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In the process of the reformation, truth has come to light that has been hidden for centuries. It is my understanding in studying this subject of marriage and divorce very carefully, that this could be another truth that is to be added to the restoration of all things. It is my belief that every divine institution is to be restored in the time of the end.
In the beginning, God created two of His greatest institutions: marriage and the Sabbath. The majority of Christians have a misunderstanding of the Sabbath. Could it be that they have an incorrect understanding of marriage as well?
Immediately after God created Adam, God decreed “it is not good that man [or woman] should be alone.” He then gave Adam a wife, and pronounced His creation “very good”. Marriage and the Sabbath were designed to bring unification, happiness and therefore ultimate fulfillment for mankind. But when either of these institutions is treated with indifference, God’s ideal for mankind’s fulfillment can never be met. What is God’s will when His children find themselves in a marriage that is so broken that there is no longer any happiness and fulfillment in the relationship? There is no feeling that is more hopeless than sleeping inches from your spouse for years yet feeling that you’re completely alone. When marriage has reached this state, it no longer serves God’s original purpose, nor does it bring Him glory.
What Does God’s Law Teach About Divorce?
The question begs to be asked today, “…Is it lawful for a man to divorce (G630 “put away”) his wife for just any reason? And He answered and said to them, Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, 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? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. They said to Him, Why then did Moses command the man to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away? 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 19:3-8 NJKV).
Yeshua gave Moses the Ten Commandments complete with the Torah. This provision for divorce is found in the statutes which were given by Yeshua Himself to guard the Ten Commandments. A reading of the above Scriptures gives no indication Yeshua was overturning the provision that He gave through Moses.
Deuteronomy 24:1 (ERV) “A man might marry a woman, and then find some secret thing about her that he does not like. If that man is not pleased with her, he must write the divorce papers and give them to her. Then he must send her from his house.”
Let us examine this dialogue carefully. Yeshua pointed these men back to the beginning when God gave His gift of marriage. When Adam and Eve were united in holy wedlock they would have understood that this was a forever experience. Had the human race remained unfallen I do not believe we would be talking about divorce at this time. Since sin entered the world, God’s ideal for man and woman has been compromised on every side. Because of this God has made provision in His law that empowers people to be forgiven for their wrong choices and start anew.
When the children of Israel were in the wilderness, marriage relationships broke down the same way they do today. Throughout their journey Yeshua was that “spiritual Rock that followed” the Israelites in the wilderness of Sin. It was Yeshua, through Moses, who was their guide and teacher as to right and wrong (see 1 Corinthians 10:4). Moses, through the direction of Yeshua, made the command to give a certificate of divorce because of the hardness of their hearts. Yeshua, the Prince of Peace, designed marriage to reveal the love of God and to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth.
I believe God was and still is sympathetic to the needs of two people who have come to the place where love and respect for each other has become non-existent. This is the place where loving each other mentally, spiritually and physically has become impossible.
Evidently marriage relationships back then came to the place where salvaging them was an impossibility and Yeshua was fully aware of that. I find it important to see what the Word of God—Yeshua—says as well as what He does not say. It must be noted that Yeshua did not reverse the instructions He had previously given to Moses. He intended marriage to be forever, but because of the fall of man, men’s and women’s hearts can become hardened. This hardening of the heart was an add-on, this was not from the beginning. Things had changed drastically; God’s original plan had taken a turn. Men and women now had the capacity to fall out of love and lose the desire and in some cases ability to return to it. God understood this. Was it His plan? No, but does that mean it does not happen? No.
Therefore, God has made provision in His law by commanding that two people divorce if they have come to the place of hardness of heart toward each other. Or should I say, they or one of the two believe they have come to a point of hardness of heart. You see, their belief in having no hope is their reality, and it is no man’s or woman’s right to call in question that belief. The question is, who is responsible to determine at what point people separate and/or divorce? It cannot be brother, sister, mother, father, friend, pastor, priest, or barber and on and on. It must be between the individuals in the relationship and God, end of story.
Others can counsel, encourage and suggest but we must leave the decision with the individuals and be able to accept whatever decisions are made. We must not undermine the individuals in their decision, all we can do is pray that the Father’s will be done. This is a decision no one can make other than the individuals that have made the covenant to be married. Yeshua instructed Moses to give this allowance under this situation. Furthermore, there is no indication that Yeshua, in Matthew 19 or elsewhere, did away with this allowance, not at that time, at the cross or after the cross. (Paul expands on this concept in 1 Corinthians 7 which we will examine shortly, but first let’s keep looking at Matthew 19.)
Divorce, or Put Away? Is there a difference?
Matthew 19:9 (NKJV): And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
Matthew 19:9 (KJV): And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
The word in Matthew 19:9, sometimes translated as divorce, is G630, apoluo. It appears 69 times in the New Testament, only a handful of which are related to a marital separation. Here are three random examples of the typical use of the word:
Matthew 27:17 … Whom will ye that I release (G630) unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus …?
Mark 8:9 And they that had eaten were about four thousand: he sent them away. (G630)
Luke 13:12 … Woman, thou art loosed (G630) from thine infirmity.
Question: Did Pilate divorce Barabbas? Did Yeshua divorce the four thousand He had just fed? Did He divorce the woman with the issue of blood? No, obviously not. G630 means to send away, and by itself is not equivalent to a lawful divorce. A biblical divorce is a two-step process that includes both a sending away, and a writing of divorcement:
Deuteronomy 24:1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then [first step] let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and [second step] send her out of his house.
The Greek term for writing of divorcement, (G647, apostasion) appears only three times in the New Testament, each time coupled with the need to put away the wife:
Matthew 5:31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away (G630) his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement (G647) [This implies that some were putting their wives away without a writing of divorce. The writing is what made it a legal divorce. Without the writing of divorce, the person was still technically married, as such, if either one married another, then they would become adulterers, in fact, they would become bigamous.]
Matthew 19:7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement (G647), and to put her away? (G630)
Mark 10:4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement (G647), and to put her away (G630).
On the surface, one might think that G630 and G647 are related because they sound similar, but they are not. For those wishing to search this out, G630 comes from G575; G647 comes from G868.
A putting away, without a writing of divorcement, was the issue that was asked and answered:
Asked: Matthew 19:3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away (G630) [notice no mention of a writing of divorce] his wife for every cause?
Answered: Matthew 19:8-9: He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to separate from [G630 put away] your wives [notice there is no mention of giving a writing of divorce]. But from the beginning [when Moses first mentioned divorce] it [being separated without a writing of divorce] was not so. And I say to you, whoever separates from [G630 puts away] his wife [notice no mention of a writing of divorce], except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is separated [G630 put away] [again, no mention of a writing of divorce] commits adultery.'”
Perhaps the reason that sexual immortality was an exception for the need of a writing of divorcement is that the spouse had already moved on in adultery, thus rendering the certificate of divorce a moot process. Sexual union was considered like marriage. In today’s time, this would be the same as a man moving out or sending his wife out of the home (becoming separated but not yet divorced). If, during the time between the separation and obtaining the legal writing of divorce, either one marries another person they are committing adultery. This is because without the writing of divorce they are still considered married.
This was the second time this question of a putting away without a writing of divorce came up. We saw the same discussion in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:31. Some translations are actually mistranslated in that they render G630 as “divorce” instead of “putting away”, without a writing of divorce (G647). The King James Version does this in one of the three times the word appears in this passage:
Matthew 5:31-32 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away (G630) his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement (G647). But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away (G630) his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced (G630 – put away) committeth adultery.
Unfortunately, with the mistranslation of G630, people read this to mean something entirely different than what is being taught. They wrongly interpret it to mean that the only reason you can get a divorce is if there is adultery. What is being taught is this: The only time you can put away your wife without a writing of divorce is if she is already committing adultery, probably because at this point a writing becomes irrelevant because she has essentially married another already. However, if you put away your wife without a writing of divorce for any other reason, and she remarries, she and her new husband are now committing adultery due to the lack of following the complete divorce procedure.
Is Remarriage After a Writing of Divorce the Same as Adultery?
Looking again at Deuteronomy 24:1-4, remarriage was allowed. The put away wife could remarry, and if the second husband divorced her or died, she was allowed to marry a third time, except not to the first husband. Nowhere is she called an adulteress or subjected to the stoning that was the punishment for adultery when she remarried the first or even the secon