Hosea 1:1-2 (KJV)
1 The word of the LORD that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.
2 The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.
It was during the eighth century BC that the Northern Kingdom of Israel began their final spasms of self-destruction. The crisis that exploded onto them was not a crisis of military planning, power, or monetary resources. Rather, it was a crisis that lay deeply embedded within people of God. Simply put, Israel was an unfaithful bride.
The backdrop of the nation of God is not one which simply begins at the Mountain of God with the spectacle of Moses mediating the Law. While Israel may have become a nation, they had long before been a part of a covenantal progression which finds its origin in the book of Beginning.
- The Paradigm of Marriage Behavior
“It is not good that man should be alone,” God had remarked in the creative narrative (Gen. 2:18). And thus, with a deep sleep over man, God took from the side of man and built a woman and brought her before the then awakened man.
It was Gerhard Von Rad who stated: “God Himself, like the father of the bride, leads the woman to the man”(Gerhard Von Rad, 1972, p. 82)
Thus, when Adam saw the woman, he exclaimed:
Genesis 2:23 (KJV)
[….] This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
Genesis 1:27-28 (KJV)
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Through the account of the first man and the first woman Israel was given a glimpse into the deeper meaning of human sexuality. Herein, at the point of beginning, God made it clear that He would use human sexuality to serve His redemptive purpose over the world.
When Adam had exclaimed, “she shall be called Woman” he didn’t state, “because she was taken out of me.” Instead, he had proclaimed, “she was taken out of Man!” At this point in time, the eyes of man clear and untainted by sin, sees the woman in relationship to himself, thus “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.”
In that moment of time the precedent was set and ultimately the unveiling of the Savior and His bride which would be revealed through this powerful first mention and incident of marriage. There are three things to note in regards to this union between man and woman as Genesis 2:24 sets the paradigm for marital behavior:
- Leave mother and father
- Cleave to his wife
- Become one flesh
The first implies a separation of the strongest human bond; that of a son to his mother and father. In this requirement the precedent is cast that man put marriage above all other loyalties.
The second, hinging off the first, is the man must devote himself entirely to his wife. The word “cleave” according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words means: “to cling, cleave, keep close.” Used in Modern Hebrew in the sense of “to stick to, adhere to,” dābaq yields the noun form for “glue” and also the more abstract ideas of “loyalty, devotion.”
Thirdly, that they should become “one flesh” presents a fusion of two into one which demands each attend to one another as one would attend to self. It is the singularity, the emphasis upon “one”, that stands out so vivid. The seamless integration of two that become one begins to set the clock into forward motion, although in pre-fall condition, that would begin the unfolding saga of covenantal relationship between God and His people.
- The Covenant of Marriage
While the covenant between God and His children more closely mirrored that of Suzerain-Vassal treaties of that period of time, scripture alludes clearly to an unstated yet dominant thought-process which God had toward His people.
Exodus 20:1-5 (KJV)
1 And God spake all these words, saying,
2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
Again and again, scripture would reiterate the Jealousy of God over His people. His relationship with them would be EXCLUSIVE; refusing to share the pedestal of worship, oblation, and devotion with any other image, likeness, or supposed gods. God was a husband unto His people:
Jeremiah 31:31-32 (KJV)
31 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:
32 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:
As a husband, this jealousy, strong and undeterred, would surface in the New Testament writings of the Apostle Paul. Only this time, God would clearly define the jealousy in relation to a covenant of marriage.
2 Corinthians 11:2 (KJV)
2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
Other scriptures of note:
- Deuteronomy 32:16 (KJV)
16 They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger.
- Deuteronomy 32:21 (KJV)
21 They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.
- Psalm 78:58 (KJV)
58 For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images.
Scripture would seem to imply that God’s jealousy is contiguous with his holiness (see Joshua 24:19). Levitical Law was given to Israel, if I may go so far, as a wedding gown to adorn the bride for her husband. Holiness is the essential virtue that God expects from His bride. To be Holy as He is Holy is to present a singularity of thought, action, and lifestyle. In other words, it is to “cleave” to Him, forsaking all else that is peripheral as but mediocre, and becoming one with Him.
Cleave to Him!
Deuteronomy 4:4 (KJV)
4 But ye that did cleave unto the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day.
Deuteronomy 10:20 (KJV)
20 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.
See Also: (Deuteronomy 11:22; 13:4; 30:20, Joshua 22:5; 23:8, Jeremiah 13:11, Acts 11:23, Romans 12:9)