About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

Home Page

Why God Hates Divorce - Malachi 2:10-16


I've already mentioned the most quoted Bible verse concerning divorce.  Malachi 2:16 tells us that God hates divorce.  Few comment on the previous 5 verses that tells us why He hates divorce. 


In the NIV, Malachi 2:10 states that Israel "profaned" God's covenant by "breaking faith with one another".  The KJV says that Israel "profaned" God's covenant by "acting treacherously" towards one another.  


The Hebrew word "chalal" is translated into English as "profane".  It means "to cut or to rip up", as in, "to rip up a covenant".  So, by "breaking faith", or, "acting treacherously", Israel ripped up the covenant she and Yahweh had agreed to keep. 


The Hebrew word "bagad" is translated in the NIV as "breaking faith" and in the KJV as "acting treacherously".  "Bagad" means "to cover up", "to act covertly", or, "to act hypocritically".  Israelis were acting hypocritically; claiming to live godly lives when in fact they weren't. 


Malachi 2:11 tells us how Israel ripped up God's covenant.  Israelis "desecrated the sanctuary of the Lord" by marrying pagan women.  In other words, Israeli men appeared to be godly while at the temple, but their pagan influenced lives, which included pagan wives, told a different story.    


As a result of this hypocrisy, God paid no attention to Israel as seen in Malachi 2:13.  He actually divorced Israel .  Hosea 2:2 states,  "Rebuke your mother, rebuke her, for she is no longer my wife and I am no longer her husband".   The word "mother" refers to Israel .  The pronoun "I" refers to God.  The word "rebuke" in the NIV, or "plead" in the KJV, is translated from the Hebrew word "riyb".  "Riyb" means to "contest, or plead for a cause or a case, as in a court of law".  Hosea 2:2 is written in Hebrew legal language.  God legally divorced Israel on the grounds of unfaithfulness as the Law of Moses permitted.  Of course, if you read the rest of Hosea you'll see that He will eventually remarry Israel. 


If you remember, the Law of Moses stated in Deuteronomy 24:1 to 4 that a man was not permitted to remarry his divorced wife after she had married another man.  She would have been ceremonially defiled or unclean.  The text states that such a remarriage is detestable in the sight of God.  So, just in case you're wondering how God can get away with breaking His own law by remarrying Israel, Israel's uncleanness, that which was detestable to God, was nailed to the cross of Christ.  It no longer exists, thus permitting God to remarry Israel upon her genuine repentance.


Another legal word is seen in Malachi 2:14.  God was a "witness" between Israeli men and the Israeli wives of their youth.  God was both judge and witness in the heavenly courtroom to Israeli men's unfaithfulness.    


The reason why God hates divorce is stated in Malachi 2:14.  Israeli men "broke faith" with the Israeli wives of their youth.  They were unfaithful.  Unfaithfulness is the reason why God hates divorce, and I suggest that this unfaithfulness isn't just adultery.  Any activity, either in word or deed, that expresses any kind of unfaithfulness to the wedding vows to love and cherish for life is what God hates.  We're all guilty in one way or another when thinking of unfaithfulness in marriage this way.  Many Christian couples who live in the same house may not commit adultery as defined by the Ten Commandments, but their words and actions suggest an unfaithfulness to their vows to love and cherish for life.  I don't think God is all that happy about this either.          


King Solomon portrayed the mind of God on this matter when he said that it is better not to make an agreement, a vow, a covenant, than to make one and then break it. (Ecclesiastics 5:5)  It's all about being faithful to our commitments, and in this case, being faithful to love and cherish our spouse as stated in our marriage vows. 


The very essence of God is faithfulness.  It's impossible for Him to be unfaithful.  He cannot break a vow, commitment, or a covenant, and He hates any hint of such things.  


In Malachi 2:15 Hosea refers back to Genesis 2:24 where God created a man to be glued to his wife for life in a state of oneness.  Hosea adds to this by saying that being faithful to this oneness produces "godly children".  Godliness handed down from one generation to the next is what God wants from marriage.  Unfaithfulness in marriage breaks the chain of generational godliness.  So, Malachi encourages us to guard our spirits and remain faithful to the wife of our youth until death separates us as seen in Romans 7:2.  

Home Page