I am resending Bible Study HF048 - The Covenant of Marriage. It needed
editing. Here is a better copy. Please feel free to speak into this study.
The only Scripture in the Bible where you actually find the word 'covenant'
used in direct relationship to marriage, is at the closing of the former
testament. In response to man's cry as to why the Lord will not accept his
weeping and tears, the prophet says, "Because the Lord has been a
witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have
dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by
covenant." (Malachi 2:14)
How men treat their wives is singled out as a reason the Lord
refuses to answer their prayers. It seems Peter had this in mind,
when he said, "You husbands in the same way, live with your wives
in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a
woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so
that your prayers will not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)
So here we have our two witnesses as to how the Lord refuses to
bless a man where the the wife is being mistreated in some form.
However, Malachi points out that the man's attitude towards his
wife is only an indicator of a much deeper problem. The prophet
calls attention to the prevailing arrogance in the man that has
spilled over into all his life.
The following statements are lifted out of the book of Malachi.
Listen carefully. Man says, "The table of the Lord is defiled." "My, how
tiresome it is." "How have we robbed You?" "Why won't God accept my
offering with favor?" "Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the
Lord, and He delights in them?" "Where is the God of justice?" "It is vain
to serve the Lord!"
The reason I point this out is because these words are very much
in vogue today. There is a spirit of arrogance in our western
societies that has been the cause of the spiraling destruction of
marriage. How desperately we need to reorder our lives in the ways
of the Lord. And how desperately we need to get back to God's
ideal for the marriage. As one writer says, "Divorce and
unhappiness are the gravestones that pockmark the open fields of
the free society." (Maruice Camm; "The Jewish Way in Love and
While I stated earlier that Malachi is the one book that uses the
term 'covenant' in a direct tie to marriage, it is interesting to note
that the Bible opens and closes with scenes of the marriage. The first
marriage is between Adam and Eve. The last marriage is between Christ
and His Bride. These two marriage scenes tell the story of redemption.
And so we have a Bible that wraps itself around the marriage.
So is marriage a covenant? Yes. It is a covenant and much more.
The Biblical marriage is a divine picture of Christ and His Bride. But in
addition to that, the Biblical marriage speaks to us of the mystery of
Deity. In the marriage the wife can be likened to the Holy Spirit, and the
man to the Word of God. It takes both to produce life. But lets leave the
mystical to the side for now.
Part of our modern day problem is that we have drifted far from
God's program for marriage. But this problem did not begin
yesterday. It reaches far, far back to when the Church began to
lose her Biblical moorings, and began to take on a Latin-Greek
For example, where the Bible teaches the goodness of marriage,
the Latin based church began to take on the idea that marriage
was in itself a distraction from a deeper walk with God. The result
was monasticism and the eventual requirement of a celibate
priesthood. The problem with this picture is that celibacy is never
portrayed in the Scriptures as God's best for a deeper spiritual life. In
fact, one of the basic requirements to be a pastor is that the man had to
The truth of the matter is that marriage itself relates to things that are
deeply spiritual. This means that there are certain things that cannot be
discovered in a celibate life style. But the only way to make a marriage
work in its spiritual expressions is to return to its Biblical foundation.
(This is not an affront against someone who has the gift of celibacy. This
gift is from the Lord.)
God said that it was not good for man to be alone. And the very
first commandment given to man and woman in the Scripture is,
"Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it." (Genesis
So once again, is marriage a covenant? Most assuredly. Marriage
is the most sacred of covenants. In fact the Hebrew word for
marriage and the Hebrew word for holiness is the same word;
Marriage is the only covenant in the Bible that allows two people to be
perfectly joined in all areas of life, from the physical to the spiritual.
Where else but in marriage can we find such sacredness and dignity placed
Now let's consider some of the mystical side of marriage along with
God's ideal. In the very first marriage, which will always be God's
ideal for marriage, we find the Lord presenting Eve to Adam. Does
it not say that, "House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers,
but a prudent wife is from the Lord." (Proverbs 19:14)
For the mystical side we have this truth that the Church is a gift of the
Father to the Son. When Christ came out of the overshadowing of the cross,
He saw His bride. Jesus said, "All that the Father gives Me will come to
Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out." (John
When Eve is presented before Adam, we hear Adam say, "This is
now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called
woman, because she was taken out of man." (Genesis 2:23)
Adam's role was to draw Eve to himself. Adam's role was to drive
Eve's fears away. Adam's role was to let her know of his love and his
protection, and that she was now sanctified to him. On the mystical
side, this is what Christ does for the Church. On the marriage side, this
is what men are to do for their wives.
Paul said, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the
church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her,
having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He
might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or
wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So
husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who
loves his own wife loves himself." (Ephesians 5:25-28)
This statement by Paul shows us why the Lord will not bless a
man who mistreats his wife. Every woman is designed to be a gift
to some man. But she is ultimately a gift from the Lord. The gift is to
be cherished, loved, and cared for. This is covenant. Two lives become
one. And while it seems we are putting the greater responsibility on the
man, this is because he has the greater responsibility. God designed the
woman to be weaker in some things, so that she could fit the marriage in
her proper role.
To take this a step further, can the marriage covenant be
considered a blood covenant? After all, there are various covenants
given throughout the Bible, and not all of them are blood covenants. Again
we see the mystical side of marriage. God gave the woman a hymen that was
designed to be broken in the first act of intercourse. In the breaking of
the hymen there is the letting of blood. Thus the Lord built into marriage
the blood covenant.
Surely this ideal has been set aside today, and even mocked. But
it should go without saying, that the man and woman who will keep
themselves sexually pure before marriage, are able to bring into
their marriage something to be treasured. You can only have one
'first time' covenant marriage.
Where does this leave a second or third marriage? Certainly these
marriages miss God's best, but so does any area of our lives where
sin has worked a defilement. Divorce is not the unpardonable sin.
What the enemy is able to destroy, the Lord is able to more than
redeem. Paul said, "Where sin increased, grace abounded all the
more." (Romans 5:20)
Men and women who come to Christ are not to walk in
condemnation because of sin that destroyed a prior marriage. Sin
is in the world. God's provision for all our sins is Christ and the
cross. And in the case of a remarriage, any marriage can be born
again in Christ.
The best example we have for the problem of multiple marriages is
the woman at the well. Jesus went out of His way to minister to
this one person. Isn't it odd how people who've been divorced and
then remarry get beat up so much? Not so with Jesus. Notice that
Jesus drew attention to the fact that this lady had been married five
times, and was then simply living with a man. Did he tell her to go back
to one of her other husbands? No. He simply told her how to get her life
It wasn't a matter of the Lord approving all her past marriages. It
was a matter of the Lord seeing her as a person damaged by sin.
Nor did he tell her that she would have to wait in line behind all the
people who had been married but once, before He could bless her. He simply
said, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give
Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living
water." (John 4:10)
What then is our need? Our marriages need to have an abundant
flow of living water. There is no greater love that a man can have for a
woman than that of loving her with the love of Christ. This love
transcends all other loves and gives the Biblical marriage its true
strength. So it is with the woman. While romantic love is certainly a part
of marriage, it is not the kind of love that bonds the marriage in
covenant. Only the love of Christ can do that.
In closing there is one more picture to be seen. The ancient
marriage covenant had two parts. They were called 'kiddushin' and
'nissiun.' Kiddushin was the betrothal of the woman to the man.
Today we call this the engagement period. For the ancients it had
a much deeper spiritual significance. The woman was considered
married but had not yet been taken to the husband's home.
This is the stage of marriage that the church is in with regard to Christ.
Paul said, "For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I
betrothed you to one husband, so that in Christ I might present you as a
pure virgin." (2 Corinthians 11:2)
Paul was speaking as a Hebrew man, and had the ancient Hebrew marriage in
view. For the Hebrew people, the completed marriage was called nissiun.
Nissiun speaks of elevation, or the lifting up. This is where we get the
'lifting of the veil', and even the carrying of the bride over the
threshold. For the Church, the nissiun takes place at the second coming of
Jesus uses these two aspects of the ancient marriage in his
sharing with the disciples in John 14, where He says, "In My
father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would
have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a
place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I
am, there you may be also." (John 14:2,3)
Yes, marriage is a covenant. Think about it.
"See to it that no one comes short of the grace
of God; that no root of bitterness springing up
causes trouble, and by it many be defiled." (Heb12:15)