· In Malachi 2:14, we find God’s view on marriage. In the context of this passage, God is reproving his people for profaning their marriage vows. He calls marriage a "covenant."
· In Proverbs 2:17, God calls marriage a "covenant."
· Ezekiel 16:8 says, “…when I saw you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you” … “spreading the corner of my garment” was a symbolic term for the marriage relationship. Then the Lord says, “I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you …”
Marriage, in God’s eyes, is a covenant alliance, but in western culture, we have little understanding of what that means. Coming to the marriage altar is not making a vow, even though we talk of “taking the marriage vows.” Marriage is a covenant, and there is a difference.
A vow may involve only one party. For instance, I can vow to lose ten pounds in time for my high school reunion. I can break that vow to myself. Or a vow may involve two or more and can be broken. But a covenant always involves two or more and is permanently binding. An oath is taken and the covenant is made, never to be broken. Our culture is a contract culture. Contracts are broken on every hand, with little thought to the integrity of one’s name on the dotted line.
The Hebrew word for covenant is berit. It literally meant “a cutting” and came to mean a contract, a will, a league, a testament, or a bond. In ancient cultures, a cutting of the skin actually took place and blood was exchanged to signify the seriousness of the bond (Gen. 15). Sometimes gifts were exchanged (Gen. 21:30) and/or a pile of stones set up (Gen. 31:53). When a couple stands before a minister and promises to live together in covenant until death parts them, that is a solemn occasion. Covenant is not to be taken lightly.
God created us for covenant relationships. Covenant is the avenue by which he has related to his people through the ages—Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses--and the New Covenant, which Jesus cut for us with his blood. Covenant provides the safe environment we need in order to grow and reach our full potential—free from all fear of rejection and betrayal. God designed us for permanent relationships. That’s why we are shattered over broken relationships, whether by death or divorce, or simply a misunderstanding between two parties in a relationship.
In the Jewish culture, even the betrothal or engagement period is secured in covenant. If we try to build a marriage-type relationship outside of covenant, we are very insecure. We build walls of emotional defense around ourselves. Intimacy is difficult, if not impossible.
Satan hates covenant. He will fight to destroy covenant relationships more than almost anything else. He wants to see Christian marriages topple. He hates intimate community among believers. He loves to stir up discord among believers. That is because he knows the power of the testimony of covenant relationships to the glory of God.
It is God's desire that we enter marriage understanding that it is a holy covenant, not to be broken. It is for our good, and the good of the Kingdom.