THE LAW OF MOSES, JESUS, AND MARRIAGE, DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE
1. Mark 10:3: “What did Moses command you?”
2. Some brethren say that Jesus commanded the same thing Moses did on MDR (that He merely explained Moses to correct the false traditions of men).
3. We need to know what the Law of Moses taught on MDR. When we do, and then COMPARE it with what Jesus taught, we will discover this description of Christ’s teaching on MDR is false.
I. BACKGROUND TO THE LAW OF MOSES’ TEACHING ON DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE.
A. “For The Hardness Of Your Heart”, Mk.10:4-5; Matt. 19:7-8.
1. Like their forefathers, many of the Jews stubbornly resisted God’s original ideal for marriage and the home, Matt. 19:4-6 (Gen. 2:24: “From the beginning it hath not been so”, v. 8).
2. The rule “one man for one woman for life” EXCLUDED homosexuality, bestiality, all forms of bigamy and polygamy, concubinage, and all cases of divorce (except where the one flesh union was violated and desecrated). Yet, the Law of Moses…
B. “Suffered You To Put Away Your Wives”, Matt. 19:8.
-(“.. .he wrote you this commandment”, Mk. 10:5).
1. Marriage institution was in shambles when God gave Israel the Law of Moses (cf. adultery, polygamy, ill treatment of women, open and easy divorce).
2. Law of Moses was given to REGULATE DIVORCE according to the hardness of men’s hearts — NOT AS AN ENDORSEMENT OF DIVORCE, but TO PREVENT FURTHER ABUSES, while TEACHING THE SERIOUSNESS and SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE.
a. Polygamy (Exo. 21:10; Deut. 21:15-17).
b. Divorce (Deut. 24:1-4).
(1) “Contingency legislation” as a hedge against unrestrained abuse of women, by placing severe limitations upon divorce.
(2) God “determined to restrain their reckless practices, to regulate their stubbornness, and to soften the abuses suffered by women.” (Matthew 19 & Deuteronomy 24: Moses & Christ, Ron Halbrook, Guardian Of Truth, 1/4/90, 4).
3. Law of Moses gave much protection to marriage and to women, while regulating divorce.
II. WHAT THE LAW OF MOSES TAUGHT ON DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE, Matt. 5:31; Mark 10:2-4.
A. Deuteronomy 24:1-4: Prescribed Limitations Were Placed Upon Divorce.
1. LOM limited the reason for divorce: “Some uncleanness in her” (KJV, NKJV), 24:1.
a. “Some unseemly thing” (ASV); “some indecency” (NASV); “something indecent” (NIV).
(1) “Offensiveness, shamefulness; disgrace” (Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon, Davidson, 789).
(2) “Nudity, lit….or fig. (disgrace, blemish):–nakedness, shame, unclean (-ness)” (Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary, Strong, 91).
(3) “A thing offensive;” “Nakedness, disgracefulness” (Young’s Analytical Concordance, 1012).
(4) Some “immodest or indecent behavior” (Dictionary of the Bible, Hastings, III:275).
b. Use of the word:
(1) Same Hebrew construction used in Deut. 23:14 of human excrement uncovered within the came (its disgrace before God).
(2) Used figuratively in Gen. 42:9, 12 of “an unfortified part of the country” (Davidson, op. cit.), i.e., the flaws, weaknesses or defects in the country’s defense.
(3) Translated “nakedness” in both a literal sense (Lev. 18:6) and in a figurative sense (Isa. 47:3; Ezek. 16:8).
c. Uncleanness: Shameful indecency (immorality) SHORT OF ADULTERY:
(1) Adulteress to be put to death, Deut. 22:22.
(2) Could include lewd, lascivious conduct (cf. suggestive, seductive, vulgar, immodest conduct, Prov. 7:6-27).
d. Deut. 24:1: Woman to be given a legal document which identified her uncleanness (indecency which was short of adultery).
2. LOM allowed remarriage of the woman thus put away (divorced), Deut. 24:2.
a. Finality to the action – No whimsical treatment of the wife and/or approach to divorce was to occur.
b. Protect the wife from injustice and abuse (being treated as property), and should cause the man to think twice before sending her away.
3. LOM prohibited the man from taking his first wife back, Deut. 24:3-4.
a. Even after second husband died, she was not allowed to go back to the first.
b. v. 4: Reason: “She has been defiled.”
(1) The “one flesh” union had been defiled (Gen. 2:24).
(2) Such was prohibited under penalty of national ruin (Jer. 3:1).
4. LOM contained a provision for strengthening marriages, Deut. 24:5.
a. Effort to strengthen marriages and thereby prevent divorces.
b. New wife’s interests given priority for first year of marriage over those of the State.
c. Help prevent careless disregard of the wife.
B. More Laws and Limitations The LOM Placed Upon Divorce.
1. Deuteronomy 22:22: Adulterers were to be put to death (Lev. 20:10).
a. Thus, the indecency of Deut. 24:1 WAS NOT ADULTERY.
b. This punishment removed evil from Israel.
c. If “uncleanness” = adultery, why does Deut. 24:1-2 allow evil to continue in Israel while Deut. 22:22 mandates its removal by death?
2. Deuteronomy 22:13-21: When the chastity of a woman was called into question by her husband (either from malice or seeking justice):
a. v. 15-17: The tokens of her virginity were her defense.
b. v. 18-19: If false, husband punished, fined, and COULD NOT DIVORCE HER all the days of his life.
c. v. 20-21: If true, woman to be stoned to death.
d. One looking for a pretext to divorce his wife was forbidden to do so (i.e., couldn’t use Deut. 24:1).
e. This shows that the INDECENCY OF DEUT. 24:1 WAS NOT discovering THE LACK OF VIRGINITY in one’s bride.
3. Deuteronomy 22:28-29: A man who humbled a virgin was to marry her (cf. Exo. 22:16-17).
a. v. 29: Pay her father 50 shekels of silver.
b. v. 29: Couldn’t put her away all his days.
c. DEUT. 24:1 DID NOT ACCOMMODATE EVERY WHIM AND PASSION OF MAN (abusive treatment of women).
4. Numbers 5:11-31: The law of jealousy.
a. v. 11-15: To resolve the suspicion of adultery when there were no witnesses and not taken in the act (cf. Deut. 22:22).
b. God would show the truth of the matter, and levy His punishment against sin.
(1) v. 27: If defiled, the bitter water she drank would cause her bowels to rot (miracle).
(2) v. 28: If not defiled, no harm would come to her.
c. DEUT.24:1-4 WAS NOT GIVEN TO AVOID THIS ORDEAL. That would:
(1) Violate the law of Moses.
(2) Allow a possible adulteress to remarry (rather than die).
(3) Cause a cloud of suspicion over an innocent woman who could have been cleared of the charges.
SUMMARY: At every turn the Law of Moses sought to HEDGE AGAINST the abusive treatment of women and marriage. God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16). But, due to the hardened hearts of men, God regulated the practice. (Matt. 19:7-8)
III. WHAT JESUS TAUGHT ON MDR CONTRASTED WITH THE LAW OF MOSES.
A. “But From The Beginning It Hath Not Been So”, Matt. 19:8.
1. 19:4-6: The original law stands in contrast to the concession (Law of Moses, v. 7-8).
2. 19:9: Christ maintained the permanency of marriage and also RESTRICTED the CAUSE for DIVORCE (to fornication).
3. Jesus taught something DIFFERENT from what the Law of Moses allowed.
B. “And (‘But’, Marshall’s Interlinear translation) I Say Unto You”, Matt. 19:9; 5:31-32.
1. Jesus continues the contrast between what Moses said and what He is now saying.
a. The Jews argued over the GROUNDS OF DIVORCE (19:3, 7) in a TEXT (Deut. 24:1-4) that ALLOWED REMARRIAGE of BOTH parties.
b. Instead of being drawn into that controversy, Jesus shows that the WHOLE SYSTEM they were CONTENDING OVER (OT law) was ANTIQUATED BY ITS FULFILLMENT IN THE MESSIAH. (5:32)
2. The Jewish Controversy over the CAUSE for DIVORCE:
a. School of Hillel: Broadened “uncleanness” (Deut. 24:1) to include anything the man considered displeasing. (cf. TEV: “because he finds something about her that he doesn’t like”)
b. School of Shammai: Explained “uncleanness” as adultery (but remember, adulterers were to be put to death, Deut. 22:22; cf. Jno. 8:3-5).
c. BOTH schools taught that the one put away could remarry.
(1) Hillel nullified the restraints of Deut. 24.
(2) Shammai nullified the death penalty of Deut. 22:22 and Lev. 20:10.
3. In essence, Jesus said that neither school of thought understood God’s original institution of “one man for one woman for life”, Matt. 19:4-6.
a. 19:8: God did not institute their easy divorces, but only regulated their stubborn abuses.
b. From the beginning until now, God’s ideal and intention for marriage has never changed (“it hath not been so”: Present perfect tense – Something in the past continuing through to the present time of speaking).
4. The rule of Christ’s kingdom REMOVED THEIR DISPUTE: Matt. 19:9.
a. The only divorce and remarriage He allowed at all was for the cause of fornication.
b. Only the one who put away his/her mate because of fornication could remarry without committing adultery (the “except clause”).
c. Whoever marries the “put away” person commits adultery (Matt. 19:9; Matt. 5:32).
C. Contrast Of Moses and Jesus On MDR:
|Fornicator put away by death penalty
|Fornicator put away by divorce – Not to remarry another (Matt. 5:32; 19:9)|
|Man permitted to put away his wife for conduct short of fornication (Deut. 24:1)||Man not permitted to put away wife for conduct short of fornication (Matt. 5:32; 19:6)|
|Woman put away (for cause other than fornication) not said to be in adultery if married another (Deut. 24:2)||Woman put away for cause other than fornication is in adultery if she marries another (Matt. 5:32; Rom. 7:2-3)|
|Man she married not said to be in adultery (Deut. 24:2-3)||Man she marries is said to be in adultery (Matt. 5:32; 19:9)|
|First husband barred from ever taking her back after she remarried||First husband not barred from ever taking her back if she remarries (repentance: 1 Cor. 7:11)|
Jesus was not merely explaining the Law of Moses!
1. The disciples knew Jesus went further than Moses, Matt. 19:10.
a. They saw the difference between Moses and Christ and concluded: “It is not good to marry!”
b. They went further than Jesus. (Be careful not to do this.)
2. A study of the Law proves Jesus went further than Moses. (cf. 1st part of this lesson).
D. “Is It Lawful For A Man To Put Away His Wife For Every Cause?” Matthew 19:3 (cf. Mark 10:2)
1. Which law did Jesus teach them: Law of Moses, or His gospel?
2. 19:3: Jesus answered their question, but not as they expected (He did not chose sides between the schools of Hillel and Shammai, He rejected them both.). He set forth the GOSPEL truth which FULLY HONORS MARRIAGE AS INTENDED FROM THE BEGINNING.
3. 19:8-9: By His authority, Jesus ENDED the MOSAIC REGULATION WITH ITS TEMPORARY CONCESSIONS.
a. 19:9: One cause for legitimate divorce and remarriage by one party – All else is adultery.
b. 19:9: To marry one who has been put away (divorced) is to commit adultery (Rom. 7:3).
c. Matt. 5:32: To put away spouse for any other reason is to “cause [her] to commit adultery.”
d. ONE MAN FOR ONE WOMAN FOR LIFE (Matt. 19:4-6).
1. Jesus was not explaining Moses when He taught on MDR.
2. Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23). All people are now subject to Him (Matt. 28:18-20; Heb. 1:1-2).
3. Jesus elevates marriage to the holy plane it was ordained to occupy from the beginning.