God reveals Himself as a covenant keeping God as well as a covenant making God (Isaiah 54:10). In God's covenant partner role, He proves His faithfulness to every promise or vow He makes even when man does not. It is evident that it is God who enables and strengthens us to keep the covenant.
Man and Man
A man-man covenant is made to provide each partner with a binding sense of commitment to the relationship. This covenant obligates the partners to the relationship and ensures that it's life long. In a man-man covenant goods, wealth, and power are exchanged to seal the commitment. David and Jonathan made a man-man covenant in 1 Samuel 18:1-4. What Jonathan gave David represented the things which are exchanged in a man-man covenant.
His cloak was a symbol of wealth.
His garments a symbol of his possessions.
His sword a symbol of strength.
His belt a symbol of protection (The belt was worn over the loins to protect the life giving part of the wearer).
Understanding the Exchange
When we became marriage covenant partners, we made certain promises to each other. We promised to love, honor, cherish, etc. We agreed to these terms for better or worse, till death do us part.
Everything that we held separately, as a single person, became joint possessions after marriage. Our money, bills, friends, family, possessions, etc. now belong to the one flesh covenant (both parties equally). Even our own bodies do not belong to ourselves, but to our mate (1 Corinthians 7:4). The Word says that when two become one, everything belongs to that one.
A complete understanding of this exchange and mutual sharing of everything is necessary to prevent problems from beginning in areas of our marriage. Without understanding, we can begin to have disagreements on financial matters, on how to raise our children, and on what our debts should be and a plan to pay them.
Strife and division between the couple begins to take place when we do not die to self and fail to allow the one flesh relationship God intended to manifest. The one flesh relationship must become the main concern of both partners.
Being a "Step"
When a couple marries and stepchildren are involved, they need to realize that these children are included in the marriage exchange. They now belong to the stepparent as much as to the natural parent. One of the biggest problems is that the natural parent feels he can not trust the step-parent with this responsibility. We can give everything else, but we hold on to this. This child has become our treasure. Matthew 6:20 and 21 says that we are to lay up treasures in heaven because where our treasure is our heart is also. If we are placing the child above our mate, we are not following the governmental order that God has established and therefore, are laying up treasure in the child rather than in heaven. God is to be first. Our mate is to be second. Our family is to be third. Then comes the church and so on. By placing the child above our mate, we are in reality placing the child above God because we are not adhering to His order. Because things are not in the proper order of priority, the step-parent and stepchild feel that they are not free to fully love and trust one another. This only adds strife and rebellion to this family unit. This also gives the children power to separate husband and wife.
Did you know that Jesus was a stepchild? His and Joseph's relationship is the prime example for all step-parents and stepchildren. Jesus submitted Himself to them both and was obedient to both (Luke 2:51).
The child must also continue to honor the natural parent who is not living in the home. The child must have a godly manner in the home and must honor the step-parent as he would the natural parent.
Dying to Self and Independent Living
We need to die to independent living. We need to enter into the plan that God intended for married couples to have. No longer can it be "ME", but must become "WE."
The covenant that we made demands that we put the needs of our spouse before our own, and that each partner has the right to hold the other to the terms and conditions made at the time they were married. Marriage is usually sealed with on oath or vow, such as "I do" or "I will." These vows are to be taken seriously. The Bible tells us that it is better not to vow at all than to vow and not keep our word (Ecclesiastes 5:4, 5). Dying to self and entering into a covenant relationship with another person provides a basis for all of the things represented in a man-man covenant to be exchanged. They become covenant partners. They share their wealth as well as their debts. All of their possessions belong to both of them. Their strength is one and is to be used as protection for each other. When one partner is attacked, the other goes to battle as if he himself had been attacked. They act and think as one; just as Jonathan and David did.
The marriage in the garden of Eden was the first man-man covenant. God intended to be a covenant partner in this marriage. His initial covenant with man was closely tied to the original marriage of man and woman (Genesis 1:27, 28). As God enters into the marriage covenant, it becomes a God-man and a man-man covenant.
There were several people in the Old Testament that God made a covenant with. When God made His covenant with Abraham, only the Jewish nation had a covenant with Him. In order for a gentile to be included in a covenant with God, he had to follow a certain pattern. First, he had to become a Jew. He could enter into a covenant only after he was grafted in (Romans 11:13-21).
The Bible says that the benefits of a marriage covenant can only be available to those in covenant with God (Jeremiah 32:38-41).
Because Jesus Christ died and rose again, the only way you can have a covenant with God is through His Son Jesus Christ (John 14:6, John 15:23). "...all of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;..." (Isaiah 64:6). We cannot come into the kingdom of God by our good life or hard work. We can only enter in through Jesus. Ephesians 2:12, 13 (Amplified) states that covenant benefits are not available for non-Christians.
"[Remember] that you were at that time separated (living apart) from Christ [excluded from all part in Him], utterly estranged and outlawed from the rights of Israel as a nation, and strangers with no share in the sacred compacts of the [Messianic] promise [with no knowledge of or right in God's agreements, His covenants]. And you had no hope (no promise); you were in the world without God. But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were [so] far away, through (by, in) the blood of Christ have been brought near."
Jesus died on the cross so that we could, through Him, make a covenant or enter into a covenant with God. And, only through Him, Christ Jesus, can this be done (John 14:6).
God's Word Recognizes a Covenant Relationship
Malachi 2:14 in the NIV Bible says ":...It is because the Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth,..."
God is only a witness to our marriage. If neither partner is saved, God is unable to enter into that marriage. If only one of the partners was saved at the time of the marriage, then they need to repent and seek forgiveness. 2 Corinthians 6:14 is very clear on marrying an unbeliever.
When God Becomes a Covenant Partner
If neither spouse is a Christian at the time they were united in marriage, God becomes a covenant partner in that marriage as soon as one or both receive Christ "For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy." (1 Corinthians. 7:14) (NIV). The unsaved spouse is sanctified or set apart because of the Christian spouse. The unsaved spouse has access to the benefits of the covenant by the prayers of the Christian spouse. Even though the unsaved spouse is set apart, salvation is accomplished only by a personal commitment to Jesus (Romans 3:22-24).
You may not be the one to lead your spouse to the Lord. Please allow the Holy Spirit to use whomever He will to win them to the Lord.
When both spouses know the Lord prior to marriage, or as soon as both are saved, they can begin to walk into the fullness of the one flesh relationship that God intended for marriage to be. God can now be in covenant with each partner through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Your marriage can now be all that God intended it to be in the garden of Eden. You can now have the power of unity that God instituted in the garden (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Deuteronomy 32:30). You are now ready to grow in your marriage through God's original plan for marriage.