This is the sermon for Sunday, January 30th 2011.

Malachi part 5

The covenant of marriage.

Malachi 2:10-16 NIV – 10 Do we not all have one Father? 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—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. 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,” says the LORD Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

Introduction: This is the 5th sermon in our verse by verse sermon series into the book the Malachi.  Last time we looked at the seriousness of ministry and how those who are called by God to minister should take this calling serious, both in action and in doctrine.

Today we are going to look at the covenant of marriage.  In Malachi’s time as we as ours, the concept and covenant of marriage is taken so lightly.  Oh, we say vows, but to many the vows are meaningless.  I believe God not only wants people that honor him, but marriages and the offspring of those marriages to honor Him as well.  God takes the marriage covenant between a man and woman very serious, as verses 10-16 will reveal.  Let’s begin unpacking these verses this morning.

Treating the Fatherhood of God with contempt.

Malachi 2:10 – Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another?

Do we not all have one Father?  Did not one God create us?

  • This is not talking about the universal fatherhood of God; meaning that God is everyone’s Father.
  • This has to do with God’s elective love that He revealed in Chapter one.
  • In the Old Testament God revealed His love to the Jews by choosing them amongst the nations.  He separated them and created a nation out of them from Abraham.
  • In these days, God has raised up for Himself a kingdom of priests from every tribe, tongue, people group, and nation.  He has called them out of the sinfulness of fallen mankind through His love.

Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another?

  • And yet in the midst of all this, the Jews profaned the covenant between them and God by being unfaithful to the covenant and to one another.
  • And yet in spite of God’s great love for His church through Jesus Christ, the church has not been faithful to God at all.
  • We have profaned the covenant God has made with us through Jesus Christ.

When marriage becomes detestable.

Malachi 2:11-12 – 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—even though he brings an offering to the LORD Almighty.

The unfaithfulness of Judah. (verse 11)

  • Here we see the seriousness of the covenant of marriage to God.
  • God forbade Israel from marrying foreign women; not because of race differences, but because they worshipped false gods and they would therefore lead their husbands, and the entire nation as well to forsake the worship of YAHWEH God and either worship false gods or mixed the religious ceremonial practices together.
  • And if you study the history of Israel and Judah, that is exactly what happened, time and time again.
  • Notice that God calls it “a detestable thing.”  “Detestable thing” in Hebrew is תּוֹעֵבָה (to-ay-baw’).  It means, “abomination, or abominable act; detestable act; an act of loathing.”  This is a very strong word, showing something that God despises.
  • This was detestable because God lovingly called them as a nation to follow Him, and yet they pursued women whose hearts were turned to pagan gods.
  • They, “desecrated the sanctuary the LORD loves by marrying women who worship a foreign god.” “Desecrated” in Hebrew is חִלֵּ֣ל (chil·lel).  It means: “to pollute, defile, profane.”
  • “Sanctuary” in Hebrew is קֹ֤דֶשׁ (ko·desh).  It means, “apart-ness, sacredness, holy.”
  • Their treatment of marriage polluted the altar and sacrifices that was offered upon the altar.

How the New Testament views marriage.

  • Christ views marriage and divorce very strongly.  Notice what He says in Matthew.

Matthew 5:32 – But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

  • Notice what Paul says.

1 Timothy 3:2a – Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife…

1 Timothy 3:12a – A deacon must be faithful to his wife…

  • Finally notice how Paul views marriage with the relationship with Christ and His church.

Ephesians 5:22-33 – 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

God would remove a Jewish man who would defy God in his marriage from the community of the Jews. (verse 12).

  • “may the LORD remove him from the tents of Jacob”, means basically that God would dis-fellowship a Jew who would  desecrate God’s sanctuary by marrying  a woman who worships a foreign, false god.
  • “Even though he brings an offering to the LORD Almighty”, means that God will not accept his sacrifice for worship, because he has made the sacrifice unacceptable.

How does this apply to us?

  • It is important that we honor God with all parts of our lives, including our relationship with our spouse.
  • If you are not married, as a Christian, it is best to seek out only those who are Christians for potential mates.
  • While some do come to faith in Christ, it is easier for someone raised in the things of God to walk away.
  • For those married – though we all have made mistakes in our marriages, both past and present; Jesus died to forgive us of those sins.  Let’s start afresh and seek the Lord, asking for both His forgiveness as well as His help in our relationship with our spouses.

God will not accept false repentance.

Malachi 2:13-14 – 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.

God would not accept the Jews sacrifices because they were still unfaithful in their relationship with their spouses.

  • Repentance does not mean to apologize and continue in the same cycle of sin.
  • It literally means, “To change direction; or to change the way you think and act.”
  • So it doesn’t matter how sincere someone appears to be; though they may shed a bucket full of tears in prayer – if they are not truly repentant, or asked the help of the Holy Spirit to help them repent – they are not forgiven and God will not accept the sacrifice.
  • But there is good news.  I believe God’s grace is available.  You see, Christ died for our stubborn hearts.  Seek the Lord, and trust in the cross and the power of the Holy Spirit to help you and give you both the desire and the ability to truly repent when it comes to how you treat your spouse.

The good news: though we struggle in our relationship with our spouses, we still belong to Christ!

Malachi 2:15-16 – 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. 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,” says the LORD Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

Those God has saved belongs to God. (verse 15)

  • These next two verses are two of the most difficult to translate from the Hebrew text of Scripture.  So, for sake of time, we are going to interpret them in light of how the NIV 2011 has translated them.
  • Here is some great news:  God has made us.  We belong to Him and so God seeks after something – Godly offspring.
  • There is power when both spouses are in covenant with God – their children are set apart to hear the Gospel.
  • This I believe is similar to what Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 7:12-14 – 12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

  • Holy in verse 14 in Greek is ἅγιος (hag’-ee-os).  It means, “different, set apart, distinguished, distinct.”
  • It is important that we realize that it is not just the two spouses in the marriage who are important.  But also children or potential children, other family members, friends and church family as well.  We must keep this in mind in how we treat our spouses.

The man who divorces his wife does violence to the one he was called by God to protect. (verse 16)

  • The man has a responsibility to love and protect his wife.
  • When the man falls for another woman and seeks to divorce his wife, he not only breaks his vow with his wife, but he also breaks the vow between him and God –  a vow to protect her.

Conclusion: As we conclude, we’ve all had some type of marriage problems; and some have had more problems than others.  There may even be some here that have gone through the hardship of divorce as well.  Please know that Christ died for all our sins, including the sins we committed against our current or former spouse.  May all of us fall into his hands of mercy and find grace to help us in our relationship with our spouses.

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