In Malachi, God addresses two specific issues in their marriages. The first we addressed last time, and related to foreign marriages that were leading the people into idolatry. We saw that God wants pure hearts, and pure lives.
Today, we will look at the second issue in their marriages.
We see in Malachi 2:13-16 that the people were bringing highly emotional displays before the Lord to win favour, but He says: “I’m not listening! Get your relationships right first!”
God didn’t accept their offerings because He was witness between them and their wives. Marriage is a covenant; it is sealed by God; they should have felt the weight of this. It is serious. God stands as witness in marriage; marriage is a covenant sealed before the LORD of Armies!
[PAUSE and let that sink in for a minute! Nothing should come between it!]
Here is some literary context for you to look at with regarding becoming one in marriage:
- Genesis 2:24
- Mark 10:7-9
- Ephesians 5:31
Another thing we see in this passage is God calling their wives their “companion” and that He was seeking godly offspring from the union. In Genesis, He declared woman the “help-mate” of man. In both, there is a sense of working together. And the purpose of their union is to raise up godly offspring. It is a reminder to fear the Lord, and also shows that both husband and wife are to play a role in instructing children in the ways of God.
It’s important to note that in 2:16 some translations read that God hates divorce. For example, the ISV* reads: “Indeed, the LORD God of Israel says that he hates divorce, along with the one who conceals his violence by outward appearances,” says the LORD of the Heavenly Armies. “So guard yourselves carefully, and don’t be unfaithful.”
Most of us have been affected by divorce in some way. It can be a painful issue for many in the church, and we need to look after each other in it. We also need to look at this word in its historical context, (just as earlier, when we looked at God declaring He hated Edom, and loved Jacob). Today, we see “hate” in emotional terms, but that was not the case in this scenario; here it refers to choice.
God’s CHOICE is never for divorce. God’s CHOICE is never for the breaking of any covenant (just like in other places of the Bible we’re told to be wise with our words).
God’s heart is NEVER for divorce. He made it, and places Himself as the witness of the covenant made between husbands and wives. However, He did make exceptions for it in the Law (as Jesus tells us, due to man’s hardness of heart).
See Deuteromony 24:1-4 and Matthew 5:30-32.
Jesus’ audience in Matthew were throwing off their wives for petty excuses. God’s heart is never for divorce. They were not to divorce their wives because they got sick of her and then leave her destitute. They were to take their wedding vows seriously as a covenant before God.
Question: how were the original readers to respond to this rebuke?
[Have a look at the text: Malachi 2:15-16].
God called them to guard themselves. This is an active command! They were to work to keep their marriages healthy, and to guard themselves from wandering from their wives. Just like in Song of Songs:
Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom. (Songs 2:15)
This leads us into application for our lives.
Healthy Heart Habit #3b = Protect marriage; keep it sacred
God’s heart is for marriage to be held in all honour. The marriage covenant is sacred. Marriage needs to be entered in upon only having weighed the full seriousness of the decision. Once entered into, it needs to be remembered that it was a covenant made before God, and He will watch over it and demands our faithfulness in it.
*ISV – Scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version®. Copyright © 1996-forever by The ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission.