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12 Say now to the rebellious house, Do you not know and realize what these things mean? Tell them, Behold, the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and took its king [Jehoiachin] and its princes and brought them with him to Babylon.
13 And he took one of the royal family [the king’s uncle, Zedekiah] and made a covenant with him, putting him under oath. He also took the mighty and chief men of the land,
14 That the kingdom might become low and base and be unable to lift itself up, but that by keeping his [Nebuchadnezzar’s] covenant it might stand.
15 But he [Zedekiah] rebelled against him [Nebuchadnezzar] in sending his ambassadors into Egypt, that they might give him horses and much people. Will he prosper? Will he escape who does such things? Can he break the covenant with [Babylon] and yet escape?
16 As I live, says the Lord God, surely in the place where the king [Nebuchadnezzar] dwells who made [Zedekiah as vassal] king, whose oath [Zedekiah] despised and whose covenant he broke, even with him in the midst of Babylon shall [Zedekiah] die.
17 Neither shall Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company help him in the war when the [Babylonians] cast up mounds and build forts to destroy many lives.
18 For [Zedekiah] despised the oath and broke the covenant and behold, he had given his hand, and yet has done all these things; he shall not escape.
19 Therefore thus says the Lord God: As I live, surely My oath [made for Me by Nebuchadnezzar] that [Zedekiah] has despised and My covenant with him that he has broken, I will even bring down on his own head.
20 And I will spread My net over him, and he shall be taken in My snare; and I will bring him to Babylon and will enter into judgment and punishment with him there for his trespass and treason that he has committed against Me.
(Ezekiel 17:12-20 AMP; all italics are mine)
Before I get into the above Scriptures for this writing I want to backtrack to II Kings 24 for a little history. This is not an exhaustive teaching but rather a parallel – one that will allow you see a glimpse of a Covenant relationship.
Jehoiachin became King of Jerusalem when his father died and he did evil in the sight of God. As a result, God’s punishment came upon the land and the pagan king of Babylon — King Nebuchadnezzar – besieged Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar took all the chiefest of people captivity and left only the poorest of the land. In so doing, he made Jehoiachin’s uncle (Mattaniah) King in his stead and changed his name to Zedekiah. In making Zedekiah vassal king over all Judah, a Covenant was established between a King of the House of Judah and a pagan king of Babylon. Zedekiah reigned eleven years before his rebellion against the king of Babylon.
Read the Scriptures above from Ezekiel again. It’s clear that the King and his family from the House of Judah were taken captive by a pagan king. The pagan king takes all the royals and leaves all the peasants and poor and gives them a vassal king to rule over them in exchange for peace and prosperity. Why did Nebuchadnezzar leave the poorest behind? So they couldn’t rise up against him. Judah had no power and no mighty men of valor. They were hostages held to keep the covenant. However, Zedekiah later sends for help from the Egyptian Pharaoh asking for “horses and much people” that he may rebel against Nebuchadnezzar. Clearly, Zedekiah had in mind to get out of the Covenant relationship with the pagan king. Through his treachery he exposed his own people to death.
At first glance, one wonders what would could possibly be wrong with a King from the captive House of Judah rebelling against a pagan king who had besieged them. Verse 12 clearly calls Jerusalem (Judah) a rebellious house! But why? Because Zedekiah “despised the oath and broke the Covenant” that he had given his hand to. He gave his hand to ratify the Covenant between them and swear his obedience and subjection. Because of his treachery, God says he shall not escape.
King Zedekiah, though wicked, represented the House of Judah. Judah, though rebellious, still belonged to God. Nebuchadnezzar, a pagan king, knew not God in his heart. The captivity of Jerusalem was punishment sent from God for their wicked idolatry – but even in their wicked state, God was merciful by allowing them peace under their captor. But this only so long as the Covenant remained in effect between the two kings.
Again the question begs to be answered. What could possibly be so wrong with the captive king wanting to be freed from the Vow he had made with his captor? The real answer is because the Vow – though seemingly made between two people – was made between God and the pagan king. God considered it HIS covenant Vow because the oath was made by one who represented HIM. Zedekiah perjured Himself and he perjured the God of his people. By virtue of that fact alone, God was forced to avenge HIS Holy and Righteous Name though it be upon His own people.
Don’t you find it interesting that the pagan king kept his side of the Covenant and God’s people despised it?
God does not break His covenants…
A Despised Vow
So what’s the relation between two kings — the King of the House of Judah and a pagan king — and a Covenant Marriage ending in divorce?
A Covenant Vow despised…
In the Old Testament, a Covenant Vow was made in full effect by the severing in half of a heifer, goat or a ram. The two halves were laid side by side and those who were making the Vow walked between the two pieces formally sanctioning the oath in full.
9 So the LORD said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”
10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half.
17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces.
18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land. . . . .
(Genesis 15:9-10; 17-18 NIV)
Zedekiah and Nebuchadnezzar made a Covenant Vow between a man and a man. In this Covenant, a solemn oath or Vow was made involving not just the two men but also two nations under the men (kings). Each party bound himself to fulfill certain conditions and in so doing, Zedekiah’s people were assured of receiving certain advantages – i.e., being allowed to remain as a nation and continue to profit under the dominion of Nebuchadnezzar.
In making this Covenant, God was solemnly invoked as a witness and an oath was sworn. Selah… (pause and think about that…)
Again, because God’s people were involved and Zedekiah (though doing wicked before God) represented God in taking this Vow. It was ratified by the giving of his hand in making it. It is sacred, binding and lifelong unto death. Simply stated, it is binding on not only those who take this oath and make this Vow, but it is also binding on the One Who was represented – God.
For Zedekiah’s rebellion against this Vow by seeking the army’s of Egypt, God said he would certainly die by the sword in Babylon.
To Vow a Vow
21 When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not be slack in paying it, for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and slackness would be sin in you.
22 But if you refrain from vowing, it will not be sin in you.
23 The vow which has passed your lips you shall be watchful to perform, a voluntary offering which you have made to the Lord your God, which you have promised with your mouth.
(Deuteronomy 23:21-23 AMP)
A Marriage “compact” is called a Covenant of God because the Marriage was made in God’s Holy Name. It has the same principles and characteristics as the Covenant between a man and a man – as in the two kings. Heavy thought when you think that there IS a consequence to our rebellion. We may not be sent to die in the midst of a pagan nation, but we who ignore the Vows we make and seek to break them do pay a price… God is a Righteous God. He is Faithful and True to His Word. He will not allow disobedience to it to go unpunished.
How many Marriages start off as a Covenant Vow between a pagan and a Christian? Does God consider that Marriage null, dead, void and of no substance because of the presence of a pagan within the confines of the Vow? Quite the contrary. We’ve quickly established that a Covenant Vow existed between a pagan king and a king, who while he did evil in the sight of God, represented God. So then a Covenant Vow between two people, a pagan and a Christian, who speak a Vow with their own lips invoking the Name of God are making that Covenant Vow with God. It is now His Covenant – no matter who the parties are. God is the unseen Witness.
14 Yet you ask, Why does He reject it? Because the Lord was witness [to the covenant made at your marriage] between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously and to whom you were faithless. Yet she is your companion and the wife of your covenant [made by your marriage vows].
(Malachi 2:14 AMP)
The Vows we spoke to one another on the day we Married, we spoke voluntarily. The Vow which has passed our lips was a voluntary offering which we have made to the Lord our God which we have promised with our own mouth. (see vs 23 above) We have given our words and our hand as Zedekiah did to fully approve the spoken Vow. Are we any less guilty than Zedekiah? Shall we escape our treason? Being the created, who are we to be slack in paying our Vow that we vowed to one another; or forget that what we really did was make a Vow to God and with God — and then turn and renege? We may think we are merely divorcing ourselves from an insufferable Spouse (Covenant Mate) for a reason that we and the world would call “justifiable,” but we are not only reneging on our Vows to each other — what we’re really doing is reneging on our Vow to God! Surely He will require it of us… Selah…
The Faithfulness of A Vow of God
9 If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].
(1 John 1:9 AMP)
If we can look past our circumstances at current – and realize that our enemy is not our Covenant Spouse but the powers and principalities of darkness that have taken our Spouse (or even us) captive to do the will of darkness – and continue to realize even further that it is GOD Who gives us the strength and ability to do HIS Will and walk in the Light of HIS Love, Mercy and Grace, that same Love, Mercy and Grace He bestowed on us through a Covenant He made in His own Blood, would we be so quick to walk?
I thank my God that when I walked out the door on my Covenant Vow that my God didn’t walk out on me… I thank my God that He is a God of faithfulness even when I am not. I thank my God that He loves me enough to leave the other 99 sheep in the pasture and come looking for this one wayward sheep of His to bring her back home to Him. He IS faithful and just – true to His own promises – to forgive me, bringing me to a godly sorrow that leads to repentance. True repentance always turns you around and brings you back home.
God’s faithfulness to His Covenant and His desire to save were so great that He would revive His people once more, shepherd them with a compassion beyond any comprehension, cleanse them of all their defilement and filth, reconstitute and reconcile them as a perfect expression of His kingdom, overwhelming all the forces and powers arrayed against them, displaying His glory among the nations and restore the glory of His presence to the holy city.
We are the temple of the living God! Would He do no less for us?
For the one who stands in the gap for the restoration of their Marriage – whether separated, on the verge of divorce or already divorced – we will come to know that this isn’t about us and what we want. It’s about a right relationship with the living God. It’s about a Covenant Vow that each of us made when we made Him Lord of our own life.
If we think we can walk out on that Covenant relationship to walk after our own devices, surely He will require it of us….
Surely He has.
© 2009 Celia Ann. All rights reserved by Celia Ann and The Ephesian Marriage unless otherwise stated. All other symbols are the trademark of their respective owners.