BE ON GUARD
Father, I pray that your grace, mercy, and peace, together with truth and love, may fill my heart as I meet with you today.
Read MALACHI 2:10-16
Breaking Covenant Through Divorce
10 Do we not all have one Father[a]? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another?
11 Judah has been unfaithful. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the Lord loves by marrying women who worship a foreign god. 12 As for the man who does this, whoever he may be, may the Lord remove him from the tents of Jacob[b]—even though he brings an offering to the Lord Almighty.
13 Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.
15 Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring.[c] So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.
16 “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,”[d] says the Lord Almighty.
So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.
- Malachi 2:10 Or father
- Malachi 2:12 Or 12 May the Lord remove from the tents of Jacob anyone who gives testimony in behalf of the man who does this
- Malachi 2:15 The meaning of the Hebrew for the first part of this verse is uncertain.
- Malachi 2:16 Or “I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “because the man who divorces his wife covers his garment with violence,”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.’1 Think of reasons for saying ‘Amen’ to that and thank God for them.
In his third oracle Malachi begins to speak as a member of the community, not just as himself, and so says ‘we’. The community should be united with, and under, its one God and Father – but it is not. He points to their marriages as an example of a double breaking of faith: with God and with fellow Judaeans. People were flouting God’s laws which forbade marrying people who worshipped other gods.2 In Israel’s history this usually led to a compromised, half-hearted worship of their God, or a complete rejection of him. Among the returned exiles intermarriage with resident foreigners was probably motivated by economics (the wife’s dowry) or politics (linking with influential families). Malachi calls for the expulsion of people who do this.
In view of the fact that they were breaking the covenant, the Judaeans’ dramatic pleas to God for blessing are worthless hypocrisy. They compound their sin by divorcing their Judaean wives to marry foreigners. Marriage, Malachi says, is a covenant to which God is a witness. He does not see the wife as the husband’s property but as an equal covenant ‘partner’ (v 14). A secure, godly, marriage is the school in which children can learn and practice walking with God.3 Although the exact sense of verse 16 is uncertain, what seems clear is that although the Law allowed for divorce,4 it is not what God wants. Verse 15 echoes the creation story.5 When asked about divorce, Jesus referred to that story and said that divorce was not what God intended but was allowed by Moses because of human failings.6 Because of those, we need to heed Malachi’s words, ‘So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful’ (v 16).
In prayerful reflection, ask God to show you any ways in which you are being unfaithful to him or other people.
Yes Lord, by the Holy Spirit, reveal to me ways in which I am being unfaithful to you, and to others. I confess these failures to you and embrace your forgiveness.
1 Ps 36:5 2 Deut 7:3,4 3 Deut 11:18–21 4 Deut 24:1–4 5 Gen 2:20–24 6 Matt 19:3–9
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