Extra Lesson March 3
Keeping Life’s Covenants
Background Reading: Malachi 1:6-9, 2:10,13-16
Devotional Reading: Psalm 34:11-16
“Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?”
Malachi 2:10, KJV
“Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another?”
Malachi 2:10, NIV
Agreements — Concord; harmony; conformity. Union of opinions or sentiments; as, a good agreement subsists among the members of the council.
Integrity — Purity; genuine, unadulterated, unimpaired state; as the integrity of language.
Disrespect — To lack special regard or respect for : to have disrespect. to show or express disrespect or contempt for.
Malachi’s complaint against the people of Judah in his day was that they had shamefully broken their covenants, their solemn agreements, with God and man. As we give undivided attention to this study of Malachi, it should direct our thoughts for a personal commitment in matters of personal honesty, and draw our attention to summed responsibilities.
The Integrity of the Religious Profession (Malachi 1:6-9)
One of the things that greatly disturbed the prophet, as he observed the people of Judah in his day, was their disregard for God and the things of God — The Temple, the altar, and the sacrifices. Malachi concluded that the blame for this prevailing disrespect lay with the priests. As were the priests so were the people. The priest treated their calling with disrespect.
God was displeased with them, even as a father is disappointed with a rebellious son or a master is displeased with a worthless servant. If they had been consciously aware of the real significance of their sacrificial ceremonies, they would not have presented blemished and imperfect animals and moldy bread (vs.7).
Integrity in Our Human Relationship (Malachi 2:10)
With this verse, Malachi was preparing to deal with the problem of marriage and divorce in Judah. But before he did that he sent forth a general principle that had significance for all of the relationships of God’s people with their fellow men. Malachi pointed out that God is the father of all mankind by the act of creation. Therefore, there is a creative kinship between all men.
Integrity in Marriage (Malachi 2:13-16)
The problem of marriage and divorce was a very real one in Malachi’s day. Some of the men had married heathen women, women who worshipped “a strange god” (vs. 11). This was strictly forbidden by the Law of Moses (Exodus 34:15-16; Deut. 7:3). The difference in nationality was not the main problem for this prohibition. It was the difference in religion. The unbeliever was not in a covenant relationship with the God of Israel.
The problem of marriage in Judah was closely linked with the problem of divorce since many of the men had forsaken the wives of their youth and married heathen women. The altar in the Temple was frequently visited by women who covered “the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying out” (vs. 13). God had compassion for these women and desired that their offending husbands, who had been the cause of much suffering and grief, should no longer enter the Temple to offer their sacrifices (vs. 13b). The prophet denounced divorce because it was the violation of a sacred covenant that had been undertaken with God as the witness (vs. 14). In marriage services today the expression “before God and these witnesses” is widely used.
In verse 15 the prophet was referring to the man who divorced his wife to marry a heathen woman. This would mean that their offspring would not be born into the covenant relationship and might become an idolater like his mother.
The Jews of the old testament practiced divorce, however, God declared, “I hate divorce” (vs. 16a RSV). Verse 16b may be translated in the opinion of some interpreters as “covering one’s wife with violence.” This would imply that God hates divorce because of the suffering and injustice that it inflicts upon individuals and family, if for no other reason.
“Follow peace with all men,
whether marriage, family or friends.”
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