Judah has been unfaithful. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the Lord loves by marrying women who worship a foreign god. As for the man who does this, whoever he may be, may the Lord remove him from the tents of Jacob —even though he brings an offering to the Lord Almighty. Another thing you do: You flood the Lord ’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord , the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful. You have wearied the Lord with your words. “How have we wearied him?” you ask. By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord , and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?” – Malachi 2:11-17
Welcome to the last book of the old testament, Malachi. It is hard to believe I am finally on the cusp of the confluence between the old and new testaments, it is just around the bend. The last two books (Haggai and Zechariah) have been a discussion of how the people of Israel can “rebuild the temple” and find God. It seems in the passage today that even though the temple is complete they are still looking for God, perhaps they are looking in the wrong places?
There are apparently still issues with idols and accepting the gods of people around them through intermarriage, “Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the Lord loves by marrying women who worship a foreign god”. The core issue is that God wants all of the hearts of His people and they are still divided.
The people are apparently aware of this estrangement as they “flood the Lord ’s altar with tears.” They “weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands.” Although the people seem to understand their is still some sort of impassable river separating them from God they do not seem to know why. They are soul sick and the tears are an outward manifestation of an inward illness of the soul.
God answers their question, “it is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit.” So I am pretty sure that God meant this metaphorically. The “marriage” He is really referring to is the covenant that He has with the people of Israel. They have forsaken the “wife of their youth” for a newer more attractive model.
What God is ultimately looking for is “Godly offspring.” He wants the people to pass on an intimate relationship with Him to their children and their children’s children. The only way this is possible if for the people to have their own intimate relationship and share their experiences with their children. You can’t share something you do not possess yourself.
The other issue that God is calling the people on is apparently calling bad things and people good when they are in fact evil. Even more damning is that the people were speaking for God and saying that the evil deeds of these people were in fact pleasing to God. It is always a bit dicey trying to speak for God and in this case the people clearly messed up the message pretty badly. I think that is part of the reason God will soon come Himself to settle the matter once and for all.
Prayer: God help us to walk humbly and intimately with You.