When God’s covenant is honored by spouses, the marriage covenant is honored which results in God’s blessings to build faithful families.
Malachi 2:10-16: “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts! And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, ‘Why does he not?’ Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. ‘For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, cover his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.’”
Note: This blog post was converted from a sermon preached on Mother’s Day 2023.
Do you know how you can tell it’s Mother’s Day and not Father’s Day? By looking at the TV commercials! Mother’s Day commercials advertise diamonds on sale for $3000, while Father’s Day commercials offer cargo shorts on sale for $11. Many of us probably do not even know when Father’s Day is.
My younger son created a Mother’s Day card at school and, with his permission, I am reading it for you. I want you to hear how little kids see their mommies:
Student Name: Asher.
How old are you? 4
What makes your mommy happy? When I help her.
How tall is your mommy? She’s tall.
What is her favorite thing to do? Watching movies.
What does your mommy do when you’re not around? She makes dinner.
What is your mommy’s favorite food? Pakistani Food.
What do you and your mommy do together? Fun stuff.
If your mom was a superhero what could she do? Save people.
I believe all mothers are superheroes, and they should be celebrated. I often tell people I do not know how my wife can work full time, go to the fire academy (she’s a volunteer fire fighter currently in training), take the boys to baseball practice, cook, clean, and all the other things she does for our children, be active in church life, and also go to Cross Fit. If I was not a grown man, I would have been looking for the superhero cape in the closet. Moms are the embodiment of sacrifice, unconditional love, and care, but moms themselves need love, care, cooperation, help, and above all faithfulness from their husbands to build faithful families.
In Malachi 2:10-16, God holds men—the husbands—accountable for not helping to build faithful families. They were unfaithful to their wives, therefore to their families. God says that being unfaithful in in their marriage covenants is to be unfaithful to God’s covenant. Therefore, he takes a firm stand for women, wives, and mothers against men because they were not contributing to the marriage covenant through love, care, and faithfulness to build faithful families.
Building faithful families is a mutual responsibility of Christian husbands and wives. When God’s covenant is honored by spouses, the marriage covenant is honored which results in God’s blessings to build faithful families.
God wants His people to build faithful families. If married, are you building a faithful family? If not married, do you want to learn where to start?
Our text today teaches three essentials for building faithful families.
First, we build faithful families when we are faithful to God’s covenant, we do not seek a spouse outside the covenant family. For believers, building faithful families starts as early as when we begin to seek a spouse to marry. Why? Because we are covenant people.
Verses 10-12 say, “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts!”
In verse 10, Malachi tells the Israelites they have one Father in Heaven who created them as one nation to worship Him. But in verses 11-12 the leaders of Judah, God’s chosen tribe in His chosen nation, were found guilty of committing the abomination of marrying non-Jewish wives. Now these pagan wives were bringing their idol worship with them profaning the sanctuary of God, the dwelling place of God which in this case is Israel itself.
All of this was against God’s covenant. So, God rebukes them for their faithlessness. In these six verses “faithless” appears 5 times. We will see it in verse 10, 11, 14, 15, and 16. In Hebrew it is bagad, which means to deal treacherously, to betray, or be deceitful. They were betraying the covenantal relationship.
Here the principle is when covenant people are unfaithful in their covenantal relationship with God, they will be unfaithful in all relationships. This is the picture of a vertical and horizontal relationship. When the vertical relationship with God is healthy all our horizontal relationships will be healthy.
In 2:1-9, we saw God’s rebuke to the priests for violating their Levitical covenant between God and them. This damaged their vertical relationship with God. Now in verses 10-16, the rebuke is for the people of Israel for violating the marriage covenant before God. God frequently and explicitly forbade them from interfaith marriages.
Listen to Deuteronomy 7:3, “You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons.” I want to be very clear that God never had any problem with interracial marriages. Just check out me and my wife: we made the cutest babies. Ruth, a non-Jew, converted to faith in Yahweh, the one true God, and God the Son, the Messiah Jesus came through her line.
God’s problem is clearly articulated in the last part of verse 11, “the daughter of a foreign god.” God’s unilateral irrevocable covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was the covenant of God’s blessing in choosing them to be His people to make His Holy name known to nations but the unbelieving wives and their pagan worship were unholy before God.
Some time ago a Christian young lady reached out to me asking if she should marry her Muslim boyfriend. She was in love with him. I pulled my wife into the conversation, and we advised her against such a marriage. She remained in contact for some time and tried to convince us that if she was married to the man, she could bring him to Jesus. When we insisted that was not wise, she never spoke to us again.
Christian marriage is a covenant before God in Christ. It is the picture of the gospel where two souls reach covenantal union together in Christ for Christ. This is why the scriptures say two will become one.
Here is the application: If you want to build faithful families you should never marry a non-believer to begin with because marriage for us is a symbol of Christ and the church. How could we enter into a marriage with someone who does not believe in Christ? For that reason, I would say, a believer should always date a believer. Those who are single, trust God for a spouse. Those who are married to a non-believer, remain in your marriage and pray for your spouse and your marriage. Now let’s look at the second essential to build faithful families:
Second, we build faithful families when we do not seek companionship outside the covenant marriage. Verses 13-14 say, “And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, ‘Why does he not?’ Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.”
In verse 13 we see the consequence of the violation of the marriage covenant, and in verse 14 we see the nature of the violation. The nature of the violation is infidelity, and the consequence is God’s rejection. The issue moves from not marrying an unbeliever to not cheating on your spouse. The men were cheating on their wives the mothers of their children, and God was rejecting their offering.
Over the years I have spoken to Christian men who have cheated on their wives. Cheating among Christians is never an isolated event. It ruins relationships with families and friends. One man I was talking to defended his affair that lasted for quite some time. He said his wife was not meeting his emotional and intellectual needs. I thought to myself he could have joined a support group or philosophy class, but he chose to cheat. The underlying issue was lust for something new.
In verse 14, the phrase, “she is your companion,” is interesting. In Hebrew, the root word means “to bind, join, unite.” The beauty of Christianity is that God unites a man and woman in His covenant, and what God unites the Bible teaches no one should separate including the spouses themselves. When one spouse is faithless in marriage, this is offensive to the other spouse but ultimately it is an offense against God, which affects generations to come.
What is the application? Protect your vows and pray for your marriage daily. Satan has been after marriages from day one. He destroys relationships so that he can destroy the covenant between us and God.
Build hedges around yourself. Bring your spouse into the conversation and seek help, or else it will destroy your relationship with God, your spouse, and your children.
The Covenant Itself
Finally, we build faithful families when we are faithful to God’s covenant and do not seek a way out of the marriage covenant itself. Verses 15-16 say, “Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”
This section moves from not marrying an unbelieving person to not cheating on your spouse to not divorcing your spouse.
The men in Malachi’s time were divorcing their Jewish wives for non-Jewish women either because they were no longer youthful, healthy, economically suited, or whatever else, but the bottom line is, it grieved God. By uniting a man and woman as one in His covenant God wanted to build a faithful family.
Notice how the second half of verse 15 says, “And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring.” God chose the Israelites to be His people to show other nations His glory through the descendants of Israel, but pagan interfaith marriages were polluting the bloodline and producing unfaithful children.
This issue of divorce has always been painful. Even though God does not want divorce, He allows it under certain conditions. Jesus in Matthew 19:8 made it clear when He said, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed 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.”
Usually, it is permissible when there is adultery, abuse, and abandonment in the relationship. However, as far as God is concerned, marriage needs to be between believers only, absolutely free of unfaithfulness, and it is intended to last a lifetime.
What is the application? Marriage is God’s idea, but divorce is not. Marriage is a covenant before God. Therefore, without God’s help and His Word, we cannot do marriage right. When moms and dads honor the marriage covenant in a mutual responsibility to God, they build faithful families with the help of God.
Our family has a Toyota minivan. I have been looking into trading it for a newer hybrid model because they are more gas efficient. However, relationships don’t need to trade up because unlike cars they grow stronger over time. Trading the wife of your youth with newer and younger versions later on is common in our society but it should not be in Christian circles. So, watch out, because trading your marriage covenant is trading God’s covenant with you. Cheating on your spouse is cheating on your blessing in God’s covenant.
The key to building faithful families, from seeking a spouse to marriage to raising children, is to be faithful to God’s covenant. If you are faithful to God’s covenant, then you do not seek a spouse outside the covenant family, do not seek companionship outside the covenant marriage, and do not seek a way out of the marriage covenant itself to build faithful families.
God created marriage and blessed the union of the first man and woman to bring forth a family. Today neither the sacred institution of marriage designed by God which was supposed to last a lifetime is safe, nor is the concept of family. My appeal to you is to listen to God’s rebuke and, as verse 16 says, “guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”
Only among believers by the power of the Spirit, do we learn to love, care, and respect each other and guard our covenant with God and with our spouse. Only by the power of the Spirit are we able to extend grace, and forgiveness if faithlessness occurs. So live by the power of the Spirit.
For the full sermon, click here.