The Bible is about God’s relationship to his creation from beginning to very end, and one of the chief illustrations Paul uses is that of Christ and the Church as a marriage between the bridegroom Jesus and the bride He loves, the Church – one flesh, sharing in the same body. It should be no surprise then that the Bible’s narrative is so often impacted by a man and woman together. Some are good, some are bad, but here we take a look at God’s use of couples throughout the good book!
ADAM AND EVE
The first man and his wife get a pretty bad rap for the whole eating the fruit and original sin thing, but their relationship with each other continues to serve as a model for marriage. Eve was created as Adam’s helper, neither his servant nor his subordinate, but a partner to tend to the work he was called to do, and even at the fall, they stayed together with the promise that the seed of Eve would beget Christ.
ABRAHAM AND SARAH
Before God gave him a new name, Abram was nearly 100 years old and his wife Sarai already 90 when God promised them a child – one that they had tried on their own to conceive for years and years. There were moments that, like all of us, Sarah and Abraham found it hard to trust God. Abraham even fathered Ishmael by Sarah’s servant girl Hagar. But Abraham was justified, the letter to the Hebrews tells us, by his faith through those weak moments. The first to receive the covenant of a promised land, the Jews of Jesus’ day referred to Abraham as their “father,” the progenitor of the entire nation.
JACOB AND RACHEL
The man who was literally Israel, renamed by the angel, had a favorite wife. Promised by Laban to have Rachel’s hand in marriage after seven years of work, Jacob was instead given Leah. With another seven years of work, Jacob won Rachel’s hand – and Jesus’ great-great-great-great-great-…-great-grandmother.
DAVID AND BATHSHEBA
The king of Israel’s first genuine abuse of power, David used his position of authority to seduce a married woman and have her husband killed on the frontlines of battle. But Bathsheba remained loyal to the father of her child and became the King’s wife and the mother of Solomon.
BOAZ AND RUTH
As a young widow, Ruth had little standing in Jewish culture without a husband. She worked hard to provide for her mother-in-law, and Boaz took pity on her without actually insulting her pride by instructing his servants to leave her good food without Ruth knowing. Through feigned courtship, Ruth was grafted into the line of David and Jesus.
ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA
Ananias and Sapphira don’t seem so bad – taking some money aside and giving the rest to the church is sensible financial planning. Yet we learn of them by a cautionary tale. Selling their land, they decide to give money to the early church…but publicly boast and lie about it by claiming the money offered the church was the full sum. Because they lied to God and sought the praise of men for their fake generosity, the two were smitten – struck dead by a not-so-happy miracle.
SAMSON AND DELILAH
A Nazirite from birth, Samson never cuts his hair nor does he eat or drink anything made from grapes. But despite his great strength and role as God’s judge for the Israelites over and against the Philistines, Samson’s weakness seems to be women. First looking to marry a Philistine who is given in marriage to someone else, he later has an affair with Delilah. Delilah is bribed by her countrymen to learn the secret of Samson’s strength. She does so and betrays him, as he betrayed his vow.
ZECHARIAH AND ELIZABETH
The parents of John the Baptist, Zechariah and Elizabeth mirror Abraham and Sarah. Already elderly, and Elizabeth considered baron, God promises Zachariah – through Gabriel – that he would have a son, a prophet to proclaim the coming of Jesus. Zechariah didn’t believe, but Elizabeth in her old age received the conception of John with great joy. When her cousin Mary came to visit, the baby leaped for joy in her womb that the Christ child was so near.
JOSEPH AND MARY
We couldn’t leave out the earthly father and mother of Jesus! A craftsman by trade, Joseph was pledged to marry Mary when she became pregnant. Being both just and humble, not wanting to put Mary to shame, he wanted to separate quietly when she became pregnant. But Mary’s faithfulness to bear Jesus was mirrored in Joseph, who faithfully followed an angel’s instructions throughout Jesus’ early life.