Digging in Deeper: Malachi 2:16

“‘If he hates and divorces his wife,’ says the Lord God of Israel, ‘he covers his garment with injustice,’ says the Lord of Armies. Therefore, watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

There aren’t many subjects more uncomfortable to deal with in the Scriptures than the various teachings on divorce contained within them. And yet, given just how important marriage is to our own lives, to our culture as a whole, and to God Himself, whether or not to end it and when and what comes next is something we have to deal with. We have to be able to find that place where theological truth and pastoral reality come together to bring God the glory He deserves and us the joy He intends for us to have. This verse does not by any means solve all the difficulties here, but it does offer an important contribution to our understanding of God’s thoughts on the matter. Let’s talk about it together.

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Digging in Deeper: Malachi 2:13-14

“This is another thing you do. You are covering the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning, because he no longer respects your offerings or receives them gladly from your hands. And you ask, ‘Why?’ Because even though the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, you have acted treacherously against her. She was your marriage partner and your wife by covenant.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

There is great comfort in the fact that Jesus followers are no longer liable to the Law of Moses. If you don’t believe me, take some time over the next few days and read through Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, and reflect on everything you don’t have to do in order to be right with God because Jesus came and did all that He did. That being said, Jesus didn’t simply do away with the Law. He fulfilled it. And in so doing, some parts of it were picked up for application in the lives of His followers. Where the various authors of the New Testament repeat commands from the Old Testament, we know there really isn’t any wiggle room on them for us. This is one of those commands, and it isn’t comfortable.

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Digging in Deeper: Malachi 2:10-12

“Don’t all of us have one Father? Didn’t one God create us? Why then do we act treacherously against one another, profaning the covenant of our ancestors? Judah has acted treacherously, and a detestable act has been done in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the Lord’s sanctuary, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob the man who does this, whoever he may be, even if he presents an offering to the Lord of Armies.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever been in one of those moments when you’re messing around with someone and all of a sudden things turn from silly to serious? It’s not always clear where this line is, and because of that, when you cross it, not everyone is immediately aware of the change. Sometimes we get surprised by the discovery of just how important to someone else is something that we had considered trivial. As Malachi introduces this next topic, the language used suggests we’ll be talking about a really serious issue. Well, we are…but not everyone agrees today.

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Digging in Deeper: Malachi 2:8-9

“‘You, on the other hand, have turned from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have violated the covenant of Levi,’ says the Lord of Armies. ‘So I in turn have made you despised and humiliated before all the people because you are not keeping my ways but are showing partiality in your instruction.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

In 1989, Ed Koch lost his bid to be reelected Mayor of New York City in a primary upset to David Dinkins. When later interviewed about it and asked if he would run again, Koch wittily replied that “the people threw me out. And now the people must be punished.” In other words, if the people don’t like the situation they are in, it’s their own fault and they are going to have to own it. And indeed, sometimes when people are in a hard spot, it is their own fault for not receiving and following good leadership. But sometimes it is the fault of bad leadership. Disobedient people may raise the Lord’s ire, but poor leadership just makes Him angry. This is what Malachi reminds us of here.

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Digging in Deeper: Malachi 1:12-13

“‘But you are profaning it when you say: “The Lord’s table is defiled, and its product, its food, is contemptible.” You also say: “Look, what a nuisance!” And you scorn it,’ says the Lord of Armies. ‘You bring stolen, lame, or sick animals. You bring this as an offering! Am I to accept that from your hands?’ asks the Lord.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

There is a genre of comedy I would call “office comedy.” Some of the more popular entries are the movie Office Space from several years ago and the more recent television show, The Office. Entries in this genre all carry the same basic understanding of work: It’s something you have to do because there are bills to be paid and we all like to eat. In this vein, work is a convenience to be sure. But other than the convenience of enabling us to, you know, live, it’s an enormous, soul-sucking inconvenience in our lives that gets in the way of all the things we’d rather be doing. In Malachi’s day–and in ours as well–people were taking the same approach in their thinking about their relationship with God. He wasn’t happy about it.

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