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Malachi 2:12, 816comment (0)

August 16, 2007

By Jay T. Robertson

Related Scripture: Malachi 2:12, 816

Assistant Professor, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

Malachi 2:1–2, 8–16

The exiles had returned. The temple had been rebuilt. The city of Jerusalem had returned to a degree of normalcy, but there was lethargy, laxity and leniency when it came to spiritual matters. To this declining state of affairs, the last prophet of the Old Testament addressed himself.

Stand for God’s Truth (1–2, 8–9)
These verses were aimed particularly at the priests. There are serious consequences for anyone who ignores God’s commands; however, for those charged with leading in worship and teaching others, the result of disobedience is disastrous. James wrote, “Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment” (James 3:1).

The Lord offered hope to the priests if they would change their attitude toward Him and what He called them to do. If the priests did not repent, God declared that He would “send a curse among you, and I will curse your blessings.” This warning is apparently an allusion to the covenant curses of Deuteronomy 28:15–68, which soberly warned Israel that the consequence of disobedience would be God’s blocking of every normal source of blessing and His opening of the floodgates of disaster. The Lord confirmed this warning by pointing out to them that they had already begun experiencing the curse; they had already begun to be “despised and humiliated before all the people.” Their failure to honor the Lord was resulting in their loss of honor.

The priests, supposedly the spiritual leaders, were not standing for the truth. Their failure in ministry began with failure in their own lives. Instead of turning many from sin, their instruction had “caused many to stumble.”

Set a Godly Example (10–12)
God disputed with the people of Israel for their unfaithfulness to Him as expressed by their unfaithfulness to one another. They had broken their covenant with God by breaking their covenants of marriage, and they were doing so in two ways. First, they were marrying those who did not worship the Lord: “For Judah has profaned the Lord’s sanctuary, which He loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god.” In this verse, sanctuary refers to the people of Israel as a whole. Throughout the Old Testament, God forbade the Israelites from marrying foreigners, not because He wanted to keep His people racially pure but because He wanted them to be religiously pure. The Lord knew that foreign wives and husbands would lead the hearts of the people astray. Now God had brought them back into the land after the exile in Babylon, and they were beginning to sin against God in the ways their fathers before them had sinned.

Stick with Commitments (13–16)
Second, the Israelites mistreated their families through wrongful divorce. The people had begun to divorce their spouses simply because they disliked them. God told His people that their worship of Him included faithful marriages to one another. They were not to live self-serving lives, marrying and divorcing whomever they wished. Instead God was their Father and Creator, and they expressed faithful submission to Him by marrying only other God-worshipers and by not divorcing their spouses for hate. In choosing their spouses, they demonstrated what God they chose. In remaining faithful to their spouses, they demonstrated faithfulness to this God.

Malachi spoke directly to the issue of marrying an unbeliever, and he said that it is both disobedient and religiously suicidal. The New Testament teaches the same truth (2 Cor. 6:14). If someone is already married and he or she becomes a Christian, he or she should continue to honor that marriage. But the Bible clearly teaches us not to set our heart on someone who is not a believer.

Malachi’s condemnation of ending marriages for anything other than biblical reasons applies not just to ancient Israelites but also to Christians today. God’s laws do not change, no matter what the government decides. Christians must be careful about whom they marry, and they are to be faithful in those marriages.

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