The 5th sermon in our journey through the book of Malachi, under the overall heading of – “From the ashes of failure to the anticipated future.” The practical application of the teaching will be worked out in the house groups.
When something is repeated it usually means that it is important, so when God accused his people on five occasions in a few verses of – “breaking faith” then we are required to sit up and take note of this important message. But how had they broken faith with God and with one another? The answer is to be found in two key areas, described using extremely strong and colourful language:-
1 – Marriage.
They had “broken faith” – “By marrying the daughter of a foreign God.” Instead of marrying within the community of faith, Israel had intermarried with the surrounding nations. The issue was not nationality, but the fact that these women were idol worshippers who would eventually turn Israel away from the living God (Deuteronomy 7 v 3 – 4), as had happened in the times of Ezra, Nehemiah, and especially King Solomon (1 Kings 11 v 2 – 4.)
Similar warnings are found in the pages of the NT where a believer is prohibited from marrying an unbeliever due to the lack of common ground between them (1 Corinthians 7 v 39 & 2 Corinthians 6 v 14.)
Principle – A Christian should only marry another Christian.
2 – Divorce.
In order to marry these foreign women the men had “broken faith” by divorcing – “the wife of your youth,” something which God declared that he hated.
A broader sweep of Biblical teaching on divorce uncovers that it is never encouraged and only reluctantly permitted under very limited circumstances such as sexual immorality (Matthew 19 v 9) and when a none Christian chooses to desert a believing spouse who has become a Christian subsequent to the marriage (2 Corinthians 7 v 12 – 13.)
Principle – God hates divorce and only reluctantly permits it as a concession to human sin, in very limited circumstances.
God hates divorce (but not divorced people) because he has such a high view of marriage, as illustrated here in a really positive statement about three aspects of the divine institution:-
A – Partnership.
The wife is spoken of as a – “partner” or a companion, as Eve was to Adam (Genesis 2 v 18.) Marriage is to be seen as a shared partnership with complimentary roles.
The relationship is spoken of as – “the wife of your marriage covenant,” emphasising that marriage is not a short term contract, but a lifelong binding covenant which God himself witnesses.
C – Procreation.
God has made husband and wife one flesh and spirit because he is – “seeking godly offspring.” He desires that Godly parents pass on their faith to their children, which can only really happen when both are Christians and the house is not divided.
But what is the antidote to “breaking faith?” The same phrase, repeated twice, provides us with the answer – “guard yourself in your spirit.” God’s people must protect their marriages by being faithful to their sacred vows and by fulfilling the purposes of their marriage so that it will not end in divorce.
Theme: “What God hates!”
Reading: Malachi 2 v 10 – 16
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Bev Sills