They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning, it was not so. (RSV)
The Pharisees came to trap Jesus regarding the licity of divorce on any grounds. Jesus then restates the Genesis creation account of man and woman uniting as one as the basis for the indissolubility of marriage. In response, the Pharisees ask why did Moses allow divorce, which prompts Jesus’ rebuttal that God originally intended marriage to be permanent. Jesus reiterates that Moses appealed to the hardness of man’s human nature and permitted some provisions for divorce in Deu 24:1-4.
Recall that Moses was often tormented constantly by the Israelites stubbornness and stiff-neck attitude during the Exodus.
For instance, the people complained regarding the lack of food and Moses interceded by requesting manna. Since Moses was beset with demands, it was only inevitable that he appealed to their weakness in terms of marriage in civil law.
Thankfully, Jesus came to restore all things new. By his earthly ministry, he conveys what God originally intends in marriage and not what has been distorted by man’s desire for pride and arrogance. This got me wondering: how many times do I settle for counterfeit instead of genuine fullness. How many times do I look for the easy way out, but if I would’ve put in more effort I could’ve received more.
Probably far too many.
Sometimes, we’re used to having the bar low for ourselves, but not with God. His standard remains high. Like the Israelites, we too look for ways that cut around God’s plan. There’s no deficit in God’s standard, but there is in our ability to attain it. When Jesus says he came to give life abundantly, that’s exactly what his countless encounters with the Pharisees show.
In our hardness of heart, we neglect life-giving authority. We do it “our way” rather than the clear path provided by Jesus and with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Maybe we all could go back to the “beginning” and nourish our relationship with God when everything was fresh and not in disarray.
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