They ‘stood at the altar’ as it were…some wedding gowns sparkling and white, some tattered and worn. However, they shared the same lament; “He left me.”
“My wedding day is still in my mind as if it were yesterday,” cries one woman with graying hair.”
“My wedding day was yesterday!” shouts another, the picture of youth. They all nodded in agreement, sharing their sadness, an uncomfortable camaraderie. They thought they would share the companionship of a loving husband as long as they lived…at least that was the promise.
“That is the thing that breaks my heart!” shouts one of the women. “He made a vow. He went through all the ritual, all the religious and legal rigmarole… and it meant nothing.”
“Oh, it meant something all right. It meant something to him,” spat out an older woman, eyes darkened in anger,” because it meant he could help himself to me and my dowry.”
“Yes, that’s right!” interjected a much younger woman. “And then he helped himself to me, and to my dowry. He has a pretty good thing—going from one to another. He makes himself rich off the women he swindles.”
Another added, “And he cloaks himself in pride because he claims everything he does is lawful. What law? I ask! What law allows a man to desert wife after wife? It is surely ‘man’s’ law, not God’s.”
We have come to the end of the Old Testament portion of God’s love story. “Love” was still a problem for the Jews—a misplaced love. Misplaced love is a problem for us as well. We should learn a thing or two from the story of Israel and Judah. Their unholy self-love brought about destruction in two areas: in their relationship with God, and in their families. Seventy years after Judah falls to Babylon, the first exiles began to return to Jerusalem. God helped them rebuild the temple and 100 years later, under the leadership of Nehemiah, they rebuilt the walls.
However, it seems they still had not learned their lesson. Malachi, who may have been the last prophet to the Jewish people, repeats the same warning that his fellow prophets had issued for hundreds of years. In particular, Malachi spoke to priests and leaders who were still taking God’s people on the evil path of destruction. Malachi condemned their unfaithfulness.
God cannot bless us if we continually reject him. Breaking vows may be the sin that broke the backs of the Jewish people throughout their struggle to exist. They broke their promises to God, and they broke their promises to each other, in particular…to their wives. What they never learned, and what we must know is that God’s love is unlimited, but his patience is not.
Read Malachi 2:1—17 to find God’s message to his people, and the special message to husbands.