I. The condition of the people.
A. "The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel."
1. These are the people who had returned from the captivity.
2. The captivity was intended to teach them to keep the commandments of the Lord.
3. God begins with His declaration of love for them.
a. But they even challenge this.
B. The people were not honoring God, they had no reverence for Him. They were supposed to be serving Him, but they did not obey Him.
1. The priests led the way in the disrespect for God.
a. They were saying that the table of the Lord was contemptible.
b. They were offering as sacrifice to God the sick, blind and lame animals. They would bring in road kill as a sacrifice.
2. They were serving God as mercenaries. The ministry to them was a profession rather than a calling.
a. They wanted pay for every little service. They would not even shut the doors of the house of God without pay.
b. They wanted pay to kindle a fire upon the altar.
3. They were complaining about serving God. "What weariness it is."
C. This corrupted priesthood had caused many to stumble. 2:8
D. The people without proper spiritual guidance had become corrupted.
1. They were dealing treacherously with each other.
2. 35 years earlier Nehemiah was dealing with these same kinds of things.
a. The people had forsaken the law of God, they were on the Sabbath day.
b. They had forsaken the house of God.
c. They had begun to marry the women of the land.
E. In spite of all these things, God said that He loved them.
1. One thing you can count on is the faithfulness of the love of God.
2. You may fail, but God's love will never fail.
3. This is not to infer that God will let you get by with evil.
a. You punish your child when they are doing things that could be harmful to them.
b. You are often very severe in your punishment, if say they keep playing with matches.
c. You may deprive them of use of their bicycles for a month.
II. God's announced judgments.
A. He declared that He had no pleasure in them. 1:10.
1. He would not accept their offerings. 1:10 i.e. the sick, lame, and torn animals.
2. He was going to send a curse upon them. 2:1
3. He was going to make them contemptible and base before the people. vs.2:9
B. The Lord was going to cut off those that were doing these things.
1. He was not going to regard their offerings any more.
2. Even though they covered the offering with their tears, and with weeping, and crying out.
3. There are things that can break your connection with God so that your prayers are hindered, even though they be accompanied with tears, and weeping.
C. They asked why would God not receive their offerings when presented with tears.
III. God's case against the people.
A. Because God had been a witness of the treacherous way the men were treating the wife of their youth.
1. They had made divorce a easy thing, all a man had to do was to say, "I divorce you." three times, and she had to leave. The woman had no rights. He could just write her a paper that declared, "I divorce you." and it was final.
2. He could just walk out on her at any time he pleased, and leave her destitute.
3. There were all of these young pretty girls from the nations round about who had no moral scruples, who were looking for someone to take care of them, and they knew what suckers older men were to the flattery of a young pretty lass.
4. They were flirting with these older men of substance, who fell prey to their guile, and were divorcing their wives to take up with these young girls, who were looking primarily for a free meal ticket. They were looking for the men who could provide them with fancy things.
B. God said concerning the wife of their youth, that she had been his companion, and He had made them one.
1. In the law God had declared, "For this cause a man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."
2. She was your companion. She stood by you through all of the lean days when you were first starting out. She joined with you in the many sacrifices that were necessary as you were getting started. She bore your children, and remained a faithful mother and housewife.
3. Now the years of sacrifice and struggle have paid their dividends. The children are for the most part are grown, maybe her face shows the strain of the harder years. She is no longer the young vivacious doll that you married, and at the office there is this young pretty little girl with no moral values, and she keeps catching your eye, and smiling at you. You are flattered that she would be giving you attention, and you invite her out to lunch, which she eagerly accepts.
4. Its exciting, and exhilarating, you are having some of the feelings like in the high school days. You begin to tell yourself that you are no longer in love with your wife, and you question if you were ever in love with her.
5. As the new relationship develops, you begin to ignore your wife even more, your actions of being gone and not giving any explanation begins to cause her to suspicion you, which causes you to get angry and soon you are in yelling matches which only confirms that you never should have married her in the first place.
6. After one of her tirades against you, you announce that you are moving out, leaving her to think that it was her fault.
7. This is what is meant as dealing treacherously with the wife of your youth.
C. How easy it is to forget the days of courtship, the excitement that you shared when you were together. How you wanted to be with her every night. How hard it was to say good night to her. How you wooed her and won her.
1. I can remember when the minister was counseling Kay and I and we were holding hands. He told us that we would have disagreements, and would be angry with one another, I squeezed her hand, because we knew that that might happen in other's relationships, but it would never happen in ours. We had already determined that we were so compatible we liked everything the other liked, that we would never argue over anything.
2. I will never forget my shock on our honeymoon, when I had gone down to swim in the lake, and stayed longer than she intended me to stay, her rebuke for my having been gone so long.
D. Sure you know all her faults, and moods now. Of course she is not the girl you married, and you are not the man that she married too.
E. The bottom line is that God declared that he hated divorce.
1. If God hates something, I had better take care that I do not engage in that thing.
F. The advise that came from God. "Take heed to your spirit, that you deal not treacherously."
1. Take heed to your spirit.
a. Watch out for attitudes that sometimes develop through the years.
b. Peter said to not be bitter toward them. Bitterness is an attitude of the spirit.
2. You are to love your wife, as you love yourself, even more, You are to love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. You are very accepting and forgiving of your faults. Be accepting and forgiving of hers.
3. Take heed that you deal not treacherously.
4. All your tears and weeping cannot reverse the mistakes that are sometimes made when a man forsakes his wife and family to take up a new relationship that looked so sweet, but has turned out to be so bitter.