Mal. 2:10-17 - T. Constable Expository Notes
JUDAH EXHORTED TO FAITHFULNESS (SIN IN THE FAMILY) 2:10-3:6
INTRODUCTION: The Lord addressed the entire nation of Israel in this address, not specifically the priests as in the former one. His concern, as expressed through His messenger Malachi, was the peoples' indifference toward His will. They were blaming their social and economic troubles on the Lord's supposed injustice and indifference to them (Malachi 2:17). Furthermore they were being unfaithful to one another, especially their wives whom the husbands were apparently abandoning for foreign women. These conditions profaned the temple and the Mosaic Covenant (Malachi 2:10-15 a). The Lord's command, which lies in the center of the section (as in the first and third exhortations), was for the people to stop their treachery toward one another (Malachi 2:15-16). Thus the major emphasis of this second main section of Malachi is social responsibility (love for and relationship with people), whereas the major emphasis of the first major section was theological (love for and relationship with God). First positive and, later, negative motivations act as bookends surrounding the Lord's command (cf. Malachi 1:2-5; Malachi 2:1-9; and Malachi 3:10-12; Malachi 3:16 to Malachi 4:3).
The style of the third oracle [according to the "disputation speeches" division of Malachi differs from the others. Instead of an initial statement or charge followed by a question of feigned innocence, this oracle begins with three questions asked by the prophet. However, as at the beginning of each of the other oracles, the point is presented at the outset." [Note: Blaising, p. 1580.]
B. The Situation: faithlessness against a covenant member 2:10b-15a
v. 10: Do we not all have one Father? Is it not one God who has created us? Why do we deal treacherously, each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers? - In view of their common brotherhood in the family of God, it was inappropriate for the Israelites to treat each other as enemies and deal treacherously with each other. They should have treated each other as brothers and supported one another (Leviticus 19:18). By dealing treacherously with each other they had made the covenant that God had made with their ancestors virtually worthless; they could not enjoy the blessings of the Mosaic Covenant.
▪ The Mosaic covenant was by Malachi's time understood as a quaint, archaic document too restrictive to be taken seriously and inapplicable to a 'modern' age-virtually the same way that most people in modern Western societies view the Bible today." [Note: Stuart, p. 1332.]
v. 11: Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the LORD which He loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. - The evidence of Judah's treachery was that the Israelites were profaning (making common) Yahweh's beloved sanctuary. This sanctuary may refer to the temple or His people. They did this by practicing idolatry. They had married pagan women who worshipped other gods (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:14-16). Yahweh's son (Mal. 2:10) had married foreign women that worshipped other gods and, like Solomon, had become unfaithful to Yahweh (cf. Ex. 34:11-16; Deut. 7:3-4; Josh. 23:12-13; Ezra 9:1-2; Ezra 9:10-12; Neh. 13:23-27).
v. 12: As for the man who does this, may the LORD eliminate from the tents of Jacob everyone who is awake and answers, or who presents an offering to the LORD of armies. - In a curse formula, Malachi pronounced judgment on any Israelite who married such a woman. The judgment would be that he would die or that his line would die out (be "cut off"). The difficult idiom translated "who awakes and answers" (NASB) evidently means "whoever he may be" (NIV). This curse would befall him even though he brought offerings to almighty Yahweh at the temple. Worshipping God did not insulate covenant violators from divine punishment then, and the same principle applies to Christians today..
vv. 13-14: And this is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and sighing, because He no longer gives attention to the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 Yet you say, "For what reason?" Because the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your marriage companion and your wife by covenant. -The people evidently could not figure out why God was withholding blessings from them, so Malachi gave them the reasons. Another sin involved weeping profusely over the Lord's altar because He did not answer their prayers while at the same time dealing treacherously with their wives (cf. 1 Peter 3:7). Weeping over the altar must be a figurative way of describing weeping as they worshipped Yahweh. The marriage relationship is a covenant relationship (cf. Proverbs 2:17; Ezekiel 16:8; Ezekiel 16:59-62; Hosea 2:16-20), and those who break their vows should not expect God to bless them. God Himself acted as a witness when the couple made their covenant of marriage in their youth. This sin may have in view particularly the Israelite men who were divorcing their Jewish wives to marry pagan women (cf. Malachi 2:12), or divorce in general may be all that is in view.
▪ Although the designation of a wife as a 'partner' [NIV] does not negate the subjection of her marital role to that of her husband, it certainly counters the concept that she was to be viewed as a mere possession to be disposed of at will. Though more than a friend or companion, she was not to be regarded as less than that.
C. Command: stop acting faithlessly 2:15b-16: This "command" section begins and ends with commands not to break faith. Instruction to "take heed to your spirit" immediately precedes each of these commands. Two quotations from Yahweh lie within this envelope structure. These commands from Yahweh constitute the turning point in this second chiastic hortatory (strong advice) discourse.
v. 15: But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And why the one? He was seeking a godly offspring. Be careful then about your spirit, and see that none of you deals treacherously against the wife of your youth. - The Israelites needed to be careful, therefore, that no one of them dealt treacherously with the wife he married in his youth by breaking his marriage covenant and divorcing her. The man is the responsible party in the text because in Israel husbands could divorce their wives. Wives divorcing their husbands was less common in Jewish patriarchal society.
v. 16: "For I hate divorce," says the LORD , the God of Israel, "and him who covers his garment with violence," says the LORD of armies. "So be careful about your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously." - The Israelites were not to break their marriage covenants because the person who divorces his mate to marry an unbeliever brings disgrace upon himself. Divorcing for this reason constitutes covenant unfaithfulness, breaking a covenant entered into that God Himself witnessed (Malachi 2:14). As such, it is an ungodly thing to do since Yahweh is a covenant-keeping God; He keeps his promises. To break a covenant (a formal promise) is to do something that God Himself does not do.
▪ Divorcing for this reason constitutes covering oneself with wrong. This is a play on a Hebrew euphemism for marriage, namely, covering oneself with a garment ( Ruth 3:9; Ezek. 16:8). One covers himself with wrong when he divorces his wife whom he has previously covered with his garment (i.e., married). For these Jews divorce was similar to wearing soiled garments; it was a disgrace. For emphasis, the Lord repeated His warning to take heed to one's spirit so one would not deal treacherously with his covenant partner (cf. Mal. 2:15).
▪ There is some dispute among English translators whether the rendering, "I hate divorce," is correct. It is possible, and some English translators have so rendered it (AV, NKJV, RSV, NRSV, NASB, NIV, TNIV, NET), but it requires emending the Masoretic text. [Note: Joe M. Sprinkle, "Old Testament Perspectives on Divorce and Remarriage," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 40 (1997):539.] The normal way of translating the Hebrew literally would be, "If [or "for"] he hates sending away [i.e., divorce], says Yahweh God of Israel, then [or "and"] violence covers [or "he covers/will cover with violence"] his garment, says Yahweh of hosts." One paraphrase that captures the literal meaning well is, "For the man who hates and divorces, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts" (English Standard Version). Another good paraphrase is, "'If he hates and divorces [his wife],' says the LORD of Hosts" (Holman Christian Standard Bible). One writer expressed the spirit of the Lord's statement by paraphrasing it, "Divorce is hateful." [Note: D. L. Petersen, Zechariah 9-14 and Malachi, pp.204-5.]
▪ The passage [Malachi 2:10-16] does not deal with the case of a man divorcing a wife who has already broken her marriage vows, so it also does not apply to the case of a woman divorcing her husband who has already broken his marriage vows. This is another reason the passage should not be understood as an absolute condemnation of divorce under any circumstances. In fact, according to Jeremiah 3:8 the Lord himself had divorced the Northern Kingdom of Israel because of her adulteries (cf. Hosea 2:2)." [Note: Clendenen, p. 359.]
▪ The fact that Ezra commanded divorce (Ez 10) may appear to contradict God's prohibition of divorce here. (Nehemiah neither advocated divorce nor spoke out against it; Neh. 13:23-29.) The solution seems to be that Malachi addressed the situation of Jewish men divorcing their Jewish wives to marry pagan women. Ezra faced Jewish men who had already married pagan women. Does this mean that it's all right to divorce an unbeliev-ing spouse but not a believer? Paul made it clear that the Christian is to divorce neither (1 Cor. 7:10-20). Evidently it was the illegitimacy of a Jew marrying a pagan that led Ezra to advocate divorce in such case.
▪ Even though God typically opposes divorce, and in that sense hates it, He permitted it (Deut. 24:1-4) to achieve the larger goals of maintaining Israel's distinctiveness so she could fulfill His purposes for her in the world (Ex. 19:3-6). His purposes for the church are not exactly the same as His purposes for Israel. Moreover, the church is not subject to the Mosaic Law. Therefore it is inappropriate to appeal to the Jews' action in Ezra as a precedent that Christians who are married to unbelievers should follow (1 Cor. 7:12-13).
▪ In none of the other passages in which divorce appears to be required (Genesis 21:8-14; Exodus 21:10-11; Deuteronomy 21:10-14) does God present divorce as a good thing. He only permitted it under certain circumstances created by sin (Matthew 19:9).
▪ The prophet's concluding exhortation, 'So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith' is a strong warning to every husband that he must be constantly on his guard against developing a negative attitude toward his wife." [Note: Ibid., p. 368. Cf. Colossians 3:19.]
D. Situation: complaints of the Lord's injustice 2:17
v. 17: You have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet you say, "How have we wearied Him?" In that you say, "Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and He delights in them," or, "Where is the God of justice?" - Malachi recorded complaints that the people were voicing that gave further proof that they were acting faithlessly and needed to change (cf. Mal_2:10-15 a). That another disputation is in view is clear from the question and answer format that begins this pericope, as it does the others. Malachi 2:17 contains the question and answer, and the discussion follows in Malachi 3:1-6. The Israelites' changeability (Malachi 2:17) contrasts with Yahweh's constancy (Malachi 3:6).
▪ The reader is introduced here for the first time in Malachi to three themes, all of which may be expressed, for convenience, as needs: the need for messianic intervention, the need for a day of judgment, and the need for social justice." [Note: Stuart, p. 1346.]
▪ Malachi announced to his hearers that they had wearied God with their words; He was tired of hearing them say something. Their response was again hypocritical incredulity. They believed He could hardly be tired of listening to them since He had committed Himself to them as their covenant lord (cf. Isa. 40:28). This is another place where Scripture seems to contradict itself. On the one hand God said He does not grow weary (Isa. 40:28), but on the other hand He said He was weary (here). The solution, I think, is that in the first case He was speaking about His essential character; He does not tire out like human beings do. In the second case He meant that He was tired of the Israelites speaking as they did. In this second case He used anthropo-morphic language to describe how He felt as though He were a human being, which, of course, He is not.
▪ The prophet explained that Yahweh was tired of the Israelites saying that He delighted in them even though they said that everyone who did evil was acceptable to Him. They seem to have lost their conscience for right and wrong and assumed that because God did not intervene He approved of their sin. Really their question amounted to a challenge to God's justice. If they were breaking His law and He was just, He surely must punish them. Their return to the land indicated to them that He was blessing them, and He promised to bless the godly in the Mosaic Covenant (Deuteronomy 28:1-14).
▪ Contemporary people say the same thing. "If there is a just God, why doesn't He do something about all the suffering in the world?" "If God is just, why do the wicked prosper?" Scripture reveals that God blesses the wicked as well as the righteous (Matthew 5:45; Acts 14:17), and the righteous suffer as well as the wicked because of the Fall and sin (Genesis 3:16-19; Ecclesiastes 2:17-23). Moreover, God allows Satan to afflict the righteous as well as the wicked (Job 1-2). God will eventually punish the wicked and bless the righteous, but perhaps not in this life (cf. Job 21:7-26; Job 24:1-17; Psalms 73:1-14; Ecclesiastes 8:14; Jeremiah 12:1-4; Habakkuk 1). Malachi's audience had forgotten part of what God had revealed on this subject, and, of course, they had not yet received New Testament revelation about it.
▪ "Disillusionment had followed the rebuilding of the Temple because, though decade followed decade, no supernatural event marked the return of the Lord to Zion." [Note: Baldwin, p. 242.]
v. 17 Donovan Exegesis
Mal. 2:17 - YOU HAVE WEARIED YAHWEH WITH YOUR WORDS
You have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet you say, "How have we wearied Him?" In that you say, "Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD , and He delights in them," or, "Where is the God of justice?"
Verses 3:1-4 , which follow, cannot be understood apart from the context of this verse.
The problem illuminated by this verse is that the people have been complaining about the injustices that the Lord has permitted-and the Lord is tired of hearing their complaints.
Why would they complain? It has been several decades since their return to Jerusalem from exile, and life in their homeland has failed to meet their expectations. They have, with great effort, rebuilt the temple. The Lord promised to return to Zion and to dwell in Jerusalem on the holy mountain (Zechariah 8:3), but they have seen no evidence of that having taken place.
Furthermore, they have seen bad people prosper and good people suffer, and have concluded that the Lord delights in people who do evil.
In their cynicism, they ask, "Where is the God of justice?" There is considerable irony in their question, because the prophet has just indicted them (especially the priests) for their sins (1:6 - 2:9). They claim to want justice, but they will find justice a barbed surprise.
Mal. 2:10-17 Exposition (Ross)
4. Profaning The Marriage Covenant (Malachi 2:10-16)
Introduction: Marriage is an institution of God. It accords with the dictates of nature and the laws of divine inspiration. It was an integral ingredient in the happiness of Eden, and so is an integral part of society. It heightened, it perfected, the pure, fresh, and serene joys of that Garden, the scene of every beauty and the temple of God; and so it has been perpetuated to this present hour as asocial blessing to soothe and sustain us amidst the depressing and difficulty circumstances of our fallen condition.
Jesus threw a distinct holiness and grandeur around this particular relationship of a man and a woman. To him it was a blessed estate, and so he clothed it with honor and sublimity. He ratified its contract; he guarded its obligations; he expounded its laws; and he graced its celebration with his presence. In fact, the first sign that his hands performed was at a bridal festival where he turned the water into wine for the joyous celebrations to continue.
The apostles caught the idea of their master, and invested it with mystic solemnity by presenting it as a type of the substantial, invisible and everlasting union existing between Christ and his bride, the church. Accordingly, it involves the most tender, close, and lasting ties that can unite human beings together in this life. It combines the earthly interest, fortunes, and happiness of two people, a man and a woman, and it influences the destiny of many others. The interests of the couple united, the triumph of truth in their union, and the upward progress of humanity in their arena are all dependent on the preservation of God's institution of marriage.
Unfortunately, things have not turned out very well. If we are to look to the institution of marriage for progress in truth, stability, and progress in society, then we will be disappointed. From the very beginning of Genesis people have attempted to change God's institution of marriage to suit their desires. That plan was simple and clear: one man and one woman becoming one flesh throughout their earthly lives, to produce a godly seed.
But the human race embraced every form of profane and vile activity; and within the marriage relationship the laws of God were broken at every turn. Formally or informally, marriages were dissolved, because all these sins in one way or another affected the family. And when the family serenity and unity is destroyed, the spiritual life and worship falls as well. In the modern world the dissolution of a marriage is rarely considered a sin; rather, it is an option that may be taken to avoid difficulties or tensions. Oh, it is regarded as a tragedy, certainly a stressful experience, and a failure on some level. But a sin, or even an embarrassment? Only in the strictest of religious settings. To God, however, divorce is a sin, no matter what the causes or circumstances, or who is the guilty party or who is the innocent party. A divorce, according to his word, is the breaking of a covenant, a falling short of the standard of God, and a serious and painful complication of life that seems never to go away.
And we find no better description of this violation and its pain than in the Bible than in Malachi 2. No passage in the Bible deals with all the details of marriage and divorce. Rather, each passage comes from a particular set of circumstances or a particular question. Malachi was dealing with a situation where a good number of men got rid of their Hebrew wives and married pagan women. The prophet gave no details, only a description of this as a treachery--to God and the covenant as well as to the wives. Modern counselors would look into what went wrong with their original marriages, or what in their personality needed to be addressed, which is certainly helpful. But the prophets wanted everyone to realize that the failure was a sin, and that to go ahead in life with God they first had to acknowledge that, or as we say, own it, at least own their part in something that fell short of the will of God. If reconciliation was possible, it was to be pursued; if not, then the people had to accept responsibility for their acts, find forgiveness and healing from God, and get on with their lives--like any other person forgiven and restored.
Malachi delivered his burden to the people of Israel well after the time of the return and revivals of Ezra and Nehemiah, somewhere between 440 and 400 B.C. What we have in the book is a number of his messages; we have them because they are part of the divine revelation of God and timeless in their relevance. But what this prophet faced was an antagonistic audience, much like today in these matters. In the earlier days when people heard the Word of the LORD they trembled and listened; but in Malachi's day when they heard the Word they challenged it. This should not surprise us. For people to sin, say, for them to get rid of their spouses in order to marry pagans, biblical Law would have to be challenged, qualified, or set aside in some way. It cannot be ignored, because it stands there as a witness. And in the days of the prophets, a Malachi was there to declare the standard. After the captivity many folks got carried away with their freedom. When they divorced and married women who worshiped false gods, Malachi presented their actions as a defilement of the holiness of the LORD. Malachi's message was similar to that of Ezra and Nehemiah; but he alone focused on the pain all this caused and on the fact that God hates it. His message follows two major sins, first the divorces, and then the marriages to foreign women.
I. Those who wilfully violate the covenant of marriage face the punishment of God (2:10-12).
v. 10: Divorce is the sin of treachery (2:10): Malachi begins by laying down a principle: although Israel was created by one Father, they were guilty of treachery against the covenant. The first verse affirms the principle by rhetorical question that they had one father who created them; and the second half expresses the prophet's amazement over their violation of the covenant. The prophet at this starting point speaks in general terms to get the people's attention; when he has it, he narrows the focus to the actual sins involved. As we shall see in these first three verses Malachi was actually condemning intermarriage with pagans; and these intermarriages gave the occasion for the divorces. And since the message begins with the affirmation of the sovereignty of God, then the message is that unfaithfulness to the marriage in this way is disloyalty to God. But the principle as it will be related to marriage is well summarized by Hengstenberg: The one who annulled the distinction between an Israelite and a heathen woman proved by this very action that he had already annihilated the distinction between the God of Israel and the idols of the heathen, that he no longer had the theocratic consciousness of God (Christologie, III:381).
▪ Malachi's reference to their creator as "father" recalls the language of Malachi 1:6, "Is not God our father?" And the use of "father" recalls the covenant relationship that God established in Egypt and confirmed by covenant at Sinai ("let my son go"; see Exod. 4:22; Deut. 32:18; Isa. 1:2; and Jer. 3:9). Spiritual unity should have existed because they had a close relationship with God and with one another by means of the covenant. But more to the point, because loyalty to the covenant was paramount, the Law strictly prohibited intermarriage with the pagans (see Exod. 34:11 and Deut. 7:1-4). Such marriages would destroy worship and undermine the entire covenant. To do this, then, was to dishonor God and act faithlessly against fellow members of the covenant. It was all unfaithfulness to God, for sin against another person was sin against God. And it still is.
▪ The sin is introduced as a "treachery" before the sin is defined. "A treachery had been committed"--that would get the attention of the audience. The word for "treachery" here means a willful betrayal of confidence, trust or truth. One who is treacherous is a traitor, unreliable and disloyal; and a traitor is dangerous. The term is bagad (bah-gad), related to beged ("garment"). In the Jewish writings the verb came to mean "act violently, faithlessly, and rebel." So the people had been unfaithful to God, traitors to the covenant. This was very harsh language; the sin must have had greater implications than, say, a couple not getting along and divorcing.
v. 11: Marrying idol worshipers profanes God's holiness (11): Moving from the general description, the prophet now identified the exact problem. Malachi's style is first to give the theological principle (against which there was no argument), then the general rebuke (over which people would be concerned), and then the actual sin (which would hit home). Even here it is not until the second half of the verse that it is clear what he is talking about.
▪ The first thing we note is the identity of the guilty. He mentioned Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem in order. These are figures of speech (metonymies of subject, meaning the people in these areas). Israel was mentioned because it was the name of the covenant people; Judah and Jerusalem emphasized the center of the theocratic kingdom, the religious center of the nation. These heightened the boldness of the sin--it was no marginal problem of people who had no biblical training; it was in the very center of the political and religious community.
▪ The force of the verse lies in the idea of the treachery, which was paralleled with the word "abomination." This makes it something that God loathes, something that is repugnant to God, and therefore tabu. It is clear that the intermarriage of Israelites with pagans was repugnant to God; and it should have then been a matter of reverential dread to the people as well. We are talking about bringing idolatry into the family of Israel! Did they not learn from their history and their exile?
▪ The reason that God loathed it was that it "defiled the holiness" of God that he loves. The words "defile, profane" and "holiness" are cleverly put together--they are antonyms. "Holiness" means "distinct, set apart, separate" to God. "Defile" means "common, profane, separated from the sanctuary" or from God. These people made common that which was to be distinct.
▪ What did Malachi mean by "the holiness" of the Lord? It could refer to the temple. The idea would be that some Israelites were bringing pagan idolaters into the Lord's house and therefore profaning it. Support for this view comes from the fact that the Lord loves Zion (Ps. 78:68; 87:2) and prohibits idolatry from the sanctuary.
▪ But the word "holiness" may refer to the nation itself. The support for this view is a little more convincing. First, Israel is called a holy nation (Deut. 7:6) and his sanctuary (Ps. 114:2). Second, the immediate context is based on the fact that God made them one nation. Third, Malachi begins his book on the fact that God loves Israel. And fourth, intermarriage with pagans profaned the holy seed (Ezra 9:2; Jer. 2:3; Deut. 14:2). God established the marriage laws (Lev. 21:14, 15 and Neh. 13:29) for the people he loved (=chose) in order that they might be distinct to him. Now, however, Israel had profaned that holiness and made themselves common. The last clause explains how they did this: "by marrying the daughter (worshiper) of a foreign god." ▪ This expression, we know from Jeremiah 2:27, refers to a worshiper of a strange or foreign deity. It would destroy Israelite worship, and therefore the covenant. The text uses the singular "daughter," but it means the practice was typical of a widespread sin in the land.
v. 12: Introducing idolatry into the family of God warrants the threat of a curse from God (12): The message brought a clear rebuke from the prophet because a violation of the covenant has been committed. Malachi says, "May the LORD cut off ... ." This is not an announcement of doom; it is an imprecation of the prophet as if to say the people deserve this judgment. But a curse from the prophet was warning enough that if such sin was persisted in it would bring the penalty.
▪ The idea of being "cut off" needs some explanation. In its uses for divine punishment, the verb "cut off" can be used for the death penalty at the hands of the people, for premature death at the hand of God, or excommunication from the religious community. One of the latter two is probably in the mind of the prophet--God would deal with this matter if the righteous in the land did not.
▪ Who stood to be so "cut off" by God? The answer, through some poetic expressions, indicates that none are excluded. The general statement is given first: "the man who does this." Then the specifics: "him that wakes and him that answers." There are many suggested interpretations for this difficult phrase. One thing is clear, the two different ideas in it are opposites, and so the expression forms a figure of speech (a merism)--everyone from the waker to the answerer. One very possible interpretation would be to say the waker and answerer refer to watchmen in the city. Perhaps with the reference to the "tents" we can get the idea of watchmen at either end of the camp, one calling out and the other answering. Thus, it would mean everyone, from one end of the settlement to the other. Judgment for this kind of sin applied to everyone, rich or poor, leader or follower. No one would be exempt.
▪ The last expression is set off by itself in the poetry: "him that offers a offering (a gift, minkhah) to Yahweh of armies." The point is that judgment would fall on such covenant violators, even if they appeared to be faithful and generous worshipers of God (albeit hypocritically). This kind of gift was not usually a blood sacrifice, but a gift of foods and produce. To give this gift along with the blood sacrifice would be the way to indicate gratitude for God's provision and dedication of life to his service. Here is real treachery. The outward sign of dedication to the LORD was betrayed by the treachery of uniting with paganism in marriage. Such dedication is a delusion. It is an attempt to gloss over the sin, to salve the conscience, and to appear faithful to the community.
II. The LORD rejects worshipful acts from those who violate the covenant and bring pain to their spouses (13, 14).
v. 13: The pain caused by sin overshadows any attempts to worship (13).: Now a second thing that they did is mentioned by the prophet. This second sin grew out of the first, for in finding and marrying pagan women they put away their primary wives by divorce. The two sins here are inseparably bound together, but the prophet turns his attention now to the treachery on the personal level. Marrying an idolatrous woman was one thing; but dumping a legitimate wife for her is another. Both violate the covenant and bring pain to God, but the latter causes great pain to the women who were put away.
▪ The picture is painted dramatically. The wives who had been put away were in great mourning and anguish. The women came to the altar to pray, but their tears intermingled with their prayers. Their woe rose to God with such intensity that God no longer could regard (give attention to) the offerings brought by the men. So, in effect the men covered the altar with tears and sighing--not their tears, for they were cavalier about it all and thought God was pleased with their gifts, but with their wives' tears, because by causing the pain the men were actually presenting their wives' grief to God and not a sacrifice. That is what their hand produced, as Malachi put it. And all such hypocritical worship was completely rejected by God.
▪ Here were men, calloused and less than loyal to the historic faith, coming to the sanctuary with their impressive gifts of dedication and thanksgiving. But over here were their unfortunate wives, now abandoned, praying and crying to God for help. Their tears were what God saw, not the offerings of their husbands. There is scarcely a thought more solemn and searching than the thought that few, if any, of our prayers go up to God unqualified and unchecked. We pray for something, but our sins cry out for something else, and the prayer is hindered. After all, Peter reminded all Christian men to treat their wives with respect as joint heirs of the covenant "so that nothing will hinder [their] prayers" (1 Pet. 3:7).
v. 14: Self-righteous protesting of God's word will not work for God witnessed the marriage and the treachery: The response of the men was again to challenge the word of the prophet: "Wherein have we dealt treacherously?" There is a cold defiance in the words of the people, a defiance that comes from a rationalized sin. They had been told by the prophet that God was rejecting their worship; but their response was not fear and repentance. It was a proud challenge to "his view." They thought that if they did the worship routine well enough and gave to the sanctuary, they would be highly favored in the courts of heaven. Well God not only did not need their gifts--he did not want them. But this is what we are seeing today, people entering all kinds of religious service with new marriages, never having admitted, let alone confessed, that there has been sin.
▪ The answer to the peoples' question was a stinging answer from the prophet. He takes them back to the marriage of their youth, a marriage covenant that God himself witnessed, and so one signed and sealed in heaven. Here is the rebuke of a prophet most forceful and precise; here is pastoral counseling at its best. The fact that God was witness tells us that marriage is a covenant, whether there was a ceremony or not. To agree to live together as man and wife is a covenant, and God is the witness. To dissolve the marriage is to break the covenant, to break an oath. Several passages use covenant language for marriage: Proverbs 2:17; Ezekiel 16:7 (applying it to God and the nation); Ruth 4:11 (witnessed by the community) and Genesis 24:60 (based on love and faithfulness). The covenant agreement of a marriage is to be based on loyal love, characterized by the protection and care of the partners, and dedicated to producing righteous, believing children that God may provide.
▪ The expression "wife of your youth" should be understood as "youthful wife," the wife the man married when he was young and full of love and devotion and ambition and plans. Pastoral counseling tries to get the parties of a marriage to go back and recall what they had and what they wanted together. She was the wife of his youth, the one who had his first affections when they were the strongest, the one who probably gave him children, the one who had lived through it all with him. Now she had become the scorn and loathing of his later years.
▪ Malachi also says that the wife is "your companion." This adds to the treachery. The word comes from a verb "to unite," or in our language we would say things like "tie the knot" or "be united" in marriage. She was not only the wife of his youth, but his comrade, his partner. She was not a servant or a slave; she was a partner. They were bound together as one in the eyes of God. They shared everything together, grief and joys, successes and failures, hard times and good times. But now, these women were being cast aside as an old garment for something new and fresh and exciting, but thoroughly pagan. Whatever was there that fit the description of "holy matrimony" had now become nothing more than a "common coupling" or "profane fornication."
▪ All of these qualifications of marriage were piled up by the prophet to enforce how treacherous this all was. The word "treachery" now appears for the third time in the oracle--it was against women like this that the treachery was committed. The word has a use in Job that illustrates the meaning. Job's friends are described as treacherous as a brook. The brook provided water, as the text explains, so that people became dependent on it. But when Job went to his friends for help, the brook had dried up--when that happens with literal brooks, caravans in the desert die. One cannot depend on a traitor, and that is the case of a treacherous husband--or wife as the case might be.
◊ The main idea of the passage is clear: God planned that a man and a woman would become one, be partners, share everything, build a life together, and please God. Their personal blessing depended on preserving this covenant; and the well-being of the nation depended on the marriages doing what they were supposed to do.
III. Believers must be on guard against treachery in marriage because that thwarts God's plans for a godly seed (15, 16).
v. 15: Because God desires a godly seed, people must take heed in their marriages: Malachi was not yet through. The final section is clearly set off as a warning for those who are in a marriage. They must understand its purpose if they are going to preserve it.
▪ Verse 15 is the most difficult verse in the book. The two thoughts center on the meaning of "one" and the "residue of the Spirit": "Did he not make one, even though he had the residue of the spirit? What then is the one? Producing a godly seed." One view takes the "one" back to the creation of Eve with Adam. It would be normal to think of Genesis 2 because Adam and Eve were to be "one flesh." God could have done it differently--he had the residue of the Spirit, that is, he had all the resources and options available. But he chose one wife for one man. The difficulty of this view is that monogamy does not guarantee godly children would be produced. The two would have to be committed to the faith and to the training of children in it.
▪ Perhaps a better view is that the "one" refers to the nation of Israel, the covenant people. This view has the support of the book that presents the nation as the creation of God. Why did he choose one nation, Israel? --to produce a godly seed in the earth. Pagan intermarriage and the dissolution of good marriages would ruin the chance to do this. God wanted a nation; he could have chosen and formed others, or more. But by focusing on one as the means of bringing blessing to the world, he would form a righteous people on earth.
▪ Therefore Malachi warned them to take heed not to deal treacherously, against the wife and therefore against the covenant plan of God. The verb "take heed" means "to watch carefully." It calls for constant vigilance and concern, like a night watchman watching the city. The husband must be careful and alert to protect the marriage covenant from any treachery, by himself or from outside.
v. 16: Because God hates divorce, people must take heed in their marriages: The line is powerful: "I hate putting away." Some of the ancient versions actually misinterpreted the line to say, "if a man hates his wife he should put her away." But the context is against divorce, and an exception as wide as this would not fit. What Malachi is doing is offering the quintessential reason for trying to keep a marriage together come what may--God hates divorce.
▪ What does it mean when it says God hates it? When "hate" is used in contrast to "love" in passages, as it is in Mal. 1, it has the sense of "reject" and love would have the sense of "choose." But when the word is used separately, as it is in this particular passage, it adds the idea of "to detest, abhor" to the rejection. We can see from this that God is emotionally involved in the lives of his people. He hates it when they destroy their marriages, because he knows the pain that will cause, and the effect that will have on the faith for the future. But God adds something else as the object of his hatred--when people cover their garments with violence. This word for violence is a word for social injustice. Their replacing the garment of marriage, their vows of love and devotion to their wives, with acts of social abuse and emotional and even physical violence, God hated as well. The final step in this violence against their wives is putting them away, divorcing them. It creates havoc with the society, violates the family, and spoils the covenant God loves.
CONCLUSION: The prophet closes with the same warning: Take heed. Be on your guard against such treachery. To do this involves two very important considerations: knowing and agreeing with the plan of the covenant God has made for the people of God, and knowing and agreeing with what God has planned for the marriage. To fulfill the first one must be committed to worshiping and serving God in holiness and righteousness. To fulfill the second one must know that the marriage is a covenant confirmed by God and the wife is a lifelong partner.
▪ To motivate diligence and care for the marriage, Malachi has included three warnings: 1) divorce and remarriage (especially to a pagan) destroys worship; 2) divorce and remarriage (especially to a pagan) hinders producing godly children; and 3) God hates divorce. So the message to the household of faith is clear: if you truly see how the marriage covenant fits the covenant God has made with his people, then you will marry within the faith and you will give all diligence to preserve that marriage come what may. No marriage is perfect. In marriages there will be fallings from the ideal for sure; the marriage may be strained and thinned by friction, or marred and spoiled by a gross contempt for its moral meaning; but the failures and abuse do not destroy or degrade the ideal. We are always called back to the ideal, to the standard of God. For marriage to be "holy" matrimony, it must be pleasing to God; and to develop this there must be a real giving of soul to soul in the Lord, so that the husband and wife truly belong to one another, and truly see their marriage as service to God. Malachi says to take heed that this is preserved--do everything in your power to do it. And it will take such diligence because the way of the world is so different.
▪ Some may find that it is too late, because they have lived through a failed marriage and there is no going back. For them, the message of God's Word is clear: they must be sure their lives are now right with God, and that means acknowledging their share in the dissolution of a covenant and resolving to serve God now with all devotion and obedience, and that certainly means that in any new relationship they might have they will see to it that it counts for God.
EW Commentary-Mal. 2:10-17
(2:10) God rebukes the priests of Israel for their treacherous dealing.
Do we not all have one Father? Is it not one God who has created us? Why do we deal treacherously, each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers?
a. Have we not all one Father: This does not teach the idea of the universal fatherhood of God, the doctrine that all are saved or that God is everyone's father in the same way. This is a simple assertion that because we are all made in the image of God, we must respect and deal honorably with all.
i. In addition, this may have reference to their common Father in Abraham.
b. Why do we deal treacherously with one another: Malachi will apply this specifically to marriage, but their sin of treachery went beyond their unfaithfulness in marriage.
i. "All betrayals, from the slightest unkindness to the grossest injustice, merit God's disapproval." (Alden)
(1:11-12) The first offense of the priests: marrying foreign wives.
Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the LORD which He loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 As for the man who does this, may the LORD eliminate from the tents of Jacob everyone who is awake and answers, or who presents an offering to the LORD of armies.
a. The LORD's holy institution which He loves: This tells us exactly how God feels about marriage. It is holy to Him; it is an institution to Him; and God loves marriage.
i. When we sin against our marriage or our marriage vows, we sin against something holy to God. He has set apart marriage for a special meaning, a special purpose in the life of His people.
ii. When we sin against our marriage or our marriage vows, we sin against an institution that God has established. Marriage is God's idea, not man's; He formed and established the first marriage as a pattern for every one afterwards (Genesis 2:20-25). Because it is an institution, we are not allowed to define marriage any way that pleases us; God has established it and we must conform to what He has established.
iii. When we sin against our marriage or our marriage vows, we sin against something that God loves.
· God loves marriage for what it displays about His relationship with us.
· God loves marriage for the good it does in society.
· God loves marriage for the way it meets the needs of men, women, and children.
· Most of all, God loves marriage as a tool for conforming us into the image of His Son.
b. He has married the daughter of a foreign god: The first treachery and abomination God addressed was the intermarriage between the people of God and their ungodly neighbors. The dangers of an ungodly intermarriage are well documented in the Old and New Testaments.
· Israel married women from Moab and brought the curse of God upon the people (Numbers 25).
· Solomon married foreign women who took his heart away from God (1 Kings 11:1-10).
· Ahab married Jezebel - a foreign woman - who led Israel into new depths of depravity (1 Kings 16:29-33).
· Paul says that believers and unbelievers should not be joined together (2 Corinthians 6:11-18).
c. May the LORD cut off from the tents of Jacob the man who does this, being awake and aware, yet who brings an offering: God promised to punish the priests who married foreign, pagan wives and thought that it would not affect their service of the LORD.
i. Awake and aware is a difficult phrase to translate. Other translations have "master and scholar," "tempter and tempted," "witness and advocate," "kilth and kin," or even "nomads and settlers." "Obviously, the Hebrew idiom is just another way of saying 'everyone'" (Alden).
ii. God's command against mixed marriages in Israel had nothing to do with race, but with faith. There is even a foreign wife in the genealogy of Jesus - Ruth was a Moabite who married a Jewish man named Boaz; but she forsook Moab's gods for the LORD (Ruth 1:16).
(2:13-16) The second offense of the priests: a low regard of marriage.
13 And this is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and sighing, because He no longer gives attention to the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 Yet you say, "For what reason?" Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your marriage companion and your wife by covenant. 15 [r]But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And why the one? He was seeking a godly offspring. Be careful then about your spirit, and see that none of you deals treacherously against the wife of your youth. 16 "For I hate divorce," says the Lord, the God of Israel, "and him who covers his garment with violence," says the Lord of armies. "So be careful about your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously."
a. You cover the altar of the LORD with tears... so He does not regard the offering anymore: The neglected and divorced wives of the priests came and wept at God's altar. When their priestly husbands then offered sacrifice to God at the same altar it offended God.
i. "They cover the altar of Jehovah with tears, namely, by compelling the wives who have been put away to lay their trouble before God in the sanctuary." (Keil)
ii. It is a disgrace if a pastor or preacher's harsh, neglectful, or unkind treatment of his wife causes her to cry out before God. "You caused your poor wives, when they should have been cheerful in God's service... to cover the Lord's altar with tears, with weeping, and with crying out" (Trapp).
b. Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously: The priests sinned by forsaking the wife they married in their youth, breaking the goal of marriage (she is your companion) and the bond of marriage (your wife by covenant).
i. "They kept their wives till they had passed their youth, and then put them away, that they might get young ones in their place." (Clarke)
c. Did He not make them one: The Bible continually points back to God's goal and plan for marriage as revealed in Genesis 2:18-25. Essential to God's plan for marriage is the essential oneness between husband and wife. One important reason for this oneness is to establish a proper environment for raising godly offspring.
d. He hates divorce: There is no doubt that God hates divorce because it destroys what He loves - marriage is the LORD's holy institution which He loves (Malachi 2:11). Specifically, we can say that God hates divorce for at least three reasons: God hates divorce because (1) it breaks a solemn vow, (2) it is harmful; and (3) because it illustrates apostasy and damnation.
i. There is no doubt that God allows divorce in particular circumstances, though divorce is never commanded. God's heart is always for repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation in marriage. We have sinned against God far worse than any spouse could sin against us, and God does not divorce us - though He has every right to.
ii. Yet because we are fallen and suffer from hardness of heart, God gives permission for divorce in two circumstances. Sexual immorality is valid grounds (Mt. 19:1-9), and so is desertion by an unbelieving spouse (1 Corinthians 7:10-16).
iii. Significantly, misery, unhappiness, poverty, or incompatibilities are never given as grounds for divorce. Where there is danger or abuse separation is often in order in accordance with 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, but the separated couple must live in complete faithfulness to their marriage vows, though they live as separate.
iv. If someone does not have Biblical grounds for divorce, God regards them as still married and any subsequent relationship is considered adultery (Matthew 19:8-9). It isn't that you shouldn't divorce for unbiblical grounds; you can't divorce for unbiblical grounds. Nevertheless, if someone divorces having proper grounds, then they are free to remarry (1 Corinthians 7:15).
e. It covers one's garment with violence: Part of the marriage ceremony in Bible times involved the husband covering his wife with his garment as a symbol of the protection he brought her. But now, their garments were covered with violence. When a wife is forsaken or mistreated the man covers his own garment with violence. This is because the husband and wife are one, and he cannot mistreat his wife without bringing misery and destruction to himself.
i. This was Paul's point in Eph. 5:28: So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. Simply said, when you love your wife, you benefit yourself. Perhaps it is better to put it in the negative: when you neglect your wife, you neglect yourself, and it will come back to hurt you.
ii. We all know what it is like to neglect something - like a noise or a maintenance issue on an automobile - and it comes back to hurt you. This is even more true in regard to husbands because the wife is actually part of the husband. He neglects and does damage to himself, not only to her.
f. Therefore take heed to your spirit: This phrase is repeated twice because it is so important. The reason why the priests dealt treacherously against their wife is that they did not take heed to their spirit. They allowed their hearts to become hard, critical, and embittered against the woman they were supposed to regard as their special, God-given companion in oneness. It is important to realize that we can change our feelings towards our spouse. If we do not feel loving or connected or caring about them, that can be changed if we will take heed to our spirit.
(3:17) The fourth question: Where is the God of justice in this unjust world?
17 You have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet you say, "How have we wearied Him?" In that you say, "Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and He delights in them," or, "Where is the God of justice?"
a. Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD: The people of God in Malachi's day were depressed and discouraged because it seemed like the wicked prospered and had it better than the godly. This filled them with doubt and unbelief, and they grumbled that everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD.
b. Where is the God of justice: When they compared themselves with others, they thought it was unjust of God to bless others and not them. Nevertheless, their question shows that they don't understand what the God of justice would give to them.
c. You have wearied the LORD with your words: This kind of ignorant, unbelieving talk from God's people is wearisome to God. It shows how much His people resist His truth and His work.
i. "God is offended when people accuse Him of injustice." (Boice)
Mal. 2:10-17-Extra Commentary
Verses 10-16: Israel's spiritual leaders committed grievous sins (1:6 - 2:9), leading the people to do the same. They too were violating the requirements of God's law by profaning the institution of the Levitical priesthood. Marrying foreign wives and divorcing the wives of their youth (in verses 13-16).
Malachi 2:10 "Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?"
God created all men. Some men had chosen heathen gods. The Jews worshipped the One True God.
God did not want the Hebrews mixing in marriage with the heathen nations around them. The priests had married outside the Hebrews themselves.
Though God is Father of all through creation, the primary focus is directed to God as the Father of Israel as His covenant people (see "father" in 1:6), where this indictment began (also Jer. 2:27).
Malachi 2:11 "Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god."
This key phrase "dealt treacherously", refers to the violation of God's will by divorcing Jewish wives and marrying foreign women. God is the Father who gave life to Israel, yet they had, through intermarriage with idol worshipers, introduced division by violating the covenant He made with their fathers to insure the maintenance of a separated people.
It seems that the whole nation had become involved in this treachery. The women of the heathen nations introduced their husbands to the worship of these false gods. God had set His people aside to be a holy nation. They are now mixing with the heathen.
We are warned ourselves if we are Christians, not to be unequally yoked with those of unbelief. This was the very thing that destroyed Solomon's relationship with God. Solomon married women of the heathen nations around them, and they brought idols into God's holy land.
Malachi 2:12 "The LORD will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the LORD of hosts."
"Cut off": This common term was generally used for death. Their adulterous actions of divorce and intermarriage disqualified them from participation in the rights and privileges of the community of Israel, so their offerings to God would be rejected.
Look at the seriousness of this in the following Scriptures.
Joshua 23:12-13 "Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, [even] these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you:" "Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out [any of] these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you."
It really does not make any difference about their station in life. God will punish them all.
Malachi 2:13 "And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth [it] with good will at your hand."
They had not only married heathen women, but they divorced their Hebrew wives. It seems this sin had gone on over and over. Men who are mean to their legitimate wives cannot get their prayers heard. God will not receive anything at their hand, because they have broken His commandments.
Weeping and wailing would achieve nothing because sin had shut the door of access to God. They had violated their marriage vows and the separation from idols as God required. This double disloyalty made their offerings a hypocritical mockery. Since lay people had no access to the altars but the priests did, it was clearly their guilt which was foremost, and their hypocrisy so unacceptable to God.
Malachi 2:14 "Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet [is] she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant."
They are so caught up in this sin, that they do not repent, and ask God what He is displeased with them about. Sin has a way of causing us to have hardened hearts. The more sins we commit, the less guilty we feel.
The Lord is very displeased, that they have left the wives of their youth and married heathen women. God does not like divorce. He will not tolerate divorce for the reason these people got their divorces. Marriage is a covenant with the two partners, but it is also, a covenant with God.
"Wife of thy covenant". The prophet accentuated the iniquity by mentioning the legally binding nature of the marriage contract, a covenant made before God as witness. Wives were married young, sometimes before 15 years of age.
Malachi 2:15 "And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth."
God did not want them to marry heathens, because He wanted their children to be Hebrew, as well. Had they followed the leading of the Spirit, they would have remained with their Hebrew wives of their youth.
They listened to the call of their flesh to sin, instead. This is displeasing to God.
Noting God's original institution of marriage (Gen. 2:24), in which He made two into one, Malachi reminded them that God provided only one woman for one man. Though He had the life giving power of the Spirit, and could have made Adam a number of wives, He created only one, to raise up a "godly offspring."
Polygamy, divorce and marriage to idolatrous women are destructive to obtaining the godly remnant in the line of the promised Messiah. Only when both parents remain faithful to their marriage vows can the children be given the security which provides the basis for godly living. Because this foundational divine institution of marriage was being threatened, Malachi urged that no husband act in a treacherous way toward his wife.
Malachi 2:16 "For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for [one] covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously."
The Lord emphasized what He had been saying by this emphatic declaration. In fact, God sees this unwarranted divorce as a gross act of sin which, like blood splattered from a murder victim on the killer, leaves evidence of the evil deed.
The warfare for a man's soul is between the spirit, which wants to obey God, and the flesh which wants to sin.
Galatians 5:17 "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would."
Romans 8:13 "or if you are living in accord with the flesh, you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live."
Verses 2:17 - 4:6: The denunciation of Israel's sins was followed by a declaration of the judgment on the unrepentant and subsequent blessing on the faithful remnant. (Verse 17), is the introduction to the rest of the book. These faithless, disobedient priests and people had worn out God's patience by their skepticism and self justification, so judgment is on the way.
Malachi 2:17 "Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied [him]? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil [is] good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where [is] the God of judgment?"
"Ye have wearied the Lord". Disillusionment followed the rebuilding of the temple. The presence of God had not come to the new temple. They began to live in indifference to God. Calloused and lacking in spiritual discernment, the people persisted in cynical expressions of innocence.
They had rejected all intention of taking right and wrong seriously. So deeply gripped by complacent self righteousness, they had the gall to insolently question the Lord, implying that He seemed to favor the wicked and was unconcerned about the righteous. The prophet faced them with imminent judgment, telling them God was coming, but to refine and purify. God has lost patience with this evil generation. They say one thing, and do another. This reminds me so much of those who will stand before Jesus on judgment day.
Matthew 7:21-23 "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
You see, it is not what you say with your mouth, but what you believe in your heart that pleases God. They have gone so far into sin, they do not even believe God is coming to judge.
2 Peter 3:3-4 "Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts," "And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as [they were] from the beginning of the creation."
God is the all-seeing eye. Nothing escapes Him. He is coming, and He will judge each person on the earth.