11 “Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the LORD which He loves and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 “As for the man who does this, may the LORD cut off from the tents of Jacob everyone who awakes and answers, or who presents an offering to the LORD of hosts.
God is angry that Israel has spoiled the sanctity (holiness) of marriage. People have been marrying outside of their faith. The main problem with this is that it corrupts the believer; it is as if they are putting themselves in an eternal position to walk away from God. In 2 Corinthians 6, Paul explains the importance of marrying within our faith:
14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. 17 “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you. 18 “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty.
Elsewhere in the scriptures there are instructions of what to do if only one person in the household comes to faith but the other does not, but the point here is that people of faith were marrying people who were believers. This is something that continues to happen today. We see in the quote from Corinthians that in doing so, we turn our backs on God. If we, however, marry someone of equal faith, we remain sons and daughters of His. This is the same principle of being “equally yoked” with our partner. By not doing so, we place ourselves under a curse, which happens whenever we walk outside of the will of God and do what we prefer to do. But in marriage, it is even more serious because it isn’t just something you can undo. Marriage is meant to be once for all time, so when we enter into a marriage with someone who isn’t of the same faith, we essentially tell God we choose to follow our own desires for life instead of His will.
Aside from the marriage issue, how often do we choose to go our own way instead of God’s? Our selfishness leads to many actions and decisions that are not pleasing to God. We continue to be stuck in what I call the “Old Testament mentality” where we try to earn our favor from God or we don’t try at all, simply thinking that because we believe in Jesus as our Savior, there is nothing left to do. Bonhoeffer calls this “cheap grace,” explaining that we take Christ’s sacrifice for granted and we don’t allow it to change us. We don’t fully accept the power of God in our lives and don’t try to be His disciples. This is why we are saved: not to have a get out of jail free card when we die but so that we can have life and have it abundantly here and bring God’s Kingdom down on earth as it is in heaven.
I said that we try to earn Gods favor; the way we do that is despite all the times we turn our back on God, we think that if we go to church, if we tithe, and volunteer at the homeless shelter every month then God’s favor will rest upon us. We think we can manipulate God and play a game in our relationship with Him. In our relationships with others, when we play games like this, eventually they figure it out and it damages our relationship with them and instead of drawing us nearer to them, it separates us. The same happens in our relationship with God. He knows our hearts, so we are only fooling ourselves and removing our lives from a place of blessing and holy relationship with God. So what do we do then?
God calls us to continually seek His Kingdom first and everything else will be added to us. He calls us to a place where we don’t worry about our time, our finances, our families, our other relationships. He calls us to seek Him first and foremost and everything else will be taken care of. Just like in a holy marriage, if each spouse takes care of the other, they don’t have to worry about themselves! Imagine that, a selfless marriage is a blessed marriage. Yet as one starts to act selfishly, the other begins to go without until they realize that the relationship is slowly falling apart and they are no longer taken care of, so they must focus on their own needs instead of the needs of the other. Little by little each person in the relationship begins to worry less about the other and worry more about themselves until the marriage is torn apart. If we seek to please God first, He will take care of EVERYTHING else in our lives: our physical needs, our relationships, our spiritual enlightenment, and all that He has in His possession (that’s the whole world, by the way). So why then don’t we seek first His Kingdom, His Will, and His design for our lives in our relationship with Him and others?