What the Bible Says about Divorce, IV

By Danni Moss
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In Ezra 10 there is another interesting story that shows God’s heart about the permanence of marriage.

And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing.

Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. Ezra 10:2,3

When the people of Israel sought God’s heart during a time of repentance and prayer God directed them to put away their “strange” wives and the children they had with these women.

What made these women “strange?” It was certainly not the fact that they were foreign. God had put a process in place whereby a foreigner could become an Israelite. The problem was the fact that these women worshipped false gods.

“Put away” in this text is not a Hebrew word for divorce, but these men were not rightly married to these women in Israelite culture. They may have married them in some recognized civil fashion, and thereby been legally married, but there could not have married them in a legitimate Jewish marriage without the wives going through the process to convert to Judaism. So using one of the Hebrew words for divorce would technically be an inaccuracy.

But God made it completely clear, that even this marriage was intolerable to Him. Though these men had taken these women as wives and borne children by them, God expected them to put these wives away entirely.

There is an interesting principle here. In the New Testament, God makes it very clear why believers are not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. It is because of the issue of idolatry. We become one flesh and one spirit with a sexual partner, and simultaneously we are one spirit with God (I Cor. 6:15-20). How can we do that when we are under the authority of God and they are under the authority of Belial? (II Cor. 6:14-18)

The Word also makes it clear that a man who does not provide for his family (which would include material provision, protection, etc.) is worse than an unbeliever (I Tim. 5:8 ). It also says that a man who is an idolater, drunkard/addict, verbal abuser, etc. is to be considered an unbeliever and we are to separate from them in every way (I Cor. 5:9-13). This is a very clear statement, and also a clear corollary to the Old Testament reason God mandated divorce for these men with idolatrous wives.

I believe the Word is very clear that a spouse who willfully, wantonly, persistently and deliberately chooses to deny God in these very clearly stated ways is a spiritual danger. In the Old Testament God told these men to put away their idolatrous wives. In the New Testament, God makes equally clear provision for the same, which we will talk about in more detail when I get to these New Testament passages.

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