“How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways.
“When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you.
“Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house, your children like olive plants around your table. Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD.
“The LORD bless you from Zion, and may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Indeed, may you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel!” (Psa 128:1-6)
Are marriages in trouble today. Yes they are. But this isn’t something new. There have always been troubled marriages.
Now that we have that settled, let’s begin this new year (2013) with a study guide that can give guidance and help for any marriage.
However, I need to make something very clear up front. Just because someone has been through a divorce does not prevent them from having a godly marriage. Far from it. The major emphasis of the cross centers on grace and forgiveness.
We live in a sinful world. Jesus came to save us from our sins and to give us a future based on a life that can only come from Him. Jesus made that very clear with the woman at the well. She had been married five times and was then living with a man. (You may want to read her story in John 4.)
So, let’s begin.
The Bible Opens and Closes With Marriage
The Apostle Paul says that marriage in the human family reflects the divine mystery of Christ and His Church. Therefore marriage is the most sacred covenant that men and women can enter. The following information is provided as a study guide with regard to marriage.
1. Adam was created to serve the Lord, and to enjoy Him. He was created in the very image and likeness of God. Since we know that Christ is the Word of God, and that He Himself is “the Image of the invisible God”, it is safe to assume that Adam somehow reflected Christ in the divine mystery of Christ and the Church.
“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.” (Eph 5:22-23)
2. God fashioned Eve out of Adam. She was uniquely created. Paul teaches that the wife is a reflection of the Church. Eve being taken from Adam, pictures the Church having its origin in Christ. The deep sleep that God brought upon Adam can be likened to the cross. When Adam awoke, God presented to him his wife. Thus the mystery of the Church.
“So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. … This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” (Eph 5:28-32)
3. Adam and Eve were to be co-regents. Adam had the primal authority. Eve’s role corresponded to his. In the marriage the husband has priority of leadership. This does not diminish the wife’s role. She is a fellow heir of the grace of life. This is why the Bible warns against mistreatment of the wife.
“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Gen 1:27)
“Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’ … So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of Man.’” (Gen 2:18-23)
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” (Gal 3:28-29)
“You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.” (1Pe 3:7)
4. God gave Eve (the wife) a role not always understood by men. She was to be a ‘protectress’ or ‘surrounder.’ The word “helper” in Genesis 2:20, is ezer. It means to help or succor. The root word is found in all the Semitic languages. In Ugartic it means to rescue and save. Ezer carries the idea of military assistance. God gave the wife a role to fulfill. This is why Paul speaks of the wife’s role as that of keeping house.
(King James has “guide the house.” The Greek is ‘oikodespotea,’ which means to manage family affairs.)
“The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.” (Gen 2:20)
“Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach.” (1Ti 5:14)
5. Maleness and femaleness are giftings of God. Together the husband and wife take part with God in the creation of new life.
“Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’” (Gen 2:18)
“House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.” (Pro 19:14)
6. In the eastern Hebrew culture, the Lord God is the great Shadchan (Marriage Maker).
In giving Eve to Adam, the Lord was saying, “Adam, I am giving you a gift. You must nourish her, care for her & cherish her. You must never mistreat her, or make her feel unimportant or inferior. She is not a toy for your amusement. She is fearfully and wonderfully made. Study her and learn her heart. She will bring great blessings into your life.”
“Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.” (Ecc 9:9)
“Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love.” (Pro 5:18-19)
7. Adam drew Eve back into his heart. The man’s role is to speak words over his wife to draw her to himself. In his heart is her rightful place. He sanctifies her to himself. This is where Biblical love is created. Biblical love is a commitment. It doesn’t always come before marriage. It is created in the marriage, by words and attitudes. Our western culture has suffered over a misplaced idea of marital love.
8. God has the last word. The new union must now take center stage in family relationships. This is not an issue of breaking down family closeness. The first commandment with a promise is to honor your father and mother.
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen 2:24)
9. Marriage is called kiddushin in Hebrew. This term speaks of hiddenness, withdrawal, covering, and modesty. The same Hebrew word is used both for marriage and for holiness.
In the marriage God intends the husband and wife to merge into one life. This relates to the veiled bride. She is sanctified to one man. Marriage was designed to be a lifetime commitment where God fills in the blanks. The result is a marriage blessed.
However, it is important not to misunderstand what one life means. There must always be room for spaces in the togetherness of marriage. Two lives are merged, or submerged. Each partner has their own gifts, abilities, and talents that are uniquely theirs alone. But together they bring strength into the marriage.
“She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: ‘Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.’
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” (Pro 31:27-31)
10. The Hebrew word for companionship is the word ‘chabereth’. The idea is a blending of personalities. A companion means a fellow participant, partner, or associate.
“This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’
“Because the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.” (Mal 2:13-14)
11. For the Hebrew people the act of love was considered part of the Sabbath. It is called ‘the Sabbath delight.’ God is very much concerned with the romantic side of marriage. He had a special book placed in the sacred writings for this purpose. Here is a snippet from the Song of Solomon:
“I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me. ‘Come, my beloved, let us go out into the country, let us spend the night in the villages.’”(Son 7:10-11)
12. The law that governs the marriage is the ‘law of lovingkindness.’ Biblical love is a mitzvah. A mitzvah is a commandment that requires action. This includes emotional and physical love of marriage. And so we have this caution from the great Apostle:
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.” (1Th 4:3-7)
Keep in mind that the story of the cross is a divine love story. It is truly about a marriage.
I pray this study will be a blessing to you. Feel free to pass it on.
Take time for this song. It will speak to your heart.
In Christ always,