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Words of Faith 10-25-18

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Luke 16:16-18

    "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. [17] It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.

    [18] "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.


       Jesus comes to the issue of divorce first from the most basic law regarding marriage and family found in the seventh commandment.  Do not commit adultery.  This is the absolute "moral high ground."  We are meant for one person.  In fact, Jewish tradition taught that 40 days before you were born, your marriage partner was set by God.  

      That is not written in Scripture but it is a tradition that looks with larger view than just a moment in time.  We can see that when a person has sexual relations with anyone other than their covenant partner (of the opposite sex)-- that person commits adultery and is guilty of a sin that hurts people and hurts the relationship with God (Ex. 20:14).  There is not a clause or exception in this law.

       With this said, even the Law acknowledged the reality of divorce and remarriage as a fact of life. Divorce was never commanded or advised, but it was regulated in the law (Deut. 24:1-5;  Leviticus 21:7, 21:14, 22:13; Numbers 30:9).  The basic teaching of the Law on divorce is found in Deut. 24:1-4.

    [1] If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, [2] and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, [3] and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, [4] then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the Lord. Do not bring sin upon the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

      In the Law (Hebrew Scripture), divorce was not forbidden, but it was regulated.  If there were a divorce, the husband was to write a certificate of divorce and was not to be joined with her again, if she was joined with another.  But from this text, the rabbis also discerned what constituted grounds for divorce. 

       By the time of Jesus, the rabbinical schools differed greatly in their interpretation of this.  The school of Rabbi Shammai (50 BC - 30 AD) took a very restrictive view that the only thing indecent enough to give grounds for divorce was adultery.  The school of Rabbi Hillel (70 BC - 10 AD) took a much more liberal view that anything displeasing to the husband was grounds for divorce, including anything "unseemly." 

       According to the Talmud if the wife simply spoiled the cooking or even if a husband simply found someone more attractive (Talmud Git IX. 10), this was grounds for divorce.  This issue was debated at the time of Jesus.  The liberal school of Hillel is what eventually won out! According to the teaching of the Talmud, a man could divorce his wife upon any whim, and still feel pious and self righteous. 

      The writing of Josephus attests to the Hillelite practice at the time of Jesus: "He that desires to be divorced from his wife for any cause whatever (and many such causes happen among men), let him in writing give assurance that he will never cohabit with her any more" (Antiquities IV. viii. 23).  The interpretation of Hillel was simply that a certificate of divorce or a "get" should be delivered to the wife releasing any claim upon her. 

      You may have already noticed how one-sided all this was.  According to the Talmud a woman could not initiate a divorce unless she discovered that he engaged in a "disgusting trade."  While that may seem like a loophole you could drive a truck through, it probably only applied to something like tannery, which rendered a person ritually unclean.

      Now, do we understand Jesus better when He says, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery."   When Jesus speaks on the topic of divorce, he is speaking to one of the most unjust and perverted systems of religious rationalization that we can imagine.  Marriages were at the whim of the male and were dissolved with a pen stroke for the most flimsy of reasons. 

      When Jesus taught, He was drawing us back to the most fundamental issue of Law regarding marriage: sexual relations with anyone but your spouse is adultery.   Therefore, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery." 

       Jesus was talking to this terribly perverted system of self-justified sin and provided no loopholes, justifications, caveats, or conditions to consider.  He was clearly calling the religious people to rediscover the Holiness of God and the sanctity of marriage.

        Of course there are other issues related to divorce and remarriage.  Jesus addressed these in the Sermon on the Mount and the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth.  Here, it is important not to miss the most fundamental teaching of Jesus. 

        The bottom line is that a cavalier attitude toward marriage does not in any way reflect the heart of God.  He is out to change our hearts.  We are to be more and more conformed to Him and not the other way around.


        O God, show me more and more of Your heart.  Reveal to me the pure nature of Your truth that I may walk in holiness with You by Your grace.  In Jesus' name.