By Paul Smithson
Since God is our Creator it only makes sense that to live happy, fulfilling, and contented lives we must follow His instruction. One of the most obvious problems in the lives of many is broken marriages. Our Creator instituted marriage and those who enter into marriage with little respect for God and His word can not expect anything but problems. For many people marriage is something simply done out of convenience without a sense of obligation and responsibility before God. For those same people divorce is a convenience. Many get married with the selfish attitude that says, “I’ll get married, try it for a while and if it doesn’t work or if I don’t like it, I’ll just get a divorce.” Yet, God views marriage to be a covenant relationship.
A covenant is an agreement that involves promises and commitments. The Bible describes marriage as a spiritual covenant that is just as binding and sacred as the covenant that God has made with His people. In fact, we find when God described the relationship between Himself and Israel He spoke of the husband wife relationship (cf. Jer. 31:31-32). In the New Testament the blessed relationship between Christ and the church is described by the covenant relationship of the husband and the wife (Eph. 5:22-ff). Marriage is a holy union before God.
Malachi prophesied in a time of general apostasy and unfaithfulness. The people’s apostasy was characterized by an atmosphere of general covenant breaking. In Malachi’s time divorce was a real problem and became a central issue in all of the sins of the people. Thus God declared, “I hate divorce” (Mal. 2:16). There is more to divorce that just incompatibility, or “I just don’t love him/her anymore.” It is something so serious that it involves breaking a covenant that is just as binding and sacred as the covenant God makes with His people.
Many fail to realize that when a man and woman make the commitment to be married, they are joined in that commitment and are bound together in a covenant relationship by God. Our Creator instituted marriage from the beginning and only He has the authority to bind, or say what does and does not break that covenant. Jesus declared, “..What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matt. 19:6). A marriage covenant involves more than an individual, their spouse and the law of the land; it involves God and the covenant that He has bound when a man and woman vow their commitment before Him. The only One who has the authority to declare what is a legitimate reason to break that covenant is the One who binds it, and that is God. He has given only one exception to this lifetime covenant which we will discuss next time.