Derek Prince - Marriage Is A Covenant
So I want to lay certain foundation truths concerning marriage. First of all, and most important, marriage is a covenant. There are two main passages in the Bible which teach this. A covenant is the most solemn and binding form of commitment that the Bible knows. And it’s a principle in the Bible that no lasting relationship can be built without a covenant. The relationship of the believer to God is based on a covenant. The relationship of believers to one another is based on a covenant. And the relationship of a husband to wife is based on a covenant. Those are the three most important permanent relationships open to human beings. In each of them, the covenant is basic.
Proverbs 2:16 The theme is that if you listen to this teaching, it will: ...deliver you from the immoral woman, from the seductress who flatters with her words; who forsakes the companion of her youth, and forgets the covenant of her God. So that the woman who is unfaithful to her husband is forgetting, breaking, the covenant that she made before God with that man. So even in the Old Testament, marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman, made in the presence of God.
And then right at the end of the Old Testament, the last book, the prophet Malachi. God is challenging and charging Israel with their failures and their delinquencies, in spite of the fact that they are a very religious people. And this is what the Lord says to them in Malachi chapter 2. And they’re complaining that God doesn’t answer their prayers. They say: We’re praying all the time. We’re always in the temple. God, you don’t answer our prayers. God says: I’ll tell you one or two reasons why I don’t answer your prayers.
Here’s one of them, Malachi 2:13: This is the second thing you do, you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and crying, so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. He says: You can bring all the sacrifices you like, but I’m not going to receive them. You can cry and weep before me but I’m not going to answer your prayers. Why does He say that? Yet you say: For what reason? Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously: yet she is your companion, and your wife by covenant.
So God says to men who profess religion: It doesn’t matter how much you pray, how often you come to church; if you are not faithful to your covenant commitment to your wife, I won’t listen to your prayers. I will not pay any attention to you. And He declares that such men are covenant breakers. So you see, both for the woman and for the man, unfaithfulness to the marriage commitment is the breaking of a covenant. That’s why adultery is so much more serious a sin than fornication. Fornication, not known in the Bible as premarital sex, fornication, is immorality between two persons who are not married. It’s immorality, it’s sin, but it’s not the breaking of a covenant. But adultery is immorality which involves the breaking of a covenant. And that’s why adultery is far more serious than fornication. Covenant is one of God’s secrets.
In Psalm 25:14 the Lord talks about His covenant and the kind of people that He will reveal His covenant to. No one can understand covenant in the Biblical sense except by revelation. Only God can make us understand from the Scriptures what covenant is. But in Psalm 25:14, the psalmist says: The secret of the Lord is with those who fear him, and he will show them his covenant. So God’s covenant is His secret, but He reveals it to whom? To those who fear Him. It’s the God-fearing, that can apprehend and enter into covenant.
And then in Ephesians 5:32, Paul, talking about marriage, and making it parallel to the relationship between Christ and the church, says this: "This", that’s marriage, "is a great mystery". Now, a mystery in the language of the New Testament was not something that could never be known, because in those days they had what they called mystery religions. Religions which offered certain secrets to people who were initiated into them. But if you were not initiated, you couldn’t know the secrets. So, marriage is a secret that you can only know when you’re initiated into it. And God initiates those who are God-fearing. I’d like to say to those of you who are not married, if there are any here, you can read all the books and listen to all the tapes, but there’s something you’ll never know about marriage till you get married. It really is a mystery! It’s a good mystery.