In Malachi chapter 2, the prophet charges the men of Israel with unfaithfulness to their wives and with unjustly putting them away in divorce. In the flow of his argument he explains one key reason why God ordained the one-flesh union of marriage, and thus why it is so important to maintain that holy union. Malachi 2:15 says, “Did He not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring.” What was God seeking in the marriages of His covenant people? Godly offspring. Generations of covenant children whose mouths would be full of God’s praise, shouting “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
We see this purpose for the marriages of God’s people throughout Scripture. God covenanted with Abraham saying, “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your seed after you in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to you, and to your seed after you. . . . And God said unto Abraham, ‘You shall keep My covenant therefore, you, and your seed after you in their generations” (Gen. 17:7-9). Moses said the same to the children of Israel who were poised to enter the Promised Land, “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations” (Deut. 7:9). We could go on through David, the Old Testament prophets, the Lord Jesus, Peter at Pentecost, and Paul to the Corinthians. Over and over we see God’s design for His covenant people, that they would produce generations of covenant children. For, as Jesus quoted the Psalmist, “Out of the mouths of babes and nursing infants You have ordained praise!” (Matt. 21.16).
So, our chief aim in bringing children into this world is to have godly offspring, believing children, worshiping children. So, as the father of all who believe, Abraham, gave his children the covenant sign of circumcision, we also bring our children to the Lord to receive the New Covenant sign of baptism. By doing this we affirm our faith in the promise, which is for us and for our children. And as we keep covenant with God by His grace, so we command our children after us to keep covenant with God. As our children grow, we point back to their baptism and remind them that they belong to God. We can tell them, “You have received the covenant sign of baptism. That marks you out for God. He has shown you such great kindness. And when you sin, you are breaking covenant with God. Because of your covenant breaking Jesus has come to save you and fulfill the meaning of your baptism by cleansing your sin and reconciling you to God. Because of what Jesus has done you can love and praise God as your God, your faithful, covenant keeping God. He will never leave you.”
And so these children have been brought by their parents this morning, covenant children, to receive the sign of the covenant. Parents, we are grateful that God has blessed you with these children, and given you the desire to see your daughters walking with God in the liberty of the gospel. May you be encouraged by the promise of God to you and to your children, as you continue to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
A Baptismal Prayer
Unchanging God, faithful in all Your ways, we bless You for covenanting with us and with our children forever. May your blessing attend this sacrament, so that these children may always rejoice in the LORD, and take joy in the God of their salvation, for the praise of Your grace forever. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.