Marriage 2 – covenant

The aim of this devotional study is to consider the nature of the marriage relationship.

Scripture

Malachi 2:14-16

14  But you say, “Why does [the Lord not answer our prayers]?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15  Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16  “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

Proverbs 2:16-19

16  So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, 17  who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; 18  for her house sinks down to death, and her paths to the departed; 19  none who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life.

Observation

Definition: A covenant is a formal, binding agreement by which one party binds itself to another for life.

  1. Consider Malachi 2:14-16.
    1. What is God’s main accusation against the religiously devout Jews in this Text? Can you discern what practice he was countering?
    2. With what words does the prophet define marriage? What do you learn about marriage from this text?
    3. What are the results of defiling the marriage covenant from this text?
  2. Consider Proverbs 2:16-19.
    1. In one short sentence summarize this Proverb.
    2. What are the results of defiling the marriage covenant from this text?
  3. Both the Texts quotes above place the words “companion” and “covenant” next to each other.
    1. How does those two terms relate to marriage?
    2. What does that suggest about the nature of marriage?
    3. Notice that in the one Text “companion” and “covenant” is refers to the husband, and in the other Text these two terms are used in reference to the wife. What does this teach you about the nature of marriage.

Personal reflection and prayer

In essence, marriage is a covenant of companionship by which two people bind themselves before witnesses and God “until death do us part”.

The standard contemporary wedding vow reads as follows:

Do you [John] take [Jane] to be your wedded wife, to live together in marriage?  Do you promise to love her, comfort her, honor and keep her for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, and forsaking all others, be faithful only to her, for as long as you both shall live?

  1. Considering the Texts above, how does this typical wedding vow correspond to the “covenant of companionship” in the Texts above?
  2. For the married person:
    1. Was your wedding vow similar to this? Did you understand the impact of what you were doing when you made those vows before God and witnesses?
    2. In which ways have you been tempted to make an end to this marriage since your wedding? Why did you not do it?
    3. Malachi refers to God’s intervention once the wedding vows have been made. In which ways have you experienced God’s intervention into your marriage in your marriage?
    4. Partnerships are formed because “two is better than one” (see Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). What benefits have you and do you receive from this “covenant of companionship”? (You will enjoy this article on the Benefits of Marriage http://walklikejesus.net/2015/02/20/do-you-know-what-you-are-letting-yourself-into/ )
    5. Pray for grace to be faithful to “your spouse by covenant”.
  3. For the unmarried person:
    1. Why would you / would you not want to be married?
    2. Considering today’s devotional reflection, how does it impact your perception and expectation of marriage?
    3. Pray for your marriage partner and grace for faithfulness to one another.
  4. So you know someone close to you whose marriage is falling apart? Pray for them!

 

Covenant 2 – Bound together in life

The aim of this devotional study is to reflect on the meaning and making of covenant.

Scripture

Genesis 15:1-18

1  After these things [after Abraham delivered his nephew Lot by warfare] the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield and your exceedingly great reward.”  2  But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”  3  And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.”  4  And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5  And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  6  And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

7  And he said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” 8  But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9  He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10  And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. 11  And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. 12  As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him.  13  Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14  But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15  As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16  And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

17  When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.  18  On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land…”

Observations and reflection

Note: A covenant made in blood is a pledge or treaty between two parties (such as strong friendships, political agreements etc) which implies the binding of two people together in partnership; the shedding of blood symbolizes the gravity of the agreement, pointing to the death of the one who will break it.

  1. God met with Abraham. How did He introduce Himself to Abraham, and what promise does that imply? (v1)
  2. Abraham had two very basic concerns which he brought to God’s attention (v3, v8)
    1. What was God’s promise regarding these two things? (v5, v18)
  3. Abraham sought security of the promise. How did God grant security? (v18a)
    1. In simple words describe what God did during the covenant ceremony.
    2. What did Abraham do during this ceremony?
  4. Usually in such a covenant ceremony the lessor party would walk between the cut animals to indicate that if the terms of covenant is broken, it will result in death.
    1. Who walked between the sacrifice in this instance?
    2. What does that reveal about God’s character?
    3. What does that reveal about God’s covenant with Abraham and his offspring? [hint: Who died 2000 years later on a hill not far from there?]

Personal reflection and Prayer

The substitutionary death of Christ was ultimately the price God paid on behalf of man’s breaking of covenant with Him.  In that way God made peace between us and Him.

  1. Consider the very personal motive and content of the covenant God made with Abraham (an heir and property to leave as inheritance). How does your relationship with God compare to the authenticity and intimacy of Abraham relationship with God?
  2. This Text began in a vision where God made a very personal, covenantal commitment to Abraham. Have you ever had such a vision or dream where God spoke to you? Recall those moments and reflect on those conversations. (If you have never had such an encounter – ask God for such a meeting).
  3. Consider God’s part in this relational initiative – from beginning to end He initiated everything.  How does that compare to your view and experience of God?
  4. Pray about your covenant relationship with God in Christ in light of God’s covenant with Abraham.
    1. Thank God for initiating and fulfilling this covenant relationship you have through the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ our Lord. (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
    2. Ask God to reveal Himself to you as He did to Abraham (in Genesis 15:1).
    3. Now as Abraham did, in sincerity and forthrightness bring your deepest desires and fears to God, then wait for His answer.
    4. Before you go on with your day, renew your loyalty and devotion to Him. You might do this by asking Him what is His heart or what are the things He desires most. Wait for His answer and pray about that.

The Blessed Life 5

The aim of this devotional study is to reflect on the rewards the righteous – of those who fear the Lord.

Scripture

Psalms 103:8-18

8  The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  9  He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.  10  He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

11  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;  12  as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.  13  As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.

14  For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.  15  As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; 16  for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.

17  But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, 18  to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

Observations

Note: To fear the Lord means to live with the knowledge that God is our creator and judge, and therefore we his servants who live according to His will and depart from evil (See Eccl 12:13-14; Psalm 34:11-14, Proverbs 3:7; 8:13)

  1. Psalm 103 calls us to bless the Lord and remember the goodness of God towards us.  Summarize in one phrase what the Psalm tells of God in each of the following segments:
  • Verses 8-10
  • Verses 11-13
  • Verses 14-16
  • Verses 17v18
  1. What does this Psalm tell of the Lord’s special treatment of those who fear him? (v11-13, 17-18)

Reflection

  1. Verses 13-14 reads like this: “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”
  • Love can be translated as “deliberate attention and action for the good of the receiver”. According to this definition, does a father give more love or less love to his son who struggles in life?  Why?
  • Why does the Father show compassion to those who fear Him in these verses? Answer in your own words.
  • Sometimes we feel that God may love us less because we struggle or fail in His holy standards.  What does this Psalm say to people who feel like that – people who want to please God in holy living?

Prayer and Confession

Do you fear the Lord?  Pray a prayer of confession and thanksgiving over yourself from this Psalm

  • Praise God with the truth of His character and ability according to this Psalm
  • Confess what God promises to you and what he feels about you.
  • Thank God for his merciful goodness towards you.