Well, it's noon as I sit down to write today's Covenant reflection, and I'm moving kind of slow today. After a morning coffee/meeting with a friend, I have a teen home not feeling well, and one of my own physical "thorns" is reminding me a lot that I am "but dust." These things keep us humble, don't they? They also make me so relieved I am in a covenant relationship with the strong, healing, faithful God who sought me out. I like being "in covenant."
This week we focused on the oneness of covenant, specifically at how earthly marriage expresses and reflects the qualities of this solemn, binding, God-witnessed relationship. I see these qualities in testimonies of women like Antoinette, Julie, and Elaine, shared as part of my Marriage Monday October Marriage Survivor Stories. How they've challenged me!
God has a heart for the making of Covenant. As our holy God, He calls those in relationship with Him to be pure. We have to LEAVE our old way of living and CLEAVE (hold fast) to God's ways (Colossians 3:1-11), revealed in His Word. As we do that, we experience ONENESS. When we embrace sin and feed on worldly things, we injure our oneness and lose the peace and blessing we're mean to know as God's friends. If we're "members of Christ" (1 Cor. 6:15-16) then we shouldn't join with immorality, in essence joining Him with immorality. Just as the first Covenant was made by passing through two pieces of flesh, shedding blood, and becoming one, so physical intimacy creates a "one flesh" union between a man and woman; we must treat the sacred act of intercourse as the sacred thing it is.
God has a hatred for the breaking of Covenant. Because a Covenant is made before God (including a marriage covenant), He detests when it's broken. Malachi 2 tells us God is the witness of our marriage vows, that He makes a couple "one," and that the Spirit is in their union.When we break our covenant, it injures God's name. He is the great Healer who is able to restore what is broken and comfort the broken.
- We wear the mark of our marriage covenant when we wear a wedding ring. Other cultures may use a different "mark" to symbolize the relationship. Jesus is "marked" with my name imprinted in His hands, pierced for my sin. Isaiah 49:15-16 tells us God has engraved our names on His palms, a symbol of His covenant with us! Imagine that!
- A new name is given to symbolize the relationship and blessing of Covenant. Abram was given a new name: Abraham. A believer in Jesus is given a new name: Christian (little Christ) and Overcomer (to those who are faithful). Jesus took on a name for me: Son of Man. In my culture the taking of a man's last name symbolizes a marriage relationship.
- To celebrate and acknowledge a covenant, a meal was often served for the two partners to enjoy as one. Someday, there will be a Marriage Supper of the Lamb for the celebration of the Bridegroom, Christ, to receive His Bride, the Church. I wonder if there will be wedding cake ... Now you know why a covenant meal, a reception, is traditionally held following the marriage ceremony of a couple in most cultures. By feeding the partner, each partakes of the other, just as we are invited to partake of the Bread of Life ... Jesus, and begin a relationship with Him.
Just as in a marriage relationship, we are no longer only "individuals," but we are united with Christ in relationship with Him. This means we have to die to ourselves and our own desires, daily, so we yield to the union and our Covenant partner. That's not easy day in and out when we have to "give up" our "rights," and our culture sells us an opposite marriage. God's ways are not the ways of the world. Oneness is celebrated by a Covenant meal, reflected in wearing a covenant symbol, and identified by a Covenant name.
This oneness brings the comfort of knowing our needs are provided for (Phil. 4:19), we will share in the "family" inheritance (Rom. 8:32), our requests are answered (James 4:1-4), and our possessions are for the good of the union (Lk. 14:33).
Many women find themselves in a marriage relationship with a husband who is not spiritually united with Christ, and that can be so hard. There is comfort in knowing that a wife's covenant behavior can be used to win her husband to Christ (1 Peter 3:1), and her covenant God will meet her needs and be faithful to her.