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3) Mal 2:13–16: As a result of the sins of these men, God refused to accept their offerings, leading them to weep and to wail. Despite this, they failed to truly exhibit a broken spirit or a contrite heart.[1]

Through the prophet Malachi, the Lord called for marital faithfulness, noting that a marriage covenant exists between three parties: the husband, the wife, and God.[2]

Malachi announced, “The Lord God of Israel said he hates divorcing (shalakh) and covering over the garment with violence (khamas),[3]…so guard yourselves on peril of your life, and you shall not deal treacherously” (bagadh).[4]

In Hebrew, “violence” can refer to an attitude which oppresses others as well as to physical destruction.[5]

An official statement of the theologically conservative Presbyterian Church of America says:

The Committee believes that when there are words and actions on the part of one spouse that threatens the life of the other spouse and/or children, that the one(s) threatened should be counseled by the [elders], or representative thereof, to remove themselves from the threatening situation and the abuser should be urged to seek counsel.  Such a procedure will protect those threatened.

When the abuser does not cease these words and actions, the [elders] should investigate whether these words and actions are in effect breaking the one-flesh relationship by ‘hating’ the abused spouse and not ‘nourishing and cherishing’ this one (Eph 5:28–29).

In counseling the abuser, the reality of his Christian faith should be ascertained. When it is determined by the [elders] that the abuser does not appear to them to be Christian and the abuse continues, the Pauline teaching about an unbeliever leaving a believer should be applied [1 Cor 7:12–16].[6]

God holds accountable those who break their marriage covenants, causing a divorce.[7]

This passage does not apply to someone who discovers a spouse’s treachery and responds to those broken vows by filing for divorce.[8]

Since one of the terms in 1 Cor 6:9–11 means “reviler, abusive person” (loidoros),[79] Paul recognized that such behavior is incompatible with the presence of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:19–24). In fact, he advised the church to remove abusive people from their fellowship (1 Cor 5:9–13).

Domination and cruelty violate God’s order. He regards them as deplorable, hateful, and completely unacceptable within a marriage.[10]

The National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence produced an Equality Wheel and a Power and Control Wheel to help people differentiate between healthy and abusive relationships.[11]

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Read Mal 2:13–16. How does God depict treachery and violence in this passage? Have you ever experienced people entering a room as if they wore a cloak of violence? Compare the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence’s Equality Wheel to the Power and Control Wheel. How can you identify a healthy relationship? What constitutes abusive behavior?[11]

What does the Lord’s refusal of the offerings of these men tell us about his heart toward those in abusive relationships? What can you do to align yourself with God’s concern?

Go to Effects of the Fall Reversed (Rom 5:12–21 and Rom 16:1–12)

[Related posts include A Transfer of Loyalty (Gen 2:24); A Renewed Covenant (Gen 3:20); Slaves and War Brides (Exod 21:10–11 and Deut 21:10–14); Marital Separation (1 Cor 7:10–11); Concerning Mixed Marriages (1 Cor 7:12–13); Contagious Holiness (1 Cor 7:14); Dissolution of Marriage (1 Cor 7:15–16); Unity in the Spirit (Eph 5:18–21); Submissive to One Another (Eph 5:21–24); Sacrificial Love (Eph 5:25–30); and Living Together with Understanding (1 Pet 3:7–9)]

[Click here to go to Women and Marriage Throughout Redemptive History; or to Chapter 8: Pain and Desire (Genesis 3:16, 20)]

[1]Pieter A. Verhoef, The Books of Haggai and Malachi (NICOT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 273.

[2] Smith, Micah–Malachi, 325.

[3] Brown, Driver, and Briggs, “חָמָס” (khamas), BDB, 329,

[4]Brown, Driver, and Briggs, “בָּגַד” (baghadh), 93, I cover the topic of divorce extensively in four consecutive posts on 1 Cor 7:10–16.

[5]H. Haag, “חָמָס” (khamas), TDOT 4:480–7, 480–1.

[6]PCA Digest, “Report of the Ad-Interim Committee on Divorce and Remarriage.” (To the Twentieth General Assembly, 1992), Appendix 0, 291–2,

[7]Instone-Brewer, Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: The Social and Literary Context, 57.

[8]Richard A. Taylor and E. Ray Clendenen, Haggai, Malachi (NAC; Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2004), 359.

[9]Danker et al., “λοιδορος” (loidoros), BDAG, 602,

[10]David W. Baker, Joel, Obadiah, Malachi (NIVAC; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), 260.

[11]; Used with the permission of the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence.