Lessons from Jeremiah 3

Preachers love to quote God’s statement in Malachi “I hate divorce,” shaming those who end up in divorce court. But after reading Jeremiah, I now know why God hates divorce: He knows its heartache firsthand.

God said He was Lord and Husband to Israel. After giving them the best, He thought in return they’d call him “My Father” and would not turn away from following Him. His bride, however, in her adultery, “polluted and defiled the land” and “I, the Lord, put faithless Israel away and given her a bill of divorcement.” He gave Israel opportunity after opportunity to repent and return to Him, but eventually God divorced her!

Some divorces do not fall under biblical guidelines, but God said it was permissible if there was an unfaithful spouse. He knows what that feels like.

On Divorce

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divorce-2.jpgFrom my 2009 Journal. Forty to 50 years ago, the topic of divorce in the church caused a lot of angst. The stigma of sin was plastered all over the couple, and the “guilty” parties were shunned. I listened to preachers quote Malachi 2:16 “I hate divorce,” to justify keeping a woman under bondage even to an abusive husband. Unfortunately, those same preachers neglected to preach on the rest of the verse.

“I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel. “I hate it when one of you does such a cruel thing to his wife. Make sure that you do not break your promise to be faithful to your wife” (Malachi 2:16 Good News Translation).

One day I was stunned to read in the book of Jeremiah that God Himself chose to divorce!

I, the Lord, put faithless Israel away and have given her a bill of divorcement, because in her adultery His bride polluted and defiled the land (Jeremiah 3:8-9).

Yes, God hates divorce because He knows its heartaches firsthand. He longs for relationship and connection. He gave Israel repeated opportunities to repent and return to Him before He cut off relationship with Her. He gave them the best and thought they’d not turn away from following Him (v. 19), but they did.

The topic of divorce has many subtopics with a lot of emotional attachments. My main point here is to rail against Scriptural abuse that keeps people in bondage to legalism.

Your thoughts?