Malachi 2 v 10 – 16
Please turn with me in your Bibles to Malachi chapter 2. We’re going to read verses 10 to 16 as we consider a very, very hard hitting portion of Scripture this evening.
10Have 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? 11Judah 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. 12May 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! 13And 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 favour from your hand. 14But you say, “Why does He not?” Because the LORD was 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. 15Did 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.” (ESV)
I said at the beginning that it’s a very hard hitting and challenging portion of Scripture to preach from and here’s why. We live in the real world and possibly even present here this evening, or listening in by life stream or possibly later on somebody who downloads it from the website will hear this message and those people will find themselves in precisely this kind of sin that the Lord is describing here. You and I know that our world is fraught with divorce. It’s all throughout our societies; people do it. And we live in the dispensation of Grace and it’s easy to open this passage if the Lord has blessed us with happy marriages for a long time and to really thunder forth the Word of God in the voice of God and be a scourge to people and forget that even within His fold we find many who have committed that sin, and yet to have found grace and who’ve been restored by the LORD. So if I start speaking to you on Malachi this evening, I want to tie it in with what I said this morning when we spoke from Romans chapter 2:1-11. I want to start with this and say to you that we need to not be judgmental people. We need to let God speak and not let us be the ones who speak. When we speak, we become judgmental. When God speaks and we let God speak it is always very clear and very definite and we can sense His emotion. We can sense the indignation of the holy God of Heaven at the sins of people; we can see that. But we also can sense is the grace and the love of this God who so firmly condemns the kind of sins that Israel was guilty of here. And we’re going to have a look at that. We need to always speak the truth in love – never be condemnatory towards other people. Let the Lord call them to order. Remember what I said to you this morning? Every sinner will get this reply from God if he comes to God and he says: ‘Heavenly Father, I have murdered someone.’ The Lord will say: ‘Come to Me, all who are weak and heavy-laden.’ When you say: ‘I have stolen,’ the Lord will say: ‘Come to Me.’ When you say to God: ‘I have committed this sin or that sin and I feel deep contrition for it.’ The reply that you’ll get from God is: ‘Come to Me’; not ‘go away.’ Amen!? And you and I need to be reminded as we go into this text this evening why we are Christians. I remember as a young Christian, someone asked me: ‘Why are you a Christian? Why have you become a Christian? You were the hardest atheist I ever knew.’ He said: ‘I don’t want to sound paradoxical, but you used to put the fear of God into other atheists – as an atheist. Why have you become a Christian? Why are you a Christian?’ And my reply was always: ‘I am a Christian because I’m not good enough not to be one.’ I need that Cross. I need that blood depicted on that table. I need that broken body depicted by that bread. I need that weeping Saviour every moment of my life. And so do you! And so when we get into texts like this, we need to speak the truth in love, because it is a hard hitting text. What do we see in this text this evening? We see the Father and the faithless. This is a text about two parties: the Father on the one hand and the faithless on the other hand. And the text tells us first of all something about the Father and then the prophet tells us about the faithless.
- The Father
Now what we see in the text are three concerns of God. If you read these few verses you see that God has three concerns in this text. There are three things that are weighing heavily on the mind and heart of the Almighty God as He speaks to the people of Israel. And what are those three things? His children, His creation and His Covenant. He has a concern for His Children, for His Creation and for His Covenant. These are the three things that are occupying the mind of God as He speaks to His people in this passage and the proper response to the Creator Covenant Father – because that’s who He is in the text – He’s the Creator Covenant Father and the proper response to the Creator Covenant Father is the response of faith and of faithfulness, because faith and faithfulness go together. There can be – where there is not faithfulness, it is because there is no faith; where there is no faith, there cannot be faithfulness. Somebody once said we should actually call it full of Faithness. And that’s the proper response to the Creator Covenant Father – it’s the response of faith and faithfulness. And here’s the problem. They have not responded appropriately. They have not responded in faith and faithfulness to God and God indicts that and so what we see in the text are two rhetorical questions that imply the answer: ‘Yes’, and that’s followed by a strong condemnation from the Lord. He asks 2 rhetorical questions that imply the answer: ‘Yes.’ What are they? ‘Have we not all one Father?’ That’s a rhetorical question and the implied answer is: ‘Yes, we have all one Father.’ The second one: ‘Has not one God created us?’ Second rhetorical question. It implies the answer: ‘Yes, One God has created us.’ So he starts with those two and then follows an indictment; a condemnation; a rebuke from the Lord. But let’s look at it in these two parts: that of the Father and of the faithless and as we look at the Father, there are two things. We see the first two concerns of God. We see his concern for his children and his concern for his creation. Then when we look at the faithless, we see the Father’s concern for his Covenant to which they have been unfaithful. So first of all, the Father and His concern for His children and His creation. And that is a good starting point, because we live in a world where people don’t want to hear this anymore, but the Word clearly says: ‘Have we not all one Father?’ And it implies the answer: ‘Yes, we have one Father.’ All the Covenant children of God have one Father and it’s a very difficult thing these days to proclaim. Just the other day I had to listen to somebody who somewhere got stewed in the feminism pot for a while and saying: ‘Why can’t we refer to God as our mother?’ And I said: ‘Because our Father won’t like that.’ And I think that matters that Father won’t like that if we started calling Him our mother.’ He calls Himself our Father and He intends to be that not just within some cultural contexts, but for all Eternity! He knew that feminism was going to be on the rise. He knew that people were going to call what is good bad and what is bad good. People were going to stand up and call what is wrong, right and what is right, wrong. People were going to call what is ugly beautiful and what is beautiful ugly (which to me would be a benefit.) He knew all of that and despite Him knowing all of that, He calls Himself- not I, not Malachi – God calls Himself Our Father. When the apple of His eye, the Lord Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, taught us how to pray, He began with those two words: ‘Our Father’ – our Father! And we live in a world where fatherhood has fallen on hard times and I can understand some of the arguments that people bring about how some men behave themselves or fail to behave. It’s taken me two careers to see that some men, who roam around their homes, are nothing but bullies. They bully their wives, they bully their children and they give a bad name to a very lofty title: that of father. And so I can see that but that doesn’t detract from the fact that God calls himself our Father and we have only one Father. We don’t have many and that’s His concern for His children. You need to see that when He calls himself our Father, it’s not just so that He can put Himself on a pedestal, because He doesn’t have to. He occupies the Throne of Glory. He doesn’t have to send out a CV to impress people; all He needs to be, to impress all but those who are totally blind and deaf is just be Himself and show up and anyone who is not impressed, is deaf or blind or has got some other problem or all of them, but when he calls himself our Father, it’s a term of affection. It hones in on a relationship. Those of you who have children and love them, you’ll know what happens in your heart when you look at them. One look at that young man sitting over there and my heart melts; my daughters are my granddaughters. And I know it’s the same with you when you look at your children, it’s a term of deep affection to be a father. My heart goes out to fathers who have to see their children suffer. As a dad I know what that is like, I know how hard that must be. That’s why when people ask me, how are you, these days I tell them I’m not well for very good reasons. Let me give you some of them: My children may be doing well and they may be fine and so on, but for me to just get wrapped in a bubble of happiness about that – and you should – you should be happy about that. You should be glad about it, but in the corner of your eye there needs to be- with a smile on your face for the bliss and the blessings that you have – there needs to be a tear for the one who doesn’t have it. And in order for that not to be there, you have to be either totally blind to the pain of others, or you need to just simply not care, but our Father cares. As a father I know when – the fact that they’re moving; the fact that my daughter is down in George. I can’t drive down there and every day and give my granddaughter’s a hug. I know what kind of relationship He is referring to when He calls Himself our Father. If I have that in my heart for my own children, I can imagine what He has in His heart for you and for me: greatest tenderness and intuitive drive to protect to grow, to help and make happy and well. I don’t understand how the world can be so cold and callous towards this God; why they don’t want Him as a Father. Can you understand that? Can you understand why any human being does not want this God as Father? When He calls Himself Our Father, His concern is for His children. You’ll see it later on in the text. He wants you to have Godly offspring, because He wants His offspring to be Godly in Christ. He wants you to have the same and we’ll see that later on. It’s a term of deep endearment and affection: ‘Have we not all one Father? Yes Lord, we have and we love you, Father. And His concern is for His creation. He says: “Has not one God created us?” and many stories going around about Evolution and all this kind of thing. But I believe with all my heart that God created us. I believe that with all my heart. We are His creatures; we didn’t just happen. He made these children. And we belong to Him. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. Let every leader in the world know that. When you strut about the palaces and the passages of your parliaments and your cabinets, and wherever you are – when you strut about there – you need to remind yourself of this: You don’t own the place. The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. You’re just a steward; you’re just the caretaker. That’s God’s concern for His creation. That’s the Father but then the text turns in verse 10 also and speaks about:
- The Faithless
And here His concern is for His Covenant. You see something about the faithless. They have two sins. We’re going to look at their first sin and their second sin; two sins that He talks about with regard to His Covenant here as He speaks about the faithless. And the first sin has to do with their profanities. They profane, they dirty, they soil, and they dishonour holy and beautiful and true things. That’s what a profanity is and we see four things about these profanities in their first sin. We see the root of it, the revelation of it, the repulsiveness of it and the result of it. First we see the root of it. Where does it come from? Where does it originate? What does it spring from? What is its wellspring? This first sin of profanities – notice with me. It’s in a question – and indicting question: “Why then are we” – and here it is; here’s the root: “faithless to one another?” – Faithless! Notice, He does not say unfaithful, although that’s certainly implied in the term. He speaks about faithless. That’s the root of all sin. What is not of faith is sin: faithlessness. That’s where unfaithfulness comes from. It comes from faithlessness. It comes from not really believing! And for you and I to understand how serious that is, we need to understand once again, what faith is. Somebody said it’s an acronym for: Forsaking All I Trust Him; Forsaking All I Trust Him. That’s one aspect of it. Faith has three aspects. You need to know certain things, you need to agree with them and you need to trust them enough to act on them. Knowledge, Assent and Trust. Faith begins in the mind when you hear God speak by the Holy Spirit through His Word. He speaks, and you hear and you understand and it begins with that knowledge, but it doesn’t end there. It needs to get down from your head into your heart where you actually assent to it. You say: I don’t fight it. I can’t say that I like it. Let me tell you something: In this book, there are so many things that the real me; I don’t like it. It goes against my grain. It’s not part of my nature. If you read the Bible and you like everything that’s in there, you’re not reading it properly. You’re only reading the bits that you like and that make you feel good. You’re not reading the bits that are challenging you. Amen!? And one of the hardest ones in all of the Bible is 1 Corinthians 13; one of the hardest chapters in the Bible. Who can live like that; who can love like that? But your faith must move from being just knowledge – head knowledge – to become something of the heart where you no longer fight it; you embrace it; you assent to it. Yes, you do it with trepidation. You say: “Lord, I know my flesh is going to rise up against this sooner or later, but I know what You say and I can’t fight with You – I can’t argue with You – I can’t refute You and I don’t want to and it’s going to be difficult for me to live with this, but I know I have to or I need to die.
And thirdly you trust it – you act upon it – you live your life according to it. You don’t second-guess it. That is faith and that is faithfulness and full of faithness. And the root of their sin is they were faithless. They heard everything God said, but it God into the heart and it certainly didn’t get into the trust and into the lives. That’s the root of it: it’s faithlessness. Notice the revelation of it. How did it reveal itself? How did God see this? How could other see it? Here it is: “Profaning the Covenant of our fathers.” That’s how it was revealed. God saw that they were being faithless to one another, because they were profaning the Covenant of their fathers. What does it mean to profane the Covenant of the fathers? That means to break your promises, knowing you’re doing it; thinking you can do better. It’s being underhanded and unfaithful and faithless. That’s the revelation of it. It always has to do with us walking back on our promises and our commitments. That’s the revelation of it; that’s what shows it up. It’s that what shows up that we are faithless; the minute we break Covenant, we show that we’re faithless.
Notice the repulsiveness of it in verse 11. It’s a repulsive thing: ‘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.’ How’s he done that? ‘…and has married the daughter of a foreign god.’ They were getting into mixed marriages – I’m not talking about racially mixed marriages here. I’m talking about spiritually mixed marriages. God condemns that. My congregation, you must pray every day that your children marry believers; that your daughter finds a man after God’s own heart; that your son finds a woman after God’s own heart. Dads, I know it’s a hard one. You cannot give your blessing to a mixed marriage. It would be a mistake. It would be, being faithless. Now again, I say I know many have done that. What do you do with that? What does the Lord say? Well, it’s done now, now you need to keep your promises. What do you need to do? The Lord tells you: “Come to Me!” If you’re a sister and you’re married to an unbelieving husband, pray every day that God breaks him and brings him to his knees. The same goes for you if you’re a man who is married to an unbelieving woman, which is a greater rarity in these days, but it is there. The Lord calls it an abomination. That means it’s a repulsive thing. One of the synonyms for abomination is rot; it’s a stench to God. That’s the repulsiveness of it. We’ve seen the root of it: faithlessness the revelation of it. They revealed it in that they profaned the Covenant and the repulsiveness of it. It is an abomination when they married the daughters of foreign gods.
What is the result of it? Because it has consequences! We see in verse 12, we see the consequences of it. ‘May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob’- It’s terrible, but this is God speaking: ‘any descendant of the man who does this; who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts. We’re going to see what that means in a minute. Not only do they do it, having done it, they bring an offering to the Lord, but the result of this sin is cutting off from the tents of Jacob any descendant. We’ll see what the Lord says about that some more in a moment as we look at their second sin. And so their first sin is their profanities. The second sin is their presumption; the sin of presumption. They think they can do this and still go to worship; still go to bring offerings to the Lord. Look at verse 30: ‘…and the 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 favour from your hand. But you say: ‘Why does He not?’ Here is why: ‘because the Lord was witnessed between you and the wife of your youth to whom you have been faithless though she is your companion and your wife by Covenant. She is something beautiful. She is your companion and your wife by Covenant. Some of our young people got married recently. Some of them are getting married soon. We rejoice with that; Praise God, you saw what happened to Jacques and Ariata. They just had a little boy called Michiel Christoffel, who was born yesterday. We praise God together with them. He gave you a son from your companion and your wife by Covenant, something so beautiful; don’t you think that makes her so special? Men, your companion and your wife by Covenant.
Now here’s something really profound – as we like to say as Reformed people (actually when a Reformed guy says to you ‘that’s profound’, it’s actually just an acknowledgement that he didn’t understand it very well.) But listen up you guys who are getting married, you’ve been recently married and who are married, listen to this. Verse 15: ‘Did He not make them one?’ That’s a wonderful thing; one. The two shall be one flesh, but there’s more: ‘with a portion of the Spirit in their union; that’s marriage! There will be a portion of the Spirit in your union. Let that do something for your marriage if nothing else can. Amen? Let that do something for you: The portion of the Spirit in your union. Why did the Lord do that? He gives us the reason: “and what was the one God seeking?” Why did he do that? Godly offspring. He wants your children to be Godly offspring. That’s what He wants for you. He wants them running about the Sunday school there and going to the Sunday school picnic with Catherine and them soon. The Godly offspring! Pray for our Sunday school teachers. They’re taking care of something very a special. They’re taking care of the Godly offspring. Pray for the teachers at the school – they’re taking care of the Godly offspring. Can you see why this is such an abomination to the Lord?
Now, I want to say something more about this and I don’t want to keep you too long, but it’s easy for us to stand up in the world in which we live and to condemn people who have gone through divorce, but I need to say something about this as a pastor to you this evening. When does it happen, this thing that you call divorce? Does it happen when the lawyer signs off on it – when the court signs off on it? Is that where it happens? It’s not where it happens; it’s just where it comes to its bad end. It happens much sooner. There are many, many couples in this world who still live married to each other. It’s not a marriage; it’s a lie. You’ve been living a divorce for years brother, in the way that you treat your wife, wife in the way that you treat your husband or fail to treat them. When you break that vow ‘to have, to hold, to love, to cherish for better for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer for as long as we both shall live.’ Every time you’re shy back on that, it’s an act of divorce. It’s an act of you breaking your Covenant. You don’t have to have some magistrate in Pretoria signing off on you to know that you’ve committed that sin. So yes, the Lord condemns that very strongly, but what I’m saying to you as a pastor, we tend to do that often in our own marriages. You know what I’m saying to you is the truth. You know that – what I’m saying to you is, don’t do it! Have and hold, love and cherish, for better for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer – and if you’re the guy that’s going to be for poorer. I meant that with deep affection, sisters. You welcome. You deserve the nice things. You’re wonderful. God bless you. Give them more brothers! Go home and tell them that, sisters; tell them what the pastor said.
Well, let’s be married then and not just have the paperwork, because in many marriages the paperwork is out of date. Amen!? So let’s not be judgmental here this evening, but you can see how strongly the Lord indicts it, and the reason He wants strong marriages – unmixed, strong faithful marriages is for the Godly offspring – that our children believe the same as we do – they worship the same God.
So we’ve seen now their first sin, which was the sin of profanities the root of it: faithlessness; the revelation of it: they broke the Covenant; the repulsiveness of it: it’s an abomination; and the result of it: their descendants will be cut off. And their second sin – we’ve seen their presumption: they think they can do this, and still bring offerings to the Lord and complain when He doesn’t answer their offerings. But then He ends with their salvation which is where we must always end in verse 15 the second part. With the word ‘so’ – it’s like God is saying you get the picture now, so what do you do now? Look at the next word guard – GUARD. You need to be on guard. You need to be right and ready; you need to guard yourself. Why does God say that? Because inside of you there are the same things that broke up every other marriage – are inside of you. Guard yourselves. Where? In your spirit – that’s as deep down as it can get- in your spirit. You need to guard yourself and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. The Lord calls her- notice how the Lord is speaking to the men here. Brothers, I hope you’re listening up! He’s speaking to you. She’s the weaker vessel. You want her to love you? Stop doing things that make you unlovable. Amen!? You need to be lovable to your wife. “And let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth for the man who does not love his wife, but divorces her, says the Lord the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence.” I’ve seen that so many times. “…says the Lord of hosts.” And then He says it again: “so guard yourselves in your spirit and don’t be faithless. That’s their salvation – to be faithful – to have faith and to guard that faith in your spirit and to be faithful to your Covenant – the Covenant with God – the Covenant with your spouse. We are the Bride of the Lamb without blemish slain before the foundation of the world. We are His bride as His church. Has He been faithful to us? He’s so faithful. He’s not the giving up kind of husband – He holds on. Nothing will pluck you from His hand. Believe in the Lord Jesus and be saved, be faithful. Guard yourselves in your spirit.
Do not be found among the faithless, but be found in the Father with these three concerns for His children, His creation and His Covenant. Have a proper response to that Creator Covenant Father and the responses: faith and faithfulness.