Thrift Stores, Ringing Bells and Red Kettles

The Salvation Army operates thrift stores.  These stores resell donated items such as clothing, furniture, household items, and toys.  They even have trucks which will pick up donated items from  your house.  The revenue is used to fund their Adult Rehabilitation Centers, known as ARCs.  Many kind, generous people give to these stores.

The Salvation Army is most visible during the Christmas shopping season.  Volunteers and paid workers stand in front of stores ringing their bells, soliciting donations into their red kettles.  Across the nation, there are about 25,000 bell ringers.  Many kind and generous people volunteer to ring the bells.  Many kind and generous people give to these red kettles.  Almost $145 million was raised in 2014.  The revenue is used for Salvation Army charity work and disaster relief in the local community from which the donations came.

However, many who volunteer to ring bells, and many who give to The Salvation Army do so, not realizing that they are contributing to the work of a religious organization.  The Salvation Army is not simply a community charity (as Goodwill now is. Though, Goodwill used to be a work of the Methodist Church).

The history of the organization starts in England.  William Booth was a Methodist minister.  “He came to the conclusion that the masses of the non-church goers could not be reached through methods of the churches, so he resigned his pastorate, he began the Salvation Army.”  (The New Standard Encyclopedia).  He formed the East London Christian Mission in 1865.  The name was changed to The Salvation Army in 1878.

The Salvation Army is a religious group (Mead, Handbook of Denominations).  It is organized on military lines.  It operates in 127 countries with a worldwide membership of 1.5 million (Wikipedia).

What is its purpose?  Wayne Jackson has written, “According to its charter issued in New York State in 1899, the Salvation Army is an organization… whose paramount purpose ‘is to lead men and women into a proper relationship with God'” (Jackson, An Analysis of the “Salvation Army,”  Booth wanted to provide “soup, soap, and salvation” (

What do they believe?  They have an organization structure which is foreign to the New Testament(soldiers, corp officers, including – envoys, cadets,  lieutenants, captains, majors, lieutenants colonels, colonels, commanders, commissioners, chief of staff, and a general).  They have a method of fund-raising which is foreign to the Bible(cf. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2).  They accept women preachers (cf. 1 Timothy 2; 1 Corinthians 14).  They worship with mechanical instruments of music(cf. Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).  They believe in Hereditary Total Depravity (cf Ezekiel 18:20).  They believe in a direct operation of the Holy Spirit in conversion (cf. Luke 8:11-15; Acts 2:2:36-38; 8:12-16; 19:1-6).  They do not baptize.  They do not think baptism is necessary for salvation (cf. Acts 2:38).  Salvation is by faith only ( cf. Mark 16:15-16; James 2:24). They do not observe the Lord’s supper (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).  They believe that external rituals are unnecessary and dangerous.

My advice?  We can be benevolent on an individual basis (e.g. Luke 10:25-37).  We can be benevolent through the church (e.g. Acts 4:34-37; 6:1-7; 11:27-30; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 9:13).  We can be benevolent through others (e.g. Philippians 4:18).  However, may we never help empower false teachers, or an organization of false teachers (cf. Romans 16:17; 1 Timothy 6:3, 5a; 2 John 9-11).  Let us not contribute to the Temple of Diana even if they do some deeds of kindness.  Let us do nothing which glorifies such organization that are in competition with the church.

Moreover, let us think beyond the physical.  Benevolence can help satisfy physical needs.  It can also open up opportunities to speak of spiritual needs (e.g. John 5:8, 14; Acts 3:6-7, 11-ff).  When we show kindness, it is an opportunity to tell others about why we do such.   It is an opportunity to tell others about Jesus.  It is an opportunity to tell others about Jesus.  It is an opportunity to address the fact that man has greater needs, spiritual needs.

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Let Us Give Thanks

The book of Psalms is filled with expressions of thanks to God.  The words “thanks” and “thanksgiving” appear 30 times in the book of Psalms.  Nave’s topical Bible classifies 37 Psalms as Psalms which offer thanksgiving to God (9, 18, 21, 23, 30, 34, 36, 40, 46, 65, 66, 68, 75, 76, 81, 85,91, 98, 100, 103, 105, 107, 108, 116, 117, 118, 121, 124, 126, 129, 135, 136, 138, 144, 145, 146, 149,).  It subdivides this as follows: (1) Thanksgiving for goodness to (the nation of) Israel (21, 46, 65, 66, 68, 76, 81, 85, 98, 105, 124, 126, 129, 135, 149).  (2) Thanksgiving for the goodness to mankind (23, 34, 36, 91, 100, 103, 107, 117, 121, 145, 146).  (3) Thanksgiving for (specific) goodness to individuals (9, 18, 30, 34, 40, 75, 103, 108, 116, 118, 138, 144).  You will notice that some of the Psalms are placed into more than one subdivision.

Let’s consider these three points –

1.  National Thanksgiving. Israel was to be thankful because God chose them (Psalm 135:1-4).  He delivered them from Egypt (Psalm 66:6; 81:10; 105; 135:8-12; 136).  He protected them (Psalm 46; 124).  He brought them back from captivity (Psalm 85:1-2; 126).  He provided them with daily benefits (Psalm 68:19).  He provided them with food and water (Psalm 65:9-13; 136:25).

America is not God’s chosen nation.  We do not have the same relationship with God that Israel had.  Due to the nature of providence (cf. Esther 4:14; Philemon 15), we cannot with certainty know the role God played in founding this country; though, we do believe that He is providentially in control (cf. Acts 17:26).  There are many things we do not know.  However, we are told that it is He who “makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).  He gives us, “rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17).  It is “in Him we live we move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).  It is “in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17).  We should be a thankful people.

2.  Individual Thanksgiving. Individual Israelites, as well as Gentiles (cf. Psalm 117), were to be thankful.  God made man (Psalm 100:1-3).  He led His followers to good (Psalm 23).  He cared for them.  He was forgiving and merciful (Psalm 103:2-3; 117; 145:8-9).  “Bless the LORD, O My soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities…” (Psalm 103:2-3a).  He was slow to anger (Psalm 103:8).  “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10).  He was fulfilling.  “He satisfies the longing soul with gladness” (Psalm 107:9).

All of these points are still true for man today.  He is responsible for our existence.  He wants to lead us to heaven.  He is longsuffering toward us (2 Peter 3:9).  His desire is for “all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).

3.  Specific Thanksgiving. Consider the following: “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness… I will give thanks to You forever” (Psalm 30:11-12).  “I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).  “I called on the LORD in distress, The LORD answered me and set me in a broad place” (Psalm 118:5).  “In the day when I cried out, You answered me and made me bold with strength in my soul” (Psalm 138:3).

God does not always give us what we request (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).  Moreover, when He does give us what we request, it may take time (Romans 1:9-10 cf. 15:22-24).  He always knows best.

He does answer prayer.  Do we thank Him for the good that we see Him working on our lives?  “Count your many blessings, name them one by one, count your blessings, See what God hath done!  Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done’ (Song: Count Your Blessings by Johnson Oatman Jr.).

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Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage (Jesus: Sermon on the Mount)

“It has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’  But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality (fornication, B.H.) causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 5:31-32).

The context should be considered: (1) Jesus in this same sermon said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets, I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).  The Law would one day be abolished (Ephesians 2:15), that is – render inactive (Vine’s).  However, Jesus’ aim in this sermon was not to contrast Old Testament teaching and New Testament teaching.  (2) The context concerns the Scribes and Pharisees.  Jesus taught, “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).  This was primarily a contrast between what God wanted, and how the Scribes and Pharisees had perverted His message.  (3) Jesus taught some things which went beyond Old Testament teaching.  He taught that they should turn the other cheek, be willing to give up cloak, go the second mile, love their enemies, and practice The Golden Rule.

When a man divorced his wife, he was to do so with a certificate of divorce (Matthew 5:31 cf. Deuteronomy 24:1-4).  The Scribes and Pharisees were correct on this point.

They were great on legal procedure, but was this all that mattered?  Had they considered what divorce did to women?  Had they actively tried to discourage divorce?  Many then, as now, did not think past civil legality.

Consider a wife  living in the first century.  Her husband decided to divorce her; even though, she had not been unfaithful to him.  What happens to this woman?  The man  “causes her to commit adultery” (NKJV, KJV), “maketh her an adulteress” (ASV), “makes her commit adultery (NASB, ESV).  A suggested literal rendering is: He causes her “to be adulterized.”  How does he do this?  Here are two suggestions:  (1) Some have suggested that the meaning is that she was by the divorce “stigmatized as an adulteress” (Lenski, The Interpretation of Matthew’s Gospel, p. 232).  The difficulty with this view is that Israelites divorced for reasons other than adultery.  Why should she automatically be thought of as an adulteress? (2) A better suggestion may be found in her likely eventual remarriage.  Remember that it was very difficult for a woman, at that time, to support herself.  Donald Carson has written, “A woman so divorced found herself many times in practical necessity of remarriage to find support for herself…  She was under pressure to enter into a union which was illegitimate because she was not eligible to marry” (ed. Jim Laws, Spiritual Lectureship book: Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage, p. 362).  Wayne Jackson has commented, “Now the presumption is this: if a man just whimsically and capriciously throws his wife out – he divorces her – what will she likely do?  Go find another man!” (Jackson & Scott, Divorce and Remarriage, p. 34).

Moreover, what about the man who married this woman? Had these leaders thought about him. He was committing adultery by marrying this woman.  The present tense could be rendered “is committing adultery” or “keeps on committing adultery” (Jackson, p.35).

May we develop a concern for others.  May we consider how our action might affect others.  May our righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees.

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Giving Consent to Sin

A horrible crime had occurred in Gibeah, a city of the tribe of Benjamin.  It was a crime which reminds one of Sodom (Genesis 19:1-11 cf. Judges 19:11-30).

A Levite and his concubine were traveling from Bethlehem of Judah for the mountains of Ephraim.  They decided to lodge for the night, not in Jebus (which was still controlled by Canaanites), but in Gibeah (an Israelite city). At first, they found no hospitality in Gibeah.  They were going to spend the night in the city’s open square.  Finally, they found hospitality.  An old man, also from the mountains of Ephraim, offered for them to stay at his house.  He fed their animals, and then he fed them.

The night turned horrible.  Some perverted men surrounded the house.  They wanted to rape the Levite man.  The cowardly Levite made his concubine go out the men as a substitute for himself.  She was brutally gang-raped all night.

Morning came.  The rapists left.  The Levite found his concubine lying at the door of the house.  He callously said to her, “Get up and let us be going.”  There was no response.  She apparently was dead (cf. Judges 20:5).

The Levite took the woman home and cut her body into twelve pieces.  He sent pieces throughout Israel (likely one piece for each tribal territory).  This was designed to bring great attention to what had happened at Gibeah.

It worked.  The other tribes of Israel demanded justice.  The tribe of Benjamin resisted.  War ensued.  The Benjamites were almost completely destroyed from the land.  Only a small remnant of men remained, and evidently even less women (Judges 20-21).

The other tribes swore an oath not to give their daughters to Bemjamite men.  However, they later became concerned that the tribe of Benjamin could not survive if they could not find wives for the remaining men.  What they decided was to have a two-fold approach.  First, they had war with another city, Jabesh-Gilead.  Virgins from this city were to be spared for Benjamin (Judges 21:10-12).  Second, the elders of Israel consented to have some of the Israelite daughters abducted by the men of Benjamin (Judges 21:16-24).  This plan allowed them to supply daughters without technically breaking their oath.  They conspired with Benjamin in this.  Moreover,  if a father complained that his daughter had been taken other Israelites would excuse themselves we did not do it.  The NIV Study Bible commented, “The other tribes were not actually ‘giving’ their daughters to them.”


This same crafty way of thinking still exists.  Some people suggest, encourage, and enable others to sin.  They excuse themselves by saying that they did not do it.  Some profit from the sins of others, but declare their innocence saying that they did not do it.

We need to be very careful with this type of thinking.  Consider:

  1.  Leviticus 20:1-5.  Hiding one’s eyes in this case did not please God.
  2. 2 Samuel 11:14-17 cf. 12:9.  David killed Uriah, even though he did not personally do the violent deed.
  3. Psalm 50:18.  Giving consent to sin does not please God.
  4. Proverbs 2:14.  Delighting in the perversity of the wicked is wrong.
  5. Proverbs 17:15.  Justifying the wicked is an abomination to the LORD.
  6. Matthew 18:6-7.  It is a serious thing to cause others to stumble.
  7. Romans 1:28-32.  Approving of those who practice unrighteousness does not please God.
  8. Romans 14:19-21.  We should be concerned about how our words and actions affect others.
  9. 1 Corinthians 8:9-13; 10:31-33.  We are to be concerned about others, and how our actions affect them, even willing to give up our own wants for their well-being. We are to seek to bring glory to God.
  10. 2 John 10-11.  It is possible to share in others evil by encouraging and supporting such.

Each day let us seek to be a light to others.  Let us not be a stumbling block.  May God use us to His glory.



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Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage (John v. Herod)

Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch, who ruled over Galilee and Perea, stayed with his half-brother Philip, on a visit to Rome.  While there, he coveted his brother’s wife, Herodias, who was also the brothers’ niece. She also coveted him.  She agreed to divorce her husband. He agreed to divorce his wife, Phasaelis, the daughter of Aretas IV, the king of Nabatea.  The two were married (Mark 6:17-18).

John, the baptizer, spoke against this.  John told Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife” (Mark 6:18).  This tells us that it is possible to have a civil marriage, and it not be lawful in God’s law.  What was unlawful about it?  (1) It is possible that their divorces were not for reasons of “some uncleanness” (cf. Deuteronomy 24).  (2) This was an incestuous relationship.  It was unlawful under the Law of Moses for a man to have: (a) His father’s wife; (b) His sister, even a half-sister; (c) His grand-daughter; (d) His aunt, on either side; (e) His daughter-in-law; (f) His brother’s wife, unless he is dead and has had no sons according to Levirate Law (Herod was guilty of this); (g) A woman and her daughter; (h) A woman and her sister, while the first is alive (see: Leviticus 18; Leviticus 20; Deuteronomy 27).

John’s words demanded that the relationship cease.  He did not say, “It is not lawful for you to have taken her,” but “it is not lawful for you to have her” (Matthew 14:5 cf. Mark 6:18).  The Greek present tense could be rendered, “It is not lawful for you to continue having her.”

Herod had John arrested and imprisoned for the sake of his wife (Matthew 14:3; Mark 6:17; Luke 3:19-20).  He did not kill him because he feared the people (Matthew 14:5).  Herod also feared John, and considered him a just and holy man (Mark 6:19-20).  He had opportunity to hear him, and he heard him gladly (Mark 6:20).  Herodias eventually found a way to get Herod to have John beheaded (Matthew 14:6-12; Mark 6:21-29).  What a prideful and spineless man! He thought John just and holy … yet his lust, his rash words, his desired reputation before men, and his unwillingness to say no to his wife and her daughter cost John his life. His conscience seems to have bothered him for killing John (Matthew 14:1-2; Mark 6:14-16).

Josephus informs us of what happened after this.  “Herod himself now quarreled with Aretas, King of Petra, whose daughter he had married.  But Herod had since fallen in love with Herodias, wife of his half-brother… and he promised to marry her and dismiss Aretas’ daughter… This and a boundary dispute led Aretas to attack Herod, whose whole army was destroyed.  Herod wrote about this to Tiberius, who was furious, and ordered Vitellius, governor of Syria, to declare war on Aretas.  But to some of the Jews, Herod’s disaster seemed to be divine vengeance for his treatment of John, surnamed the Baptist.  Although John was a good man exhorted the Jews to lead righteous lives and practice justice toward their colleagues and piety to God, Herod had put him to death… Although John was brought in chains to Machaerus and put to death in that stronghold, the Jews decided that the destruction of Herod’s army was God’s vindication of John” (Josephus: The Essential Writings, pp. 266-267, from Antiquities 18).

John was a man of courage.  He did not hold back even from one in authority. He boldly proclaimed the truth, and rebuked.  Such men are rare. Such men are needed today.

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What Did You Say? C’mon Man! (Part 2)

“C’mon man” (come on man) is a phrase used on Monday Night Football in response to shockingly bad decisions, inappropriate decisions, poor execution, and bloopers.

I have heard, through the years, brethren say things which completely shocked me.  Things that make me want to say “C’mon man!” or “C’mon brother!”  Let us add to our previous list.

1.    “I would, if you were to run as a (political party).”

A faithful Christian was considering running for a political office.  He spoke with one of the elders of the church where he attended.  He asked the elder, “Would you vote for me, if I decided to enter the race.”  The reply was the above words.  Another member of the church overhearing this chimed in, “He would vote for Satan, if he ran as a (political party).”  The elder replied, “Yes, I would.  He would have to be better than who was in the other party.”  I do not believe that he was joking.

It is time that character and issues matter more than party.  Some are more loyal to their party than they are to God.  “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).  “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan” (Proverbs 29:2).

2.  “Let’s slow down on the baptisms.  We are baptizing too many.”

It was a productive year.  Hundreds of home Bible studies had occurred.  Dozens had been baptized into Christ.  Almost every week  another was baptized.  The church was experiencing some growth pains.  One man suggested that we show down on personal work and give new converts an opportunity to assimilate before adding more.

It is true that much work need to be done to help these new converts mature, but slow down on personal work when there is an open door?  C’mon man!  The early church grew rapidly.  “The Lord added to the church daily…” (Acts 2:47).  Let us get on with the work.  “Souls that are precious, Souls that are dying.  While we rejoice our sins are forgiv’n; Did He not also die for these lost ones?  Then let us point the way unto heav’n” (Song: Swiftly We’re Turning by Ruth Carruth).

3.  “What’s the benefit for us?”

I was preparing for a mission trip to a foreign country.  A man in a local church asked during a men’s business meeting how my trip would benefit the local church.  Now understand that the local church had not been neglected.  It was actually growing.  I was shocked.  After all, the church had agreed that I could make such trips.

How does one respond?  I wonder if the church at Jerusalem had this attitude when Peter and John went to Samaria (Acts 8:14)?  I wonder if the church at Antioch had this attitude when it sent Barnabas and Saul to Judea for famine relief (Acts 11:27-30)?  Or, when they sent Barnabas and Saul on a missionary journey (Acts 13:1-3)?  Richard Mansel remarked, “It is the height of irony that so many American Christians found it an abomination that the gospel was taken to African nations and India, when those countries will (possibly – B.H.) send missionaries back to the United States one day” (Mansel, How Dare We Take the Gospel to Those People!,

4.  “Can’t you just drive another way to work?”

A Christian sister (we’ll call her Mary) taught and converted a young lady (we’ll call her Beth).  Beth seemed to be doing fine for several months.  However, Mary started noticing something which concerned her.  Mary drove to work very early some mornings, and she came home very late on other days. Her drive took her past Beth’s house.  She noticed that a local man’s car was at Beth’s house at odd  times.  She talked to Beth about this, but flimsy excuses were made.  Mary talked with the elders about the situation.  They did not want to get involved.  They did not want to even make a visit.  One elder’s wife told Mary, “Why don’t you just drive to work a different way, so you won’t have to see the situation.”  It took a year for the elders to finally make a visit.  It did not go well. The couple was living together, and had been so living for a long time. The elders comforted themselves by saying that it would not have mattered if they had made an earlier visit; but, who really knows what an earlier visit may have done.

“C’mon man!”  Do we care about souls or not?  God said, “My sheep wandered through the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, my flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them” (Ezekiel 34:6).

5.  “She is no longer a member here.”

A young Christian has very publicly sinned, even bragging about her sin on social media.  I remarked, to a member of that local church, that the church there had some work to do.  The reply was that the person was no longer a member, she had not attended regularly in some time. Whether she was still a member there, or not, I do not know.

However, Too many congregations wash their hands of their responsibility by saying, “He is no longer on our rolls.  We removed him when he stopped attending regularly.” When you start asking questions, many times you find that no real effort was made to visit or study with the person.

What about concern for the lost?  “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1).  “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his ways will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).  Think of the words of the song seeking the lost – “Going afar upon the mountain, bringing the wanderer back again, into the fold of my Redeemer Jesus the Lamb for sinners slain” (Song: Seeking the Lord by W.A. Ogden).

6.  “Jesus Christ is King of the Jews, and the rest of it is garbage.”

It was one of these heated men’s meetings.  A controversy was simmering in the church over what the Bible taught on marriage, divorce and remarriage.  One man spoke the above words.  What he meant was let’s just teach Jesus is King and leave the rest alone.

However, if Jesus is King, then there is something implied.  His words have authority.  The rest of it does matter.  He taught on the subject of marriage, divorce and remarriage (Matthew 5; 19).  It is up to us to study and discern the meaning, and application for man today.  His words matter (Matthew 7:24-27; John 12:48).

We all have made mistakes and have said and done things we shouldn’t. May God forgive us. May we seek to do better. “C’mon brethren,” let us take our Christian duties seriously, and give our very best. Eternity is coming! As the song says “(C’mon) Get right church and let’s go home.”

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Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage (Old Testament)

God created marriage.  His ideal intent was for marriage to be a permanent, life-time partnership between one man and one woman.  Jesus reminded the Pharisees of this, saying, “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.  Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6 cf. Genesis 1:27; 2:24).

God allowed divorce under the law of Moses.  It taught, “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house…” (Deuteronomy 24:1-ff).  Why did God allow this?  Jesus said, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so” (Matthew 19:8).  Divorce was never God’s ideal.  It was only allowed because of hardness of hearts.  Kerry Duke points out “The Old Testament does not indicate when divorce began… The law of Moses did not institute divorce, it merely permitted and regulated an already existing practice” (Duke, The Remarriage of a Divorced Couple, p. 13).

What was the permitted reason for divorce?  “Some uncleanness” (ervah dabhar).  What does this mean?  Some Jews, in Jesus’ day, thought that “some uncleanness” was any reason that the wife did not find favor in the husband’s sight.  Other Jews, in Jesus’ day, thought that “some uncleanness” was some issue of sexual morality.  Forms of the original term are applied to unlawful sexual activity (Leviticus 18:6-ff; 20:18-19), shameful exposure of the body (Genesis 9:22; Exodus 20:26; Isaiah 20:4; 47:3; Lamentations 1:8; Ezekiel 16:8, 37). However, the word is also used of non-sexual uncleanness, such as human refuse (Deuteronomy 23:12-14).  The “uncleanness” may  refer to a lack of moral purity (cf. Jeremiah 3:8).  However, there seems to be no linguistic reason or contextual reason to limit it to adultery.  Some have argued that it could not refer specifically to adultery, since adultery was punishable by death (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22). However, others question whether it was always required (Jeremiah 3:8; Matthew 1:19).

Divorce was not to be taken lightly. It is important to understand that The Law of Moses permitted divorce, but it did not demand it (cf. Matthew 19:7-8). Moreover, The issuing of a certificate of divorce would slow the process. Ivie Powell commented, “The preparation of the legal instrument, by the very nature of the case, would require time. During this period of time the husband had opportunity to reconsider his actions” (ed. Jim Laws, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage, The Spiritual Sword Lectureship 1992, p. 314).  Finally, If a man did divorce his wife for “some uncleanness” and she married another, then, the two could never again be remarried to each other (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). This is true even if the new husband divorced her. This is true even if her new husband died.

The Old Testament place other limitations on divorce and remarriage.  One who defiles a woman with pre-marital fornication, and then marries her, could not later divorce her (Deuteronomy 22:28-29 cf. Exodus 22:16-17).  If a man slanders his wife, falsely accusing her of pre-marital sexual impurity, and such is demonstrated to be false, he may not later divorce her (Deuteronomy 22:13-19).   A priest could not marry a divorced woman (Leviticus 21:7, 14; Ezekiel 44:22).

God hated divorce in the Old Testament (Malachi 2:16).  The manner in which some were divorcing and remarrying rendered their worship of God in vain (Malachi 2:11, 13-14, 16 cf. 1 Peter 3:7).

However, not all divorce was against His will.  When God’s people inter-married with those whom they had no authority to marry, they were instructed to put them away (Ezra 9:1-2; 10:1-3, 10-12).

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