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God, Divorce, and Apostasy

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
June 30, 2020 8:00 am

God, Divorce, and Apostasy

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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June 30, 2020 8:00 am

Malachi speaks with great relevance today. As Malachi reminds the people of his day to remain faithful to God, he also teaches us to keep the promises we make to God and to one another. As you study this series youll also learn the importance of faithfulness, marriage, and why God hates divorce. Malachi will encourage you by looking forward to the great future day of Gods coming, and challenge you by facing new beginnings with faith.

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Welcome to the Bible study reviewing Internet ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce for more information please contact us by calling toll-free one 804 88 18 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study our bearing you to think and act biblically like to begin this study of Malachi 210 through 16. By saying this.

If your marriage wherever you maybe it's highly unlikely that you have ever in your life done anything more solemn or official then exchange the vows you did exchange with your husband or wife on the day you stood before the minister and promised to take that one as your husband or your wife, and plenty other than one enjoy you in sorrow and sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live. What good possibly be more solemn or official than that your naturalized American citizen you perhaps did something similar to that when you became a citizen of the United States. Her certain vow talk you pledged a certain kind of loyalty to this country and its government. But that's not irreversible.

You can become an expatriate leave this country go somewhere else and nobody's offended, certainly not God. If you decide you'd rather be a citizen of another country.

If you are ever in the Army or if you're in the Army now was time when you are inducted into the military service and that was sort of a formal kind of commitment that you made.

You were required to step forward, take a step forward.

Indicate your acknowledgment of the authority of the United States and military things in the promise of obedience to the one it would be your commanding officer. But even that isn't terribly overwhelming and it doesn't last forever. And even if your career officer.

It's only a matter of 20 years or so. The only thing I can think of in all of life is possibly more serious and more official than the vow you taken the marriage ceremony is that parallel commitment that Christians make to the Lord Jesus Christ.

When they receive him as Lord and Savior, and yet even that doesn't always happen in such a condensed formal way. Sometimes it's a process. Many of us become Christians in our homes, sometimes not even being entirely aware of the moment that we did make a full commitment to Christ that even if we put back on the same level, which is a certain sense, it has to be. That's because there's a great deal of similarity between the two is I hope so.

I say there is possibly nothing you and I have ever done in life is more serious, more solemn or official that exchange of vows. We taken the marriage ceremony. If we are married yet, here is the anomaly.

In spite of that we live in an age when marriages are breaking up at an extraordinary rate and our country is suffering the devastating effect of the breakup of those homes might be helpful to give some statistics almost 50 years ago. The original speaker on the loose were in our water. A Meyer wrote the best book on marriage I've ever read, and in it he deplored the increasing divorce statistics of his day. He was writing in the 1930s.

He said this.

By 1951 fourth of all marriages will end in divorce, and by 1990, at figure will be one in this was so outrageous suggestion. In the 1930s that Meyer went on the defensive and explained that that wasn't far out possibility. He said it is no harebrained hallucination. Yet today, in the 80s we look back on Meyer's prophecy and we say fire, you are far too sanguine.

You were radical statistics dire. These 1920s. There was one divorce for every seven marriages in 1940.

There was one divorce for every six marriages in 1916 there was one divorce for every four marriages in 1972. There was one divorce for every three marriages and by 1977, 13 years ahead of Myers timetable. There was one divorce for every two marriages in that year alone in America, there were over 1 million divorces. The divorce rate doubled in the decade between 1967 in 1977 and at the present rate, it will be very long before there's one divorce for everyone. Marriage a limit beyond which statistically it's impossible to go.

What's wrong here on one hand we have the solemnity of the marriage vow something is done in private something that's likely last majority of cases in spite of the secularization of our nation dynamic chart report on the blessing of God upon the married at the conclusion of which the minister says home.

Therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder one and we have that yet on the other hand, we have this rampant increase in the divorce rate with all of the debilitating effects the flow from weather number things are wrong, depending on how you analyze it you can look at it sociologically, look at it historically, look at it psychologically, all those different ways but most problems that we have, in my judgment, I would imagine. Also in yours are at the root spiritual and one aspect of the spiritual problem which I mentioned because it flows directly out of the passage of Malachi is that ministers of the gospel and the spokesman for the church at large, but for the evangelical church have been my making this charge on faithful at this point is been such a concern to empathize and we must empathize such a concerned empathize with those who go through the tragedy of divorce that there has been an unfortunate debilitating and un-biblical watering down of God's standard, which is where Malachi comes in interesting thing about this passage in Malachi and those who know anything about this subject in the Bible or whomever study did know that this is one of the strongest statements in all Scripture about marriage and divorce and remarriage on the interesting things about this is that it comes in the context of a book in which God is been talking about the sins of the purging. I know at this point. Malachi is broadening the subject. These verses. He does not specifically say I'm talking about the priests that's what he's just been talking about.

He's talked about them ever since he got past his introduction of the first five verses and in verse six is been talking about this, even though he broadens that at this point, no doubt at all. Also, as well as having the sins of the people at large and video specifically has in mind the sins of the priests words. Not only were the people guilty of this. The ministers were guilty of this and the ministers by their attitude and practice were actually endorsing the departure from God's standard. Very interesting historical example of that. I pointed out when we were first beginning to study Malachi. The Malachi is contemporaneous with Nehemiah and probably wrote, as we believe, either during the period in which Nehemiah was absent from Jerusalem. Having gone back to Persia, or during his second residency in Jerusalem as governor any right when we turn to the book of Nehemiah. We find this is one of the things that bother Nehemiah Nehemiah was bothered by mixed marriages against which he spoke very forcefully and against divorce of the two are related because it was often the case that the Jews of that day and the clergy were divorcing their Jewish wives in order to marry the heathen women is very concerned about that. He spoke against it and at the very end of his book he gives us a specific example that has to do with the priestly line is Nehemiah 13 verse 28. One of the sons of joy, son affiliation, the high priest was son-in-law to send ballots the horror night for a name is not a Jew.

So what he saying here is that one of the sons of the sons of the high priest, the grandson of the high priest had become involved in one of these mixed marriages and Nehemiah's judgment which he records here is that I drove them from me put them out.

That sort of thing did not belong in the priesthood and the very next verse, Nehemiah records what is done he puts out before the Lord, and he says so remember them all. My God, because they defiled the priestly office in the covenant of the priesthood of the Levites, at the very language that we have in Malachi, this filing of the priesthood. This the filing of the sacrifices by the practice of mixed marriages on the part of the priest and the people at large size. First thing I want to say about this passage. This is an indictment of those who should know better.

This is an indictment of those whose task it was to proclaim make clear and uphold by their example and their teaching the law of God. Malachi says they didn't do it judgment of God was on the because they didn't now in preparation for this study. I read through it and read every word, but I reread parts and skimmed the rest of all the books I have on my shelf on marriage evangelical books, many of them quite good in many ways, but my impression as I read through those books is a generally speaking, there was a tendency to water down the standards of the Scriptures with good reason. Perhaps, certainly, with a good heart.

Some cases these four ministers were engaged in pastoral counseling are confronted with situations or people that are hurting and hurting deeply is a great concern to identify with the heart and trying to bring healing and restoration is any minister must do in the context of doing that the tendency has been to move away from the teaching of Scripture, and wherever possible to stretch, but perhaps are the few exceptions of Scripture to say is one of these writers. Unfortunately, this said, even in the case where there are un-biblical grounds for divorce, remarriage is a most desirable is the question. Is that what Scripture teaches. Answer Malachi answer Deuteronomy. The answer, Jesus Christ, the answer of the apostle Paul is absolutely not God regards marriage in a serious science. I don't know many places in the Bible where God says he hates something only passage is can you think of in the Bible God says he hates on the surrogate said, we know that hates anything that is contrary to his honor and glory. We know that doesn't say that very often not that I know of.

Look here in this passage, Malachi 216 God says I hate divorce. That is the message of the Scriptures how I know there are ambiguities. I asked Jesus in his day. Why is it different God standard is permanency and marriage that Moses granted divorce is not contrary and Jesus replied, well Moses acknowledge that because of the hardness of your heart.

But that's not God's will.

From the beginning it wasn't so some ambiguity there.

Perhaps the apostle Paul speaks of the inevitability of divorce. In some cases is talking about a case where a believer is married to an unbeliever where the unbeliever departs a believer would never do that all will assume that the unbeliever departs. The question is, well, what you do in that case, Paul says, well we ended lever departs the part you can't stop them.

You can't stop her. If the person goes they go. It's inevitable and that case is tragic and fortunate inevitable but at least you know it happens, it can't be stopped, and that introduces perhaps a slight ambiguity or you take our Lord talking about the one exception. The people love to fix up on an over fornication. Anybody who gets a divorce and remarriage is except for the cause of fornication commits adultery is the Lord Jesus Christ get in the sermon on the Mount Matthew is reference to it again later on in the same book.

Matthew 19 all people fixed on that. They said looks gives an exception if there's a woman tell me if the church takes the stand against divorce except in the case of fornication. I just like to marry so much time to go out have an affair and then will be all right to get the professing Christian knowledge that there is such a thing as ambiguity and there are certainly exceptions the tragedy of the situation is that people have fixed upon those in such a way to try and broaden the Scriptures in a permissive sense to say as long as you all right as long as you're not happy. It's all right. What difference does it make that you stood before God and the presence of a minister, and said, in plenty and wanting joy or sorrow in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live your happy so there's this and this tremendous breakdown in biblical standards in our time didn't exist previously. It's only in the last decades. This comment but it's a tragic thing and as I'm saying it is happening in part because evangelical leaders, preachers and writers are backing off from the clear teachings of Scripture have a colloquium when we sit down one argue about the exceptions. What is it mean except the cause of fornication. There may be legitimate differences there. I don't think that simply means you don't have an affair. Therefore, that's a legitimate reason to have a divorce I don't think that's the teaching at all with her. Those who do and they could argue that point.

Let's argue that that certainly does not justify the kind of free divorce and remarriage that we have in the church today and even if it would justify the divorce. It doesn't necessarily justify three marriage we have to do is come back to text like this and take them seriously unless the context Malachi's teaching is very simple. The first thing. Malachi says here is that God created marriage is God's idea isn't something you and I thought up, God did it. God did it in a certain way because God created it and gave it to us it's for us to follow. Marriage along the lines of God step is what he's talking about when he says in verse 15 has not the Lord made them one flesh and spirit. They are his and why one because he was seeking a godly offspring with talking about. He started about Adam and Eve. When God created man and the woman and created the man I looked at it in a single statement said it's not good for the man to be alone and made a woman be a helper suitable for him. God made one woman was in the able to make more. Of course he was God good made animal or if he had chosen. He could've made a whole list of men God and that God made them one and he gave one man one woman and one woman, one man, and why because he desired a godly offspring because God no. It's in that kind of monogamous marriage. The man committed to a woman. A woman committed to a man. The godliness is promoted and children grow up to know, love, honor and obey the Lord Jesus Christ follows from that where you have a falling away from that standard. You have a falling away from godliness as well. So the first point is this God established marriage. The second point. Malachi is dealing with this question of mixed marriages and it would be clear enough from this passage, but if we didn't have this passage we have in the New Testament as well. Teaching where this matter of mixed marriages is concerned is that it is now part of the will of God for a Christian the Marion non-Christian for a believer to Marion unbeliever in the Old Testament. Time for a devoted committed you to marry somebody of another race that didn't worship the same God says in second Corinthians chapter 6 verse 4B not unequally yoked together with unbelievers that applies to all sorts of relationships, but above all it applies to marriage. It is never God's will for the Christian, Marion non-Christian somebody says yes, but you non-Christian is possible the Donna work for my testimony to bring them to fight after all pulses that does he not in first Corinthians chapter 7.

Perhaps the unbeliever will the conduct of the believing wife yes it's true. That's what Paul says Jeff understand the context in which he says it's all about the gospel in the unbelieving Greek pagan communities, and as the gospel was preached was the case. Not only that single people responded to the gospel but sometimes people that were already in the married state. You would have in the church of Jesus Christ, as you also have in the church of Jesus Christ.

Today, unbelieving wife, married with unbelieving husband would come to the Lord after she was already married or believing husband would come to the Lord after he was already married and the question was immediately raised.

As you can understand if were to be married in the Lord. If God wants this, which is most vital to my life. The most important relationship I have on the surface of the earth. God wants not to be Christian and honoring to him. How could I possibly be the case if I married one unbeliever wouldn't be proper and obedient to God to divorce the unbeliever in order that I might have a Christian marriage. What is Paul's boss is not all pulses God is for the permanency of marriage you want to break it up. Why he says Paul who knows what the God might use you to be the source of the conversion of your unbelieving spouse, Paul does not promise that God will do it says God may, if God is called you if you're in that situation.

In a mixed marriage where you become a Christian, though the other person is not sin. God is beginning to work in your life that should be the greatest possible encouragement to you that God is probably also going to work in the life of your unbelieving husband or your unbelieving wife, though it may take time promise God is going to do that.

It would certainly encouragement to be called you to faith in God values the home you call the other one as well, but that passage you see is not in the slightest, and encouragement for any Christian to marry a non-Christian, you say, well, isn't it true that sometimes Christians have married non-Christians and God has sometimes work through them to save the unbelieving partner yes that is true God is a gracious God.

God sometimes does often do, that God does not visit the full consequences of our sin and falling upon us as a normal and I think that it is probably true to say for everyone who was converted and that kind of the situation. There are perhaps dozens of others that are not converted where the marriage eventually ends in divorce or at least great unhappiness if not worse than give you an example. Mark Twain married Christian woman. You probably know something about Mark Twain and you know the kind of skeptic he was. How critical he was a religion. It's hard to know why he wanted to marry this Christian woman that her name was Olivia Langdon. She was raised in a Christian home.

She held off her longtime. She eventually married him probably hoping this people find themselves in that kind of situation do that Mark Twain would be won to Christ by her testimony and could see them at the beginning in the early days of their marriage.

As if that might be happening.

It's hard to believe this but Albert Payne who wrote one of the most comprehensive biographies of Twain written cords because of the natural kindness of his heart and especially his love for his wife. He was inclined toward the teachings and customs of her Christian faith and it took very little persuasion on his wife's partner establish family prayers in their home grace before meals in the morning reading of the Bible chapter 1 of Clements friends are doing to be a great skeptic, records a surprise visiting the home and finding Mark Twain praying for the family of family worship that sounded wonderful. Unfortunately, the time came when Twain began to express his distaste for the sort of thing he said to his wife one occasion, Libby. You may keep this up if you want to.

I miss ask you to excuse me from it. It is making me a hypocrite.

I don't believe in the Bible contradicts my reason, I can't sit here and listen to it letting you believe that I regard it as you do in the light of the gospel, the word of God that itself would have been tragic. That would've been the death of his wife's hopes that perhaps he would be won to Christ by her testimony and should certainly try.

But there's something even worse. Mark Twain's unbelief had a disastrous effect on her faith. On occasion she and her sister were walking across the fields and she confessed with sorrow that she had drifted away from her orthodox view she had ceased to believe in a personal God to exercise personal supervision over every human soul. Years later, in a time of bereavement. Mark Twain was trying to comfort his wife and strengthen her and he said Libby if it comforts you to lean on the Christian faith do so and Olivia replied to him I can't youth it was her favorite expression husband. I can't youth. I haven't any as I say, if you disobey God and marry a non-Christian.

It may be because God is gracious that your spouse will come to faith, but you dare not count on that and certainly even in the best of circumstances, you're inviting a great deal of sorrow upon yourself. If you do the last point is simply this Malachi talks about mixed marriages. He talks about God being the source of marry she talks about the complicity of the priest of the breakdown of marriage, morality in the country last point is this the one with which I mentioned at the beginning God hates horse God hates divorce something where we can say all well you know everybody says not so bad because he hates the course is not the same thing as saying God hates the divorce on excessive and loves the sinner. The fact that God loves the sinner does not make his hatred of the sin less as God hates divorce. Well, I suppose, are number of reasons. One of them is the point with which Malachi begins it's a breaking of faith is sin is bad any kind of sin is bad, but sin that involves the breaking of a solemn commitment is in the site of the God was the faithful and true God disastrous thing indeed. This is what seems to bother God as he expresses his mind through his prophet Malachi, you have broken faith you have broken the covenant that you made when the wife of Nora thing like that is a violation of the standard of righteousness use.

I can't help but yes you can but one thing you can do in life is keep your word is very rare or circumstance comes into your life that you can keep your word you say yeah but if I stay happy and happy. I did promise you you be happy you stay and work at it, you might become happy. But God does not promise you the blessing of happiness. There are difficulties in life.

There are difficulties in marriage. God did not say that were not paid when you get married. Nobody promised you.

It would be a better roses.

It's in plenty and he wants in sickness and in health, enjoy an insider anybody who has any maturity at all knows those things, and all human relationships, and certainly come in the marriage is blocked you are able to keep your word. God hold you accountable if you do not. That's the first reason I think God hates divorce second is a divorce is harmful, harmful to whom harmful to the couple.

I spoke to a couple this week that have been involved in that previous relationship on the party said to me oh yes, it's very harmful. It really is a devastating experience to go through to the couple yes to society also. But listen if their children involved to the children no other reason why a couple should stay together ended marriages, and a thing of great harmony and tour the unhappiness were no other reason they should do it for the sake of the children anyways interested in their rights today and even people get divorced for their rights and the right to be happy children about the children's rights, your rights, had their rights. People say all well. The children are harmed, they manage somehow.

Yes, I suppose they manage somehow.

Children are harmed children are being harmed.

What Jesus said about that. He said if you cause one of these little ones to stumble, it is better than a millstone were put around your neck and you are thrown in the same how Jesus cares about the child.

Talk about your rights before harmed by what you do, you better not do it. God cares about the children knowing he was talking to Joan at the very end of the book of Jonah. Jonah was upset because God had destroyed Nineveh he went to see Nineveh destroying said it was going to be.

I didn't do it. God let them repent God was trying to justify his attitude.

Jonah in terms Jonah with understanding. Refer to the adults as I know you care for them, the children's. He said good that I spared him for the sake of the children and animals. God cares about those things and he hates that which is harmful to having said all that, however, last point is simply this, God hates divorce because of what marriage stands for.

You know how Paul talks about it in Ephesians 5 he talks about the duties of the wife to the husband of the husband of the wife only gets all done without excess is a great mystery, but when talking about is the relationship of Christ to the church marriage illustrates that relationship.

Christ is the divine bridegroom.

We are the bride and that's why marriage is permanent because a relationship that Jesus Christ the Savior establishes with his people is a permanent thing. We are reformed talk about that a lot. You know once saved always saved.

We talk about the sovereignty of God in salvation. We say that it's God who calls God who justifies God and sanctifies the very end of it all. It's got a glorifies is the culmination of all yes we're right to stress that marriage is the greatest illustration on earth that principal follows from that divorce is an illustration of apostasy are the following away from Jesus Christ, which is damnation. Nobody else in the whole world takes a higher standard.

We who profess the reformed faith must because it's integral to God's relationship to us and that's what God wants, in order that he might bless us prosper our homes and begin a process of healing for our sick sick land. Let us pray our father, we confess that in this and other subjects to we like to hear what we like to hear when we hear your words speak clearly on the subject that runs counter to our experience or desires. We really don't like it. And often we try to stay away of our father, but your word have its way with us by your grace and by the power of your Holy Spirit to work through that were bring about changes in the way we evangelicals think and through us. We pray begin to infuse a major of healing in our time is.

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