Looking for Truth in All the Wrong Places
The author of the study, Stephen Jones (not a Sacred Name believer), makes this statement at the start: “Many people today who are divorced and remarried are being expelled from their churches.” If Jones were writing in 1930, that statement may have validity, but few churches today will speak out against the decline of marriage in society, let alone disfellowship anyone because of it. In an era when homosexuals are becoming accepted at the pulpit, the church is nearly nonexistent that has the courage to speak out against a trend where 60 percent of all marriages end in divorce. Doing so would mean a sure loss of membership and income.
Jones focuses 25 percent of his study on the Code of Hammurabi, a non-Biblical set of ancient laws. This approach should immediately send up a warning flare to any person sincerely seeking Truth. The Truth Seeker should be very careful about going outside the Scriptures in attempting to explain the Scriptures. Often those lacking understanding will seek answers in church fathers, historians, seminary professors, contemporary religion writers, ancient prophecies—anyone and anything but the Bible.
The Bible interprets itself, 2Timothy 3:16, and the Bible is the only authority one needs for Truth. Going outside of the Bible to analyze finer points of doctrine is irrelevant as well as dangerous. Does it matter what code of laws ancient pagans followed, or does Yahweh’s Word itself constitute the true guide for True Worshipers? The reason for discussing Hammurabi’s Law finally becomes clear when the author attempts to justify his own private interpretation of Yahshua’s words in Matthew 5:32. We will get to that later.
As we start reading the study, we immediately come across the first of many contradictory statements. In one breath the writer says that Yahweh gave His laws to correct the Code of Hammurabi, and in the next breath he twice states that Yahweh’s laws are older than Hammurabi’s. So which is it? And where in the Bible does he derive his evidence that Yahweh was correcting these pagan sets of laws when He gave His laws to mankind? Nothing in the 66 books of the Bible ever states such a thing. Yahweh’s laws, which were in effect since Genesis 1, were given to His people as a reflection of His own standards and as a pattern in how to live blessed lives.
The writer states: “[Yahweh] himself is a divorcee” and refers to Jeremiah 3:8. This statement borders on blasphemy. How could Yahweh be a “divorcee” and still say, “I hate divorce”? (Mal. 2:16). In Jeremiah 3:8 Yahweh gives Israel a bill of divorce for her adultery. Does that make Him a “divorcee”? Not if we read further in the chapter: “Turn O backsliding children, says Yahweh, FOR I AM MARRIED UNTO YOU: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion,” verse 14. Yahweh still considered Himself married to Israel. He will once again be united with His bride when the Kingdom is established on this earth,Acts 1:6. Israel was never removed from the covenant. In fact, the True Believer is to become a part of Israel. Paul is crystal clear on this fact in Romans 9 and 11. The question is, was Yahweh ever truly divorced from Israel? Not according to the rest of the chapter or the rest of the Bible. See Addendum at the end of this study.
The only New Testament justification for remarriage is upon the death of a spouse, 1Corinthian 7:39. Yahweh was able to “marry” the gentiles into the Covenant only after the death of His own Son, Yahshua. The Messiah Yahshua was the one who interracted for Yahweh in the Old Testament and made the covenant with Israel. But Yahweh is going to have both Israel and the repentant gentiles in a marriage union once again. His was not a divorce, but a temporary separation “until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled,”Luke 21:24.
The writer takes up a few more points about what is found in the Old Testament concerning divorce (Moses’ writings), but they are irrelevant to this discussion because Yahshua overruled what Moses had allowed, as we will now see.
Yahshua Clarifies Divorce and Remarriage
Jones attempts to answer Mark 10:2-9, where Yahshua said that divorce was not the original intent of marriage. He ignores verse 9, however: “What therefore Yahweh has joined together, let not man put asunder.” And he continues to bring in what Moses had allowed, but not what Yahweh intended.
The difference between Old and New testaments on the issue of divorce is that men’s hard hearts caused Moses (not Yahweh) to allow divorce in certain instances. But Yahshua teaches plainly that we are to go back to the abiding sanctity of the original institution of marriage. He indicts Moses’ allowance of divorce in Matthew 19:8 and Mark 10:5, saying it was not what Yahweh commanded. That allowance was caused by sinful, hard-hearted man. To justify divorce and remarriage today on the basis of what was once allowed because of man’s sinful heart is to say that we, also, are justified to divorce and remarry because of our sins. Yahshua says no, we are now to attain a higher standard.
In the last book of the Old Testament is a clear call to return to the true sanctity of the marriage union that was established in the Garden of Eden, where no provision is made for divorce: “Yet you say, Wherefore? Because Yahweh has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously: yet is she your companion, and the wife of your covenant. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a righteous seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For Yahweh, the Elohim of Israel, said that he hates putting away: for one covers violence with his garment, says Yahweh of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that you deal not treacherously.”
Jones writes, “[Yahshua] did not abolish [Yahweh’s] Laws on divorce and remarriage.” True. Yahweh’s original laws should be observed. Yahshua commanded a return to the high, spiritual intent for marriage that was originally set by Yahweh in the Garden. At creation of man and woman Yahweh gave no provision for divorce. This is the standard Yahshua advocated, not the standard Moses allowed in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 because of man’s rebellion.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Yahshua was not quoting what was “interpreted in the synagogue” or “the Pharisaical interpretation” when He referred to Deuteronomy 24:1. He was quoting Scripture, and He said that what Moses allowed in Deuteronomy 24 is not Yahweh’s will. He simply raised the standard on marriage, as He did with the sins of lust and murder.
In his explanation of Matthew 5:31-32, Jones tries to say that Yahshua’s point of contention was with those who divorced without the proper divorce papers. At this point we see why he introduces the Code of Hammurabi at the start of his study. He claims Yahshua’s purpose was to correct the Babylonian procedure of simply issuing a verbal divorce statement without the “proper divorce papers.”
Absolutely nothing in Yahshua’s words even hints at the issue of lacking “the proper divorce papers” before a divorce can be legitimized. Jones inserts his own private interpretation, which the Bible nowhere supports. Divorcing someone properly and with the proper documentation is not the issue with the Messiah here. A higher and more binding formula for marriage is, however.
Yahshua’s exact words in Matthew 5:31-32 are: “It has been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causes her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commits adultery.” Yahshua is defining the only reason one can justify a divorce, which has nothing to do with divorce papers.
The issue is fornication, pure and simple. Why does the Savior not use the word “adultery” throughout this passage? The reason is that he is making a distinction between fornication (illicit sex before marriage) and adultery (sex with a married person not one’s spouse). His exception clause deals with the ONLY acceptable grounds for divorce: sex before marriage.
We see a clear, scriptural example of this with the earthly parents of the Savior. Joseph wanted to divorce Mary when she was found pregnant with Yahshua. Even though they were only engaged, he wanted to “put her away privily,” Matthew 1:19. This is the only instance in the New Testament where divorce was condoned, and it fits perfectly with the only reason Yahshua ever gave for divorce: illicit sex before marriage (fornication). Engagement had the effect of marriage in a husband-wife bond, Deuteronomy 22:23-24.
The only other New Testament chapter the writer deals with is 1Corinithians 7. In verses 10-11 Paul admonishes: “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Master, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.” Jones goes to great length to explain that Paul does not refer here to a divorce but only to a separation. Under conditions of a mere separation, then, the wife must return to her husband and not get remarried.
The major flaw with this argument is that if a woman were merely separated, she OBVIOUSLY could not get remarried or she would be committing adultery. The point Jones tries to argue is moot and self-evident. Paul is not going to great pains to merely state the obvious. Rather, he is admonishing that those who claim a divorcement cannot remarry. This is proved again in verse 27: “Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.”
He makes the same mistake many do in the following verse, 28: “But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.” Paul in verse 28 is speaking to virgins, both male and female, not to those who seek remarriage. This is clear by verse 25: “Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of Yahweh: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of Yahweh to be faithful.”
The writer fails greatly in seeking to justify and condone divorce and remarriage. By omitting many other passages in the New Testament that explain clearly that divorce and remarriage are almost in every case unacceptable to Yahweh, he causes some to err.
One plain passage that is nearly always ignored in such studies is Romans 7:1-3: “Know you not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.”
What could be clearer? Remarriage is allowed only upon the death of a spouse. This is certainly not popular with our culture, which has mostly lost the sanctity of marriage, but it is Yahweh’s standard. Paul repeats this standard in 1Corinthians 7:39, which a True Believer is obligated to uphold once he or she knows better.
*Yahweh separated from Israel, but will take her back. Reconciliation as the acceptable remedy for a broken marriage is also commanded in the New Testament (1Cor. 7:10). Remarriage is not supported in the New Testament other than for fornication during engagement (illicit relations before marriage) or upon the death of a spouse.
*Separation, not divorce, is the only arguable remedy for believers in the New Testament who face unfaithfulness.
*Yahweh’s law that established a binding marital union from the beginning of creation of man and woman has not been abolished. In fact, Yahshua reinstituted that standard, in contrast to Moses who had allowed divorce because of the sin of man, Matthew 5:31.
Ancient Israel and True Worshipers today are betrothed to Yahshua. We have not yet completed the marriage, which is signified by a ceremony called the marriage supper of the Lamb, which will occur when He returns to earth, Revelation 19:9. In essence, we are engaged to Him. Ancient Israel was also engaged to Yahweh and that is why He could lawfully issue her a bill of divorce (for her fornication). But as we have shown, even then He will soon take Israel back because He considers Himself still married to her,Jeremiah 3:14.
When we see how Yahweh treated marriage, we can truly grasp its binding nature, which ignorant man is desecrating today by divorcing and remarrying at whim. May Yahweh have mercy.