It's a legally binding contract of faithfulness. Even Yeshua taught that the only grounds by which this legal contract between husband and wife is broken is either by death or on the grounds of sexual immorality... infidelity.
Now remember that He also taught that if we ever have a lustful thought towards anyone else other than our spouse, we've committed adultery in our hearts! That's a whole lot of keeping-in-check with our eyes, our thoughts and our heart. How many of us pass this test?
Now imagine if the consequence for this unfaithfulness meant a death penalty. How many of us would be alive today? Does that make the vows evil? By no means! Did temptation find a footstool in our heart THROUGH those vows? Yes!
Thousands of years ago, God redeemed a people by His grace and He brought them out of slavery in Egypt, not by any works of their hands but by His sheer mercy and grace. But then He did something very special... He entered into marriage vows with them at the base of Mount Sinai. He said "I am the one who redeemed you. Here is my covenant vow, my Law. Keep it in your heart and DO this because it is what faithfulness towards me looks like. It is a legal contract and when you walk in faithfulness to it, the world will know that I am your husband for I am its Author, your Redeemer."
Then he took the Book of the Covenant [Law] and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words." (Exodus 24:7-8)But sin seized an opportunity THROUGH those vows. Because God now revealed to us what faithfulness to Him looks like, and more specifically, what INFIDELITY looks like... suddenly temptation had a foot in! And its consequence is Death.
Does that make God's Law, His marriage vows evil? Or did temptation find a footstool in our heart THROUGH His vows?
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. (Romans 7:7-12)Now imagine our husband becoming human in the form of a Son.... a Son whose destiny is to inherit all that belongs to His Father. He has come because of the INFIDELITY of His bride to spare her the fate of death for her breach of faith. He takes on death and conquers it three days later by being resurrected, the first fruits of the harvested souls that belong to God. Now His bride, when covered by the holiness of His death, cannot be touched by death of the soul. The legal demand of infidelity has been conquered! She is freed! But be very careful with what message of "freedom" is being proclaimed! Freed from the legal demand of death... but are His marriage vows still there?
“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void." (Luke 16:16-17)
Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. (Romans 3:31)
For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. For the LORD has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God. For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD, your Redeemer. (Isaiah 54:5-8)So what does continued faithfulness to our Husband look like? Did our Redeemer abolish those marriage vows or did He safeguard them from the legal demand of death? If adultery begins in the heart, where should those vows be? Are they the same vows or different ones?
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people." (Jeremiah 31:31-33 The New Covenant)You would not believe how many people have accused our family of being legalistic because we live by these marriage vows of God... His law... whom He gives only to His REDEEMED. Redemption first and then His marriage vows... that's been the pattern established from the beginning. God's law does not save us, God's law is the wedding band on our finger that testifies that we have been betrothed! Our heart towards it determines our FAITHFULNESS to our Redeemer, our Husband.
The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip. (Psalms 37:30-31)
I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart. (Psalms 40:8)
“Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings.” (Isaiah 51:7)We are saved by grace, but we are JUDGED by our works of righteousness/faithfulness.
By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10)
And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us. (Deuteronomy 6:25)
All Scripture [old testament] is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill [teach] them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-20)Claiming to be saved by our Redeemer yet reviling His Law is infidelity. And He will seek our mind and heart to see who is faithful to Him and who is not, for in our heart and mind should be His law...
“I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds." (Jeremiah 17:10)
"Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works." (Revelation 2:22-23)
Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 5:24)
Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people, the fruit of their devices, because they have not paid attention to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it. (Jeremiah 6:19)So the next time someone is inclined to accuse you of being legalistic, ask them if they are faithful to their spouse. If they answer you "yes"... then ask them if that makes their marriage legalistic. For me, it is my DELIGHT to keep His vows. I'm always learning, ever growing as He grants me understanding... I find out more breaches of faith as I seek and study His word, but I know His grace covers me in those moments of ignorance that I may truly "go and sin no more."
Do you find it burdensome to be faithful to your husband? Nor do I find it burdensome to be faithful to mine.
"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments and His commandments are NOT BURDENSOME." (1 John 5:3)
Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul." (Joshua 22:5)
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses 'seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice." (Matthew 23:1-3)God bless you all out there! May your marriages be blessed, fruitful, humble and ever growing like a tree. And may your betrothal to our Redeemer make you eager for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb upon His return! Praise be to God for His faithfulness to us! In Yeshua's name... Amen.