Malachi 2:16 (HCSB)
16 “If he hates and divorces his wife, ” says the Lord God of Israel, “he covers his garment with injustice,” says the Lord of Hosts. Therefore, watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously.
This pericope has a theme concerning marriage throughout it, and the unfaithfulness of Judah. What is interesting is that there are two separate pictures used, one seemingly quite literal, and the other a sort of spiritual marriage of the nation.
Malachi 2:13-16 seem to be pretty clearly a literal picture of a husband and wife marriage, and how the men of Judah have failed to uphold and observe the holy covenant before God. And that is the key here, marriage is a covenant from God, and made before Him. It is not something that man has the power to define, or choose to apply at his own discretion, it is a permanent institution from God. Yet the men of Judah have ignored it and profaned it. Rather than observe and adhere to the covenant, they “acted treacherously against” their wives, and divorced them. And the result? The husband “covers his garment with injustice”. The husband has broken the covenant before God, and his sacrifice is no longer “respected” by God. Because remember, God is not after the sacrifice, we do not appease God through gifts, He is after hearts. The man who ignores the marriage covenant is not displaying a heart for God. And as a side note, surely this passage is not suggesting there are no grounds for justified divorce, it is addressing the divorce of convenience. There are other passages that address conditions that justify divorce, this passage is concerned with the heart of His people in the context of divorce and the marriage covenant.
The second picture we get a glimpse of is that of the nation of Judah being the husband who “has married the daughter of a foreign god.” This, although I suppose could be interpreted to be addressing the same scenario already discussed above, I think, carries a national spirituality aspect to it. As a nation, Judah has left God, its first love, to chase and marry with a false god. I find it interesting that Judah, or God’s people, is described as marrying the daughter of a foreign god. God’s church as a whole is generally referred to in the feminine, and if we look at this description as Judah could have been married to God rather than the daughter of a false god, then might we think Judah would have been the feminine partner in such a marriage? And if so, does that not feed into this “treacherous” and “detestable” thing that Judah has done? Just a thought. Anyway, the point here is that there is spiritual devastation when Judah “divorces” God and is adulteress with a false god. Judah’s descendants are then cut off as well, and their offerings are fruitless. Perhaps this is intimating that the apostasy will flow down to the descendants, or perhaps it is literal in that the punishment and its effects ripple beyond just the present generation. Either way, the result is not good.
In the end we see that the marriage covenant, which in so many ways mirrors our relationship with Christ, is holy and is a sign of the heart of His people. Apostasy against it leads to separation, while enjoying the gift of it leads to harmony and fulfillment.
Lord, thank You for the gift of marriage. I pray that we would enjoy the gift as You designed it to be enjoyed. Help us to lift it up, cherish it, and protect it. And spiritually, I pray, we would always be joined to You alone, never forsaking You for false gods. Amen.