5 For thy Maker [is] thine husband; the LORD of hosts [is] his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.
The marriage relationship is one of the most sensitive and intimate relationships that exists on the earth. It is considered sacred and holy by our God. He chose this relationship to help us understand his true feeling for us and the covenants that we make with him and what he would like from us. Years ago I wrote the preface for the book written by Donna Nielsen, "Beloved Bridegroom." This book goes into detail to describe the ancient form of marriage and how it is a type for the Lord's relationship with covenant Israel.
Meridian Magazine has a wonderful article written by Larry Barkdull, using Beloved Bridegroom as a reference, entitled, Zion: The Holy Marriage, How Marriage Symbolizes God's Covenant With Us.
By using marriage as a metaphor for his relationship with covenant Israel, the Lord is able to convey to us his deep and sensitive feelings for us. In the Old Testament the story of Hosea is one of deep an poignant feelings. Hosea is a metaphor for Jehovah, and he is commanded by the Lord to marry the daughter of a prostitute named Gomer, who becomes a metaphor for covenant Israel.
Hosea loves Gomer and together they have three children who are given names by the Lord himself. The names of the children relate to the the declining relationship between Jehovah and covenant Israel. The names of the children are as follows:
Jezreel, which means God sows, indicating that the House of Israel is about to be sown (scattered) into all the world.
Lo-ruammah, which means, no mercy, apparently indicating that the covenant has been so damaged that Jehovah can no longer bear the strain of the relationship.
Lo-ammi, which mean, not my people, apparently Gomer has been unfaithful and this child may not belong to Hosea.
Gomer leaves with her lovers and Hosea sends the children to plead with their mother to come back but to no avail.
After an undisclosed period of time Hosea finds Gomer being auctioned off in the slave market. He is commanded to buy her back and test her loyalty before he re-establishes a covenant with her.
In Hosea 6:6 the Lord explains what he has always desired from covenant Israel,
6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
The word "mercy" in the above verse is the Hebrew word "Hesed" and depicts a deep and sensitive relationship such as a very close husband and wife who think of each other often and long to be together often and to serve the needs of the other. The word knowledge comes from two Hebrew words which mean to come to know through close experience. The image below depicts the essence of the Hosea and Gomer relationship,
(click on image to enlarge)
The Lord had a similar message to the Kingdom of Judah who had also defiled their covenant relationship with Jehovah. In this instance the Lord used a linen sash, referred to as a girdle, as a metaphor for his relationship with Judah (see Jeremiah 13:1-11).
The Lord asked Jeremiah to get a linen sash and to wear it but not wash it. Later he asks him to bury the sash in the wet dirty banks of a river. He later is asked by the Lord to retrieve the sash. When he did retrieve it, it was filthy and "profitable for nothing." The message of Jehovah for the House of Judah and the House of Israel was as follows,
9 Thus saith the LORD, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem.
10 This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.
11 For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.
All the Lord ever wanted from them was a close relationship (HESED) that they gained by experiencing him at a deep emotional, personal level. He wanted them to think of him often as he has thought of them continually and cared about their safety and needs. He felt that they had abandoned him and gone whoring after other lovers or gods. He could never forget them as he said through the prophet Isaiah,
15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of [my] hands; thy walls [are] continually before me.