The King's Gardeners Ministries
Reverend S. L. Gardner
Spokane Valley, Washington US
Articles used by permission or are public domain
- Did God Put His Seal of Approval On Divorce Through Messiah Jesus Christ? -
Matthew 19:1-9 is a set of verses that create havoc in the life of a Stander. For the sake of this article only one issue will be addressed. Did God put His seal of approval on divorce through Messiah Jesus Christ?
First I believe some basic premises need to be established.
1. Messiah Yeshua Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever and exactly represents God the Father. John 14:6 Heb. 13:8
2. God does not change. James 1:17 God doesn't say oops and erase what He has set down to rule our lives.
3. Jesus Christ never did or said anything that wasn't from the Father God. John 8:28, John 12:49
4. That Jesus Christ was "Jewish" and taught in the Synagogue where he made the statement that he has not come to destroy the "law" but to fulfill it. Matthew 5:17
5. Nowhere in the Word is it recorded that God has ever changed His attitude toward those actions He set down as sin or what He hated.
6. Jesus did not come to excuse sin, but came to be the perfect sacrifice for those repenting of sin. He came to bring salvation from sin and the consequences that separate us from the presence of God. John 3:16-17 John 14:6
7. In Gods Mosaic Law adultery was reason for divorce, not the mirad of reasons bandied about today. In fact Israel was severely punished at one point in history and a big reason was that divorce was being obtained for all sorts of reasons or no reason at all! (Malachi) Sounds like the current trend in society doesn't it?
8. Historically if the person accused of adultery was found innocent fines against the accuser were levied and an order was given that there could never be another divorce presented to the court for the duration of the lives of the couple. (Check biblical history and Gods laws given to His people)
9. God establishes only two Covenants for Himself. One is the Abrahamic Covenant that brings us Salvation through Jesus Christ and the other is the Covenant of Marriage. God is the third party and guarantor of both of these institutions that He created. Man participates in them according to Gods regulations. (Too many examples to list here but Hosea is a good demonstrative Word on this position)
10. Malachi 2:16 clearly state that God hates divorce. Since Malachi was written long after Moses Law the message to us is clear. God hates divorce!!!
Jesus clearly stated that He only spoke and acted as the Father instructed. In fact Jesus said if you saw Him, you saw The Father. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God changed His mind and started ordaining divorce as we use it today. It was instituted to PROTECT THE INNOCENT, not to facilitate sin! It was never allowed without specific reasons and penalties being exacted. English mistranslations make it seem as if God Himself divorces but these assumptions are in error as can be discerned correctly by reading the verse in Jeremiah in context.
So why does divorce exist? The Word says it's because of the hardness of men's hearts but that God did not ordain it nor did it exist from the beginning. Matthew 19:8 refers back to Torah law (we call the Old Testament laws), which Jesus confirmed in this scripture.
Does that mean God says ok so men's hearts are hard so I will put a rubber stamp on hard heartedness and let those who are hard-hearted divorce with His Holy blessing? Hummmm what's wrong with that picture? No! Divorce was instituted to protect the innocent. Adultery had to be proven to a court of Biblical Judges who had proven themselves wise godly leaders and were specially trained to deal with this issue as a specialty. It was a "sin unto death".
Only when Israel was straying from a close relationship with God were divorce regulations relaxed. Yes, historically it can be proven that "no-fault divorce" was practiced in Israel. It can also be proven that historically the closer Israel got to divorce on demand the closer they came to severe discipline (judgment). Divorces, not protecting the innocent and not protecting life were also an indicator of how far Israel and now many in the church is away from God.
HOWEVER, according to Christian Covenant marriage between believers there is no acceptable reason for divorce. Our vows say, that we will remain faithful forsaking all others, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better or for worse, until death us do part. These vows are said before witnesses and are recorded by God. We do not sign a Kethuba allowing for divorce. The Kethuba set up severe consequences for marital separation that would deter all but the most hard hearted person. Never forget that the "out" of adultery was a sin unto death and the "divorce" was a precursor with consequences to the extended family.
No - Christian marriage marriage vows have no provision for divorce. We may promise other things in most ceremonies too but nowhere in the establishment of the believer's marriage covenant is there a provision for divorce if those promises are not kept. In other words Christians take Gods Word that one-flesh is until death us do part very seriously and establishes our covenant marriages on that basis.
Because of current trends this commitment has diminished to whatever people feel. Feelings have never proven to be reliable. God is the third party to our covenants and He takes our Covenant vows very very seriously.
This article isn't going to address whether divorce is only allowed before or after marriage. Nor is this article going to address what makes believers covenant and what doesn't. I'm not going to address the biblical laws concerning divorce except to say that if a believer divorces there specified reasons it is allowed and "laws" governing the action. These laws outline who can obtain a divorce and under what specific terms. It always establishes penalties and consequences for divorcing. The bottom line is why should anyone want to do something God specifically is recorded as hating. (Malachi 2:16 and confirmed by Jesus in Matthew)
The party with the greater guilt was never ever ever intended to be the ones who got a divorce. In fact traditionally if the filing party was found to have falsely accused their spouse severe penalties were levied and the court made an order that no divorce could ever be brought again for the rest of the couples lives.
The one committing biblically defined divorcing sin is never ever granted a divorce. In other words if the one with the greater guilt files it is not scriptural. God will never tell the person who is committing sin to compound that sin by getting a divorce. God calls to repentance and restoration not to further sin and further division.
If a person files on grounds less than adultery or other gross sexual sin (incest which would be a form of adultery) it is not appropriate IF you're following the Mosaic marriage laws. There are other biblical resolutions to other family sins provided in the marriage (I prefer this term to divorce) laws. AND the person is counseled with aim to repentance prior to any judgments being given. Our old laws of marital separation and our new laws of physical restraint are the closest parallel to these laws. (However sadly lacking in the provisions for restoration that would have biblically been employed.)
Generally Christians simply don't follow Gods laws except where they are convenient and that's a problem. We cannot pick and choose which parts of Gods laws we obey. Jesus did not come to destroy the Laws of God but to fulfill them. Matthew 5:17
The loss of reverential fear of God is a serious problem in the Christian community. If we are going to employ Gods ways into our lives we cannot pick and choose which ones we will follow. Nor can we mix and match Gods regulations, laws, Royal Laws and statutes to suit ourselves. Jesus NEVER compromised Gods rules for life. Jesus was called The Living Torah, which has been translated into English as The Living Word. Whose word? Gods!!! Jesus simply showed us how to properly apply Gods Word into our lives and never never did or approved of anything God said He hated. To think that Jesus changed Gods Words is to call Jesus a liar. Jesus specifically said He said and did nothing that the Father hadn't told him to say or do. Jesus said divorce was NOT ordained from the beginning. (Matthew 19:7)
In biblical Mosaic divorce a person had to come before the court with a biblical covenant of marriage. They had to accuse their spouse of sins that would lead to divorce. If those allegations were found to be untrue there were tremendous penalties to be paid to the person falsely accused as well as their families. The conditions for divorce were specific and could only be considered if the person being sinned against filed them. Those accusations were normally accusations that brought a death penalty in biblical times. IF the person could not be found to pay the price for the "sin unto death" a divorce was granted allowing the "innocent" to allow them to remarry in covenant. The absent spouse was declared dead and "shunned" if they ever turned up again and the death penalty couldn't be executed. They were as good as dead.
Presently we are either living in biblical times or God has (somewhere along the line) ceased to exist! Mans laws have changed and our society all too often looks at right as wrong and wrong as right. Jesus always defended the conservative position.
Reading in Matthew 19 we are first told that those bringing the questions to Jesus were trying to trap Him. To follow what those who came to trap Jesus and positively apply what they said as gospel is heresy.
Conclusion: God hates divorce. Jesus would also hate divorce. Divorce was allowed because of specific sin and guilt had to be proven and consequences paid for the sin unto death. The innocents were the ones who could avail themselves of scriptural divorce because of another person's sin. Consequences were expected and accepted. Christian vows do not include divorce for any reason.
Messianic believers (commonly referred to as Christians) have chosen to vow to live together in covenant for life without provision for divorce. We have accepted the challenge to forgive as Christ has forgiven us. Biblical laws cover all sins and the consequences for them and Grace through forgiveness is our command. Matthew 6:15, Matthew 18:35, Mark 11:25-26.
Repentance means turning away from the sin and back to the reality of Gods Word. It DOES NOT mean saying ohhh gee God I'm sorry about leaving my wife/husband but now I've done it so forgive me and I'll "get on with my life" meaning another relationship. No NO NO!!! Repentance means allowing God to work within the broken relationship to do what He does best. HEAL AND RESTORE!!! We are in this for life so the old saying "where there is life there is hope" applies so beautifully.
It is satan who kills steals and destroys. If a person brought biblical charges against another and that person was found innocent of those charges (adultery) the court would fine the false accuser, AND a court order was handed down that the one who brought the false charge could NEVER bring another divorce to the court for as long as they lived. This order was given to the offended spouse and was made public.
Consequences: If found guilty of adultery the penalty was death. (In the cases of abuse, incest, rape and other sins, biblical consequences were enacted and our laws used to reflect this biblical premise.) No fault divorce is absolute defiance to Gods Will and Gods Way.
If the one filing is the one with greater guilt, it is a sin against Gods Covenant of marriage. Repentance for those considering or who have committed the sin of no fault divorce means returning to what God loves (marriage) and instituted as part of Himself..
Once Marriage Covenant exists it exists as long as the covenant partner is still living. If you're not sure of covenant don't worry about that either. If God has told you to Stand for your marriage there is something to stand for. I challenge you to be obedient to that call without reservation.
Father we pray that Your holy standard for Marriage will become the standard for our laws once again. We ask that You manifest Your Will, Your Way in our lives. We thank You that You hate divorce and permanent marital separation. We thank You that You sent Your Son Yeshua Jesus Christ to save heal and restore. We thank You that You made it so clear that You hate divorce. We do too!
Bereshit / Genesis 2:24 Matthew 19:5-6
Therefore an ish (man) will leave his 'ab (father) and his 'em, (mother) and will join with his ishshah, (wife) and they will be echad le'basar (one flesh.) -- What God has joined let NO man put asunder.
Rev. Dr. S.L. Gardner
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