The Book of Malachi, Lesson X, Malachi 2:13-16
God in the book of Malachi, the second chapter has vehemently condemned the intermarriage of his people with the people of the lands and has described it as treacherous for it is full of deceit and cover up and a profaning of the covenant of their fathers.
In verse 10 God asks, Have we not all one father?
In this he is asking “Does not the sin of one family member affect all family members?”
Now one of the principles of the world is that there is no wrong done between two consenting adults who engage in activities with each other if no harm comes to anyone else.
This is in the world’s operating manual but nowhere will you find this in God’s word for in God’s word we know that our sin affects the body of Christ, the family of God.
For a believer to disobey God’s word in the matter of marriage is to sin against God and the people of God.
There used to be such a thing as the fabric of society and that term was used to describe how interwoven all of us are with each other.
That idea is no longer expounded for we are all encouraged to do what we please as if what we do has no effect on others.
Today this is expounded as the Libertarian idea but it is an idea foreign to the scriptures.
For no man or woman, boy or girl is an island and that is especially true in the family of God, or as we call it the body of Christ.
The word treacherously is used in verse 10 because treachery means deceit or cover up.
God commands that the family of God be pure and unadulterated that his covenant relationship be maintained.
But to intermix marriage is to distort that relationship.
It produces a watered down people, a lukewarm people, a “whatever” people, a weak people of compromise and confusion.
Unions between believers and unbelievers are simply the addition of leaven into the church and you all know that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.
Now Malachi in referring to this sin says Judah has married the daughter of a strange god.
Intermarriage also brings with it strange gods for all gods apart from Jehovah are strange and are simply idols.
Anyone who has not believed on the Lord Jesus Christ believes in other gods.
Today it may not be a god fashioned with hands but instead it is the god of self, the god of self-esteem, the god of money or power or status.
Marrying outside the body of Christ will link God’s people to idols and will be detrimental to that body.
All actions of the parts of the body of Christ will affect the body.
Sin will always have its consequences, even marriage to the most honorable, honest, intelligent, wealthy, promise keeping sacrificial unbeliever that there can be.
Disobedience to that which God commands for your good will never come out as it could have.
Now God is not finished with instruction concerning marriage for in Malachi 2:13-16 he deals with unfaithfulness in marriage for He has brought marriage into being with vows said: until death do ye part.
God hates divorce described as “putting away” as recorded in verse 16 with the words: For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away.
I want to read this passage from two versions of the Bible for clarities sake, first from the King James Bible and then from the New King James Bible for I believe it will help us understand the heart of God in this important matter of divorce.
King James Version: Malachi 2:13-16, 13 And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.14 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.15 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.16 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.
Now from the New King James Version: Malachi 2:13-16, 13 This is another thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with your tears. You cry and moan because the Lord does not accept your offerings. He is not pleased with what you bring. 14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord sees how you treated the wife you married when you were young. You broke your promise with her. She was your partner. You promised yourself to her. 15 God made husbands and wives to become one body and one spirit for his purpose. This is so they would have children who are true to God. So be careful. Do not break your promise with the wife you married when you were young. 16 The Lord God of Israel says, “I hate divorce. And I hate people who do cruel things as easily as they put on clothes,” says the Lord of heaven’s armies. So be careful. And do not break your trust.
God begins this instruction by bringing to mind what is taking place at the altar of sacrifice.
Men are shedding tears, crying and moaning is taking place with an understanding that offerings are not bringing good results to those who have brought the offerings.
Perhaps their crops were failing, the bottom line on their profit/loss statement did not satisfy or other doomful things were happening in their lives and questions were being raised as to why this was occurring.
Why is the Lord not regarding their offerings?
Here we are bringing to the altar the best of what we have and there is no noticeable result in our life and on the contrary there seems to be a curse.
So God answers plainly that He is not pleased with what they bring and it again boils down to the principle that obedience is better than sacrifice.
It boils down to what was the outcome of vows that were expressed to the wife of their youth and the breaking of promises with her.
So in this, God unfolds his perspective on marriage and divorce and gives some principles for promoting satisfying marriage relationships that will glorify Him.
We are to note that in this instruction God addresses men.
Study the Bible even quickly and it is easy to see that most instruction is addressed to men, and not to women.
Men are assigned the leadership role in marriage and men are most responsible for cultivating satisfying marriages.
Today it is Satan’s desire to see the suppression of men and men’s role in marriage.
Equality is preached but it is Satan’s desire that men be denigrated below equality and any God assigned role be taken from them. Simply a Yes Dear is to be required of men!
Now God has instituted marriage but man has instituted divorce.
Jesus said in Matthew 19:8, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
All of us enter marriage with hardness of heart for all of us enter marriage with a nature that includes heart hardness.
It is something we need not cultivate for it comes as standard equipment, at no extra charge.
Now that hardness of heart usually cannot be seen at the marriage ceremony but given a respectable honeymoon period I can guarantee that hardness of heart will show itself in both parties.
If you get married you will have problems for between any two sinners, given enough time, problems will arise.
But take two sinners and put them together in an intimate relationship like marriage the problems will be given a 10 at times on the Olympics marriage rating scale.
But praise God He does not leave us ignorant of dealing with problems for in His word He gives us godly ways of solving those problems.
In this passage we are given to see men question God as to His blessings upon their businesses and in this asking we see outward actions on their part relative to offerings they give to God’s altar.
But God does not bring advice to them regarding better business practices which will then bring better profits thereby wiping away their tears.
One of our failings is not being able to identify the source of problems in our lives and one of those failings is always thinking too close to the problem.
These men were looking for God’s blessings on them but God is telling them his blessings have nothing to do with their business practices but to what is taking place in their homes.
We are then given to know God’s priority in life, marriage is to be given honor over livelihood.
The home is to be ahead of the business or the job or the calling.
God desires offerings but offerings do not replace obedience to His word.
Jesus reminded us of this in Matthew 5:23-24, Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
And Peter speaks to this problem with regard to marriage in I Peter 3:7, Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
So we see here a connection with the state of your marriage and the effectiveness of your prayers.
Your prayers may be going as high as the ceiling and there seems to be no reply from God except the question: How are things going with your wife?
So you answer, On, I just gave a good offering to help the missionaries in Haiti and in India and in Peru.
And I intend to volunteer for the work day at the church and also to encourage the Pastor who is having medical needs.
So everything is going well with my Lord but the Lord comes back and corrects:
No, things are not going well with me if things are not going well in your marriage.
Get things right with her and then bring the offerings with a pure heart.
To do otherwise is to continue in the hypocrisy of offerings from one who deals treacherously at home.
God has taken two and made one that he may seek a godly seed and in this union has made no provision for divorce for divorce comes because of hardness of the heart.
As we have said, Moses gave permission for divorce while knowing that God hates it for God hates sin but it is better to live apart than in constant war.
Divorce is an abrogation of vows.
It is a turning away from promises to God to be one with another that godly seed be preserved.
Marriage brings glory to God for it points to the marriage of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom there is never separation for He has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.
This is to be the vow of the heart that comes with marriage.
God knows the wickedness of our heart and therefore he says in verse 16 take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.
In a nutshell God is saying to husbands, Nip things in the bud lest things that are small grow out of proportion.
Nip it in the bud means to suppress or destroy something at an early stage.
It means pull the weeds before the roots get so deep that they cannot be pulled without great effort and perhaps great hurt.
It is so easy to grow tolerant to things in which we should show no tolerance.
It is easy to fit into a tolerance of inattention to your wife’s needs.
It is so easy to not settle things at an early stage and let things get out of hand because of weakness in confronting issues when they are small.
It is so easy to drift from a union of oneness to separate worlds and separate interests where life beckons each to be apart.
Take heed to your spirit!
Where is your spirit leading you?
Is it leading you to excuse your own sin and to blame your mate?
The men who were in despair, crying and moaning and weeping about the lack of blessing in their lives had left their wives of their youth.
They had taken up women of the land, they had divorced the one to whom they had given themselves and then they had the gall to offer to God, what was in actuality a bribe to get a blessing.
How appropriate is the truth that the heart is deceitful above all things and so desperately wicked.
Sinners live in a dream world dreaming of a God who is not righteous, a God who does not hate sin, a God who overlooks all wickedness and covers up all treachery.
But God’s word is true as said in I Peter 3:12, For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.