Thoughts From The Prophets: God Hates Divorce

You cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands.  Yet you say ‘For what reason?’  Because the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant… For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garments with violence” (Malachi 2:13-16).

God hates.  Some imagine a God who hates nothing.  However, the Bible is clear that there are things God hates (e.g. Deuteronomy 12:31; 16:22; Proverbs 6:16-19) and considers  an abomination (e.g. Deuteronomy 7:25; 17:1; 18:9-12; 27:15; Proverbs 6:16-19; 11:1, 20; 12:22; 15:8, 9, 26; 16:5; 17:15; 20:10, 23).

It is important that we learn to view sin as God does.  The Psalmist wrote, “You who love the LORD hate evil!” (Psalm 97:10 cf. 119:104, 128).  Solomon wrote, “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and ignorance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate” (Proverbs 8:13).  Paul taught, “Abhor what is evil.  Cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).

God hates divorce.  His intention is that marriage should be for life (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:3-6; Romans 7:1-2; 1 Corinthians 7:39).  When divorce occurs, at least one party is wrong.  God hates divorce because: (1) It is a breaking of vows.  John Kackleman Jr. comments, “God says, ‘I am a covenant God and I expect people (all people) to keep the covenants they make.  All are to honor covenants.  I hate divorce because it reveals that either one or both partners ARE NOT committed to keeping their covenant vows!’” (Kackelman, Studies in Malachi, p. 98).  Notice the word “treacherously” (NKJV) or “faithless” (ESV) appears five times in the immediate context (Malachi 2:10, 11, 14, 15, 16).  (2) It covers one’s garment with violence.  Meaning?  The E.S.V. Study Bible suggests, “The expression… is probably a figure of speech referring to the defiling of one’s character with violent wrongdoing (see the similar image in Psalms 73:6; 109: 18; Revelation 3:4; and see the opposite in Job 29:14; Psalm 132:9; Isaiah 59:17; 61:10).”  John Kackleman Jr. comments, “Those who casually divorce and live for selfish reasons do not wear robes of righteousness but have put on garments filthy with sin!” (Kackleman, p. 99).  (3) It causes much sorrow.  It brings “weeping and crying” (Malachi 2:13).

When one mistreats his spouse there are consequences.  It hinders one’s relationship with God (Malachi 2:13; 1 Peter 3:7).  Homer Hailey comments on Malachi 2:13, “The expression is a metaphor in which the rejected wives were covering the altar with their tears, weeping and sighing to such a degree that the fire was extinguished and the sacrifices were never received but rather rejected by Jehovah.  The tears of these mistreated wives stood as an impenetrable barrier between the worshipper and Jehovah” (Hailey, A Commentary on the Minor Prophets, p. 416).  Does God care about how you treat your spouse?  Absolutely!

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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