We commonly talk about covenants. We may be discussing the covenants in a homeowners association or it could be in our marriage. The Bible overflows with discussion of covenants. God made a covenant with Noah that He would never again destroy the world by water. He made a covenant with Abraham that in his descendants all the world would be blessed and that God would make of him a great nation. The law that God gave to Israel centered in the Ten Commandments is called a covenant. Jeremiah declared that God was going to make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Jacob unlike the covenant He had made with their fathers when He took the by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. This New Covenant wouldn’t be written on tablets of stone but on the hearts of the people. In Hebrews 8 God said that Jeremiah’s prophesy had been fulfilled and the New Covenant is here.
But I want to focus on a different covenant than any of these. In Malachi chapters two and three the prophet mentions a covenant several times but one time it is unique. In telling the people why God was not accepting their sacrifices and worship to Him God said they were filling the altar with tears and growning. When they asked the question, ‘How are we defiling the altar?” Malachi’s charge is that you have left the wife of your youth and gone after the daughters of foreign gods to marry. God tells them He has been a witness of their marriage and He is the one who made them one. God then asked, “Is she not your wife by covenant? Is she not your companion? If anyone has a small amount of the Spirit in them they won’t do these things. I made you one that you might raise up a godly offspring.” God goes ahead to say how much he hates divorce and that it breaks the hearts of children.
But focus on the fact that He calls marriage a covenant of companionship. When God made Adam and placed him in the Garden of Eden to name the animals and keep the garden, He declared that everything He had made was good, except that it was not good for man to be alone. He determined to make a helper suitable for Adam. He took the rib from his side and formed Eve and brought her to Adam. Adam on seeing her declared, “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. She will be called woman since she was taken out of the man. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two will become one flesh.”
One of the primary purposes of marriage is to provide the companionship we all need. In I Corinthians 7 Paul recommended that under the present conditions one should remain single, but he noted that not everyone had the gift to stay single and pure at the same time. If one burned with passion it was better for them to marry than to have such longings unfulfilled.
In I Peter 3:7 God spoke directly to husbands and said, “Likewise you husbands, dwell with your wife according to understanding, giving honor to the wife as the weaker vessel and as being heirs together of the grace of life so your prayers won’t be hindered.” Marriage isn’t just a contract made between two people. It is a covenant made to be by the side of the other one for life.
I don’t know how the standard marriage vows came into existance. But the things typically said to one another in the marriage is based on different points made by God in His word. When was the last time your and your wife or husband thought about the vows you made to each other? “I promise to forsake all others and cleave to you alone.” It is a great promise. Has it been true? “I will stand by you and love you, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse, till death shall come between us.”
Are they just words or did you really mean it when you said them? Today it seems that so many marriage allow many things to come between them besides death. It can be debt, jobs, sports, children, friends or involvement with someone else sexually.
Think of the days when you were talking about getting married, days when you loved just being together. You could talk about anything. Time together seemed to fly by and you couldn’t wait for the next time you were together. You dreamed of the day you were married and how much fun you would have.
But life comes along. Disappointments take place. Hurts will happen. You will begin to see all the flaws in the other person and maybe even a few in yourself. Little things will start to bother you. Arguing becomes standard procedure. One or both of you find some escape to take up your time and energy. It usually begins as a way of giving space thinking that it will result in bringing us back close to each other again. But it doesn’t usually work out that way. Instead of separation making the heart grow fonder, it is more likely the case that separation makes the heart grow harder.
I seem to constantly hear people say, “I have fallen out of love with my husband” or I have fallen out of love with my wife.” If such has happened in your house, begin immediately to ask God and your partner for forgiveness and pray for His help to pull you back together with an overflowing love for one another. You can fall back in love with your partner just as you fell in love with them to begin with. It is amazing what we can overlook when we fall in love with a person. It’s amazing what we can’t get past after we’ve been married a few years.
RENEW YOUR VOWS. REESTABLISH THE COVENANT! Live and love together and show your children what a good marriage looks like so that when they grow up they will have a clear picture of what to look for in a marriage partner. By the way, I’m not talking about a formal restating of the vows. I’m talking about the husband and wife sitting together and restating the vows to each other. It is something worth doing regularly in marriage. At the very least relook and restate your vows each anniversary. Always be starting fresh in your marriage. It will energize the whole relationship.