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God’s Word for You

Malachi 2:13-14 Love and marriage

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, March 13, 2021

13 And this is another thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards your offerings or accepts them with favor from your hands. 14 But you say, “Why doesn’t he?”

In this verse, the wicked priests and people cry out: Why doesn’t the Lord look favorably on our offerings? Why doesn’t he accept the gifts we bring with our own hands? They would know the answer if only they would remember the very first sacrifice offered in the Bible. Just a few years after the fall of man, when Adam and Eve’s first children were growing up, Cain brought an offering from the field. There was nothing wrong with the content of Cain’s offering, but God rejected it. Why? We see that Abel his brother brought an offering by faith (Hebrews 11:4). Faith was the only distinguishing difference between the offering of Abel and the offering of Cain, and so Cain’s offering did not come from faith, but from some other place. He felt obligated, or he felt he could manipulate God, or he felt he could please his parents with his offering, but none of these things pleased God because he did not trust in God even though he spoke with God (Genesis 4:6-7, 4:9-12). God told him, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door, it desires to have you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:7). “Master it” applied to the wicked priests Malachi condemned as well as to Cain, and anyone who makes religion something to be “done” rather than a means to express our repentance and faith in Christ. Everything that does not come from faith is sin (Romans 14:23). Paul applies that truth to the simple matters of eating and drinking. Surely it applies to worship without faith as well! The natural (unbelieving) person can’t do anything at all except sin. Even doing a favor for a friend, or listening to God’s word on his own initiative would be a sin if it were not done from faith, and therefore nothing he does comes from faith. This is why God says through another prophet, “I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them” (Amos 5:21-22). And again, “Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps” (Amos 5:23). And yet again, “I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats” (Isaiah 1:11).

Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been faithless to her, even though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.

Marriage is called a covenant (Proverbs 2:17). The Hebrew term for “making” a covenant is to cut it (Genesis 15:18). We typically think of a covenant involving the ceremonial cutting apart of an animal. Perhaps the separational idea of the marriage covenant is the separation of the bride and groom from their parents to be united to one another (Genesis 2:24). This might also be shown by the spreading of the garment, since there are scenes in the Old Testament of a ritual covering with one’s garment to propose marriage (Ezekiel 16:8; Ruth 3:4; Ruth 3:7-9 and Malachi 2:16).

God wants to bless us, but reject his blessings. How can he bless the family, the basic building block of all culture, all civilization, and of human life, when men and women destroy their families? The spiritual attitude of people is the problem: They reject God, and then they reject the things that God provides, such as marriage. The husband covers his wife with unfaithfulness rather than with faithfulness and devotion. The wife undermines the husband’s place as head of the family and does not support him. The unmarried don’t care about marriage and think that living together instead of marriage (they lie when they call it living together ‘before’ marriage) will give them a good “trial run” at commitment. God doesn’t condone practice runs at marriage. A practice run is for games, not marriage. When God committed to loving us in eternity (Ephesians 1:4) he didn’t practice on someone else first. He bound us to him in love, and that is how our marriages should be: reflections of God’s unfailing love for each one of us. Love one another, as God loved us and sent his Son Jesus as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Show your love for God with your love in your life. Be faithful to your marriage vow, ask God to bless your marriage, and if you are not yet married, pray that God would give you a faithful husband or wife, and love that person the way you want God to love you.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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