Agonizomai: Malachi 2:10-12 - Marriage Sacrificed to Idols

Friday, August 14, 2009

Malachi 2:10-12 - Marriage Sacrificed to Idols

Malachi 2:10-12 - Marriage Sacrificed to Idols

Malachi 2:10-12 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? 11 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. 12 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!

Worldliness, arising from a lack of the fear of God, has infiltrated that most sacred of bonds - the family. There is the family of Abraham/Jacob, which is the larger clan, and there are individual families within Israel who are bonded through the marriage of an Israelite woman to an Israelite man.

Apparently the men, including the priests, had given themselves to divorcing their wives and marrying the daughters of the Gentiles in order to form political and economic bonds that would prosper them in worldly ways. Just as in history Judah had departed from his brethren and taken a wife the daughter of Shuah, a Canaanitish woman, so also the post-exhilic tribe of Judah followed in the pathway that God had forbidden.

It seems Judah was, in this, a type of the unfaithfulness of all men by nature. Not unfaithfulness to their wives, but unfaithfulness to God which is evidenced in their behaviour in marriage. All of Israel had been told not to marry the women of the tribes that inhabited the land that God had promised to them {Ex 34:13-16 }, as are believers to this day {2Co 6:14-15} No doubt many were beautiful and alluring. No doubt some would be used by their fathers to dilute the steadfastness of Israel through marriage alliances. But the concern was that they not be seduced by the flesh into the worship of other Gods in place of Jehovah.

Now it is curious that this concern was expressed the way it was. Why not just have a command - say - "You shall have no other gods before Me?" Why link this sort of intermarrying behaviour to forbidden idolatry? Do you see the law of God, good though it is, working death in the natural man? Do you see the condemnation and sin provoked by the law? When the first commandment is to have no other gods then the first inkling of the heart is to do just that – to have other gods. It is what men are like at the core.

Forbidden behaviour in marriage, including polluting the nation by marrying unbelievers and divorcing Jewish women to do it, was only the fruit of an unbelieving heart. It could not be by dint of superhuman effort that a man would please God, but only through the obedience of faith. The law had the power to condemn, but not to save. Faith alone was the constituted means of acceptance with God - and all sin was merely and expression of the lack of it.
If we think this is simply about rules concerning who the children of God could and could not marry them we ourselves take on a legalistic mien. It is about faith in God and in His absolute holiness and righteousness. It is about His sovereign wisdom and right to command his creatures to do what His love and holiness dictate. All sin is unbelief because all unbelief is sin.

Now God says that the one who lacks the faith to believe and obey Him cannot bring any offering to Him that is pleasing. God will not regard the religion of disobedience. He will not watch men flaunt His precepts on the one hand and then make a pretence of religion on the other. This is, in a sense, a greater stench in the nose of God than the disobedience itself. It is hypocrisy. And when God walked among us this was the manifestation of sin that He most detested.

Continuation in hypocritical disobedience will result in spiritual death - being cut off from the tents of Jacob and essentially not counted among the people. His descendants will be cut off, which is a figure for the loss of their inheritance portion of the land. There was nothing more serious than this for an Israelite than to be disinherited from the nation.

What the significance is in the foreshadowing of the kingdom of God is not certain. Does it mean loss of reward or loss of salvation? Or is that drawing the parallel out too far?

We can be sure that the Messiah manifested the perfect fulfillment of all of God’s laws and His obedience was to be received through faith. This would be a faith that was given by God and maintained by Him through indwelling power by the Spirit. The stony heart would be replaced with a heart of flesh. God’s people would desire not to sin - though they would stumble often. But God would complete the good work in them unto the day of Jesus Christ.

But here is where some moderns fall of the chuck wagon. The perfect obedience of Christ received through faith alone, bringing justification, redemption, adoption, sanctification and glorification, all in their proper order and time, does not create a people who can sin with impunity; nor does it create a people who do not have to struggle mightily against sin. It produces a people who begin to see sin more and more for what it is, learning to hate every false way and having a heart to do righteousness - a heart which pants after God, weeps when it sins and remembers in joy the forgiveness of its Saviour.

Surely then, the ones cut off from Israel are not the elect children of God, to whom salvation is assured, but the professors of religion who have not the inner reality of a heart-faith in God.


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