In a passage such as this one, where there is so much going on, it was always going to be hard to say everything on a Sunday. So I hope these thoughts will help you to get to grips with some challenging bits of scripture.
I was asked on Sunday, how 24:1-4 fitted into the wider idea of care for Israel/ the church family that I was talking about.
“When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favour in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, 2 and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, 3 and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, 4 then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.”
The key is found in v1 really – when you read it closely you see that it is the wife who looks to find favour with her husband on discovery of whatever the “indecency” is. So the responsibility is then passed onto the husband to care for his wife – as indeed he should. Instead he casts her out, into another marriage where the same result ensues. Instead of being lovingly cared for in her pain, she is potentially turned out onto the street without the support network of husband or father to care for her.
We have to remember that, unlike today, women were very much reliant upon the men in the family for their care and survival. Whilst this is not the case today, the need to look after those in church family who need love and care remains. In a throw away culture, we must reflect the love and care that we have been shown through Christ, to cling on to, support and not discount those in our family who need it.
One of the ways we do that is thinking through what marriage is, and this passage helps us to do that and I’ll say some more in part 2!