Monday, August 18, 2014

Betraying God By Getting Married and/or Divorced (Malachi 2.10-16)

Scripture: Malachi 2.10-16
Translation: 2.10Isn’t there only One Father for all of us? Didn’t only One God create us? Why do we—each one of us—betray his brother by desecrating the covenant of our fathers?  11Judah has betrayed and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem, because Judah desecrated the Holy Place of Yahweh, Who loves [us], and married a daughter of a foreign god! 12Yahweh will cut off the man who does these things, waking up and responding from the tents of Jacob and bringing a gift to Yahweh of Armies!

13But you do this second thing: tears covering the altar of Yahweh—weeping and crying, from the fact that there is still no turning to the gift and taking satisfaction from your hand! 14And you say, “What’s the reason?” The reason is that Yahweh testifies as a witness between you and between the wife of your youth, who you betray. And she is your partner and the wife of your covenant! 15And didn’t The One make [you]? And the rest of life belongs to Him? And what is the One seeking? The seed of God. So keep a close eye on your life and don’t betray the wife of your youth! 16Because I hate divorce—Yahweh the God of Israel says! And violence covers his clothes—Yahweh of Armies says! So keep a close eye on your life and don’t betray!

1.      Once upon a time there were two couples. The first couple started dating, fell in love, got engaged, had a beautiful wedding, and later they had children. The second couple went through a similar journey of dating, falling in love, getting engaged and married, and having children. But this second couple started to have problems, and one of the pair wasn’t attracted to the other anymore, and started looking for greener pastures, and finally filed for divorce, even though they had been married since they both were young.
2.      So you tell me, which couple sinned? What if I told you that it was possible that they both sinned? Today we will see how both stories are actually a betrayal of commitment.
1.      Structure:
a.       Whole Book
                                                              i.      Heading, 1.1
                                                            ii.      Case 1: Denial of God’s Love (1.2-5)
                                                          iii.      Case 2: Denial of Honor to God (1.6-2.9)
                                                          iv.      Case 3: Rejection of Godly Marriage (2.10-16)
1.      Part A: Undefensible: Marrying an Idol Worshiper
2.      Part B: Flagrant: Divorce/Adultery of the wife of their youth
                                                            v.      Case 4: Rejection of Justice (2.17-3.5)
                                                          vi.      Case 5: Rejection of Repentance and Tithing (3.6-12)
                                                        vii.      Case 6: Rejection of the Value of Serving God (3.13-15)
                                                      viii.      Exonerated: The Faithful (3.16-4.3 [heb. 3.16-21])
                                                          ix.      Closing Statements: (4.4-6 [heb. 3.22-24])
1.      Call to Obey (4.4 [heb. 3.22])
2.      Call to Wait (4.5-6 [heb. 3.23-24])
b.      Section: Case 3
                                                              i.      Part A: Betrayal via Marriage (2.10-12)
1.      Accusation: You act like God is not your Creator by desecrating the Covenant (2.10)
2.      Defense: None
3.      Rebuttal: You marry women who worship idols (2.11)
4.      Judgment: Yahweh will off the man who breaks the covenant in this way (2.12)
                                                            ii.      Part B: Betrayal via Divorce  (2.13-16)
1.      Accusation/Judgment: Crying covers Yahweh’s altar, because He doesn’t answer their prayers (2.13)
2.      Defense: What is the reason (2.14a)
3.      Rebuttal and Call to Faithfulness (2.14b-16): The reason is that you are betraying the covenant (with God and your wife) by divorcing your wife
a.       Rebuttal Part 1 (2.14b-15e):
                                                                                                                                      i.      Yahweh is your wife’s witness in court (2.14b-d)
                                                                                                                                    ii.      Yahweh as your Creator owns your life and marriage (2.14a-c)
b.      Call to Faithfulness 1 (2.15d-e):
                                                                                                                                      i.      Watch your lives
                                                                                                                                    ii.      Don’t betray your wife
c.       Rebuttal Part 2 (2.16a-d)
                                                                                                                                      i.      Yahweh hates divorce
                                                                                                                                    ii.      Abuse covers your clothes
d.      Call to Faithfulness 2 (2.16e-f):
                                                                                                                                      i.      Watch your lives
                                                                                                                                    ii.      Don’t betray [Yahweh or your wife]
2.      Themes
a.       Betrayal
b.      Marriage
c.       Covenant
d.      Idolatry
e.       God as Father
f.       God as Creator
g.      Judgment
h.      Divorce
i.        Call to faithfulness 
j.        Wife/partner
k.      Gifts/sacrifices/offerings
l.        Crying/weeping/tears
m.    Legal dispute
n.      Why/because
3.      Doctrines
a.       God is the Creator of all, and as such is owed all by everyone
b.      Marriage must be to a Christian; marrying a non-Christian is a sin
c.       Yahweh rejects divorce: getting a divorce is a sin
d.      Having and raising children to love and fear Him is something God desires from us, as well as evangelism

1.      Outline
a.       You can sin by getting married
                                                              i.      If you marry a non-Christian, you will be betraying your commitment to God, your relationship with God will be violated,
                                                            ii.      However, if you marry a non-Christian, you will not just be violated your relationship and commitment to God, but you will also be violating your relationship and your commitment to the church, to your brothers and sisters in Christ, to your Christian family
1.      It is interesting to me that God doesn’t say they are violating their relationship with Him, which they obviously are, but that they are violating their relationship with the wider believing community. God tells them that by marrying someone who is not wholeheartedly committed to Yahweh, they have actually betrayed their community
2.      This is true because this sin pollutes not just their relationship with God, but the health and wellbeing of the community, it violates the community’s relationship with God
                                                          iii.      Notice that unlike what happens in the next section, and what happened in the first two sections, before this, there was no defense of the actions, no excuses, no marginalization of the heinous betrayal coming through their actions—see this is strange, because if you look at all the other sections in this book where God makes an accusation, there is always a defense (except for in the second half of the rebuke of the priests, which since it is part of a larger section and since it is likely closely related to the first part, it may not need a further defense, or it can be consider just as indefensible as here), but here there is none. I think what that means is that they knew it was so wrong for them to have married outside the covenant community, and since it was so explicit a command, they don’t even have a defense to offer. Yet, oddly, in our culture and day, we love to excuse this sin, we make defenses and excuses for it all day long, in fact we use some of the same excuses the Jews used for some of their others sins.
1.      One excuse we especially like to use for dating and/or marrying a non-Christian is the one found in 1.13 to explain away their garbage offerings, “It’s too hard to do it God’s way!” look, it’s hard sometimes to find a Godly person to date and marry, I get that. Trust me, I’m not married yet, so I get how hard it is to find a solid Christian that you are attracted to and able to develop a meaningful friendship with. But, it’s not too hard, and it is even less difficult for you all than it is for me. moreover, some of you are in college or about to go to college, and that is frankly a time where you will have the time, energy, and multiplicity of options for finding a good Christian, if you want.
2.      The other excuse that we often make is that he/she is close enough to what God wants to count. We say, well, he/she grew up in church—wrong! Doesn’t mean nothing! Or we say, “well, he/she goes to church—wrong! Doesn’t mean nothing! Or we say, “he/she is open to Christianity—wrong! Doesn’t mean nothing! Or we say, “I can change/convert him/her—wrong! You can’t change anybody’s heart!
a.       Look how ridiculous it is for you to think you have the power to make so and so a Christian—did you have the power to change your own heart, do you even have the power to completely change your heart now on your own—NO, so how arrogant and foolish is it for you to think you have the power in an of yourself to change her/his heart!?
3.      In our culture, there are strong values of religious pluralism, which basically means we let people believe whatever they want, which is actually can be a very good thing, but you can take it too far by starting to think that it doesn’t make any difference what you believe or how you live, or more specifically what faith you follow, they all can be true or compatible. But while letting people believe whatever they want about everything is generally good for society, it is really bad to think that it doesn’t matter what they believe or what they do. It does matter. it matters to God and it matters to the Christian community. It not just whether you could pull it off, it is a matter of who are you most committed to: God, yourself, or another person?
4.      Look, I know that sometimes by the grace of God—the GRACE OF GOD—GOD SAVES SOMEONE who was brought into opportunities to hear the Gospel via this relationship, but that doesn’t mean we should ever do it or use it as a strategy, because God cares about your relationship with Him! Just because God is good at taking the garbage and sin we give Him and making something beautiful out of it, doesn’t mean we didn’t give Him garbage and sin. It means He is a Gracious, Loving, Merciful, and Compassionate God Who Saves, not that our sin wasn’t sin!
a.       However, God does want us to invite people to church, to bring them into our community, and share the Gospel with them! We need to do that, a lot of that! But we can’t violate our own relationship with God to give someone else the possibility of a relationship with God.
                                                          iv.      God really doesn’t care what excuses we make, He rejects marrying outside of Christianity as a heinous form of idolatry! You see at the heart of it is that we have a deeper love and commitment and desire for either our own will or for a relationship with this other person than we have for God. And that is a clear form of idolatry. Back in the Bible times, it was incredibly clear that it was idolatry, because that person was in league with idols, worshipped idols, and the like. But the truth is that while the form of the idols have changed, the reality of the betrayal against God is just as real!
                                                            v.      Finally God will punish/discipline such egregious idolatry, He will not accept your worship. He will deal with it. And for the record, however, we are not talking about the person who was married to a non-Christian before becoming a Christian, but the person not-yet married who chooses to ally him/herself to another god via marriage
b.      You can sin by getting a divorce
                                                              i.      This may seem more obvious to us, but divorce is so rampant and almost assumed as a possibility or even inevitability that some of the heinousness of it is lost on us
                                                            ii.      However, it is very serious, so serious in fact that the judgment on the person divorcing his/her spouse, and perhaps even on the community at large is unanswered prayer and unaccepted worship.
                                                          iii.      But then just like now, they didn’t see what was so bad about getting a divorce once the heat and commitment had dissipated
                                                          iv.      But Yahweh is the One Who is watching, and He will give justice to the person wrongly divorced, to the person who was faithful to the covenant of marriage and to the relationship with God
                                                            v.      Divorce is a betrayal of God, because God is the God of justice and takes up the cause of the oppressed and abused and violated, but also because it is another form of idolatry and because He hates it
                                                          vi.      Divorce however is also a heinous betrayal of the other person
                                                        vii.      Getting a divorce is a rejection of God authority and ownership over you as the Creator
                                                      viii.      God wants children for Himself
1.       This means having children is a beautiful thing
2.      But we can also give God children by sharing the Gospel with people
2.      Questions
a.       How do you think marrying a non-Christian would be bad for your relationship with God?
b.      How often do you think about God being Your Creator

c.       How could we as a community help one another stay faithful to God in our romantic relationships? 

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