Monday, July 14, 2008

THE COVENANT OF MARRIAGE: BEULAH LAND


The one great truth of the Bible is that God has taken to Himself a people chosen in Jesus Christ and He has bound Himself to them in the cords of perfect faithfulness and the cords of a perfect marriage. We call that the covenant of God's grace. Just as a man marries a wife and they two are bound till death in the fellowship of love, so Jehovah has taken to Himself a wife, a people in Jesus Christ, and is bound to them in all eternity.

This has very serious implications for Christian marriage. Christian marriages must reflect the marriage of God. We must be like Him. This means, first of all, that our earthly marriages are indissoluble until death. Marriage is a permanent bond. The Lord taught that in Matthew 19:6:
"What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."

And, again, in Romans 7:2, we read: "For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband."

And why is marriage an indissoluble bond until death?

Because it must reflect the wonder of God's undying and never-failing love. As God does not put away His people whom He has foreknown in His gracious election, as God does not cast away those whom He has married in Jesus Christ, so our marriages are to be permanent.

Still more, this calls us to reconciliation, to forgiveness, to confession, to restoration in our marriages. In the words of James 5:16,
"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed."

Our marriages are to be characterized by faithfulness, by lovingkindness, by mercy, by compassion. We read in Ephesians 4:32: "Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."

We owe to each other in the communion of saints as the people of God, and we owe to each other in the bond of marriage, the daily duty of mercy, compassion, and a tender spirit. We are not to be filled with clamor and bitterness, railing and accusations, bickering and hatred. But we are to be bound in all lovingkindness to each other.

Why?

Because this is what we have received of the Lord. The Lord has married us in lovingkindnesses and mercy. We read in Lamentations 3:22-23, "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." As we have received the tenderness of God, so also we are to show the tenderness of God in our marriage bond.

Now, let us read Isaiah 62:4-5.
"Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee."

God is telling us that He has great good in store for us. He is making wonderful promises here, promises which go to the heart.

We have to remember that in Isaiah 40-66, Isaiah is speaking of the future, of what is going to happen in 200 years when Babylon, under Nebuchadnezzar, brings Judah into captivity. Then Judah is going to be called, apparently, Forsaken and Desolate. But that will not be the truth, because God is going to return Judah to the land of promise, the land of Canaan. Yet, God is not speaking here only of His promises for Judah. He is not only promising Judah that they will not be desolate, they will not be forsaken. But God is proclaiming here His faithfulness to His people throughout all ages. If we look at Isaiah 62:11, we read,
"Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh." He speaks in verse 3 of Zion and says this: "Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God." Now God is saying that He will continue to work even unto the end of the world, until the church is completed as a royal diadem, or crown, in His hand.

The heart of all of these promises is summed up for us in verse 4. God is saying that we will no longer be termed Desolate or Forsaken, but we will be called Hephzibah and Beulah. God is saying,
"Thy land shall no longer be termed Desolate, but thou shalt be called Hephzibah. Thou shalt no longer be termed Forsaken, but thou shalt be called Beulah Land."


The word "Hephzibah" and the word "Beulah" stand in contrast to the words "Forsaken" and "Desolate." They replace the names that belong to us of ourselves, namely, Forsaken and Desolate.

Do you know what it is to be forsaken?

Do you know, not simply what it means to be abandoned by those who are close, but what it means to be forsaken and cast away by God because of your sin?

Do you know that?

But thou shalt no longer be termed "Forsaken," thou shalt be called "Hephzibah." The word "Hephzibah" means "The Lord delighteth in thee." What a wonder. By God's grace we are lifted up from the pit of forsakenness, and we receive from Him a new name, "Hephzibah." In a wonder of His own grace He tells us that He delights in us, He removes our sins, He gives us His Son.

Do you know what it means that the Lord delights in His people?

In Psalm 149:4 we read, "For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people; he will beautify the meek with salvation."


God does not look upon His people with an indifferent attitude, but He delights in His people. He suffers no one to harm them, He hears our cries from heaven. God is not some crusty, cold being up in heaven indifferent to us. But He delights in us.

And, we shall also dwell in the land of Beulah. That is, we will no longer be called Desolate, but Beulah.

Do you know what that means?

Do you know what it means to be desolate, devastated?

Not simply ruined financially. Not simply robbed of your health and vitality. But desolate, that is, the conviction that without God there is nothing. Apart from God there is only hopelessness and despair and vanity. Apart from God - desolation. Desolation is not a bombed home or a burned village. It is not a stock market that has plunged. It is not even death in itself. But desolation is to be without the lovingkindness and the presence of God. Your life could be filled with all kinds of good things: houses, cars, barns, sunshine. But if you do not have the presence of God, it is desolate. But thou shalt no longer be called Desolate, says God; thy land shall be called Beulah. "Beulah" means "married." The Lord marries His people. The Lord is the portion of His people. Our land is our dwelling place. Our land is that which we have received of God. God says, You, in all of your ways, shall be called those who are married to Me.

Now let us let these realities become firmly embedded in our hearts. No child of God is ready for any part of his life unless, by God's grace, he has appropriated these truths, namely, that he delights in God as God delights in him, and that he sees himself as married to the Lord. That must stand as the core of our life - that we are the Lord's delight in Jesus Christ. That is our name. That is our identity. Unless that lives in our souls we are not prepared for any part of life, we are not prepared to take up our responsibilities. That alone can be the center of life. That must be the whole of our life. You see, if you look for the center of your life to another source, maybe to a future husband or wife, maybe to a job, maybe to financial security, and you say, "Well, if I have those things I will never be forsaken. I will never be desolate. Then I will have it" - then you are very foolish. Only this can stand the stress of the center of your life: to know that the Lord delights in you in Jesus Christ. To know that you are married to Him, that you may come to Him, that He loves you freely in Jesus Christ.

When you marry someone, you must not think, "Well, this person is going to be the source of my satisfaction." You must be ready to say, "I have already found the answer to all desolation and to all forsakenness. I am married to God." Then you are ready for marriage or for any aspect of life.
Let us apply that to marriage.

Tell me, husbands, what do you think of the wife that the Lord has given to you?

Can you say with God, as God says of His bride, "She is my delight. My delight is in her"?

How do you treat the wife that God has given to you?

Do you treat her as God treats His wife?


We must go to God and answer before Him for all that is in our hearts towards each other as husband and wife.

What is your attitude that you assume towards your wife?

How do you treat her?

What do you think of her?

Do you do that as God thinks and treats His wife, His people?

The Scriptures say that the wife is the weaker vessel, physically, emotionally.

Do you delight in her?

Are you thoughtful for her?

Do you live with her in compassion?

Our marriages must reflect God at this point. Our marriages must also be the willing confession, "My delight is in him/her. I am married to him. As God delights in His children, so do I delight in my wife/husband."

This is a glorious and great truth, the covenant of marriage. A glorious and great calling it is, that our marriages must reflect the union of God and His people. It is an awesome calling. It is a calling that we cannot perform in our own strength. God alone can give us the strength to do this.
But now I want you to look to God, and I want you to contemplate right now that glorious relationship that God has established between His people and Himself in the blood of Jesus Christ. And I want you to contemplate that relationship as it will be perfected in heavenly glory, in a land which is soon to come, in a place where the salvation of God shall burn so bright that it will give light to all who are there, a place of absolute perfection and joy when the bride of Jesus Christ shall be with her husband and we shall sit down at the marriage table of the Lamb and shall rejoice for evermore. We shall come before Him who sits upon the throne and we shall rejoice in His full love and shall be filled with delight and happiness. For then the bride shall come to Jesus Christ. The people of God, whom He has elected, shall be fully one in Him. That is the place which is called Beulah Land, the land that is married to God, where God is married in perfect love to His people. Those are the people that God will call
"Hephzibah," my delight is in them. It is the place where the covenant of God will be perfected and the church of Jesus Christ shall be with Christ throughout all eternity. And that day is coming.

Now, as you contemplate that perfect marriage through all eternity, of God and His church, ask yourself this question:


Does your marriage today, right now, reflect that bond and union?

Is your marriage a picture in some small way of that perfect union of Christ and His people?

Are you bound together as husband and wife in His love?

Not just in what you might call love, not in what you thought was love, but in His love - a love of God drawn from the Bible?

Are you united to each other in His faithfulness?

As God delights in His people, do you delight in each other?

Is your home a haven of rest for yourself and for your children?

Do your children see in you how God is toward His people and how His people love God?

Do they?

And is God all of your hope and desire?

Is He the center of your marriage?

Do you live for Him?

Do you?

Only when one knows the living God, only when one fully understands the grace of God, the faithfulness of God, the forgiveness of God, the tenderness of God, only then are they fit, ready, to live in marriage. Your marriage does not begin with your husband or wife. It begins with God and in how you are living toward God, and the state of your heart toward God.

Let us then learn of God. Let us bow before His throne. Let us seek His face with all our hearts. And let us live, even as God lives with His church. For the Lord calls His church His delight, the one to whom He is married in perfect delight and love.

May God so bless your marriage.

By Cark Haak

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