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Bible verses about Marriage Covenant
(From Forerunner Commentary)

A covenant is a contract, an agreement, between two parties. When God is one of those parties, it is a very serious contract, a sacred agreement. In fact, God looked at the Old Covenant as a "marriage" contract between Himself and Israel. Through the prophet Jeremiah, He tells Israel, "I am married to you" (Jeremiah 3:14). He considered Israel to be His wife! Almost a millennium after the covenant's ratification, Jeremiah quotes God as He remembers the events of Mount Sinai: "the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness" (Jeremiah 2:2).

In Ezekiel 16:8, the prophet Ezekiel, quoting God, connects the Old Covenant with marriage:

When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part Three): The Old Covenant


 

Deuteronomy 7:2-4   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This particular point of obedience is especially interesting because it is the first thing mentioned about our faithfulness to Him. This passage bans Israel from making covenants with the people of the land. Among covenants are marriage unions. A marriage is a covenant to be special treasures to each other and therefore faithful to each other. As we continue in the chapter, verses 4 and 6 begin with the conjunction "for," which tells us why something is to be done or is forbidden.

Here, unlike some other situations, He provides a brief reason or two why this is forbidden. In short, in verse 4, covenants—including marriages with the heathen—are banned because it is too spiritually dangerous. It is similar to playing with fire—the Lake of Fire. Interreligious marriages will work to destroy the special faithfulness to each other.

In verse 6, God's reason is that they—and we—are a special, set apart people for God's uses only. Entering covenants with the heathen, including marriage and honoring their gods, will work to destroy the special relationship. In other words, it will work to destroy our faithfulness to God and therefore our ability to proclaim God's praises.

Do we love God enough that we are willing to heed His commands, or do we love ourselves more than Him, making us willing to risk what He says not to do? Marrying outside the faith is a matter of idolatry.

The perspective through which we look at these things in the course of daily life makes all the difference in the world. A common way of illustrating this is to ask whether we consider the glass half-full or half-empty. Do we think of God's calling as a blessing that has opened a door to a fabulous eternity? Or, do we feel it bars us from areas of fulfillment, excitement, adventure, and fun in life, excluding us from those who have access to all the pleasure and glory this world can produce?

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Priceless Gift


 

Nehemiah 9:13-17   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The record is clear. Israel rejected God and His way right from the beginning of their relationship. They not only rejected Him and His way but also became a major vehicle for facilitating the spread of the false ways of the heathen all over the world. Modern Israel has followed the same path as her ancestors. As Israel migrated into and through northwestern Europe and settled into the lands God had set aside for them, becoming wealthy, she has given the world a poisonous cultural brew to drink, influencing them through the power of her example. She has the wealth to enable her people to export it to other nations for their consumption and inevitable emulation.

God calls Israel's sins "fornication" because sexual sins are the most common way unfaithfulness in marriage is revealed to the public. Everybody can relate to it. However, the real spiritual sin behind all these sexual terms is gross idolatry. Israel simply did whatever she wanted to do, whenever and however she wanted to do it. The harlotry implied is clearly the breaking of the terms of the marriage covenant. Her harlotry is unfaithfulness and disloyalty, which are spiritual in nature. Her sin is primarily idolatry, but all other sins are included.

Israelites were unfaithful in conducting business both domestically and internationally, unfaithful in managing God's great, green earth, unfaithful in forgetting who their great blessings came from, and unfaithful in the way they treated one another in their personal marriages.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Seven): How Can Israel Be the Great Whore?


 

Jeremiah 3:1   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God uses the example of a man who divorces his wife, and then she marries another man. At some point, she decides she does not like her second husband and returns to her first husband. The law of God in the Pentateuch forbids such a thing. However, God is saying that His approach is this: His mercy is so great that, even under such a circumstance, He will forgive His wife and accept her back. The subject is marriage and divorce, in this case between God and Israel.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love and Works


 

Ezekiel 6:9   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

There is a lot of emotion in the word "broken." The marginal reference for it gives "crushed." God says, "I am crushed." This is how He felt in the rejection He received from Israel within this marriage.

The idols represent what she greatly desired, and as the context clearly shows, what she greatly desired, God (her Husband) prohibited.

This "whoring" is their fickle drive. They were always curious about how others did things. They were always ready for excitement in some new thing and ever willing to experience a variety of things. Almost always what she chased after was outside the guidelines that God gave in His commands, but to her His commands always appeared to be denying her pleasure.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 7)


 

Ezekiel 16:13-14   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Notice that, though described as a woman, she is in reality a nation that other nations admire. Israel's marriage to God bound her to keep His laws (Exodus 19:8), but she was not faithful. Harlotry entered the relationship. From this point on in the relationship, her harlotry—the fornication and adultery of the woman—is either implied or directly stated in virtually every remaining verse in Ezekiel 16.

The liberal Interpreter's Bible Commentary says that Israel is portrayed as a wife who became a pagan temple-prostitute. That is a possibility, but the conservative commentaries seem to be more correct. She is portrayed as an unfaithful wife whose faithlessness is displayed in a far wider range of activities than just worship. Israel, the nation and wife, is unfaithful in every area and activity of life in which a faithful wife/nation would normally be involved.

Her sins are described in sexual terms because sexual sins are the most common way infidelity in marriage is shown to the public. Everybody can relate to it. Despite the commands of her Husband, Israel simply did whatever she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it, and how she wanted to do it. Amidst the business of daily life, she simply ignored or completely forgot the vows of faithfulness given in former years to God.

The harlotry implied is clearly the breaking of the terms of the marriage covenant. Her harlotry is unfaithfulness, disloyalty, and is primarily spiritual in nature. The most ruinous spiritual sin behind these sexual terms is gross idolatry, but all other sins are included. Israel was unfaithful in managing God's green earth and in conducting business both domestically and internationally. She revealed her infidelity in the wreckage of millions of her citizen's marriages and child-training practices. She showed herself faithless when her people lied to, stole from, lusted after, and murdered each other. She proved herself to be disloyal and ungrateful by forgetting from whom came her great blessings and worshipping things made rather than the Creator who made them.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Five): The Great Harlot


 

Hosea 1:2   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Hosea's dominant theme is Israel's faithlessness in contrast to God's patience, mercy, and faithfulness. The prophet is especially creative in metaphorically describing Israel's spiritual condition and relationship with God. He introduces two dominant ones in the book's second verse.

The primary metaphor is Israel as a faithless wife, and the second is Israel as a child of adultery or faithlessness. A child is the fruit or product of a relationship. Hosea implies that Israel, as a child of an adulterous relationship, manifests its characteristics because the next generation tends to continue the traits of the former and perhaps even increase their effects. A primary characteristic of adultery is faithlessness.

In the first metaphor, God is a faithful husband, and in the second, a loving and long-suffering parent. Israel is faithless in carrying out her responsibilities in both cases. God bluntly calls her actions adultery, harlotry, or whoredom because she did not fulfill the duties she had promised in a contract, a covenant. In more intimate terms, this contract is a marriage.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Seventh Commandment (1997)


 

Hosea 7:16   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

A "deceitful bow" is one that gives every appearance of being good and true to its purpose until it is put to the test. In the pressure of battle, it does not shoot arrows where the archer aims them. This illustration is a good one in many ways of God's marriage relationship with Israel. He describes her as being a very beautiful woman, full of promise, who eagerly entered into marriage with Him, vowing to Him in Exodus 24:7, where they said, following the reiteration of all of terms of the covenant: "All that You have said, we will do." It is just as if they said at the altar, "I do." But when she was put to the test—the test of life—she did not behave like a beautiful wife. She quickly broke her vows to be submissive to Him and Him only, and unfaithfully behaved worse than a common street harlot.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 6)


 

Amos 3:1-2   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This encompasses God's relationship to Israel. It is the only nation in the history of mankind that God has had an intimate, close, personal relationship with. The relationship was so close that He portrays it as a marriage—one that was altered, broken by divorce, as Jeremiah 3 says. However, He has made it clear that, despite Israel's whoredoms, His faithfulness to His promises remains unbroken because of His grace, and He will move to rescue Israel from its stubborn blindness.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 2)


 

Amos 3:1-3   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Can two exist in a marriage relationship where one is constantly unfaithfully acting as a harlot? Yet, of all the nations that have existed on the earth, the only one that God made a covenant with did this to Him. God entered into no other relationship with any other nation in all of the history of mankind.

A person may have many friends, many family members, many business friends, fraternal friends, professional relationships, but by biblical standards for marriage, it is one spouse until death. God and Israel's relationship involved an intimacy normally associated only within marriage. Yes, God had relationships with other nations, but none even close to what He had with Israel. It was favored with gifts greater than any nation because of that intimacy, but perhaps the greatest gift of all was the revelation of God Himself, the knowledge of His purpose, and how to live life at its fullest. But because of these gifts, Israel's responsibility and deviancy was also the greatest on earth: great Jerusalem, great deviancy. The gift had never been given to any other people on earth.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 5)


 

Amos 3:1-2   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This statement of relationship is vital to Babylon's end-time identification. Only Israel of all nations has been coupled to God through a binding covenant likened to a marriage. A marriage covenant implies an intimacy limited only to those making the covenant. Israel alone of all nations has rightly earned the title "the Great Whore," as she alone came to know God through His revelation of Himself to her. In the biblical sense, a whore is a woman unfaithful to a covenant or to revealed standards. Israel alone had God's way of life so intimately revealed to her.

No other nation in all the history of mankind entered into a covenant with Him, vowing that all He said she would do. Thus, she alone of all nations was unfaithful to that exclusive union. God provides many proofs of her unfaithfulness and records of how He dealt with it in the prophetic and historical books. The biblical facts, when combined with the external evidence of history, point to end-time Israel. Most reading this article live in Israel and are commanded to come out of end-time Babylon, thus the concern over the Great Harlot's identification.

A number of times during the course of these articles, Babylon has been referred to as a "system." Babylon is a system, an anti-God way of doing things, but it is characterized most specifically in a particular nation. This nation, the focus of the Babylonian system and the one that most effectively influences other nations to follow it, is also identified as "Babylon." Thus, Babylon is both. Protestant commentaries, however, almost unanimously refer to Babylon as a system.

Some evangelical Protestant organizations focus a considerable amount of attention to biblical prophecy, but most of them are weak in several areas of understanding. Perhaps the most glaringly important is the identity of modern Israel - almost all of them say Israel is limited to the Jews. Their interpretations of prophecy, then, are slanted toward that tiny, New-Jersey-sized, Middle Eastern nation of less than ten million people. They overlook almost entirely that, at the time of the scattering, the twelve tribes of Israel were two distinct nations, each having its own land, capital city, and government.

The ten-tribed nation of Israel in the north, dominated by the Joseph tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh, had its capital city in Samaria. It can be claimed that the name "Israel" belongs to these two Joseph tribes because Jacob ordained Ephraim and Manasseh to carry it (Genesis 48:16). To the south of Israel, the remaining two tribes, Judah and Benjamin - thereafter called the Jews - had their capital city in Jerusalem. II Kings 16-18 makes this two-nation fact clear. Both nations also had the priestly tribe, Levi, scattered among them, for the Levites were never given land to support themselves.

When God's time to act came in the eighth century bc, He strengthened and sent the Assyrian nation to conquer the northern ten tribes. The Israelites were taken into captivity, became assimilated amongst their conquerors, and migrated with them as time went on. Israel never returned to be reunited with the Jews. History combined with biblical clues places them in northern and northwest Europe, and also in the colonies the Anglo-Saxon peoples established in other parts of the world.

However, God dealt somewhat differently with the Jews. At the end of the seventh century bc, He raised up and sent the Babylonian nation to conquer and take the Jews into captivity. However, after 70 years, because of prophecies involving the coming Messiah to come out of Judah, a remnant of Jews returned to Judea, reestablishing themselves as a nation in Palestine.

Two thousand six hundred years later, at the time of the end, we find Israelitish people scattered all over the world and a small number of Jews back in the ancestral homeland God originally gave to all the tribes of Israel.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Ten): Babylon the Great Is a Nation


 

Amos 3:2   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The basis of God's accusation and judgment against the people of Israel is their special relationship. From the beginning of His dealings with them, God has stressed their higher responsibility because of their knowledge of Him (Deuteronomy 4:5-10).

As used here, known can be cognitive, involving the thinking process, or it can be relational, indicating experience with someone else. The word is used in this latter sense in Genesis 4:1: "Adam knew Eve his wife." He had an intimate, caring relationship with her. So with God. Of all the world's nations, He had been intimate only with Israel, watching over and caring for her in a very personal way (Ezekiel 16:1-14). Israel was so dear to Him that He called her "the apple of His eye" (Deuteronomy 32:10)!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part One)


 

Amos 3:2-3   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God entered into no other like relationship with any other nation or people in all the history of mankind.

A person may have many friends, many family members, many business, fraternal, and professional relationships, but the biblical standard for marriage is one spouse until death. The relationship God entered into with Israel—and now with us—involved an intimacy normally associated only within marriage. Yes, God had relationships with other nations and people, but none even close to what He entered into with Israel and us. We are favored with gifts greater than any other nation or people because of that intimacy. Our judgment is therefore sterner.

Perhaps the greatest gift of all is the revelation of God Himself and the knowledge of His purpose and how to live life at its fullest. But because of these gifts, Israel's responsibility and deviancy were also the greatest on earth. This is the basis for understanding Israel to be the Great Whore of the Bible.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Seven): How Can Israel Be the Great Whore?


 

Matthew 19:8-9   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Notice what Jesus did in this instance: He leap-frogged over Deuteronomy 24, which covers divorce and remarriage and sets a foundation of principles from which divorce-and-remarriage decisions can be made. Jesus skipped right over this passage in the midst of Israel's civil law. In fact, He skipped over the whole Old Covenant, reaching all the way back to Genesis 2 for His authority for a judgment regarding marriage and divorce.

There is instruction here. Even though God permitted them to divorce and remarry because of their unconversion (hardness of heart), the higher and greater authority—the standard—where God originally established His intention. This is a clear example from Christ: The higher and greater authority lies in God's originally established intention.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 19)


 

Matthew 26:27-28   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In "Are You Drinking of the Master's Cup?" (Forerunner, March 1999), the author tells of an ancient Hebrew tradition: When a young man and woman were to be betrothed (engaged) for marriage, the groom poured wine into his cup and invited the woman to drink of it. The choice was hers: If she drank from it, she was considered betrothed to the young man. She was agreeing to experience all the things that his life entailed, the good as well as the bad. When the woman drank of the cup, she drank of the marriage covenant and accepted it. Paul refers to this when he tells the church in II Corinthians 11:2: "For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."

As Jesus sat at His last Passover with His disciples, He poured wine into His cup and blessed it, telling the disciples, "Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:27-28). By literally drinking from His cup, they each accepted the terms of the New Covenant. It was a symbolic betrothal or engagement of the church, the Israel of God, to Christ. This is part of what we commemorate with each Passover service—our spiritual engagement to Christ, which will culminate with the marriage feast after He returns (Revelation 19:9).

Before we were called out of this world, we all walked according to the course of the world (Ephesians 2:2-3). We were the sons and daughters of disobedience, conducting ourselves in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and mind. We drank from the cup of Babylon by ingesting a false religion and the culture around us that God says is filthiness (Revelation 17:1-6; 18:1-6).

This is why God tells us to come out of Babylon—so that we do not share the sins in her promiscuous cup and the consequences that God promises He will pour out upon her.

Formerly, we were slaves to sin and its consequences. Now, under the New Covenant, we drink from Christ's cup and agree to His terms. This frees us from the death penalty of sin as well as making us responsible to remain faithful to this spiritual engagement.

Paul warns us that God is jealous toward His people, and that they must choose to whom they will be loyal: "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?" (I Corinthians 10:21-22).

It is plain that we must make a choice: We either drink of the cup of Christ and remain faithful to our commitment, or we drink of the cup of demons and the sinful system they rule. These two cups are mutually exclusive. We cannot have both!

If we have drunk from Christ's cup, can we continue to sip from the cup of this world's culture or its false religious system? Can we drink of His cup, accepting His proposal for marriage, and still have intimate interactions with Babylon? Even in our morally debased secular world, this would be grounds for nullifying that covenant of future marriage.

David C. Grabbe
Strange Women (Part Three)


 

Matthew 26:28   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

According to tradition, when a young Hebrew man and woman were to be betrothed, the groom poured wine into his cup and invited the woman to drink of it. It was up to her. If she drank from it, she was considered betrothed to him. If she did not, no marriage would take place. Paul tells the church in II Corinthians 11:2: "For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." When the bride drank of the cup, she drank of the marriage covenant or contract, accepting it.

Understanding this symbolism, it is no wonder that Jesus tells His disciples in Matthew 26:28, "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." As we drink of His cup, we accept His invitation to be betrothed to Him and to be forgiven of our sins so we can be like He is—sinless, spotless, and without fault in His presence at the Marriage Supper.

Yet it means far more! Remember that "drinking the cup" meant to accept whatever that cup represented. When the mother of James and John approaches Jesus with her request to have her sons sit on each side of Jesus when He came into His Kingdom, Jesus replies with a question:

But Jesus answered and said, "You do not know what you ask. Are you [James and John] able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They said to Him, "We are able." (Matthew 20:22)

They do not take the cue from Jesus that they may have to drink more than they care to swallow! They answer affirmatively before they realize what Christ's cup contained. Jesus continues in verse 23:

So He said to them, "You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on my right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father."

What happened to them? James the son of Zebedee was the first apostle martyred, early on by Herod (Acts 12:2). Though John was the longest-lived of the twelve, apparently living nearly 100 years, he certainly suffered greatly at the hands of persecutors. Not only did he spend many years in exile on the Isle of Patmos, one tradition says he miraculously survived being boiled in oil! Beyond this, he had to watch the church disintegrate through apostasy and persecution.

Part of what Jesus' cup entails is suffering. When we drink of His cup, we are saying we are willing to suffer with Him and experience with Him whatever He ordains for us. We symbolically pledge that we are willing to walk down the same path He walked, with similar consequences.

We do not just drink the wine at Passover—we drink "of the cup" of Passover, meaning we are proclaiming our willingness to share in similar trials as Jesus did. We proclaim we are willing to endure whatever He has appointed for us as our lot.

We are also identifying ourselves with Him exclusively: We are cupbearers to the King of kings and to Him only. Psalm 16:5 says, "O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; you maintain my lot." The Eternal is our cup! Do we grasp the meaning of this? We cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). We cannot simultaneously identify with Christ and Satan. Our lives, our actions, our words, our thoughts, continuously announce which is our father, God in heaven or Satan. Drinking of Jesus' cup means to live His way of life and renounce Satan's ways.

Staff
Are You Drinking of the Master's Cup?


 

John 17:21-23   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Notice how many time He says "may be." The English word "may" implies possibilities—permission for a thing to occur, not its certainty.

In other words, Jesus' prayer shows that those in a covenant with God will have to desire unity in the same way that God does. It is a possibility that we can have it. We have permission to have it, but it is not certain yet. That unity hangs in the balance, depending on the way that we react within the relationship. Thus, He is praying that it will happen, but it is a "maybe."

The reason we need to desire unity in the same way God does is so that we can prepare for it by doing God's will, by exercising faith. Then we will be prepared to live in the same way that He does for all eternity with Him.

A husband and wife cannot be one unless they are both prepared to live the same way as the other and to make any sacrifices that might be necessary to blend the lives together. So when they marry, their union is a "maybe." The possibility exists if the two will make the efforts to make the "maybe" absolute. As Christians, we must desire this unity enough to make the right choices and sacrifices to marry Jesus Christ in His Kingdom. It is not a "done deal" yet!

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 3)


 

Romans 1:24-32   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The apostle's words are playing out openly in our daily news as marriage loses its traditional value in this society. In this passage, Paul describes the current generation—how men have rejected God's will and supplanted it with gross idolatry and how they have become lovers of themselves, exalting the creation and their desires above the Creator. With this foundation and with God allowing mankind to pursue its own course for the present, human nature desires to remake all of God's institutions in its own image, and the marriage covenant is in its cross-hairs.

Marriage and family are the foundations of any healthy society, and these two bedrocks of civilization are slowly being dismantled before our eyes. When these foundations, which God formed in righteousness, are weakened further, it will prepare for a different foundation—one formed in unrighteousness to support the coming of the lawless one, the son of perdition, as II Thessalonians 2:3-10 foretells.

Marriage and family were undefiled when God gave them as a gift to mankind before sin entered the world. In Genesis 2:18, God enacted the first social foundation for mankind: "And the LORD God said, 'It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.'" Then, in verse 24, God sanctifies Adam's relationship with Eve by declaring that the two would be joined together as one flesh, that a man and his wife should leave mother and father, cling to each other, and become their own family unit. In other words, marriage was dignified and defined by God as a joining of one man and one woman.

Why did God do it this way? He could have just kept on creating one man after another to populate the earth. It was unlikely that He would run out of the dust of the earth. However, He made them male and female for a reason.

The prophet Malachi reveals a major reason why God created man and woman to become one flesh. The answer is part of God's castigation of Judah for tolerating easy divorce laws. In Malachi 2:11, He says that by doing so, the Jews had profaned the holy institution of marriage that God so dearly loves.

Yet you say, "For what reason [are you angry]?" Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. "For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one's garment with violence," says the LORD of hosts. (verses 14-16)

Because He wants godly children, God made humans male and female. Within the structure of a proper, married family life, strong in unity and free from worries of separation, it would produce the best results.

From this comes a second reason why God made them male and female. With the blessing of children, God has bestowed on mankind the gift of allowing parents to become His partners in His creative works by rearing children who are prepared to answer His calling. This spiritual reproductive process will one day bring many sons and daughters into God's Family. This realization places families and marriage far above what most in the world consider them to be. It elevates them to a moral level unrecognizable in this world of sin.

The wisdom and depths of love that God has for mankind are beyond our abilities to know fully, but it is clear that marriage and family are prominent in God's plan. Any changes to the divine structure are an affront to God and His plan. Marriage is of divine origin, and changes to it are nothing less than man's rebellion against his Creator.

James Beaubelle
The Sacredness of Marriage


 

Hebrews 4:2   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God says through the apostle Paul in I Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." God does not want to lose us. Yet, He is creating His holy, righteous character in us. For that to be done, He must put us through tests and, in a sense, take the risk that He will lose us in one of them. He also lets the leash out, as it were, little by little, increasing the intensity of the tests as years go by. In this way, we experience life together with Him.

Herein is exposed the weakness of the Old Covenant. Romans 8:3 tells us that the law "was weak through the flesh." The marriage covenant between God and Israel was entered into before the qualities necessary for a successful union were ever developed in the Israelites. God called the children of Israel out of Egypt, took them to Mount Sinai, and then He proposed to them. In three days, the marriage was entered into, and Israel became God's (see Exodus 19-24). It was a marriage doomed to divorce from the very beginning, illustrating that no person—even one as great as God—can create a successful marriage if the other party does not agree, refusing to walk with them or to conform to recognized standards. Despite God's lovingkindness and patience, Israel never trusted Him! That is what Hebrews 4:2 says.

However, the New Covenant solves this problem! These matters will be ironed out before the covenant is completed, which will not happen until the Marriage Supper of the Lamb—not until the children of God are resurrected. Then two who are "on equal footing," let us say, will marry. They will have experienced life together over long periods of time and will have come to know and trust one another. They will know each other's actions and reactions—the other's mind and heart—and a trust will have been built that will enable the marriage to succeed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love's Emotional Dimension


 

Revelation 19:7-8   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints. Consider that the marriage analogy carries right through from the Old Covenant into the New. Under the New Covenant, the church is seen as a bride preparing for marriage.

There is a major difference, however, between the Old and New Covenant marriage analogies. In the Old Covenant, when Israel agreed to God's proposal, and Moses performed the ritual described in Exodus 24, they were married. When we enter into the New Covenant, we are not married yet. We are like a bride preparing for marriage, even though we have already agreed to the New Covenant. God has made this change to resolve the weakness of the first covenant, which will be eradicated before the actual ceremony and union take place.

Revelation 19 is the announcement that the bride is now ready and the marriage can take place. There are four things that a marriage relationship must have to really be successful:

1) A marriage must have love. A loveless marriage is a contradiction in terms.

2) A marriage must have intimate communion—so intimate that the bride and groom become one flesh. The two become one.

3) A marriage should have joy. This will be a natural result if love exists in the marriage. The joy of loving and being loved is like nothing else.

4) A marriage must have fidelity, loyalty, and faithfulness. No marriage can last without it.

The weakness of the first covenant will be resolved—eradicated—before the actual ceremony and union take place. This time, Christ will be married to a wife who has already proved that she loves Him, that she is capable of intimate communication, that she is happy with Him as her Husband, and that she is faithful in every aspect of her life.

Notice how attention is drawn to her preparations, as well as her righteous acts. Could her righteous acts have anything to do with the preparation? Absolutely. Could it have anything to do with her being qualified? Absolutely. Works—her righteous acts—are represented here.

We should not be misled into thinking that her deeds, her righteous acts, have earned her salvation. All through the Bible, it maintains a delicate balance between grace (what is given) and obedience (the proper response). Here, that balance is shown by the wife's garments being granted to her. She has worked, but the gift is still given.

It takes work to make a marriage successful. It takes work to make our relationship with God successful. If we do the right kind of works, there is no doubt that the relationship will be successful, and God will be well pleased with us. And we will enter His Kingdom.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love and Works


 

 




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