God’s marital status

is God married
We have all had to fill out a form asking for ‘marital status’. So, what would we enter for God: single, married, widowed, divorced? The correct answer may surprise you.

Scholars agree with Judaic tradition that the entire book of Deuteronomy is a covenant document, with the 10 commandments at its core. It is a marriage covenant, with the Sabbath as the wedding ring of this marriage between the Lord and Israel.

The Hebrew for marriage or betrothal is kiddushin:, from the root kddsh whose meaning is ‘holy’ or ‘separate’. So, marriage is inherently bound up with the concepts of holiness and of separation (from the world and to God).

Israel is told to be faithful in Deuteronomy 6:10-15 and God’s marriage covenant with them is referred to in terms of sexual imagery in Ezekiel 16:8 and elsewhere. But Israel is found to be a harlot (in adultery) in Ezekiel 16:15 and Jeremiah 31:5. In Jeremiah 31:32 the Lord refers to “My covenant which they broke though I was their husband.”

These are not mere words or symbols. A holy relationship within covenant is shattered by sin. The consequence is that the Lord, following His own law of Deuteronomy 24:1 etc, issues a certificate of separation (Isaiah 50:1) and proceeds to a bill of divorce (Jeremiah 3:6-10) from Israel. God is divorced.

Punishment for Israel also follows, and this too is described in sexual terms: God gathers Israel’s lovers against her (Ezekiel 16:35-43) because she broke her covenant with Him.

Yet, the Lord remains committed to Israel: there are many promises of Israel’s restoration and even in Jeremiah 31 the Lord promises forgiveness and an unbreakable covenant with Israel. Thus, there are consequences to sin but the Lord remains faithful, even when we are not.

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