God Hates…. Malachi 2:16
“For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce,
For it covers one’s garment with violence,” says the LORD
of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit,
That you do not deal treacherously.”
We spend a lot of time talking about one thing that God hates. It is as though God is partial to certain sins, and forgiving to certain sinners, and this we know is not true. Malachi brings our attention to a truth that we have wandered away from.
As society argues about who should get married (and it’s a valid argument), we have turned our attention from a needed discussion about divorce. As I studied to preach a message entitled “Love and Happiness” from Mark 10:9, I came across this passage in Malachi that reveals the heart of our God.
God simply hates divorce!!! What a strong word that is! Hate is a word that is normally stricken from being used because it carries such power. The implication of using this word insinuate a strong level of disgust, disdain, and detest, and thus is carries a finality to it that is not applicable in most situations and circumstances.
Yet, God’s Word records, “He hates divorce,”
Mind you, He does not hate divorced people!
This is a mistake that the church has made in its treatment/response to divorcees in the past. God does not hate people that have gone through divorce, neither does He hate those who are considering it and will go through it in the future. Our God loves His people! Adores His creation! But “He hates divorce”! He doesn’t want us to break our covenants with each other.
Marriage is about covenant!
Divorce is a broken covenant, and our God believes that a covenant is sacred and forever. Our God is longsuffering; thus, He is willing and able to honor covenant agreements even though it may experience challenges. God is able to focus on the covenant for His name’s sake, upholding His end of the agreement because it serves as an indication of His character and furthermore, judgement. God is committed to those He commits too, even when they lack the capacity to honor the agreement, they have taken with Him.
Today, each person enters into the agreement via their own personal will. Men choose whom they will lead, and women choose who they will follow.
In this message, I pushed harder on the men because of the implications of the passage. In this time, men entered into a covenant of their choosing, and the wife entered based upon the decision of her father.
The men were doing the choosing.
It was the man who was to investigate the wife and family and make a sound decision. Likewise, it was the father who was to investigate the husband and family and make a sound decision for his daughter. She was more than a dowery. He was to ensure that she was properly covered as he had covered her, not to give her away to the first one with interest or wealth.
The reality is once she was divorced, outside of family help, this divorced woman would have lost a significant amount of value. She would be in danger never to be covered again, and to many would be a community outcast. This marriage had to work! A failure in marriage was a lifetime sentence for the woman, whereas the man could move on and marry yet again. Marriages were failing because the men had weakened it by choosing to marry based upon the lack of control of their flesh, which also sadly led to many breaking their covenant.
God watched all this and was saddened! His heart was broken seeing people enter into a bond that was to be forever and choosing to abandon it because of their inability to grow together and sacrifice with one another. People wandered through life looking for excitement and adventure and rejected the stability and familiarity of the love of their youth. A bond that was to make people more like God, struggled to mold selfish, self-centered, and greedy people who responded more to their stomachs than the truth of the Word of God!
Sadly, this was not new! Moses too faced the same community Malachi lived in. Moses, as a spokesman for God, fought to get people to honor their covenants, but gave in to the pressure of those who wanted to form new covenants or be released to explore life outside of the bond. Both God and Moses could see what it would do to the community, but the hearts of the people were far from God, and unwilling to align with His will for their lives.
Little by little, broken covenants began to wear at the foundation of their society.
Families had issues with one another, and individuals lived with the pain and shame of their decision. Children experienced the insecurity that accompanied broken bonds, and families wandered in the confusion of an unsure future. Families were restructured before their very eyes, and the relationship that once pointed them back to the oneness of God, now mirrored the fallen angel and the original man and woman.
I remain concerned about the bond of marriage. Today, we see marriage as the goal of many, but the eternal and forever view of the marriage covenant has faded. There are some that see marriage just as a temporal relationship that reflect the views and needs of today’s self, and not foundation upon which all things will be build and sustained in the future.
This was written not to say divorce should never happen, but to say that it should never happen. Why?
God makes His statement about marriage not only to say that it shouldn’t happen, but to inform people of His expectations before they enter into it. We must not enter into it without fully understanding what they were entering into. God wanted man thinking forever, not right now! God wanted us entering in with our full heart and commitment, and not part of our heart and an exit plan.
Sadly, we see not only a rise in domestic abuse, but a rise in divorce. Even worse, we are seeing people ages 55 to 70 get a divorce. Some of these couples have been in covenant for over 25 to 30 years, and then break covenant towards life’s end.
What is happening to our marriages? Why are so many willing to break their
vows after honoring them for so many years?
I am afraid that people are not only growing apart, but that they are not growing at all. Sadly, some of us are growing in age, but not maturing as people. We are learning how to grow our businesses and develop our personal brands but are not growing Spiritually. The people of old grew apart from God, and this distance allowed them the space to grow distant from each other. The lack of sacrifice and discipline to their God resulted in a lack of sacrifice and discipline to their spouse. Their choosing flesh over Spirit was manifesting itself in both their covenant relationship with God and man, and we are seeing a repeat of this today.
I believe God still hates divorce! He models this in His relationship with us! He entered into covenant with His people and honored it despite them. Furthermore, He expects us to honor it as well.
Disclaimer: If you are in an abusive relationship……GET OUT!!!!! PLEASE!!!!! God hating divorce doesn’t mean you have signed up for a lifetime of punishment at the hands of someone that is not submitted to Him!!!! Love yourself enough to sign the papers!!!!