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We have seen how the Jews dealt treacherously with their brothers and with the sanctuary. Today, we will see how they dealt treacherously with their wives as well.
III. Against their wives v13-16
Malachi said in verse 13, “This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand.” Why was God not blessing them? They were weeping and groaning, but they were not really repenting. The curse was already upon them! In the latter part of verse 2 in Malachi 2 we read, “indeed, I have cursed them already, because you are not taking it to heart.” They were covering the altar with tears, but to no avail. But, why were they so grieved? Because God no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from their hand. They were not as concerned about God accepting their offerings as much as they were with Him granting them favor. They sensed God’s favor was removed, and wept, but they did not truly repent of their sin.
Malachi goes on in verse 14 and the first part of verse 15, “Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit.” They apparently were divorcing their wives in order to go and marry pagan wives. This not only affected their marriage relationships, but their children. This short-circuited God’s plan for them to produce godly offspring. The latter part of verse 15 says, “And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth.” Some of my good friends divorced after a “Christian” counselor (and I use the term loosely) counseled them that they should not stay together for the sake of the kids. Really? That isn’t what God says. God desires godly offspring! The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 78:5-7, “For He established a testimony in Jacob And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers That they should teach them to their children, 6 That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children, 7 That they should put their confidence in God And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments.” Raising godly children was clearly a priority for God’s people. Back in the law of God, Moses commanded the people, “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, 2 so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. 3 O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. 4 “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:1-9).
These men were divorcing their wives for foreign women and losing their children in the process. No wonder God declares his hatred for divorce in verse 16: “For I hate divorce,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the LORD of hosts.” It seems that the truth of this verse has been danced around for the past several decades. In an effort to help those who have been through a divorce to see that divorce is not the unpardonable sin, pastors and teachers have inadvertently and unintentionally downplayed the seriousness of this sin. Now, after downplaying the severity of this sin, there are people that profess Christ, claim to be members of the church in good standing who divorce, remarry, and often do it all over again without pause.
Let us stop and recall that marriage is meant to be until death do we part. Jesus said in Mark 10:6-9, “from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE. 7 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, 8 AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” I am aware that there are many situations and circumstances that surround divorce from abuse to adultery to abandonment and on and on the issues go. But, let us agree that God’s design and plan is for marriage to be between one man and one woman for life. And let us strive to live that in principle, which might mean you need to repent for a divorce you have in your past. Admit that God hates divorce and repent, receive His forgiveness and move forward with Christ as Your new and faithful husband. It might mean you need to do whatever you can possibly do to stop a divorce that is in process. Do everything you can to reconcile your marriage. It definitely means that we all need to work hard at healing, strengthening, and nourishing our marriages. God hates divorce and we should to. The good news is that God does not hate divorced people, but he does hate divorce!
Divorce affects our children and ultimately our society. Gibbon in his work on the rise and fall of the Roman Empire listed several reasons for the collapse of the Roman Empire. One primary reason for the collapse of that super power was the rapid increase of divorce, with the undermining of the sanctity of the home. We need to check our culture when it contradicts or conflicts with God’s Word and standard. One way that our culture is preparing us for divorce is the way in which we pursue marriage. I am convinced that dating is divorce prep. Young people get together with the opposite sex, alone, unsupervised, and “fall in love.” In time, after pieces of hearts, and often more, have been shared, a nasty break-up occurs. In time, another love is discovered until it ends abruptly. This falling in love and out of love happens multiple times until the young person is “ready” to be married, generally after graduating college, sometimes with a Master’s degree, and acquiring a thriving career. By this time, they have plenty of baggage to take into a marriage and they have been well prepared to fall in and out of love. They have been trained to walk in and out of a relationship, so that when things change in the marriage, one of the first lines of action is to walk away; divorce. In the words of Voddie Baucham, “Unless your child is wiser than Solomon, stronger than Samson, and more godly than David, they are susceptible to sexual sin, and these premature relationships serve as open invitations. Being involved in such exclusive relationships before you are ready to be married is like going shopping without any money; either you will leave frustrated, or you will take something that doesn’t belong to you.” We need to be willing to check our culture and push back against our culture when it pushes against the wisdom and the Word of God.
Simply put, we need to take heed. Malachi goes on in verse 16, “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” Again in the latter part of verse 15, “Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth.” Let us not deal treacherously with the wife of our youth by divorcing her. Let us not deal treacherously with the wife of our youth by how we treat her in marriage…or before we marry…or even before we meet her by how we follow the culture’s prescription for us instead of God’s wisdom for us. In other words, we need to watch ourselves. We must be on guard.
Let me end this portion of our study with some of the best news you will ever hear, Jesus Christ is the faithful bridegroom. He will never be unfaithful. He will never leave or forsake you. He will never divorce you if you are His bride! Don't look to your spouse to fulfill you. Look to the perfect groom: Jesus Christ Himself! And let us look forward to the day when we can, as brothers and sisters in Christ, enter His sanctuary, and enjoy the wedding feast of the Lamb as His eternal bride. If you don't know Him, please explore the resources here!