Summary: The Lord calls us to keep the covenant of marriage. We must guard ourselves so that we do not break faith with our marriage partner.
Making a Marathon Marriage
After breaking up with his fiancée, a young man realized the error of his ways when he wrote: “Dearest Marie, No words could ever express the great unhappiness I’ve felt since breaking our engagement. Please say you’ll take me back. No one could ever take your place in my heart, so please forgive me. I love you! Yours forever, Jimmy…P.S. And congratulations on winning the lottery.”
I’m not sure how sincere this guy was about getting back together, but he was probably ready to restore their broken relationship at any cost. That reminds me of a young man who was proposing to his girlfriend. He had the ring in his hand and said: “Sweetheart, I love you so much, I want you to marry me. I don’t have a car like Johnny Green. I don’t have a yacht like him or a house as big as his. I don’t have the money of Johnny Green but I love you with all my heart.” She looked into his eyes and said, “I love you too, sweetheart…but could you tell me more about Johnny Green?”
It’s amazing how easily we can lose focus in our relationships, isn’t it? This morning, as we come to Malachi 2:10-16, we’re going to see that our relationships with others, with God, and with our spouse, all have the potential to disintegrate if we’re not careful.
It struck me last week when I was preaching through a very descriptive, and even revolting passage, that if you did not have a Bible in front of you, you could have wondered why I was talking about some pretty gross stuff that contributes to our fatal flaws. However, if you had your Bible, you could have followed along and seen for yourself what happens when people dishonor God’s holy name.
Could I encourage you to bring your Bible to church each week and read along in the passage as I go through it? I want to invite you to take notes, underline key words, or whatever else helps you become an active part of this process. Let’s be learners together in this mysterious process of how God takes His living Word and speaks directly into our lives. A couple weeks ago when I was coming into the auditorium to get ready to begin the service I noticed that one of our new members had his Bible open to the Book of Malachi and was reading the text for that day. I will never forget that image! If you don’t have a Bible, we’d be happy to help you get one. We do have some available on our new Welcome Center table in the hallway heading into the Family Life Center.
Related to this, sometimes I wonder if using PowerPoint to put words and images up on the screen is a tool for learning, or more of a temptation for lazy thinking. I haven’t come to a conclusion yet but I do know if you can follow along in your copy of the Scriptures, listen to what I’m saying, and see the outline here, the chances for learning, and life change go way up. And that’s what we all want, isn’t it? It goes back to what we learned last week about the importance of not just hearing, but of really listening.
I want to begin by pointing out a phrase that is repeated five times in our passage. I’m going to read verses 10-16 and give special emphasis to the expression, “breaking faith” or “broken faith.”
In order to get a better idea of what this term means, let’s look at some different translations. In the King James and New American Standard, we read, “deal treacherously.” The New Living Translation puts it this way: “faithless.” And the Amplified Bible combines the two: “deal faithlessly and treacherously.” It has the idea of pillaging something that was supposed to be protected and is tied very closely to another word that is used in this section. It’s the word “covenant” in verse 10 and verse 14.
A covenant was a solemn and binding mutual agreement between two parties. An oath was made and it was formally ratified by an external act. This is similar to what the Old Testament means by “shalom.” All relationships – with others, with God, and with our spouses, are to be held together by a compulsory keeping of covenant that encompasses the entire community of faith.
To tie into last week, because the priests had dealt treacherously with God, they were causing many others to falter in their faith: “But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi, says the LORD Almighty” (2:8). There are three ways that God’s people had broken faith in their relationships. Let me state it both positively and negatively. I want to acknowledge my thanks to John Piper for some keen insight into this passage and for unlocking the outline for me: