God’s Marriage: God’s gracious call to rebellious and unfaithful people
Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? 11 Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the LORD, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts! 13 And this second thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was a witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” (Malachi 2:10-16 ESV)
What’s it all about?
Malachi continues the indictment and rebuke of the people who were neglecting the covenant of marriage by divorcing their wives and pursuing wives of other nations. The faithlessness demonstrated by the people communicated both their lack of love for God and their rejection of His covenant. These marriages were a vivid illustration of how the people had succumbed to bad theology and polluted worship.
Regardless of our marital status, we face the real and constant temptation of seeking satisfaction and provision apart from God. This is precisely what the people of Malachi’s day were doing—fleeing from God to seek pleasure or provision elsewhere. This passage reveals the unfaithfulness that has characterized humanity from the beginning, as well as the faithfulness and love of God for unfaithful and rebellious people.
1. What is one reason we should obey God’s commands regarding marriage (2:10)? [cf.1 Corinthians 8:4-6]
2. What graphic terms are used to describe Israel’s sin of pursuing women who worship false gods (2:11)? [cf. Ezra 9:1-5]
3. What is (apparently) one reason given by God for obedience to His design for marriage (2:15)? [cf. Ezra 9:2 and Psalm 127:3-5]
4. What are some of the significant consequences that result from living outside God’s revealed design for covenant marriage (2:10-16)?
We are often tempted to ignore or alter God’s design for worship, marriage, and life. Believers are often susceptible to pursuing pleasure or provision apart from God or outside of His plan. All such pursuits, however, are hopeless and ultimately leave a person empty and void. God desires our obedience for our good and His glory. As the recipients of God’s mercy and grace, we are compelled by His Spirit to pursue, enjoy, and glorify our great Savior.
Individual Study Questions: Scripture: Ephesians 5:22-33
1. What is the biblical basis for the submission of wives to their husbands (5:22-24)? Also, what are some of the misconceptions about this passage?
2. What is the biblical basis for husbands to love their wives (5:25-30)?
3. In 5:25-30, Paul describes the way husbands should love their wives. What does love look like in a Christ-centered marriage?
4. After reading and reflecting upon Ephesians 5:32, write how the truth in this text relates to what is taught in Malachi 2:15 and Ezra 9:2?
5. Based on what is taught in Malachi 2:10-16 and Ephesians 5:22-33, briefly explain what a godly marriage looks like and why it’s so important.
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.[a] 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV).