CPRC Mens Bible Study
A quick recap of the previous sections of the book of Malachi will help at this stage; in section 1 (1:2-5) we had covenant election questioned and affirmed, in section 2 (1:6-2:9) we had corrupt worship (the profanation of the covenant with Levi), and now in section 3 (2:11-17) we have treachery against the covenant of marriage.
The sins exposed in these verses are mixed marriages, divorce, and remarriage.
We reviewed the history of Israel and the repeated instances of this sin from Genesis 6:4, by Esau, Samson, David, Solomon, the time of Ezra and Nehemiah up till the time of Malachi. Haak makes the point that building a marriage on the sand and mire of carnal lust, which is what a mixed marriage is, is setting aside of the rock of spiritual oneness in the promise of Christ (Matt.7:24-27). The question why God, through his servant Malachi focuses on the sinful abuses of the marriage bond is that marriage was ordained to be a picture of the covenant bond between Jehovah and his people (Hosea 2:19-20 and Ezekiel 22). Treachery is being false to the one you confess to love and secretly working to destroy him. So the people’s professed devotion to God was not seen in the way they selected a wife or in the way they lived with their wives. Marrying a pagan is saying “I am not holy to the Lord” and brings paganism into the camp-Jehovah (in his people) marries the devil (in the pagans) just as II Cor.6:14 warns against. If you sacrifice your faith marrying outside the Reformed faith you deny Christ.
We reviewed the purpose of marriage from various Scriptures namely that it is a one-flesh union of body and soul (or spirit), it is a good thing, it includes headship and submission, it is like the union of Christ and the church and something to be received with thanks. Furthermore it is a bond of love and friendship (Ezek.16:7-12) and for life (I Cor.7:39).
What constitutes a marriage?
- A willing union, usually with oaths or promises (Prov.2:17).
- A ceremony accepted by society or the state.
- The consummation.
God glues people together (Matt.19:4-6) believer or non-believer and a man’s wife is part of himself, as shown in the creation of woman, as the church comprises the members of Christ’s body (Eph.5:28-30). Any second marriage is NOT of God.
God’s covenant, pictured in marriage, consists of a betrothal (a promise) to a unique bride, eternal faithfulness, headship and submission, and the deep unity of mutual love and indwelling by the Holy Spirit (John 17:21-24).
Our marriages need these elements to reflect God’s covenant love:
1) Spiritual unity. As in the unity of the triune God. John 17:21, Amos 3:3, II Cor.6:14
2) Faithfulness. The lifelong bond of necessity is a unique relationship. I Cor.1:9, II Thess.3:3.
3) Forgiveness. Forgiveness is the starting point with us and the first of all the blessings of salvation. Eph.1:7.
4) Companionship (friendship and communication). John 15:13.
5) Sexual relationship. Though not continued in heaven or part of his covenant with us, yet nevertheless reflects the oneness, pleasure and excitement of the spiritual union. I Cor.7.
The treachery of the people is clear when we review the many scriptural injunctions NOT to marry outside the people of God (Gen.24:1-9,26: 34-35, 28:2, Ex.34:16, Deut 7:3-4,I Cor.7:39,II Cor.6:14). Spiritual unity is vital because it is the right basis, means unity in purpose and prayer, means they dwell together, husbands cherishing and caring for their wives, progress in sanctification and covenant children (I Pet.3:7). The serious consequences of this treachery, if not repented of, may well be premature physical death and certain eternal damnation just as the unfruitful Jewish branches of Romans 11 were cut off and in the church unrepentant sinners (guilty of these particular sins) are, or should be excommunicated.
Our children must be taught to marry in the Lord.
Malachi 2:15 is a powerful argument against both polygamy and divorce and remarriage because it highlights the fact God made ONE woman for one man, desiring a godly seed, a seed suitable of the dignity of human nature made in God’s image, not like the seed of most beasts who have multiple partners.
God hates divorce (putting away). Adultery is a ground for divorce but not remarriage (except in the instance of hard-hearted unbelieving Israel in Deut 24). The teaching of Matthew 5:32, 19:3-12, Mark 10:3-13, Romans 7:2-4 and I Cor.7:27-29 based on the Genesis account, is that marriage is a lifelong bond only broken by God when one spouse dies. Divorce for adultery separates but does NOT dissolve the bond, allowing for repentance and reconciliation. Only this view of marriage correctly reflects God’s unbreakable covenant with his church. The Westminster Confession Section 24 allows other grounds for divorce e.g. desertion and for remarriage, both of which are wrong.
The treacherous actions of the Jewish men meant much weeping by the women at God’s temple and made their offerings unacceptable to him (v13).
Spiritual life and health are tied to our marriages just as the two tables of the law are tied. Loving God (first table) is shown by loving neighbour (second table) and our spouses are our nearest neighbour! (I John 3:23).
Treachery which affected all their relationships is the opposite of covenant faithfulness. It means being unfaithful and letting others down. God, Jehovah (I AM) is unchangeable and faithful and we need to be so with each other (2:10 “we”). In covenant with us he says, “I will take care of you.” Listen to sermon here by Rev.Haak.
The final part of the section shows how the Jews like Asaph in Psalm 73 were questioning God’s justice in the wicked appearing to prosper, both not realizing that God’s blessing is NOT tied to earthly prosperity.
Excellent resources: Book “Marriage-the mystery of Christ and the church” by Professor David J Engelsma 1998 Reformed Free Publishing Association and booklet “From the beginning” by R J Hooper 2007. The first available from CPRC bookstore and the second on line.