Garry continued his series on the Sabbath this morning. Last time, he looked at the fact that the Sabbath was a time to change focus, recalibrate and renew our perspective. Today, he commented on the similarity between the Hebrew word for Sabbath ( שַׁבָּת‎ ) and the word for ‘captivate’ or ‘take as bride’ (שׁבה).

The idea of marriage as a metaphor for our relationship with God runs through the Bible (see Is 61:10, Is 62:4-5). Here, we see the idea of adorning ourselves and the notion of delight; God really does delight in us the way that a bridegroom delights in his bride. Marriage is viewed throughout the Bible as a serious covenant (see Ex 20:14, Jer 2:1-2) and adultery therefore is serious –  not only in the human realm but is used to describe the breakdown of Israel’s relationship with God (Ezek 16:8, Hosea 1:2, Jer 3:6-8). Jesus used the idea of marriage and preparation for a Jewish wedding to describe how we must be prepared for His return (Matt 25:1-13). In Jewish culture, the bridegroom’s job was to prepare the marriage home and Jesus refers to this in John 14:1-2.

Paul reminds us that human marriage is meant to reflect the close relationship of Christ and the church (Eph 5:25-33) and talks of the church as the bride of Christ. (2 Cor 11:1-2) The image of the church as the bride of Christ is continued in Rev 21:1-2, 9-10 and from this we can see the intimacy and delight of our relationship with God.

We might ask what is the connection, however, between marriage and Sabbath. Married couples share their everyday lives, but there are times when they need to be alone together without distractions. There is a need in marriage for relaxation, for deep conversations, for the pleasure of each other’s company – for more than the merely functional and mundane! All this is reflected in what God wants the Sabbath to be for us –  a time when we enjoy being together in unhurried fashion, when there is joy and rest in each other’s company, when we can simply enjoy being with Him. This is at the very heart of our relationship with God.