Day 1| Jeremiah 31:31-34 | Covenant
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Hello everyone and welcome to The Marriage Talks. My name is Kris Langham, and this is Part 3! So glad to be back with you, thanks for inviting me. Whether you’re listening as a couple, on your own, or with a group, whether you are married or preparing for marriage, I am honored to be part of your journey. I love this stuff. The Marriage Talks is a simple concept. Our focus is what the Bible says about marriage and how to apply it to your relationship. Each day, I’ll introduce a passage and offer some explanation and story. Then you read it and talk about it. We’ll have discussion questions at the end of each day, and you can respond to those on a shared discussion board, or discuss in person. Or if this is just between me, you, and God, then you can journal your answers and pray.
Now here in part 3, we will explore marriage as a covenant. Covenant is one of the essential themes in the Bible. A covenant is an agreement that forms a relationship. That relationship is bound by mutual commitment to a set of promises. Synonyms for covenant include contract, treaty, alliance, or even constitution. It includes a set of terms and boundaries and promises by which we establish how we will get along. It establishes roles and responsibilities, one to another. And marriage is a covenant. Two becoming one is no small feat and making it work will require a shared understanding and agreement.
Now all that talk of terms and understandings might sound rather formal for those who are more romantically minded toward marriage. But there is also a deeply personal side to covenant. After all, the purpose of covenant is the formation of a relationship. In the Bible, covenants are often marked with a sign. Some are grand and beautiful like the rainbow. Others are private and extremely personal like circumcision. The covenant that Jesus makes with his people is so personal to him that he seals it with his own blood.
But to really understand what a covenant means to God, pay attention to the words that he uses again and again when he speaks of covenant. In Jeremiah 31:
“This is the covenant I will make with the people… I will be their God, and they will be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33).
That was a promise to His people Israel. He makes that same promise in Genesis, Exodus, Hosea, Zechariah, four times in Jeremiah, four more in Ezekiel. Then to his church in the New Testament, we find it again in 1st Corinthians, Hebrews, and all the way to the end at Revelation 21.
“…I will be your God, and you will be my people” (Jeremiah 7:23).
It is a promise of covenant.
Reminds me of a story, back when I was a brand-new dad. I came from a family with great parents who just couldn’t make it work. They tried for years. But my wedding was a new beginning. And our first kid came along fast. I remember when Daisy was two. I was just 25, and I wanted to teach her so much. But she was two. Not much sticks. One day she was getting ready for bed, and I pretended I had a surprise:
I love you.
She gave me one of those melt-your-heart smiles that said, “Dad, that’s not a surprise… but I liked it anyway.”
Guess what else…
Jesus loves you.
Same little smile.
Guess what… else…
You’re my girl.
She hugged me. She liked it, so I made it a routine every few days or so, sort of an unofficial tradition. Always the same three: I love you, Jesus loves you, and you’re my girl. She got pretty good at guessing.
But those words weren’t just a game to me. They were promises. Vows really. And even if my little girl couldn’t understand much, I wanted here to know - at the core of her being - who she is and my commitment to her. I love her, Jesus loves her, and I am committed to this relationship: I am her dad, and she is my girl.
Just like God promises us:
“You will be my people, and I will be your God” (Jeremiah 30:22).
Now your marriage covenant is different, but it’s closely related, and your kids’ earliest and deepest understanding of what covenant means will come from your marriage. Men, when you stand at the altar and say “I will,” you’re saying: “I will be your husband, and you will be my wife.” And that declaration will have profound and lasting impact on both of you. Women, when you announce before the world, “I will be your wife, and you will be my husband,” you are creating a union that will bless and protect your children, and will profoundly affect their relationship with you, and with God.
Now I say all that well aware that most of us, myself included, were raised by divorced or unmarried parents. And God can handle our brokenness. He specializes in it. So this isn’t about judging our parents, but it is about recognizing and taking responsibility for our own impact on our kids.
Remember that Ephesians 5 presents our role models for Christian marriage. The covenant between Jesus and the church is the model for the covenant between husband and wife, a covenant grounded in love and sacrifice.
As we focus on marriage as a covenant, we’re going to see several key features arise. In the Bible, covenants are generally presented with four basic components:
A preamble, stating the purpose of the relationship. The purpose of marriage is unity and family.
A list of obligations, stating the terms and promises. In a wedding, these are the vows.
A set of blessings and consequences, depending on whether you keep or break the covenant.
And often, a seal, or sign to mark the covenant.
Watch for these as we move forward: the purpose, the terms, the blessings, and the seal. But for now, read through today’s passage, and talk through the questions. As we restart the discussion time, be sure to follow some ground rules: speak with grace, listen with humility, and no shaming. Alright, rules established, let’s dig in.
For Thought & Discussion
Question #1: What does it mean to you that marriage is a covenant, and how does that affect the way you see your marriage?
Question #2: What past experiences, good or bad, have affected your perspective on the marriage covenant, and what do you want to change for the future?
That’s all for day one. I’ll see you back here next time.
Read Jeremiah 31:31-34 & Revelation 21:5-7
All verses are quoted from the NIV unless otherwise noted.