“I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.” (Jeremiah 2:2)
The covenant people of God are his wife. They have often been faithless and broken the marriage covenant. Would God — could God — divorce his wife? No!
I will betroth you to me forever, I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord. (Hosea 2:19–20)
But what of her horrible adulteries? Surely divorce is legitimate here! Israel is an “adulterous wife, who receives strangers instead of her husband” (Ezekiel 16:14).
Now what? Separation? Judgment? Yes: “I will give you into the hand of your lovers . . . and they shall stone you and cut you to pieces. . . . I will make you stop playing the harlot” (16:39).
But is that all? Is the separation final? Does he divorce her? No!
Yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish with you an everlasting covenant . . . I will forgive you all that you have done, says the Lord God. (Ezekiel 16:60, 63)
But is it not wrong to take her back after she has lain with so many others? “You have played the harlot with many lovers, and would you return to me?” (Jeremiah 3:1).
Ah, but what a husband he is! Incredible in grace! “Return, faithless Israel, says the Lord. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, says the Lord” (3:12).
God will not divorce. “I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel” (Malachi 2:16).
God is wholly committed to saving and enriching his marriage!