Don’t we all come from one Father? Aren’t we all created by the same God? So why can’t we get along? Why do we desecrate the covenant of our ancestors that binds us together?
Judah has cheated on God—a sickening violation of trust in Israel and Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the holiness of God by falling in love and running off with foreign women, women who worship alien gods. God’s curse on those who do this! Drive them out of house and home! They’re no longer fit to be part of the community no matter how many offerings they bring to God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
And here’s a second offense: You fill the place of worship with your whining and sniveling because you don’t get what you want from God. Do you know why? Simple. Because God was there as a witness when you spoke your marriage vows to your young bride, and now you’ve broken those vows, broken the faith-bond with your vowed companion, your covenant wife. God, not you, made marriage. His Spirit inhabits even the smallest details of marriage. And what does he want from marriage? Children of God, that’s what. So, guard the spirit of marriage within you. Don’t cheat on your spouse.
“I hate divorce,” says the God of Israel. God-of-the-Angel-Armies says, “I hate the violent dismembering of the ‘one flesh’ of marriage.” So, watch yourselves. Don’t let your guard down. Don’t cheat.
You make God tired with all your talk.
“How do we tire him out?” you ask.
By saying, “God loves sinners and sin alike. God loves all.” And, by saying, “Judgment? God’s too nice to judge.”
“Look! I’m sending my messenger on ahead to clear the way for me. Suddenly, out of the blue, the Leader you’ve been looking for will enter his Temple—yes, the Messenger of the Covenant, the one you’ve been waiting for. Look! He’s on his way!” A Message from the mouth of God-of-the-Angel-Armies. (MSG)
Any reader of Holy Scripture must come to grips with sections of it which are difficult, harsh, and scathing. Since the Bible covers a complete range of the human condition, not all we find within it are bunnies and butterflies. The prophets of the Lord held back no punches when it came to delivering their message.
In today’s Old Testament lesson, the prophet Malachi squarely addressed the people’s issue of unfaithfulness. They were faithless to one another; faithless to their spouses; and, faithless to God. God is described by the prophet as weary and exasperated with a lot of talk with no faithful presence and action.
God hates divorce simply because it is so damaging for those involved. This is not a divine decree that divorce should never exist any more than God’s hatred for the people’s worship means that worship should never exist.
Both marriage and worship are to be meaningful experiences of devotion and dedication to the significant human and divine relationships in our lives.
God has no tolerance for half-hearted commitments which either opens another to violence or having verbal or physical violence perpetrated outright by the one who ought to be protecting and loving.
The solution to the two-faced problem of the people with their milquetoast obedience is that a messenger will be sent to prepare the way of the Lord. He is coming, and it will be soon.
Keeping the end of our lives and of history in mind helps bring greater clarity and purpose to the present. The season of Advent reminds the faithful that since Jesus is coming soon, we must hold fast to our Christian allegiance.
Faithfulness toward God also means having a faithful presence (albeit perhaps virtually) to the people close to us and near us.
Malachi exhorted the people to guard their spirits because a lack of personal awareness within causes a dearth of awareness without in simply seeing others but not really seeing them. Spousal abuse is not okay, and the God who sees all will rouse and act on behalf of the one stuck in a situation and pattern of neglect and/or exploitation.
It is necessary to monitor the condition of our souls and be in touch with the state of our spirits so that we remain faithful. We are to nurture our inner selves so that outward actions reflect faithful commitment without harming those closest to us.
Vulnerability with oneself and submission to basic accountability structures are important so that we are aware to strengthen the inner person. Rather than embrace a rabid individualism, communal dedication is a primary way of pleasing God, serving others, and realizing divine blessing. It also is a necessary preventative to domestic abuse.
Everyone deserves healthy relationships.
If you or someone you know is the victim of spousal abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit their website at https://www.thehotline.org/
Sovereign God, the One who sees and knows all, help me guard my spirit so that I will be faithful in all I do and in all my relationships with others, especially my own family and spouse. Strengthen my soul to remain dedicated to seeing the coming of Jesus in all his glory. Amen.