"Faithfulness in Marriage"
This is a two-fold teaching. The people of Israel have turned from God and “married” the daughter of a foreign god. But there is also a lack of faithfulness in marriage period. God calls it wicked violence to divorce your wife.
Faithfulness In Marriage
A. Last week we saw in Mal. 2:8 that the priests’ failures caused the people to stumble. They stumbled morally and the struggled to stand upright when the world was dragging them down. That failure affected their worship and their life. It affected the way they saw themselves, their future and God.
B. The famine was not physical but spiritual. The spiritual nourishment that should have come through the priesthood to the people was gone. And without good teaching, the people have spiritually left the fold the consequences are huge.
I. The God of Marriage
A. Marriage is sacred before God. Jesus was challenged about divorce and instead of focusing on divorce, Jesus chose to focus on marriage. Listen to what Jesus said that Mark records for us (READ Mark 10:2-9).
B. In the days of Malachi the Hebrews were still under the covenant between them and God that we call the OT. In that covenant, they were not allowed to marry non-Jews. The reason was not that God hated other people; the reason was that people outside of a covenant relationship with God can lead those who are astray. Listen to God’s warning given through Moses to the people (READ Deut. 7:3-4).
C. The family is under attack today. The very idea that I would teach one man with one woman for life is seen by many as archaic, out of step with or even a threat to our enlightened society. I don’t hate people who have attraction for people of the same sex. I know that our national government allows marriage to be defined differently that God does, but that doesn’t make it good or even healthy.
D. God has always given us freedom to choose. His love for us is so great that if we don’t want to follow His ways, we don’t have to. There are eternal consequences, but if you choose to believe they don’t exist, then live this life as you please, but that is not my knowledge of God’s will and way.
E. Listen to parts of our text (READ Mal. 2:10-11). The Jews were a theocracy. They taught that God was sovereign and almighty. They taught that God chose them from all the people of the earth to be His children, and through them would come the blessing of the Messiah for all nations. They had 1500 years history and teaching by the time of Malachi. Their sin as a nation had caused them to be taken into exile, but God delivered them again. What they did in this last 100 years since the decree of Cyrus was walk as they chose instead of as God ordained. They were spiritually separating themselves from God and using religion to play a game with God and themselves.
II. Tears That Don’t Help
A. When life is bad, and the truth of the matter is, it is bad because I walked in my own pathway instead of God’s, it makes it really difficult for me to be angry with God. If I hit the wall with my fist and break my wrist is that the fault of the wall or my own actions?
B. If I break my spiritual vows with God, what should I expect from God? Blessings? A life of peace and joy? Moses could have had an easy life in the palace of Pharaoh, but the Hebrew writer tells us that Moses chose to be mistreated with the people, than to have the pleasure of sin. Malachi speak for God with these words (Mal. 2:13).
C. Crying out to God while continuing to sin doesn’t get me very far. God is not going to change His teachings just so I can have human pleasure. Sin hurts. I go to God in tears, but not in repentance and I call that worship – God calls it empty, vain, worthless.
D. Listen as to why (Mal. 2:14-15). Doesn’t that sound a little like what Jesus told the Pharisees in Mark 10/Luke 19? God made the two one and they chose divorce.
III. God Hates Divorce
A. I want to you hear verse 16, because it is a difficult to translate into English because the word “I” is “He” in the Hebrew. I believe most translations are correct in understanding the “he” to mean God. Therefore, the better understanding of the passage is “I hate divorce, says the Lord the God of Israel.” Jesus doesn’t deny that God allows divorce, but even though God allows it, doesn’t keep God from hating it. Sometimes divorce comes because of the abuse of a spouse in many different forms and that evil of that spouse makes God angry. How angry?
B. The second half of verse 16 is also difficult to translate. The more I study this passage, the more I believe the “garment” is the symbol of marriage and divorce is the violence against God’s covenant and against the spouse. That evil spouse harms their wife or husband deeply and divorce takes that holy garment of marriage and rips it asunder.
A. Because you have a body, there is a physical dimension to your marriage: physical touch and affection. Because you have a soul, there is an emotional dimension your marriage: talking and sharing together. But because you have a spirit, there is a God-centered dimension that cannot be ignored. The secret to maintaining a marriage is to crown Jesus as your Lord individually and Lord over your marriage. He will be the super glue to keep you together.
B. Some of you have felt the violence of a bad marriage and also the emotional effects that divorce has brought. It has hurt you deeply, please understand God loves you and good healing can be found in the love of Christ and church family that cares. Divorce doesn’t make you worthless, but it does mean you have been hurt deeply. I pray God can bring some healing to your wounds. Today we offer the opportunity to pray for your marriage, or for the hurt from divorce. If we can pray for you, please come now.