God Hates Divorce
Throughout the preceding nine chapters we have selected such material as we have deemed necessary in the laying of firm foundations. Now as we conclude our studies on holy matrimony in the Old Testament we wish to honour an important law for Bible students: the law of first and last mention. First Mention, of course, is that initial word from God in Genesis chapter 2: "and they shall be one flesh." However, Malachi, some 3,600 years after Adam, is forced to acknowledge the chaos amongst his people as a result of their departure from God's original commands. Neither Malachi nor the Lord Jesus, who came some four hundred years later, made any attempt to patch up the mess, but pointed straight back to what God said "in the beginning." The Lord Jesus "came unto His own" after two thousand years had been fulfilled upon them and found Israel in a pathetic state: "His own received him not" (John 1:11). Now the church's two thousand years have been all but fulfilled. Those who have been so quick to call Israel blind are blind indeed to the pitiful state of things in our time. For we are presiding over the greatest chaos in marriage and the family that the world has ever witnessed.
Malachi opens his 2nd chapter with these words; "And now oh ye priests, this commandment is for you." God has always demanded the highest standard for those who represent Him. Though Moses allowed low standards in order that the hard-hearted may be accommodated within the secular nation of Israel, God had no room for them in the "Israel of God," the "circumcised of heart." To those who would claim that God's high standards were set for priests only, we would say that in the church, we hold to the priesthood of all believers. Malachi continues with his startling revelation and declares that God had cursed the priesthood of his day because they had "profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved" (Malachi 2:11). As a consequence of their profanity they were to be "cut off" both great and small, teacher and scholar alike. They had "gone in the way of Cain" (Jude 1:11). God had "no respect" to their offerings and totally ignored their tearful intercessions. Then in verses 14 - 16 God reveals the grave matter that had precipitated their fall from grace. Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously (Malachi 2:14-16).
The consciences of these priests were "seared as with a hot iron" (1 Timothy 4:2), for when God strove with them they looked up in amazement crying, "wherefore." The Lord then pointed out that He had been a witness at their weddings. In fact, every son of Adam who shall "leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife," has God to his witness. Please note also in verse 14, that the treachery of these men had in no way annulled or dissolved their marriage covenant. God still counted them "one" with the wife of their youth. You see, dear reader, God's word cannot be made subject to treachery or any other sin or circumstance. If He says "the two shall be one," that then is final. The prophet's question, "And did He not make one?" demands a positive answer. God's faithful servant then continues and impresses upon his audience the fundamental role that holy matrimony plays in the raising of children. If this holy foundation be destroyed, total confusion and anarchy will break out, for the children's ability to fear, to trust, to respect and to obey will be destroyed. "Take heed to your spirit and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth." Marital unfaithfulness is spiritual suicide, for no unrepentant adulterer can be a priest before God, nor shall they enter into His holy presence. Malachi continues in verse 16 to emphasise that "God hates divorce." We have heard some agree that this is not His perfect will, but His grace causes Him to tolerate our weaknesses and abide with what He hates. There is nothing new though under the sun; they were saying such things in Malachi's day also. Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment? (Malachi 2:17). If the mighty God of creation declares that vow breaking is evil, who then will dare say, "everyone that doeth evil is good." Solomon gives us grave warning of the woman "Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God" (Proverbs 2:17). The marriage covenant we see here is not ours to do with as we please; it is the covenant of our God. How terribly hard it must have been for Malachi to stand before his fallen people! By the time our Lord Jesus came among them, things were even worse. It caused his disciples great amazement when the Lord stood with Malachi and pointed back to Genesis chapter 2. Not even the strictest interpretation among the Pharisees had dared to go that far; many were offended, but true-hearted men knew that He was true and just.
But what about the church? We have now had our two thousand years. Have we done better than Israel? Soon the Lord Jesus will come again, and what will He find? The so- called priests of our day have mauled and manipulated His word to allow for virtually any kind of marital conduct at all. Humanism and worldly ways have dictated the pace of the most rapid slide down the broad way that this weary old world has ever witnessed. However, even as God had preserved a remnant of righteous men in the day of Israel's visitation, so too will there be a remnant in the church in that day when the trumpet shall sound. The time has come again for those who stand with Malachi and their Lord to declare, "the two shall be one," "they shall no more be two," and "the wife is bound to her husband as long as her husband shall live." Yes, the time has come to be despised and rejected. It was Asaph who has so well summed up the state of things to which we are referring. "But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God (Psalm 50:16-18, 21-23). "And hast been partaker with adulterers." Even those who have not been treacherous in their marital relationships, but quietly go along with the treachery of others, are culpable. When friends, relatives or church members divorce and remarry, it is much easier to remain silent and just go along with it. We have spoken to many who, against their better judgement, have gone along with divorce and remarriage. Such have become [a] "partaker with adulterers." If we have been convicted of this, we should repent by confessing our sin before God and man.
God's greatest wrath is reserved for church leaders who have looked out of their windows to see which way the wind is blowing and then gone along with it. How awesome will be the judgement of those who bless what God has cursed, Throughout the ages people have sought to represent God and at the same time make alliances with "the mammon of unrighteousness" (i.e. money, prestige, power and influences). "No servant can serve two masters" (Luke 16:13).
So we see that there is no variance at all between God's first and last mention of holy matrimony in the Old Testament. "The two shall be one flesh," is God's first and last word. Will we bow our knees, our backs, our heads before a righteous God, or will we bend over backwards to please the people? Any who choose the latter will break their backs, along with their power and authority, with God's holy word. Should we choose the former, we will be "hated of all men." Yet our God-given power and influence shall remain. " If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also" (John 15:20). Have mercy upon us, oh God, in this most dreadful time. May we continue to be salt and light until He comes. "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."