Over the last two years, I have personally seen how much Satan hates marriage and families. It has been hard to see what is happening and personally experience the pain of a family that has been torn apart. What is going on and why is Satan targeting Christian marriages? How serious is God really about marriage?
This week I watched some teaching from Robert Morris from Gateway Church in America. Not only is this video below, I have added some key points that he has raised which I pray not only blesses you but gives you the resolve to submit to God, resist the Devil together and Satan will flee. Fight Satan together and seek God in how you can grow to have the relationship that reflects God's heart for marriage. If you are not married, still read what God is saying about the importance of marriage.
Marriage is under attack. In America in 1930, 83% of adults were married. Today it is 49.7%. this is a huge change. In Australia, we now have double the population that lived in Australia in 1970 but fewer marriages each year. (116,066 marriages in 1970 and 112,954 in 2017)
Matthew 19 has the most significant teaching about marriage by Jesus. Even though Ephesians 5 is important, this teaching in Matthew 19 has some significant things that we need to know. The Pharisees were asking Jesus about marriage and divorce and Jesus (Who is God) gave the answer. This, therefore, is God's answer to the question about divorce.
It was interesting that Robert said "But for the grace of Debbie and God go I" He changed it and put his wife's name, Debbie. Because of Debbie and the grace of God in their marriage, they are still together. Sometimes it is the one person that keeps the marriage together. He is so grateful for his wife's tenacity (and God's grace) to love him despite his immaturity and rough edges. Marriage takes two people to work at the marriage! God is extremely serious about marriage!
God gives us the reason why marriage is so important. Just be really careful to see that this is the FIRST question the Pharisees asked. The answer is very clear!
3 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” Matthew 19:3
This is a very interesting question. Is there any lawful reason at all that a man can divorce his wife? Jesus answered:-
4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning‘made them male and female,’5 and said,‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:4-6
It was very strong when Jesus said: "Have you not read!" He was implying that if they had read the Bible before then they would not have had to ask this question. There is a reason God did not permit divorce in the beginning. When the word "joined" was used it referred to two oxen being put together to pull the cart or plough. They were equally pulling or working together. Each person did their share.
The other important thing is that when we become married we become one flesh. Two people become one! As we understand that it is God who joins man and women together and made man, no man or any person is to separate this union. Nobody!! This is the answer to the question about whether divorce is OK! No, it is not!
The second question was slightly different:
7 They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” 8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning, it was not so. Matthew 19:7-8
Robert said that in every divorce there is at least one person with a hard heart. Sometimes there is two but mostly it is one person with a hard heart. Jesus said Moses permitted men to divorce their wife if THEY had a hard heart towards their wife. At the time Moses said this, men were marrying other women and neglecting their first wife. They were even abusing her and not letting her go free. Moses made a commandment that they were to give her a certificate of divorce and then she had a chance to be treated like a princess of God she really was! This is where this law came from!
In the Bible, Moses represents the law and Jesus represents grace. (17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17) We see something interesting happening in this story. Jesus said it is not lawful to divorce your wife. Under the law, they could but this law was actually grace being offered to these ladies.
Grace says that we are under a covenant and so we work it out. The law says that their hearts are hard and the women who were badly treated had a second chance. It is interesting that this was an example of grace working through the Law!
There are three things about a blessed marriage:-
One: Marriage represents God on this earth.
In Genesis 1:26 we read "Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Mankind, which is male and female, are made in the image of God. When male and female are together they best represent God. (ie: Husband and a wife) Marriage, therefore, is a portrait of who God is! Satan HATES marriage because it represents God on earth. Satan did not attack Adam until he was joined with Eve and fully represented God. That is when Satan got scared!! He saw the image of God in Adam and Eve when they were together!
When we see a blessed marriage it has three members. There is a man, a woman and God. That is the marriage that is truly blessed! That is the only way marriage truly works! When three are working together Satan has no chance!
When people encounter a godly marriage, they should leave quite challenged. There are two people but they are acting as one person. They were completely different persons but they were acting as one. The world says we need to maintain our individuality which is a totally different picture of marriage. A godly marriage is an equality with order. One can be the leader but they can still both be equal. This picture of God is all through scripture. God the Father is the leader but all parts of God are equal. God is a servant leader.
TWO: Marriage represents Christ and the church:
31 “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Ephesians 5:31
The reason is that we are the image-bearers of God on the earth. When we are glued or joined together in marriage we represent God. We become unglued from our parents and glued to each other and you could even say, God.
32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:32-33 NKJV
When we understand this, we see that man represents Christ and the woman represents the church. This is a very interesting thing that happens. Men now represent to the world how Christ treats and speaks to the church. Women represent how the church speaks to and treats God. This is an awesome responsibility! If someone asks how God will treat them we can say he will treat them just like the Christian man treats his wife. (Ie: loved, honoured and treated like royalty!) For Christian women, they demonstrate how to talk to the Lord the same way they talk to their husband. (ie: talk about their strengths, talk highly of, respect). The Bible demonstrates equality right through the Bible!
Three: Marriage represents covenant.
Yet you say, “For what reason?”
Because the Lord has been witness
Between you and the wife of your youth,
With whom you have dealt treacherously;
Yet she is your companion
And your wife by covenant. Malachi 2:14
There are two different concepts we get confused with:
Contract: We protect our rights and we limit our responsibilities.
Covenant: We give up our rights and we pick up our responsibilities.
Both concepts can be in play in a marriage. As we are married in a covenant we understand that we have given up our rights and we take our responsibilities seriously. In this example, we live in our marriages as an example to the world what a covenant is. When people see marriage and understand it is glued together by a covenant, people can see that God is a covenant keeper and will also keep his Word! We can say that as we have kept our word in our marriage, God also keeps His Word as well. We can trust Him! Richer, poorer, sickness, health, better, worse....till death does us part!!!!! It does not matter what happens.. we stay together!
Marriage is an example of the new covenant, not the Old Covenant. In the Old Covenant God protected, provided and blessed His people. God will be their Father and will never leave or forsake them. The part of the people was to be perfect! They had to keep the Law fully! The funny thing is Israel said they would do and everything that was written!! (They broke them even before Moses stepped off the mountain!)
Why did God give the people the Law? The first reason was to show the standard of perfection and a moral standard. The main reason was to frustrate us so we would come to Christ. God never wanted a legalistic relationship. He wanted a love relationship. The old Covenant was to point us to the new covenant.
The reason for the New Covenant was different for us. God was going to protect, provide for, bless, be our Father and never leave us. Our responsibility in this New Covenant was taken by Jesus. He fulfilled our part by dying on the cross and paying for our sins. He lived the life we should have lived and he died the death we deserved. We just need to believe this and accept what Jesus has done on our behalf! When we do we enter the covenant.
This is what marriage is. Even if our spouse does not keep her end of the covenant we will keep our end of it! That is marriage! Through marriage, we are telling the world what God is like! He is a covenant-keeping God. This is why Satan hates marriage!
Marriage represents God on the earth.
Marriage represents Christ and the church.
Marriage represents covenant.
Do not be condemned by this message. Seek God how to walk forward to listen to the Holy Spirit and walk forward in what God has for your marriage! We will struggle in marriage but do not give up.