary aspect God was communicating through this imagery of God as spouse. God isn’t going to celebrate with us at the wedding and then run off with someone else when God gets bored with us. God is “in it for the long haul,” so to speak. God’s faithfulness doesn’t even depend on our own faithfulness, though our faithfulness (and developing that faithfulness over the years) is very important for our own spiritual health. As we meet the God of faithfulness in our own acts of faithful devotion, then our “marriage” becomes an experience of shalom, where all things come together under the good will and purposes of God.
How has God been faithful to you? And how is God calling you to deeper faithfulness? Explore these questions this week as you sit with this image of God as spouse.
Journaling Focus: You shall know the LORD.
What does it mean to you to “know” God? Often we can mistake knowing about God for actually knowing God. Reflect this week in your journal about the ways you and God share moments of spiritual closeness. How has your relationship with God developed and blossomed over the years? Do you ever experience times of isolation from God – and how do you overcome this? As you write, know that God is always waiting to connect with you with each new day.
This practice allows you to listen to the Scripture for the week (sometimes in larger context) and to open yourself up to God’s voice in that Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above and listen to the Scripture. As you listen this first time, ask God to point out to you a word or phrase from the Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a second time. As you listen this second time, ask God to reveal to you the holy intentions for this word or phrase that is being spoken into your life.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a third time. As you listen this third time, ask God how you might respond to this word or phrase being spoken into your life today.
Explore: If you would like to explore the Scripture more deeply, go to our Exploring Scripture page!
Listen to the song The Love of God, by Rich Mullins. As you listen, notice how he refers to the love of God as a “reckless, raging fury.” Why might he refer to the love of God in that way? What is God communicating to you through this song? What might you communicate to God through this song?
Pray for those who are lonely, especially for widows and widowers and those whose spouse is suffering from dementia. Make your prayer active by reaching out by phone, card, or visit to such a friend. The solution for loneliness is human connection – to remember that you are loved and cherished. Ask God to give the lonely a reminder of their sacred worth.
NOTE: During these ten weeks, as we explore the images of God, the meditation will be an audio meditation. There are four pictures that will appear with each meditation. These pictures are referenced in the audio meditation and are intended to help bring focus to the audio meditation.
Take some time to reflect upon your day or your week. Follow the process below and open yourself up to the presence and work of God in your life this week. Every week the structure is the same, but some specifics are changed to reflect the Scripture of the week.
- Find a place and posture that will prepare you for prayer.
- Begin by breathing in deeply through your nose and breathing deeply out of your mouth.
- Invite God to lead you through the previous day or week. For instance, if it is Tuesday night, reflect back on Tuesday morning, afternoon, and evening. If it is Saturday or Sunday, reflect back on Monday through Friday.
- Ask God to guide you through these questions:
- In what ways have you felt close to God?
- In what ways have you felt far away from God?
- How have you opened yourself up to the love of God?
- Thank God for this journey of reflection on your day or week. Ask God to continue to reveal Godself to you tomorrow.
If you are married, take out your wedding photo album and look at the pictures. If you are not married, look through pictures of you and your dearest friends. What do you notice about the people in the pictures? What are they feeling? What are their joys and hopes? Allow the goodness of marriage and friendship lead you to the goodness of God. How does God want to share joy and hope with you?
Breath Prayer: LORD God, we cherish you.