Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
I want to talk about a word that people do not use these days: covenant. A covenant, as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, as “God’s Word
Merriam-Webster defines the covenant as “a solemn agreement between believers to act together in harmony with the precepts of God’s Word”. Let’s break that definition down. “A solemn agreement…” is an agreement that one makes after much thought, prayer, and consideration of all implications associated with that agreement. In other words, this is an agreement that should not be entered into lightly. Most Bible teaching pastors who conduct wedding ceremonies make this issue plain to the couple getting married. I remember when my cousin got married back in 2003. The pastor who married her and her husband talked to them about the fact that this is not anything to play around with…marriage is work and selflessness and unselfishness and more work and giving in when you think you are right and giving up your own rights when you know that you have every right not to…I was so excited, because I had never heard it talked about like that, and I felt like so many of us who were there needed to hear that. “Between believers…” is where it gets sticky. Only believers, true born again Christians, believers in the LORD Jesus Christ, who are indwelt by His Holy Spirit will understand what a covenant really is and what is implied by entering into a covenant. The Bible says in Romans 1:21, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Their hearts were darkened because they did not know the LORD; His Spirit did not live in their spirits. They did not UNDERSTAND, because there is no way a person can understand the ways of God without His Spirit living within them. So, now we know who the true believers are: folks who have the Spirit of God living in them. Ephesians 4:17-18 says “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart…” The Apostle Paul, who is the earthly author of the book of Ephesians, says here that we should not walk as the other Gentiles walk. The Gentiles were the people who were not Israelites, and were not God’s chosen people. They were those outside of a relationship with the LORD unless they purposely chose to believe in God. The same thing is true today. We are born Gentiles and the only way we can be in relationship with the LORD and have the understanding that we need is to purposely have a relationship with Him by repenting of our sins and surrendering our lives and wills to Him. “To act together in harmony with the precepts of God’s Word” is something that only people who have His Spirit indwelling them can do. Unbelievers cannot and do not care about acting together in harmony with the precepts of His Word. Unbelievers only care about doing what they want to do, when they want to do it, and how they want to do it. Unbelievers do not care about keeping promises or even telling the truth. As a matter of fact, today truth is subjective to the world! There is no way that an unbeliever can appreciate the implications of a “covenant”.
All that said, this is for believers only. The covenant is an agreement made to act in harmony with the tenets of God’s Word, in obedience to God’s Word, subjecting oneself to God’s Word in submission to God’s Word. A covenant is, as I have taught my children, a promise that cannot be broken. God made a covenant with Abraham. In Genesis 12:2-3, God told Abraham, “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” God made this promise to Abraham, and to this day, He has not broken this promise. God reiterated this promise to Abraham’s son, Isaac in Genesis 26:3-5: “I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed…Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws…” God did the same thing with Jacob, Isaac’s son, in Genesis 28:3-4: “God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.” God also said to Jacob: “And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.” (Genesis 35:11-12).
From that time until now, God has kept the COVENANT that he made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He made that promise to them, and regardless of what they did, He will not go back on His promise. So, why is it, when people don’t do exactly what we want done, we think it is ok to go back on our promises? Why do we think it is ok to break the covenant that we made with the people we say we love?
Abraham sinned before God. He lied to Abimelech about Sarah being his sister. He thought that Abimelech would want to take Sarah for his own wife, so to protect himself, he lied and said she was his sister. (She WAS his sister, but she was also his wife, and the marital relationship supersedes any other relationship.) In spite of that fact, God kept the covenant with Abraham. Isaac played favorites with his two sons, and gave the blessing to the “wrong” son. (We know that God’s providence was at play here, so it was not a mistake that Jacob received Isaac’s blessing.) In spite of that, God kept His covenant with Isaac. Jacob sinned before God by tricking his brother Esau out of his birthright, playing favorites between his two wives, and playing favorites within his twelve sons, by preferring his two sons with Rachel over the rest of his sons. He also did not do a good job of parenting his daughter, Dinah, who became close friends with some of the Canaanite women, became involved in a physical relationship with a man named Shechem, and wound up being the cause of all the men of Shechem being killed by her older brothers. Despite all of this, God kept His covenant with Jacob. God loved Jacob, and eventually, He changed Jacob’s name to Israel. Despite all of that, God kept His covenant with Jacob. If God kept His covenant with the people that He loved, despite all the times and ways that they sinned against Him, how is it that we think it is okay for us not to keep the covenant that we made with Him and the ones that we say we love?
Marriage is the covenant of which I speak. When two people marry, they make a covenant. They promise God and the person that they marry that they will stay together until death. This is a promise that has been broken at least 50% of the time in America, if you follow the statistics on divorce. Now, I don’t expect unbelievers to keep their promises. I don’t expect for those who do not know the LORD Jesus Christ in a personal relationship to keep the promises that they make. They are not being guided by the same directives as those of us who know the LORD. They live for themselves; they have not surrendered their lives to the LORD. But those of us who know Jesus, who believe He suffered and died for us, have His Spirit inside of us and we are led by His Spirit. We are convicted when we sin against Him. We are burdened when we make a promise to the LORD and break it. We are willing to do whatever we need to do to please Him because we love Him and thank Him for the sacrifice that He made for us on the cross. If that is the case, and I know it is, how are we, the believers, walking away from the covenant of marriage as if it doesn’t mean anything to God?
I am burdened for marriages in the church of Jesus Christ, not only because my own marriage is in peril, but because I know too many other people whose marriages are also suffering. I know others whose marriages have ended in divorce. My own marriage is more than likely going to end in divorce based on the hardness of my husband’s heart. My husband was chastened by the LORD, but came out of the chastening a bitter, harsh, cruel man. I know now that the reason he is so bitter and cruel is because he has never surrendered his life to the LORD. He has never confessed his sins to the Father. He has never humbled himself before the LORD. He did an okay job of fooling me, but he never fooled the Father. After years of living a double life, his sins were exposed, and the activity in which he was involved has wrought great spiritual warfare on my children and myself. He is living in sin, still pretending to be a Christian, out in the open in the church (if you want to call it a church) and the pastor of his church has gone along with his sin! What has happened to the covenant?
I repeat that teaching on the covenant is a foreign concept in the era in which we live. No one cares about the promises that we make to God and to others. No one cares about how one’s sin affects others around them. No one cares that the husband or the wife who breaks the covenant is not only in sin, but they have broken the heart of God, the heart of their spouse, and the hearts of any children involved. The covenant is a powerful, important issue in the body of Christ and we are ignoring it.
Pastors, teachers, leaders, elders…let’s get back to talking about the COVENANT!!!!!!!!!!