|Posted by Lorraine Serra on July 6, 2010 at 1:30 PM|
Let’s “shake on it”. Better yet, let’s each spit in our palms and then “shake on it”. That will seal our agreement. Ever seen anybody do that in a movie or in real life? How about the act of becoming “blood brothers”? I remember old western movies and TV shows as a kid where two people, usually the Indians, or an Indian and a cowboy, each made a cut in their palms, then shook hands to mingle their blood in a lifetime pact of brotherhood, love, faithfulness and respect. This was serious business.
The covenant between God and His chosen people was most certainly such a pact of faithfulness, respect and family bond. It was serious business. It was sealed by the blood of many sacrificial offerings denoting the serious life-and-death nature of this relationship in which the people agreed to honor and serve God who would love and care for them in return.
But, we have seen thus far in Chapter 2 of Malachi, that men’s hearts, even of priests charged with the holy and pure worship of God, were prone to corruption. It follows that corrupt practices are the fruit of corrupt principles, and if one is false to God, how can he be expected to be true to his fellow man?
At issue now in this chapter is the reprehensible practice of infidelity and divorce which was widely practiced in Judah. Once again, this remnant of Israel, delivered out of captivity and restored to their homeland by the mighty hand of God, have forgotten their history.
God’s covenant included directions that Israel remain a pure and holy people, set apart from idolaters and heathens. From the beginning, God had called them a “peculiar” people, a people set apart unto Himself. They were forbidden to intermarry with those of another culture who worshipped foreign gods. Here He reminds them that God is the Father of them all and created them to be a separate people who would produce a godly line of faithful descendants, preserving the faith heritage and principles of the Law given to Moses.
But, instead, they have “dealt treacherously” and done “violence” to the wives of their youth, by divorcing them to marry pagan women and producing offspring with diluted religious beliefs.
There are strong words from the Lord God of Israel in verse 16 that “God hates divorce”. During this part of Israel’s history, the men of Judah profaned and disregarded God’s covenant, becoming more intent on the satisfaction of their own passions and fancies. It appears that the widespread practice of dismissing the “darling of their youth, their first love, their companion” to unite themselves to pagan women had become commonplace
In deliberately selfish, garish disobedience, they betrayed the honor of their nation, the authority of their ancient fathers, and the dignity and character of their people. “An abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem,” cries out verse 11. Strong words, indeed.
God was the witness to the holy institution of marriage. He was the witness to the arrogant and distorted violations of it as well. They have a diluted view of worship, they engage in dishonesty with one another, and one sin leads to another. God promises justice. He will cut off those blind leaders and their blind followers. He will not accept their sacrifices, for they have wearied Him with their words and their insincere hearts.
Sounds like a hopeless mess, doesn’t it? It seems to me a case of “the other man’s grass is always greener”; that is, til you get close enough to see there are weeds growing over there as well. Somehow, the hearts of mankind have always struggled with finding contentment in the plans and promises of God alone.
Today, all sorts of issues arise to bring pain to our relationships. It certainly requires sincere effort to withstand the onslaught of modern life and invest in kindness and intimacy. Might I suggest it requires Divine assistance? Current statistics prove such is the case. For even the most devout God-fearing believers will experience a confrontation to their union.
As witness to our marriage covenants, God brings with him all of His power and authority to stand against every enemy that would violently threaten it from within or without. He strengthens us to exercise the virtues of forgiveness, purity, love, respect and faithfulness. He can heal the most broken of hearts and mend the most distant of relationships if we are willing to believe Him and “shake on it.”
The great hope in contrast to God’s condemnation of such hypocrisy and immorality is found in Chapter 3 verse 6: “For I am the Lord. I do not change. Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.” Halleluia! Restoration is always available. He will never abandon His covenant, but will welcome the sinner who chooses to return and humbly embrace God’s wisdom.
I invite you to review my blog post "Relief from the Rocky Road" from a few days ago correlating to this topic.
I would love to hear your comments.
Categories: MALACHI Study