Believing in God is one thing; having a relationship with Him is another. Just like a marriage, having a relationship with God takes effort and time.
The Marriage Covenant
Marriage was created by God to unite a man and woman for life. In Judaism, marriage is a covenant between two people: a solemn, binding agreement. In a marriage covenant, a man and woman promise to devote themselves to only each other, and they pledge to be faithful and loyal to one another.
Obviously, when you marry someone, you expect them to spend time with you, love you, and be devoted to you. It wouldn’t be okay if they devoted too much time and attention to others. You don’t want to compete with other people because you’re in covenant with that person.
In the Bible, God often described His relationship with His people as a marriage. He was the husband and His people were His bride. God expected His people to be devoted to Him alone; having other gods was not ok with Him, and in His eyes, it was like adultery.
More than anything, God wanted a people to call His own. Just before God delivered His people from Egypt, He said, “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.”
God freed His people from being slaves to another nation, so He expected some devotion from them. This is where the Ten Commandments came in, and at the top of this list was this: “You shall have no other gods before me.” And the second commandment instructed them to not make any images or idols; God alone wanted their worship.
Unfortunately, “They worshiped idols, though the Lord had said, ‘You shall not do this.’” Although God was devoted to His people, over and over again His people demonstrated that they were not equally devoted to God.
Jeremiah states, “This is what the Lord says: ‘I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown.’” When God’s people chose to worship idols, they were like a wife who cheated on her husband.
God is Jealous
God is described as jealous, wanting our complete devotion and love. “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” Like a spouse who doesn’t want to share his or her spouse with another, God doesn’t want us to share our loyalty with another.
Once you get married, there is an expectation that you will be totally committed to your spouse. Jesus said that a husband and wife “become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”
If you’ve become one with another person through marriage, you can’t just go out and do whatever you want with no thought for your spouse. You can’t go and be with other men or women, and you can’t devote yourself to other people or things without causing problems in the marriage relationship.
It’s the same way with God. Too many times God’s people “made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols.” God was the one who helped free His people, but they forgot Him and worshiped things instead. To God, this felt like adultery.
Set Apart for God
In marriage, you choose to set yourself apart only for your spouse, and you expect your spouse to do the same. It is a mutual pledge to honor each other. “The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him.”
God expected His people to be faithful to Him, to worship only Him, and to follow His ways. But this meant that His people had to reject the ways of the foreigners around them who worshiped idols and practiced things that did not please God.
“You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.” Because of the covenant relationship God had with His people, He expected them to be entirely devoted to Him, set apart for Him alone, not chasing after other gods.
Having a Covenant Relationship with God
Likewise, if we say we are a Christian, then there are expectations of us. God expects our devotion to Him and His Kingdom to take priority in our lives. He expects us to be loyal to Him, not chasing after other “gods.” James shares, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”
We cannot live apart from God and flirt with darkness, expecting grace to cover us and make it ok. We cannot assume that we will have all the benefits of a covenant relationship with God when we are not willing to set ourselves apart for Him.
A covenant relationship is two-sided. Both participants are responsible for the health and wellbeing of the relationship. There’s no doubt that God will do His part: He will be faithful; He will be loyal and loving; He will be devoted and true.
The question is this: will we do our part? Will we set ourselves apart for God, forsaking all others, and keeping ourselves only for Him? Will we be loyal to His Kingdom? Will we devote ourselves to keeping His ways? Will we reject everything and everyone that tries to distract us from loving Him “with all [our] heart and with all [our] soul and with all [our] strength?”
When we determine to prioritize our relationship with God, just like we would with our spouse, we can experience the benefits of a mutually devoted and loyal relationship that is not only special but also extraordinary.
~ Written by Jennell Houts