Summary: Malachi Series - 3 of 6.
THE TREACHERY OF DIVORCE
INTRO: It was a sleepy spring afternoon when a tornado struck Waco, Texas. It left behind a wake of destruction seldom witnessed: 113 people dead, hundreds more left homeless, and millions of dollars in property damage. Workers commented the buildings had their outside walls and roof completely gone while the floor and inside walls remained intact, every piece of furniture exactly where it had been before the storm struck. The buildings looked like gigantic doll houses waiting for a huge hand to reach inside them.
The explanation for the condition of the houses is: at the center of a tornado a vacuum is created. When the vacuum surrounds a house, the pressure of the air on the inside of the house is greater than that on the outside, and it literally explodes.
Something like that is happening in our homes today. We live in a moral and spiritual vacuum, and our homes are exploding from the inside out. At one time marriages were held together by religious convictions, social pressures, and economic necessity. Today, these outer pressures no longer exist. The result is an exploding divorce rate.
We are not the first generation to take the marriage vows lightly. Malachi’s third charge against Israel was “treachery,” that is, unfaithfulness in keeping their marriage vows (vv. 11, 14-16).
When the argumentative people replied, “for what reason?” the Lord pointed to the fact that the Jewish men were divorcing the wives of their youth and taking younger, more attractive wives from among the heathen. Then, in the strongest statement against divorce found in Scripture, God says, “I hate divorce!” (v. 16).
Malachi made it clear that in marriage two people become one. The purpose of this oneness is that they might produce godly children. So, he admonished, “Take heed to your Spirit.” Malachi’s message teaches us three things about marriage:
I. THERE IS A DIVINE MODEL (v. 15).
This verse points back to creation when God said, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
It was God’s plan from the beginning that a man and woman be joined together for life. In the light of this divine model, let me say a word to three special groups:
1. To the never married: When you marry, God, though unseen, is a witness to your vows. He takes them seriously and so should you.
2. To the married: Many people live under the illusion that love is self-sustaining. It isn’t. As an untended fire will go out, so a neglected marriage relationship will cool off. Don’t take your mate for granted.
3. To the divorced: Divorce is not the unpardonable sin. If you have failed in the divine ideal, seek the forgiveness of God and move on with joy and confidence.
II. THERE IS A DIVINE MOTIVE (v. 15).
Why did God make us one in marriage? Clearly, Malachi considered the worst result of divorce to be its effect on children. God wants our marriages to produce godly children, and this is most likely to happen in a stable home. Children are like a seismograph; they register every domestic shock. The Chinese proverb is correct: “There are few whole eggs in a broken nest.”
III. THERE IS A DIVINE MANDATE (vv. 15-16).
The best hope of building a lasting and satisfying marriage is to have the right Spirit. We need:
1. A trusting spirit: Marriage is built on faith and trust. Jealousy eventually destroys the very thing it tries to protect.
2. A loving spirit: We are to love one another “as Christ loved the church.”
3. An understanding spirit: We must not expect from others what we cannot give ourselves — perfection. Accept your mate, warts and all.
4. A forgiving spirit: in marriage we must be slow to anger, quick to forgive.
5. A cheerful spirit: no one wants to live with a mate who is constantly sullen, grouchy, and critical.
God is always faithful to us. He, in turn, expects us to be faithful to our mates and to Him. His faithfulness is to be a pattern for and a challenge to us.
CONC: The greatest cause of failure in marriage is unrealistic expectations. The average couple enters marriage expecting a wedding to do what only God can do. It takes God to make a marriage meaningful and fulfilling.