Yahweh hates divorces (Mal 2:14-2:16)

“You ask.

‘Why does he not?’

Because Yahweh was

A witness

Between you

And the wife of your youth.

You have been faithless

To her.

She is your companion.

She is your wife by covenant.

Did not one God make her?

Both flesh and spirit are his.

What does the one God desire?

Godly offspring.

Thus,

Look to yourselves

Do not let anyone

Be faithless

To the wife of his youth!

I hate divorce.’

Says Yahweh,

The God of Israel.

‘Do not cover

One’s garment

With violence!’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Thus,

Take heed to yourselves!

Do not be faithless!’”

Yahweh warned them that he was a witness to the marriage of an Israelite to the bride of his youth.  If he was not faithful to her, Yahweh would not accept his sacrifices.  The bride of his youth was his companion and wife, since God made her, both flesh and spirit.  God’s desire was offspring.  He reminded the Israelites to look at themselves.  They should be faithful to the bride of their youth.  Yahweh hated divorce.  They should not cover their garment or wife in violence.  They were to remain faithful to God and their wife.

The curse on Jerusalem (Zeph 3:1-3:2)

“Woe to the soiled city!

Woe to the defiled city!

Woe to the rebellious city!

Woe to the oppressing city!

She has listened to no voice.

She has accepted no correction.

She has not trusted

In Yahweh.

She has not drawn near

To her God.”

Jerusalem, the city itself, was to be cursed because it was a soiled, defiled, rebellious, and oppressing city.  Jerusalem would not listen to any voice or accept any correction.  She had not trusted in Yahweh, nor drawn near to her God.  Jerusalem was in bad shape.

Against the Temple worship (Am 5:21-5:24)

“I hate your festivals!

I despise your festivals!

I take no delight

In your solemn assemblies!

Even though you offer me

Your burnt offerings,

Your grain offerings,

I will not accept them.

I will not look upon

The peace offerings

Of your fatted animals.

Take away from me

The noise of your songs.

I will not listen

To the melody

Of your harps.

But let justice

Roll down

Like water.

Let righteousness be

Like an ever-flowing stream.”

Amos has Yahweh reject the Temple cultic worship side of Israelite life in very strong terms. Yahweh hated and despised the religious festivals that were part of Temple worship. Neither did Yahweh take any delight in their solemn assemblies. Yahweh was not going to accept their burnt offerings and grain offerings. He was not going to even look at their peace offerings of fat animals. He wanted them to take away the noise of their chants and songs, since he was not going to listen to their melodic harps. Instead, he wanted justice to roll down from the hills like gushing water. He wanted righteousness to be like a continual flowing stream. Justice not worship was his cry, a theme that Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr, (1929-1968) often mentioned, as he wanted justice to roll down from the hills like running water.

Against the false exterior cult (Hos 8:11-8:13)

“When Ephraim

Multiplied altars

To expiate sin,

They became to him

Altars for sinning.

Although I write

For him

The multitude

Of my instructions,

They are regarded

As a strange thing.

Although they offer

Choice sacrifices,

Yahweh does not accept them.

Although they eat

Sacrificed offerings,

Yahweh does not accept them.

Now he will remember

Their iniquity.

He will punish

Their sins.

They shall return

To Egypt.”

The territory of Ephraim, in the northern Israelite kingdom, multiplied the number of altars to ask for forgiveness of sins. In the eyes of Yahweh, they were actually altars of sinning. Yahweh had given them plenty of instructions, but they regarded them as strange sayings, ignoring them. They tried to offer choice sacrifice offerings and eat them. However, Yahweh would not accept them. Instead, he remembered their iniquity. He wanted to punish them for their sins. One of the punishments was to send them back to Egypt.

The king’s decree (Dan 3:29-3:29)

Therefore,

I make a decree.

‘Any people,

Any nation,

Any language

That utters

Blasphemy

Against the God

Of Shadrach,

Of Meshach,

Of Abednego,

Shall be torn

Limb from limb.

Their houses will be

Laid in ruins.

There is no other god

Who is able

To deliver

In this way.’”

Now in a complete reversal, King Nebuchadnezzar issued a decree to all the people, all the countries, and all the language groups. Anyone who blasphemed the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would be torn limb from limb. They would also lose their houses. Anyone speaking badly about the God of Israel would be punished. This king was able to accept a new better God in his polytheistic vision of the world, as his golden statute became less important.

The king insists that they should know the dream (Dan 2:8-2:9)

“The king answered.

‘I know with certainty

That you are trying

To gain time.

You see

That I have firmly

Decreed it.

If you do not

Tell me the dream

There is but one verdict

For you.

You have agreed

To speak lying words

To me.

You have agreed

To speak misleading words

To me,

Until things take a turn.

Therefore,

Tell me the dream!

Then I shall know

That you can give me

Its interpretation.’”

The king would not budge. He responded to the Chaldeans that they were only trying to gain time. They had to tell him the dream first. Otherwise, they might come up with some lying and misleading words. He wanted them to tell him his dream or else they would die. Then, after they explained the dream, he might be willing to accept their interpretation.

The seven days of sin offerings (Ezek 43:25-43:27)

“‘For seven days,

You shall provide daily

A goat

For a sin offering.

Also,

A bull

With a ram

From the flock,

Without blemish,

Shall be provided.

Seven days

Shall they make atonement

For the altar.

They will cleanse it.

They will so consecrate it.

When these days

Are over,

Then from the eighth day

Onward,

The priests shall offer

Upon the altar

Your burnt offerings

With your peace offerings.

Then I will accept you.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh gave Ezekiel this first week of instructions about the altar. During this week, each day they had to provide an unblemished goat, bull, and ram from their flock. During these 7 days, they were to make atonement for the altar, by cleansing and consecrating it. After these 7 days were over, the priests would then be able to offer their burnt offerings and peace offerings on this altar at any time.  Yahweh said that he would then accept these offerings.

The gathering around holiness (Ezek 20:41-20:42)

“‘As a pleasing odor,

I will accept you.

When I bring you out

From the people,

I will gather you

Out of the countries

Where you have been

Scattered.

I will manifest

My holiness

Among you

In the sight

Of the nations.

You shall know

That I am Yahweh,

When I bring you

Into the land of Israel,

The country

That I swore

To give

To your ancestors.”

Yahweh was going to accept the Israelites as a pleasing odor, when he was going to gather his people from the various scattered nations and countries. Yahweh was going to manifest his holiness among them in the sight of the other nations. They would all know that it was Yahweh that brought them into the land of Israel. This is the same country that he had sworn to give to their ancestors.

 

The holy mountain (Ezek 20:40-20:40)

“Says Yahweh God.

‘On my holy mountain,

The mountain height

Of Israel,

There all the house of Israel,

All of them,

Shall serve me

In the land.

There I will accept them.

There I will require

Your contributions,

The choicest of your gifts,

With all your sacred things.’”

It was very clear that Yahweh wanted all the people of Israel to worship him on the holy high mountain and no place else. This holy mountain was the only place where they could serve him. Yahweh would accept their contributions only there. In fact, he required their choicest gifts and sacred items. Yahweh was precise. He was against all the other high places in Israel and Judah. The holy sacred mountain was the only place for sacrifices.

The free prostitute (Ezek 16:30-16:31)

“Says Yahweh God.

‘How sick is your heart?

You did all these things.

You did the deeds

Of a brazen whore.

You built a platform

At the head

Of every street.

You made your lofty place

In every square.

Yet you were not

Like a whore,

Because you scorned payment.’”

Yahweh God spoke out again. How sick was the heart of Jerusalem? She had acted like a brazen whore, a prostitute. As mentioned earlier, she built a platform at every street corner and a lofty place in the town square. The only difference between her and a common whore, was that she did not accept any payment for her prostitution activities.