Seven Seals of A Godly BETROTHAL

Abstract of the Sermon preached by Ps Jeff O’Neil on the occasion of the wedding between bro Teen Onn and sis Hui Juan on 3 July 2004

"And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD" (Hosea 2:19-20).

These verses some 40 years ago, were the means God used to assure me of His relationship to me. The Lord graciously used them to confirm and ratify my standing with Him. I was brought to see the meaning of Isaiah, "Thy Maker is thine Husband" (Isa 54:5), and to see what Paul meant when he wrote, "For I have espoused you to one Husband" (2 Cor 11:2).

Whilst of course, these words were spoken to Israel of old to assure them of their new standing as the bride of Christ, they were nevertheless a blessed means of confirmation to my struggling soul about my new connection to Christ.

Now, Christianity, above all else, is a state of betrothal and marriage. This is its purpose and intention. It is the theme that connects the first book of the Bible to the last; and it is the theme that connects time to eternity! This can be seen in the Old Testament; but it is the New Testament that fully discloses the centrality of the vital union between Christ and His Church, which union is fully and finally realised in the book of Revelation as, "The marriage supper of the Lamb" (Rev 19:9). All that is history, present and future, is irresistibly moving to that great and glorious climax,—the eternal cohabiting in blissful oneness of Christ and His Church.

And that is why marriage is God-ordained, and a serious, honourable and committed state to enter into. For it actually foreshadows that perfect state of matrimonial bliss that will be the Church’s unending experience. Paul, on counselling the Ephesian Christians about their respective obligations and love of both husbands and wives, says, "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church" (Eph 5:32).

And every one of us, whether we entered into marriage ignorantly, or otherwise, has the privilege, responsibility and duty of reflecting in our marriage that higher reality that gives marriage its reason, worth, dignity and happiness. Without this ultimate transcendent objective, marriage becomes an irrelevance, and society becomes fragmented.

Eternal Betrothal

In our text, the Lord states three times that He is betrothed, or has entered into a marriage contract with His people. By repeatedly saying this, He gives it emphasis, certainty and reveals the intensity of His love for His people.

And God seals His promise here with seven seals, which is the perfect number. But who is worthy to open the seals and reveal their preciousness? There is only one that is worthy, the heavenly Bridegroom Himself, for it is He that has made these vows. And with His wedding band encircling our hearts, He pledges to us:

1. "I have betrothed thee for ever."

I place the stamp of eternity upon this union, and kiss thee with my never-dying love. The marriage covenant I make with thee is inviolable and covers eternity. There will be no termination of the relationship: no divorce, no separation. I pledge my unswerving, unwavering devotion and fidelity, with also my constant, perpetual protection and presence. The great white throne will fall before I would break my everlasting covenant. What God hath joined together, no man, or powers can rend asunder.

2. "I betroth thee in righteousness."

It is a covenant of righteousness that I make and honour, wherein all its terms and titles I will fulfil in sincerity, and according to law and reason. There will be no discrepancy or failure in any part of my relationship; it will be proper and true, and according to my nature. For, "I am the Lord, thy righteousness," my righteousness is thy righteousness, and my estate, thine estate.

3. "I will betroth thee in judgment."

That is, it is not something I entered into lightly or inadvisedly, for marriage is an honourable estate ordained of God, and it is to be made in solemn deliberation. These promises to thee are given justly, fittingly and lovingly! It is a well-taken oath I make, done with a settled conviction.

4. "I will betroth thee in loving kindness."

Our relationship has sprung from the fount of love in my eternal heart, sending forth loving-kindness as a flood. A never failing, inexhaustible fountain of fullness, bestowing streams of kindnesses that tenderly and graciously cover all your infirmities, "For I have loved thee with an everlasting love." Loving-kindness is your dowry and inheritance.

5. "I will betroth thee with mercies."

My love and grace shall daily send messengers of mercy to prove their constancy, "New every morning will be my mercies," foregoing all miscarriages and bringing presents of forgiveness, favours, and a variety of abundant blessings into your life, "Streams of mercy never ceasing, calls for songs of endless praise."

6. "I will betroth thee in faithfulness."

I am a covenant-keeping God, and I will fulfil all my promises, "Faithful is He that promised, who will also do it." All my promises are, "Yea in Christ and Amen in Him." My Word is my bond, and there will be no infidelity in my love. Every element in our marriage bond shall be faithfully, lovingly and delightfully adhered to, for it is a covenant of grace that binds us.

7. "I betroth thee to know the Lord."

Our espousal shall increase in knowledge, for "now you know in part, but then shall you know even as also you are known." Thou shalt know me in a fuller and deeper way as thy Lord and Husband. Thou shalt rest satisfied in the fullness of my love, and increase eternally in fresh discoveries of my Person and sufficiency.

These are God’s pledges to His Church.

Present Betrothal

But I now speak to this happy couple standing before us, even as we remind ourselves of our own marriages. Such are the affirmations of God in Christ to His Bride, the Church. And do not these avowals set the pattern for your betrothal this day. Each one of them is a necessary element of your undertaking one to another. But instead of seeing them now as seals, liken them to bottles of precious perfumes! And as you enter this day into this blessed state of matrimony, take the stopper out of each bottle, and allow the fragrances to baptise your relationship and fill your lives with their intoxication. You are:

a. "Betrothed for ever."

Release this perfume together, and anoint your bond of union with its fragrance, a fragrance of permanent togetherness. You are joined together for ever, even until death you shall part. In these days of inconsistency and part-time marriages, what a blessing to be assured of a permanent union, because of your mutual love of Christ.

b. "Betrothed in righteousness."

This righteousness ties you together. It is a garment you both wear, and therefore you are not to sully or to pollute your marriage. Living together under the knowledge, that the righteousness of Christ is foundational to your happiness, "Jesus thy blood and righteousness, my beauty are my glorious dress."

c. "Betrothed in judgment."

That is, this is not a relationship that is to be entered into lightly, but you must have made a solemn deliberation. Your vows today must be justly, fittingly and sincerely promised, and that your judgment of love is convinced.

d. "Betrothed in loving kindness."

It must be a love that produces kindness, even when bitter experiences may seek to divide and blight. A loving kindness that overcomes the failures and infirmities of the other. A tender and gentleness of love that melts every frigidity that would seek to cool your union.

e. "Betrothed with mercies."

Mercy should dwell in your souls, sending messages of forgiveness, favours and respect to each other, but also to others who share in your lives.

f. "Betrothed in faithfulness."

Be sure that both of you release this perfume into your marriage, so that forsaking all others, you will cleave only unto each other. Every element of your marriage bond must be lovingly adhered to. For you are not only bound by a marriage covenant that you have sworn before many witnesses and God Himself, but above that you are tied together in the covenant of grace.

g. "Betrothed in knowledge."

It is a great mercy and blessing that you are not unequalled yoked. That you both have that knowledge of Christ, whom to know is life eternal. And marriage will not only deepen your knowledge of each other, but in this new state that you have entered into you will discover greater dimensions to your knowledge of God. Go on to know the Lord, and to share that knowledge with each other and with your family, friends, and the church.


The knowledge of this text has given me a lifelong assurance of Christ’s love for me. May it do so for you, and also confirm and assure of your union together this day. May God bless you with covenant blessings as a consequence of making these vows to each other.

—Jeff O’Neil

"Marriage is both honorable and onerable" (George Swinnock)