Summary: When did God gather Israel to Himself and exchange vows so that later God refers to His people as His bride? The marriage motif of God and His people runs throughout the Bible. Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 may mark the sight and sound of this divine even
This lesson is an introduction to our study of the Ten Commandments.
Weddings are always exciting and full of emotion. When God created us, male and female, in His own image and likeness, he also created marriage. The original intent of marriage included the blessing of procreation of little images of God who would grow up and marry and continue the process until the whole earth was filled with the image of God in human form. Sin has messed up the original intent, but the beauty is still there. It was after God made man and woman and blessed them that He said, “It is very good.”
Marriage has both physical and spiritual implications. Physically, a man and woman join together as husband and wife in a covenant that transpires at what we celebrate as a wedding. Family and friends are gathered together, an authority figure officiates the ceremony, and the groom stands waiting with his best man and groomsmen while the brides maids enter and line up in place. Finally, the bride comes, escorted by her father, and they walk down the aisle between the groom’s family and the bride’s family and they approach the groom. The preacher asks: “Who gives this woman to be this man’s bride?” And the father of the bride chokes out, “Her mother and I.” Then he gives her hand to the groom and goes to his seat beside his wife, with whom he once took her hand from her father. And the saga continues.
A wedding is all very carefully orchestrated with each part planned with significant meaning. Words are spoken about the relationship of husband and wife. Scriptures are read. Sometimes symbols are performed by such things as candles lit, songs sung, and letters read. But the core of any wedding is the vows. They are the words of the covenant of marriage and we seal them with the exchange of rings.
Ray Vanderlann has suggested that what happened at Sinai at the giving of the 10 commandments has all the elements of a wedding ceremony. This is exactly what the prophets tell us happened between Israel and God. Jeremiah says: Jer 2:1-2
2:1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 "Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: "'I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown.
5 For as a young man marries a virgin, So your sons will marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So your God will rejoice over you.
But when Israel was unfaithful to God listen to what the prophet says: Jer 3:6-14
6 During the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, "Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there. 7 I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it. 8 I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery. 9 Because Israel's immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood. 10 In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense," declares the LORD.
11 The LORD said to me, "Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah. 12 Go, proclaim this message toward the north:
"'Return, faithless Israel,' declares the LORD, 'I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful,' declares the LORD, 'I will not be angry forever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt-- you have rebelled against the LORD your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,'" declares the LORD.
14 "Return, faithless people," declares the LORD, "for I AM YOUR HUSBAND...
When did God become Israel’s husband? When did God and Israel come together and exchange vows? It would appear that Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 are much more than a record of God giving the 10 commandments. God certainly did give Israel His laws there. God even wrote them on two tablets of stone… twice. By the way, it wasn’t that it took two tablets to write all Ten Commandments on, most scholars agree that they were all ten written down twice: one copy for Israel and one copy for God. This is how covenants were done.
It is not that these were not laws, they most certainly were. But they were more than just laws. They were vows of relationship. They describe how God chose Israel for Himself and how Israel was to respond to God’s choosing and delivering them. God describes their relationship to Him and to one another and how to live together as one people under one God in love.