We know how deep in Scotland it entered into the national life and thought. It made mighty men, to whom God, and His promise and power were wonderfully real. It will be found still to bring strength and purpose to those who will take the trouble to bring all their life Ed comment: and their marriages under control of the inspiring assurance that they are living in covenant with a God who has sworn faithfully to fulfill in them every promise He has given.
Two Covenants. Covenant as defined by the Scriptures is a solemn and binding relationship which is meant to last a life time. This discussion will not deal with the signing of a so-called "marriage covenant", but instead will emphasize knowing the Biblical truth about the faithfulness of the covenant keeping God. It is my contention that when we come to know the Biblical truth regarding covenant e. Let me give you a short personal testimony for the longer version click A Testimony to God's Grace of the transforming effect an accurate understanding of the truth about covenant can have on a Christian marriage.
The short version is that our marriage of 25 years was in serious trouble in , both of us having been born again about 10 years prior. In the sovereignty of God, a Precept Ministries i nductive Bible study on Covenant click lesson 1 was offered at our local church during the day and during the evening which allowed both my wife and myself to attend.
The Spirit of God took the Biblical truth on covenant and radically transformed our marriage, restoring the "years that the locusts had eaten". What transpired was nothing short of a miracle! Although, I cannot promise you a miracle, if your marriage is in need of an infusion of transforming grace, it might just be that this Precept course on Covenant is the truth that God's Spirit could use to revitalize, revive or restore your relationship.
This material on Covenant is also summarized in Kay Arthur's book " Our Covenant God: Living in the Security of His Unfailing Love " if you don't feel like you have time or energy to tackle a formal eleven week in depth Bible study on Covenant. Marriage has become little more than an upgraded social contract between two people —not a holy covenant between a man and a woman and their God for a lifetime. In the Old Testament days a covenant was solemn and binding. When two people entered into a covenant with one another, a goat or lamb would be slain and its carcass would be cut in half.
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With the two halves separated and lying on the ground, the two people who had formed the covenant would solemnize their promise by walking between the two halves Ed note: see Covenant: A Walk into Death saying, "May God do so to me [cut me in half] if I ever break this covenant with you and God!
It is no small wonder that the Lord is passionate about the sanctity of marriage and the stability of the home. This covenant of marriage is based on the covenant God has made with us. It is in the power of His promise to her mankind that our personal covenant of marriage can be kept against the forces that would destroy homes and ruin lives.
Nashville: Thomas Nelson Bolding added. A deep stream of independence and self-sufficiency flows in my soul, reinforced by three decades of learning to make life work on my own. The covenant of marriage demands that I lay down my lifelong commitment to myself for the sake of another. God does not grant me permission to renege on my promise if disappointment or suffering in marriage seem more than I can bear.
Marriage is God's design - One man for one woman as we read in Genesis, the book of beginnings…. Although the word "covenant" is not actually used , Moses describes what is in its essence the first covenant of marriage writing …. Then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. And the man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Ge , 22, 23, Wayne Mack : One plus one equals one may not be an accurate mathematical concept, but it is an accurate description of God's intention for the marriage relationship.
Matthew Henry : The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.
Jesus reinforced the idea that marriage is a covenant relationship when the Pharisees tried to trap Him knowing that the rabbis were divided on this issue with the question of whether or not it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife for "any cause at all". Jesus answered…. Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh.
What therefore God has joined together note Who joined them , let no man separate. Mt , 5, 6. In ancient times, covenant was the most solemn and binding agreement into which two parties could enter. It is tragic that this vital truth seems to have been lost in much of our modern culture, including even in the church, with devastating consequences to American families and to America's moral foundation. As J C Ryle said in 's "The marriage relation lies at the very root of the social system of nations.
The nearer a nation's laws about marriage approach to the law of Christ, the higher has the moral tone of that nation always proved to be. It is therefore critical that we understand the truth about covenant as it relates to marriage. Remember that truths that are seldom pondered, will become truths that are soon forgotten. In covenant you become identified with the other individual and there is a supernatural commingling of two lives.
In marriage, your family becomes your spouse's family, your desires your beloved's desires, and yes, even your finances are your covenant partner's finances including credit card bills! When God entered covenant with Noah, He gave Noah the rainbow which was to be a testimony that God would remain forever faithful to keep the covenant never again to flood the earth so as to destroy all flesh. When the rain bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.
When a you enter covenant with your beloved, the sign is usually a ring which serves as a constant reminder memorial of the solemn and binding of your marriage covenant. To the present day, an important ceremony at the coronation of a sovereign of Great Britain, is the investiture of the sovereign per annulum, or "by the ring.
A similar practice prevails at the coronation of European sovereigns generally. It also runs back to the days of the early Roman emperors, and of Alexander the Great. The very covenant itself, or its binding force, has been sometimes thought to depend on the circlet representing it ; as if the life which was pledged passed into the token of its pledging. Thus Lord Bacon says: "It is supposed [to be] a help to the continuance of love, to wear a ring or bracelet of the person beloved " I and he suggests that "a trial should be made by two persons, of the effect of compact and agreement; that a ring should be put on for each other's sake, to try whether, if one should break his promise the other would have any feeling of it in his absence.
On this idea it is, that many persons are unwilling to remove the wedding-ring from the finger, while the compact holds. No longer shall your name be called Abram , but your name shall be Abraham ; for I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. As the wife takes on her husband's name, this change symbolizes the supernatural identity and oneness God intended for the partners who had entered the marriage covenant.
Biblical covenants were often commemorated with a "covenant meal". The most famous "covenant meal" is of course found in the New Covenant where we read that the Lord Jesus on the night. In a short while you will probably celebrate your new covenant relationship by feeding each other wedding cake which is a picture that you are now sharing a common life , that two lives have become one.
Since God instituted this covenant and it is His will that it remain unbroken, you can be assured that His supernatural hand of blessing will be on your "covenant cake" ceremony. Related resource: See discussion of the Oneness of Covenant. As you read the following dictionary definitions of the word friend , you might see if any of these definitions apply to you and your covenant partner. Webster says a friend is one attached to another by affection. A friend is one who is regarded with liking, affection, and loyalty.
A friend is a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection. A friend is a person with whom one is on good and, usually, familiar terms.
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A friend is one who entertains for another sentiments of esteem, respect and affection, which lead him or her to desire the other's company, and to seek to promote their happiness and prosperity. Friend is a covenant term and is beautifully seen in God's covenant with Abraham. In 2Chronicles 20 there is a marvelous account of God's deliverance of Judah's king, Jehoshaphat. Upon hearing of the enemy's advance against him, King Jehoshaphat cried out to God, appealing to His covenant relationship with Israel and reminding Him of who He is and of His great power:. And art Thou not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations?
Power and might are in Thy hand so that no one can stand against Thee. Didst Thou not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Thy people Israel, and give it to the descendants of Abraham Thy friend 'ahab forever the promise of the land would endure because it was an unconditional promise to Israel based on the the Abrahamic Covenant which itself was an unbreakable, everlasting covenant. Yes, Israel has been disobedient, but that does not void God's promise - see Deut - See discussion of Abrahamic vs Mosaic Covenant?
James also associates the concept of covenant with friend explaining that when Abraham offered up Isaac his son on the altar, his faith was shown to be working with his works and thus…. Jas , note. Comment : In Isaiah , the Hebrew word for friend is ahab which is the verb meaning to love first used of Abraham's love for his son Isaac - Ge devotional commentary. The Septuagint Lxx translates ahab with agapao - see word study. Unlike the English term, the Hebrew word has less to do with emotion and more to do with actions.
Literally God is addressing Abraham as "the one loving Me. The basis for their mutual love was their immutable unconditional covenant. Can you see how this OT picture would have application to a husband and wife who have entered into the covenant of marriage? In Genesis God entered into an unbreakable covenant with Abram Abraham Read Ge noting Who initiated the covenant and later declared of His covenant partner and friend ….
Shall I hide keep secret, conceal, cover from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? Comment : In other words, friends share "secrets" and they do so because there is a trust between them. A husband and wife in covenant should be willing to be open, authentic, transparent and "real" with their covenant partner because he or she is their friend! Does this describe your relationship with your spouse? Abraham was the friend of God by virtue of entering covenant with Him. As friends in the marriage covenant there should be no secrets from the covenant partner.
Friends are transparent and honest with one another. Does friendship describe your marriage? If it does not, it can yet describe your marriage. If you can't answer affirmatively, then let me encourage you to humbly, prayerfully allow your Teacher, the Holy Spirit 1Cor , to take these truths about the covenant of marriage including friendship and use them to transform you into the image of Jesus 2Cor note and renew your mind Eph note , cp Ro note regarding the value of your spouse as your best friend.
After 45 years in the covenant of marriage, I can honestly say that my wife is still my best friend. Solomon was correct when he said that "a friend loves at all times. I choose you to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward for better or for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish as long as we both shall live.
True friendship is not fed from the barn floor or the wine vat; it is not like the rainbow dependent upon the sunshine, it is fixed as a rock and firm as granite, and smiles superior to wind and tempest. If we have friendship at all, brethren and sisters, let this be the form it takes: let us be willing to be brought to the test of the wise man, and being tried, may we not be found wanting. Of course the supreme example of covenant friendship was our Lord Jesus Christ Who said to His disciples " Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
Indeed, "a pledge to take a woman for his wife commits a man to sharing his life in its entirety. This is my beloved, and this is my friend! And again Jesus told His disciples " No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends , for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. As Chantry quipped "How soon marriage counseling sessions would end if husbands and wives were competing in thoughtful self-denial! In the Old Testament, the solemnity of cutting covenant was often witnessed by setting up a Memorial or Sign.
For example, when Jacob cut a covenant with his father-in-law Laban, the latter responded…. And Jacob said to his kinsmen, "Gather stones. Now Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha Aramaic for "witness heap" , but Jacob called it Galeed Hebrew for "witness heap" And Laban said, "This heap is a witness between you and me this day. If you mistreat my daughters, or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no man is with us, see, God is witness between you and me.
And Laban said to Jacob, "Behold this heap and behold the pillar which I have set between you and me. Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, and called his kinsmen to the meal covenant meal ; and they ate the meal and spent the night on the mountain. Ge Mizpah meant watchtower and was identified by a heap of stones pillar - Ge which served as a Memorial a preservative of one's memory and witness at Mizpah watchtower that neither party would break their solemn, binding covenant, and God was called as their Witness Ge Similarly when a man and a woman enter into the solemn, binding covenant of marriage and become one flesh Ge , there are always witnesses present who serve to testify that the covenant has been cut.
And of course, even as with the covenant between Jacob and Laban, God is the ultimate witness. I would also propose that even the wedding pictures which most couples save to look at or to show their children years later serve as a memorial and pictorial witness of that glorious, wonderful day when a man and a woman who were so in love with each other mysteriously became one flesh. Humans are a forgetful lot, and this seems to be especially true when it comes to marriage vows. It is good to be reminded of the solemn nature of the covenant that we entered into when we said "I do.
When was the last time you looked at your wedding pictures with your spouse or children? Perhaps you kept a copy of the marriage vows you made to your spouse and the words of those vows which you spoke serve as a reminder and witness to that special day. If so, it would be wonderful to periodically read them to each other as a reminder memorial of the solemn nature of the covenant into which you entered.
If you don't have a copy of your wedding vows, let me suggest you go the link Sample Marriage Vows and read through several of these vows together as a couple, asking God's Spirit to stir up the memories of your blessed wedding day. Unattended fires tend to grow cold and go out, but are kept burning by stoking the embers. When Dennis Rainey's daughter, Ashley, was married, he wrote that "as Michael and Ashley contemplated their wedding day, we talked about how they could exalt God and about the pledge they would make with God and with one another.
Family members were then asked to come forward and sign their names as witnesses of their covenant. Then the pastor asked for a few members of the audience to sign it as well. By doing so, these people not only became formal witnesses of the covenant, but they also agreed to pray for Ashley and Michael's marriage and hold them accountable to keep their vows to one another. Later at the reception more than people signed their covenant , filling the parchment. As I stood by the covenant I heard people say, " They are really serious about this, aren't they?
The most sacred promise we will ever make to another person? Covenant in the Bible clearly represents a serious commitment between two parties. The covenant between Jacob and Laban was so serious that God was called to serve as a witness! In view of the divinely ordained nature of the covenant of marriage, it too is a solemn, binding agreement that is witnessed by the attendees. Sadly, too few married couples or wedding witnesses have a sense of the seriousness of the covenant or of their role as life long witnesses.
Sadly, the truth of the covenant of marriage has become a thing of the past in our modern, fast food, fast internet, fast marriage culture. Have you been a best man or chief bridesmaid at a friend or relative's wedding? Have you kept in touch with them as the years have passed? Are you keeping them accountable, asking them about their faithfulness to their covenant and reminding them of the solemn, binding nature of the covenant into which they entered?
To keep safe from attack. To cover see Love Bears all things. To shield. To safeguard. To shelter. To support someone in the face of an onslaught of criticism How often do we criticize our covenant partner rather than lovingly defending them from criticism? To repel a charge or accusation; to oppose; to protect by opposition or resistance; to support or maintain; to prevent from being injured. To fortify against danger or violence; to set obstacles to the approach of any thing that can annoy.
We see this principle of defense of a covenant partner positively illustrated in the covenant David cut with Saul's son Jonathan. In this exchange we see that covenant is stronger than paternal ties Jonathan was more committed to his covenant partner David than to his father, King Saul! This covenant relationship which some have misinterpreted as a homosexual partnership - see discussion clearly took priority over all other relationships. See also David Invested with Royal Robes. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt.
Henry Morris rightly concludes that "The practice of bestowing one's garments and weapons upon another is known from archaeological discoveries to have symbolized the transfer of one's position to another. Jonathan evidently knew that God, through Samuel, had chosen David to be the next king over Israel instead of himself 1Sa , and he gladly accepted this as God's will.
This exchange is also a picture of " putting on your covenant partner " or of the two becoming one Ge , Ep note. The exchange of armor is a picture of a willingness to take on the other's enemies, one covenant partner saying to the other in essence " I am now bound to defend you from your enemies. Remember that covenant in ancient times was a bond in blood cp Ge , 10, Therefore, when two people or parties entered into covenant, they understood that everything they had was now held in common, even each other's enemies cp "credit card debts", etc!
Whenever one was under attack, it was the duty of the other to come to his aid. What were David and Jonathan saying?
They were saying that "Because you and I are no longer living independent lives, but are in covenant and because covenant is the most solemn, binding agreement that can be made between two parties, I am bound by covenant to defend you from your enemies. Those who attack you become my enemies. Because of their covenant which was binding unto death, Jonathan committed to defend David at all costs, first Samuel recording his promise to David that….
If it please my father to do you harm, may the LORD do so to Jonathan and more also "covenant is death to one's self interests"!
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Note what love is compared to in 1Sa ! Husbands read how we are to love our wife! Eph note , if I do not make it known to you and send you away, that you may go in safety.
And may the LORD be with you as He has been with my father As an aside covenant partners pray a blessing upon the other party. Do you pray for your spouse daily? We see this principle of covenant defender later when Jonathan knowing that his father King Saul seeks to kill David, says to David "Go in safety, inasmuch as We have sworn to each other in the Name Name stands for all of the attributes of the LORD Notice Who Jonathan sees as the ultimate witness of their covenant!
Who had Saul been persecuting? He had been persecuting those in covenant the New Covenant in His blood - Jer , Lk , 1Co with the Lord Jesus Christ even "breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. And so we see that Scripture clearly teaches that those in covenant are responsible to defend their covenant partner. How important is this directive in the covenant of marriage in a culture which has lost the knowledge of this critical truth. In fact, tragically to often marriage partners instead of being covenant defenders become contentious attackers verbally and sometimes physically!
Beloved, this was not God's original design for marriage covenant. Ps As someone has well said, marriage is a perpetual test of our character! Are you as convicted as I am? How does a husband defend his covenant partner? As a husband I speak primarily to the men, but the principle is applicable to wives. There are many ways to answer this question but one that might surprise you is to read meditate on the profound little book of Ruth, observing especially how Boaz the kinsman redeemer interacts with Ruth the Moabitess.
Study the table on The Character of Boaz's Character along with the Scriptures and the comments , where you will notice first that Boaz was a "God saturated man" See also Ru note , Ru note , Ru note. As husbands we should pay very close attention to Ruth …. To humiliate. Husbands have you ever done that to your wife in public? And also you shall purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her. Marriages may be made in heaven, but man is responsible for the maintenance work!
Also pay careful attention to how Boaz treats Ruth in chapter 3 where he " covered " her and defended her honor Ru note , Ru note ; Ru note , Ru note , Ru note , much as did Joseph centuries later…. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been betrothed engagement or betrothal in Jesus' day could only be broken by divorce and so was as binding as the actual covenant of marriage!
To expose to public disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly. Mt ! In 1 Corinthians 13 we read God's convicting definition of love which is often read at marriage ceremonies. Notice that Paul's definition gives us a number of practical ways a husband can defend his covenant partner. Do you? Of course, I can hear you saying "No marriage partner could love like that continually! Indeed, while such excellent love is "impossible," it is "Him-possible! Then, throughout the day the Spirit of Jesus in us continually gives us the desire and the power to work out our salvation displaying divine love in fear and trembling.
Php note , Php NLT- note. And Who gets the glory when we display good works of divine-like love? God the Father! Matthew note. And remember the previous discussion is not meant to put you under the law but under grace. Even the best spouses cannot love continually like Paul describes in 1 Corinthians It follows that this description of Spirit enabled God-like love speaks not of "perfection" but of "direction.
Start creating and strengthening your Love Maps today! However, getting to know your partner better and sharing your inner self with them is an ongoing process. Remember, the more you know about each other, the more you feel a strong connection, and the more profound and rewarding your relationship will be. The Marriage Minute is an email newsletter from The Gottman Institute that will improve your marriage in 60 seconds or less.
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Love Map Exercise: Name my two closest friends. What was I wearing when we first met? Name one of my hobbies. What stresses am I facing right now? Describe in detail what I did today or yesterday. What is my fondest unrealized dream? What is one of my greatest fears or disaster scenarios? What is my favorite way to spend an evening?