SECTION 9: THE SERVANTS OF THE KING
LIFE LESSONS CONCERNING MARRIAGE
A CORRECT CONCEPT OF COVENANT
Scripture To Consider:
“Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And great multitudes followed Jesus and He healed them there. The Pharisees also came to Jesus, testing Him, and saying to Him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?'”
“And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,” and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh.’ They said to Him, ‘Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?'”
“Jesus said to them, ‘Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.’ His disciples said to Him, ‘If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.'”
“But Jesus said to them, ‘All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.’” Matthew 19.1-12
Something To Consider:
Jesus left Galilee for the last time. He is journeying southward through Perea. Perea is the strip of territory, which is so called, and which lay east of the Jordan River and was largely inhabited by Jews, and it led to the favorite route of travel for those who were going from Galilee to Judea. Jesus is no longer seeking retirement. He is surrounded by great multitudes, many of who He had healed.
However, He is still teaching His disciples, both by His works of divine power and by His discourses which He delivered as occasions suggested. The first three themes concern the social life of the followers of Christ. They relate to marriage, to childhood, and to wealth. The first of these subjects is suggested by an attack made upon Jesus by His enemies. The Pharisees are determined upon His destruction.
They came to Him with a question designed to entangle Him and if possible, to discredit Him and to furnish an occasion for His arrest. The question posed relates to divorce. Rabbis of the day were divided in their views as to the teaching of the law. Some held that divorce was allowable for any one of a large variety of causes, even for personal dislike.
Jesus avoided their snare and laid down a principle fundamental to the stability of human society. Not only did Jesus agree with those who held to the stricter view of marriage, He insisted that the bond was designed to be unbreakable. He referred to the law of marriage as divinely established at creation, when He declared, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh.”
Jesus suggested that the union was and is physical as well as spiritual. The marriage tie cannot be broken except for unfaithfulness to the marriage vow. A divorce, which is merely an act of human legislation, cannot set aside a union which was by God divinely constituted. According to Jesus, “Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man separate.”
How much the world today is in need of the same solemn teachings of the Lord! Marriage is not to be entered into lightly or inadvisably, nor can the bond be loosed on grounds of incompatibility, disagreeable habits, or loss of love. According to Jesus, only death or sin can break the vow from God’s perspective.
Something Else To Consider:
While the enemies of Jesus are not wholly surprised at His strict view of the marriage tie, they are elated to find, as they suppose that His teaching, according to them, seemingly contradicts the Law of Moses. And so, they said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”
Jesus at once replied, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” Moses did not encourage divorce; he limited it and regulated it. He recognized the hardness of heart of the very so-called people of God. Divorce was not and is not ideal! It would be unnecessary were hearts pure and sinless. Since marriage was first established by God, it was a union which should not be broken.
Among the Jews the granting of a divorce carried with it the right of remarriage. It is well for us in the present day to distinguish between these two ideas. There seems to be a common belief that even the guilty party of a suit of divorce has a right to remarry. This case Jesus does not discuss. It is believed by some, that it may be advisable at times and in some cases for parties who are guilty of immorality to secure legal separations which bear the name of divorce.
But this should always be thought of as a last resort if forgiveness and reconciliation is not achieved. According to Jesus, it is surely allowable for a divorce to be granted in case the marriage vow has actually been broken by unfaithfulness; but it is another matter to teach that one who has been at fault is justified, when a divorce has been granted, in marrying when and whom he or she will.
Now, having said that, I am fully aware there are many of whom this kind of teaching is very hard to digest; but I thank our God and our Lord Jesus Christ for the blood of Jesus that washes us white as snow when our actions have been as black as coal and as dark as a starless night. Yes, forgiveness is a wonderful thing to one who has truly sought to be forgiven!
And yet, there is something peculiarly searching in the words of the Lord, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife [or his husband], except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her [or him] who is divorced commits adultery.” The strict interpretation of the law startled the disciples of our Lord. If one cannot possibly escape even from an undesirable and an unfortunate marriage, they conclude that, “If such is the case of the man and his wife, it is better not to marry.”
Jesus replied that for some it may not be expedient, and that, while marriage may be the rule for many, there are some who may be excluded. Some, according to Jesus, are so constituted by nature and disposition that they should not marry. Others are in conditions and circumstances which make marriage inadvisable, and there are some who voluntarily refrain from marriage because of special service which, as eunuchs or celibates, they can best render to Christ their undivided service. And yet, Jesus does not urge this lifestyle choice upon His followers.
Something More To Consider:
Someone has said, “Marriage is not a contract; it is a covenant.” Therefore, divorce destroys the whole concept of covenant. A simple definition of covenant is a binding agreement between two people. Humanly speaking, marriage is the most sacred of covenants, and that is partially why marriage between a man and a woman is so viciously under attack especially in America today. Covenant is the manner in which God has chosen to communicate to the human race.
Prior to the birth, life, and the death of Jesus Christ, God communicated His covenant, the Old Testament, or the Old Covenant, through holy men of God or prophets, as testified in 2 Peter 1.21, “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
More recently after the birth, life, and death of Jesus, God has attempted to communicate His will in and through His Son Jesus and the New Testament or New Covenant. And again, God chose holy men of God inspired by the Holy Spirit to do just that. In other words, without the New Covenant, or the New Testament, we would be clueless to our need to be born-again. And without the New Covenant preserved record we would be clueless to our need to be converted from religious rebels to spiritually alive new creatures in Christ Jesus.
Without the New Covenant or the New Testament being written by men holy inspired by God, we would not understand that as Christian believers, true spiritual ambassadors, or forgiven onetime fallen sinners, we could be redeemed and even restored to a right relationship with God after divorcing due to sexual immorality.
Without the New Covenant instructing us in the truth, we would not realize the eternal importance of abiding in Christ, bearing fruit worthy of repentance, enduring unto the end in order to be saved, or to remain faithful to others and to our God while pressing forward toward becoming end time overcomers instead of being overcome by our sin or the sin of others.
As we remain in Christ, we remain with His reach and within His spiritually healing touch. In Christ Jesus we walk in the Spirit of God and thereby we refuse to yield to our fleshly desires and the world’s evil temptations. Or we give Satan a foothold into our lives which gives him the opportunity to steal, kill, and to destroy our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And that should never be the case!
A Few Final Words:
It is vastly important we establish a correct concept of covenant concerning marriage! But it is as important that we fully understand God’s covenant with mankind concerning the giving of His own Son, Jesus, as a ransom for our sin, your sin, and my sin, and even the sin of adultery.
For according to Jesus, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son [as God’s blood covenant pledge], that whosoever believes in Him [in Jesus, and in whom the New Covenant reveals Him to be], that whosoever believes in Him should not perish [because of their past sins] but have everlasting life.”
God the Father had no more precious or of more value of a gift to give than His only Son Jesus, as His pledge and blood atoning guarantee of new life in Christ here and now, and new life in Christ eternally in the future. Therefore, does God hate divorce? Yes! Can God work within the lives of those who have been involved in divorce? Yes! Is God patiently waiting to redeem Israel as a nation, who violently and most rebelliously divorced themselves from Him, His Son, and His New Covenant? Yes!
Yes, God still hates divorce! But being found a new creature in Christ and being made spiritually alive through the forgiveness of God in Christ, is what the New Covenant is all about. It is indeed a life lesson to be well learned by all those who are desirous to be called by His name, as the New Covenant chosen and elect, awaiting His soon return.
Our Father in heaven, thank You Father for the many life lessons you have presented to us concerning marriage from Your perspective and for our own good. And thank You for offering to us a correct concept of true covenant from a biblical perspective. May we be found desiring to heed the many lessons of a lifetime Jesus has attempted to teach us today and every day of our earthly lives. In Him Always, Amen!