Last week in Sunday School, we began a new study on marriage.  This is a topic about which I am passionate, and I am thrilled to get to co-teach with Landon.  Several years ago, I discovered a fabulous ministry that has really guided, convicted, and molded me as a wife and a parent.  The Focus on the Family daily broadcast has been a constant source of encouragement for me and their passion for the family has rubbed off on me as well.

I haven't been blogging consistently for a while now, but I thought I might try and at least attempt what we are learning in Sunday School.  We'll see if I can keep it up.  :)

Covenant is a word that is fairly familiar to most, but I didn't understand the depth of this woven theme throughout the Bible until I did a study on just the topic.  It was my first Precept Bible Study and even though I did my homework every single time, I felt like I was in a Greek class, completely unprepared.  I felt exposed, foolish, and extremely insecure about my biblical knowledge while in this study, even though I was raised in church since my earliest memory.  This lack of knowledge and understanding sent me on a journey, and for that I am thankful.  My feelings of ignorance in that class were not in vain.  I began to have a hunger and desire to not ever feel that way again.  So I sought out help from a now dear friend, who was also in that class.  She could answer every question in depth with answers that left me staring at her in wonder.  She was placed in that very class by God for me.  I'm sure of it.

Covenant....a beautiful word.  Without it, we would be hopeless.  In Hebrew, the word for covenant is beriyth, which means "a pact, usually made by passing through pieces of flesh."  Another word used for covenant is karath, which means "to cut, usually a contract; usually made by passing through pieces of flesh."  The Greek word is diatheke, which means "a contract, testament."

This word is used in both the Old and New Testaments and it is holds many promises which provide hope....eternal hope.  It's a beautiful word woven from the beginning of time until the end.  No man could make this up and weave this concept all throughout time.  It is evidence to me that the Word is truth--all of it--in this concept alone.

A covenant as defined above, is a binding agreement between two parties.  God initiates several covenants throughout Scripture.  One familiar covenant is in Genesis 15 between God and Abram.  God instructs Abram to go and get a three year old heifer, a three year old goad, and an three year old ram, a turtledove, and a pigeon.  He is told to cut the three larger animals into two pieces but not the birds.  He was to lay the pieces of the three animals opposite each other.  Once he obeyed, God put him into a deep sleep.  God Himself passed through the two pieces that were cut in two in the form of a smoking oven and a flaming torch.  He made promises that are still kept and in tact to this very day.

In covenant, there are many elements included.  Not every single element is used in every covenant seen in Scripture.  This is a list of all covenants and elements made initiated by God which were always motivated by love.
There were a few covenants made between men as well.  However, these were not motivated by love, but instead by fear and self-preservation.  Abimilech knew that God was with Israel.  He also understood that covenant was solemn and binding.  He knew if he could get Isaac to make a covenant with him then it could not be revoked.  He made two different covenants as well as Laban with Jacob.  Once again, these were initiated for selfish reasons, unlike the ones that God initiated.

Covenant is a solemn and binding agreement or promise made between two people.  An animal is cut into two pieces and the two parties both walk between the pieces and what they are saying to each other is, "If I break my end of the covenant, you can do to me what we did to this animal."  Very serious.  Solemn.  Binding.  Promise unto death.

There is one covenant made between two people that was initiated by love between David and Jonathan.

"Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt." 1 Samuel 18:3-4

They exchanged robes which meant that they were taking on each other's identity.  They also exchanged weapons which represented that they would be each other's protector.  You may be asking to yourself, "What does this have to do with marriage??"  Marriage is also a covenant, a solemn and binding agreement.  It is God's idea.  He created it from the beginning and it lines right up with all other covenants.  Actually, all the elements are included in marriage!  

Initiator:  Marriage is God's idea!  He initiates it, even when we feel like we choose the person to enter into covenant.  It is His plan, His design.

Promises:  Vows.  Here is a typical set of wedding vows.  "I, (name), take you (name), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part."

Descendants:  We can pass on a blessing or a curse to our children.

Length:  A marriage is binding on each party as long as the two live, "'til death do us part."  1 Corinthians 7:39 says, "a woman is bound to her husband as long as she lives."

Blood: Although we don't take an animal to the altar of our ceremony and walk between the two pieces of flesh, in marriage ceremonies today, the bride walks down the aisle between the two families.  This is a picture of the passing between two pieces of flesh.

Meal:  The bride and groom feed each other cake and a drink.  This is a ceremony we probably didn't realize the significance until studying elements of covenant...I know I didn't!

Name Change:  The woman's name is changed to the man's.

So, you can see the seriousness of this commitment we make to our spouse on the day we say, "I do." It isn't to be taken lightly.  In a culture today, the covenant of marriage is broken quickly for a variety of reasons.  If we truly understood biblical covenant, we would recognize why this causes God to be brokenhearted over our lack of holding on to our end of our vow.  Even if we don't even understand fully biblical covenant, we aren't exempt.  I entered into a covenant marriage in 1999 but didn't learn about covenant until 2008, but I'm not exempt because I didn't know.  I would encourage every young person to do a study on covenant before they enter into a covenant relationship.  I think it would create a different type of commitment level if we understood what we were doing on the day of our wedding.  It's a beautiful picture of God's design.  We can't alter it or make it into what we would like it to be since we aren't the creator of it.

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