13 “This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 “Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 “But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth. 16 “For I hate divorce,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the LORD of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”
The marriage to divorce rate in the U.S is over 50%. We have grown slack in our regard for holy matrimony. We have cheapened the importance of our covenant between our spouses as well as God. Even those who do not believe in God, they have made a pact with God because He is the one who invented marriage. He created marriage so that we would have a companion. As God said in the Garden of Eden, “it is not good for man to be alone.” The Apostle Paul explains that there are some people born with the purpose of not marrying, just like himself, but the majority of the population is created to marry. This isn’t just for procreation, but to better glorify God. He created marriage to be a human representation of His love towards others as well as a mechanism to help us grow spiritually.
There are many examples of what happens when we divorce, but the most popular and simplest is two pieces of paper being glued together and then trying to tear them apart. There is never a clean tear and the same happens in divorce. We have lessened marriage to be a relationship of instant satisfaction and selfishness. It was designed to be an institution of service and selflessness. As we talked about in the last post, both sides of the marriage are to care for the other so that neither goes without. But as we begin to act selfishly, the other begins to go without and the tearing begins.
In verse 15, God is talking about the remnant of the Spirit. He is demonstrating that those who keep God in the center of their marriage has not dealt treacherously with their spouse (He is speaking about how we treat our wives because it is the man’s job to lead the way in selfless love). If we remain centered in God and our relationship with our spouse remains grounded in the Spirit of Love, then we will never divorce. This is how marriage is an institution created to help us grow spiritually. We learn of the power of the Holy Spirit because we recognize that our marriage is only as good as our relationship with God.
In Ecclesiastes 4, we see a proverbial telling of how two working together in life are better than one:
9 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10 For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
Isn’t it interesting that the last sentence Solomon wrote here mentions 3 instead of 2? It is because the third strand of that cord is God. This relates directly to what Jesus said in Matthew 18:
18 “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. 19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.
Jesus is telling His disciples of the power of God and the Holy Spirit among them as long as they follow His will. If we keep God in the center of our marriage, nothing is impossible for that couple. When we get married, we make ourselves vulnerable to another. We open ourselves up and put ourselves in a position where we can be severely hurt emotionally and physically (just think, they know where you sleep!). The closer we get to people, the more vulnerable we become. It is the nature of true relationships. If God is at the center of that relationship, however, when we get hurt He can heal it. This is one of the reasons it is so important to keep Him in the center. He is like the glue that stuck the two pieces of paper together. You can never get those parts apart. The more He is involved in your marriage, the more glue you have and the harder it is to separate.
I took a class on relationships and marriage a few years ago and an interesting point was made: marriage is not designed to make us happy; it is designed to make us holy. Marriage is a sanctifying relationship in that it exposes our own sinfulness. When we hurt the other or do something we didn’t want to do, our sinfulness is revealed to ourselves and to our spouse. Even though we don’t want to hurt our spouse, it still happens. This gives us an opportunity to recognize our failures, surrender them to God, and be cleansed by His saving grace. Yet these days, we have decided instead to point the finger at our spouse’s sinfulness and use that as an excuse to run away.
Even if they say it, all couples that divorce are not happy about it. Some may be happy to leave their partner who has hurt them so much, but there is always that piece of paper that is stuck to them. It is an eternal tearing of our hearts that God can and will heal, but we must recognize it isn’t His design for neither marriage nor our lives. He WILL heal our hearts in a troubled relationship, but we must bring Him into the center of it to hold us together. If we truly seek God and His righteousness, then we will not leave and we will rely on Him to help us. This is what Jesus offered us in salvation. He offered us to be able to repent to Him and rely on Him to heal our hearts. Will you do that today?