Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Why God Hates Divorce”
Malachi 2:13b-16 (ESV)
“You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”
Are you surprised to find God taking such offence at divorce? In addition to defectives animals offered for sacrifices, rampant divorce among the Israelites caused God to reject these offerings. Even so, I’m more surprised that divorce was an issue back in the 5th century B.C. Israel as it is today when hardly anyone, including some believers, would bat an eye over this. Since divorce among the believers is quite widespread, many churches have opted to remain silent, but instead speak against same sex marriage.
Back in Malachi’s day, God certainly cared about the betrayed wives and the forlorn children. That was on the prophet’s mind as he reminded the men to keep the covenant of marriage. But God was also concerned about another covenant, the bond between “Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32). A “profound mystery” behind the institution of marriage between a man and a woman, established from the very beginning, is this: to foreshadow what God will do one day for humanity, who is separated from Him because of sins, and in time, to reconcile them “to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them” (2 Cor. 5:19).
Divorce embodies the breaking of this covenant while same sex marriage distorts it because Christ’s love and sacrifice for the church is founded upon husbands loving their wives (Eph. 5:25). The first male and female whom God created (Gn. 1:27) were merely the first couple to have the opportunity to foreshadow the covenant between Christ and the church. And if you are married, or hope to one day, we need to live it out as an essential aspect of the message of reconciliation which we are to proclaim.
But, if you are having trouble with your spouse right now, not much of this may have helped you. My best move has always been this: Alone in a room, I say to God: “I’ve been telling my wife all her wrongs; tell me now my faults.” After being informed, I tell my wife, “I am sorry.” That’s how our marriage has survived. Try it. What is there to lose except a little pride, which we can do without just fine!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I marvel at Your wonderful and intricate plan to reconcile us back to You. While I recognize that we may or may not have entered into this world through the institution of marriage, I thank You that every one of us has the opportunity to “wed” Christ through having faith in him and what was accomplished on the Cross. How thankful I am to You that Christ loves and cares for me. Amen
Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 45
Lunch Break Study
Read Eph. 5:21-33 (ESV): “Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
1 Peter 3:7 (ESV): “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
Questions to Consider
- The submission issue always riles up some people. What is the overall tenor of this passage? Is it one of domination and submission as in enslavement?
- How should husbands treat their wives? What should they do for them?
- Ultimately, what is the main message of this passage?
- First of all, before wives are told to submit to their husbands, everyone is told to submit to one another. The tenor of the passage calls for humility by all. Before men protest, remember that even Christ submitted to his father. The writer of the Hebrews says, “Jesus . . . offered up prayers . . . and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission” (Heb. 5:7).
- Husbands should treat their wives with respect, honor, care and self-sacrifice. They should also share God’s word with them so they may be sanctified (i.e., separated from the influence of the world). For instance, to a stay-home mom who is surrounded by career women, her husband needs to share God’s word that values bringing up children (1 Tim. 5:10) and also his appreciation of her.
- God in Christ loves us beyond our imagination. This love is described by Paul like this: “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-9).
Spend a moment praying with your spouse. If you are single desiring to be married one day, pray for a godly mate. If you are neither, then pray for the marriage of your parents or friends.