2 Chronicles 1-3
John 10:1-23

“Haven’t you read…at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife’….Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’” Matthew 19:4-6

People who enter into marriage do not go in thinking that their relationship will end in divorce, but some marriages, sadly, do end in divorce. In Matthew 19, the Pharisees wanted to test Jesus, so they asked Him: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” (Matthew 19:3). What the Pharisees had in mind was the guidance set out in God’s law from Deuteronomy 24:1: “If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house....” They were not questioning Jesus on the rights of a divorce, but rather the grounds for such action.

During New Testament times, the teachings around divorce were primarily informed by two prominent rabbis. Rabbi Shammai took a conservative interpretation of Deuteronomy 24 and taught that the only permissible ground for divorce was when adultery had come into the relationship. Rabbi Hillel, however, had a liberal interpretation of Deuteronomy 24 and taught that a man could divorce his wife for any reason that she was displeasing to him. Between the two rabbis, Rabbi Hillel’s interpretation became very popular and people were divorcing their wives for any reason. In other words, if a husband did not like his wife’s cooking, the clothes that she wore or the wrinkles on her skin, he could simply give her a certificate of divorce and send her away.

Jesus explained to the Pharisees that God’s design for marriage was one man and one woman for life, and they followed with another question: “Why then did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus responded, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard” (Matthew 19:7-8). Notice that the Pharisees said, “Moses command” while Jesus said, “Moses permitted.” Moses was not condoning but putting stipulations around something that was already happening within the community.

God knows the reality of life in a fallen world where sin abounds and provides a legal process whereby a marriage could formally end. The legal boundaries around divorce were put in place in order to protect the women who were being negatively

impacted by the breakdown. The certificate was meant to release her so that she could find happiness in another marriage and enable her to survive because of the economic stability and security that this relationship included. Although divorce is heart-wrenching, God is near to the brokenhearted. If we are willing to seek Him, we can find healing in Him.

Dear God, thank You for Your love and care for the brokenhearted. May I experience Your healing as I seek You.

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