04/29/W – Faithful to the Covenant

Leviticus 23:22-44; Mark 10:1-12; Psalms 44:9-22; Proverbs 14:11-12

NT: “Some Pharisees came to test him, asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He replied to them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses permitted us to write divorce papers and send her away.” But Jesus told them, “He wrote this command for you because of the hardness of your hearts. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”” (‭‭Mark‬ ‭10:2-9‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

The Pharisees, attempting to trap Jesus into a sound bite, asked Him to comment on a controversial subject: divorce. There were 2 competing views on what was allowed: 1) a conservative view that allowed divorce only if a man found out that his wife wasn’t a virgin when they married, and 2) a very liberal view that allowed a man to divorce his wife for any reason. Instead of taking a side in the debate and answering the question directly, Jesus addressed the heart of the matter. Moses allowed divorce because of the hardness of men’s hearts. It was a way to protect women from abuse and being abandoned by their husbands, and made the act of divorce a legal matter. However, just because it was allowed, doesn’t mean that it was sanctioned. Marriage is intended to be a life-long covenant, not a contract that can be easily broken if one party doesn’t hold up their terms of the agreement. Two people, a man and a woman, who are married become one flesh. It is a spiritual union as well as a flesh union… and it is a union made and ordained by God. Covenants are not 50/50 propositions. They are 100/100 commitments to each other – and are to be held, even if one side of the covenant falls short in their 100%. Marriage, as Paul says in Ephesians, is to be a living example of Christ and the church: Christ is ever faithful to His covenant with us, even when/if we are unfaithful to Him. Divorce is allowed, but should not be an easy out.

Psalms: “All this has happened to us, but we have not forgotten you or betrayed your covenant. Our hearts have not turned back; our steps have not strayed from your path… If we had forgotten the name of our God and spread out our hands to a foreign god, wouldn’t God have found this out, since he knows the secrets of the heart? Because of you we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭44:17-18, 20-22‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

Paul actually quoted this verse in Romans 8, when he was describing the unbreakable covenantal connection we have to the love of God in Christ Jesus. This psalm is a lament psalm, where the sons of Korah are lamenting the challenging times that the nation of Israel were experiencing. In their lament, they were being honest with their feelings. Because of the challenges they were facing as a nation, it felt as if God had abandoned them… even as they had been faithful to their covenant with God. Our faithfulness to God doesn’t prevent challenging things from occurring in our lives. In fact, as this psalm states, we experience challenges because of our faithfulness to God. However we may feel, the truth is that God never fails in faithfulness. As we look at the state of the world, our national economy, our dwindling checking account – it can feel like we have been abandoned by God, even when we are being faithful to Him. But as Paul states in Romans 8, event when we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. He is faithful and never backs out of His covenants. If we remain faithful to Him despite what our feelings are telling us, He will prove Himself faithful. He will lead us through these present challenges to green pastures and still waters of peace and provision.

Proverbs: “There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death.” (‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭14:12‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

There are always ways that seem right… especially when feelings get involved. The wisdom of the world says, “Follow your heart.” Or, “If it feels right, do it.” We can feel abandoned by God and thus choose to abandon Him in anger or frustration. Ultimately, following ways that seem right will lead to death… spiritually, emotionally, and/or even physically. The wisest way to go is the way of truth and the way that our Good Shepherd leads us on.

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