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The Bible teaches that the marriage covenant involves a deep commitment, and God requires spouses to honor their marriage commitment to one another. Short of the decision to become a Christian, no promise we make in life is more serious than the one we make when we get married. It's a promise that God expects us to keep, even when the promise turns out to be harder to keep than we thought it would be.
The faithless men of Israel were rebuked by Malachi with these strong words: "The Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant" (Mal. 2:14). These men had callously discarded their Israelite wives and entered into marriages with the idolatrous women of the land. Marrying outside Israel, of course, was forbidden in the Law of Moses (Exo. 34:11-16; Deut. 7:1-5; etc.). But that problem only compounded the sin these men had committed in the first place when they divorced their original Israelite wives without God's approval. To these men, the prophet said, "You have dealt treacherously" (NKJV).
Marriage is a relationship based on trust and confidence. The promise of an unconditional love that will last as long as both parties are alive is a safety net under the marriage. Both partners can take comfort in the knowledge that no matter what troubles may test the relationship, the other has promised that divorce will not be an option. Each places faith in the promise made by the other never to betray the marriage. When a person is unfaithful to the promises that were made, either by committing adultery or by leaving the relationship without God's approval, God does not look upon that breach of trust lightly. There is no greater betrayal a person can suffer than to be victimized by the treachery of a mate. Such treachery is a violation of the deepest trust agreement that two human beings can enter into.
God is pleased with those who keep their word. This week, let's consider the honor and the trust that enable a marriage to be what God would want it to be. In the real world, the marriage covenant may not always be easy to keep, but keeping our promise will be well worth the effort.
Monday: Malachi 2:16
Key Idea: God hates divorce.
Questions for Family Growth: What are the possible meanings of the word "hate" (NKJV) as it describes God's view of divorce? What is meant by the statement that divorce "covers [one's] garment with violence"? Why are we told to "take heed" (NKJV) or "guard yourselves" (ESV)?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 13:25.
Tuesday: Matthew 19:1-12
Key Idea: God's law permits only one cause for divorce.
Questions for Family Growth: In vv.1-3, what question had Jesus been asked? In vv.4-6, what was His answer? What, in v.7, was the next question He was asked? In response, what did Jesus say concerning divorce in vv.8,9? Is Jesus' teaching hard to understand?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 14:1.
Wednesday: Malachi 2:13
Key Idea: God does not accept the worship of those who are violating the marriage covenant.
Questions for Family Growth: What did Malachi mean when he said, "You cover the Lord's altar with tears"? Why would God not "regard" or "accept" their offerings anymore? What does Peter say about our prayers in 1 Pt. 3:7?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 14:2.
Thursday: Malachi 2:14
Key Idea: God is a party to the covenant between husbands and wives.
Questions for Family Growth: What is a "covenant"? How does the word apply to marriage? Consider Prov. 2:16,17. What would it mean to act treacherously or faithlessly against one's marriage partner? What is God's view of such a betrayal?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 14:3.
Friday: Ecclesiastes 5:1-7
Key Idea: It is better not to make commitments than to break those we have made.
Questions for Family Growth: How are the words "vow," "promise," and "covenant" similar? What are the basic points the writer makes about commitments in these verses? How does the instruction in v. 7 to "fear" God apply to the subject of commitment-keeping?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 14:4.