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ss=MsoNormal align=right style='text-align:right'>1) 7-21-09…AM…SBC     2)“A Ghastly Pandemic”

Mark 10:1-12


1-      there is a battle going on today that reaches farther than the borders of Iraq, Afghanistan and North Korea

2-      this battlefront reaches not only our borders but the borders of every country and affects every person in one way or another –Divorce is a universal stench in our world today!

3-       Trying to find one person that has not been affected by the catastrophe of divorce today is almost impossible!

4-      I believe that the widespread pandemic of divorce in Jesus’ day was just as ghastly as it is today and I believe that this text, and the supporting texts, illustrate just that

5-      After the fall of man in Genesis 3 the battle of the sexes began—and women’s liberation and male chauvinism have ever since been clouding and corrupting God’s original plan for marriage

·         Divorce is like a person cutting off an arm or a leg because of a splinter in it.  Instead of dealing with whatever trouble arises between h/w, divorce tries to solve the problem by destroying the union

At a time when the stance on divorce is weakening both inside and outside of the church…

Proposition:  God’s people must not sweep the problem of divorce under the rug.



Ø      I want to give three opening statements about the subject of divorce before we look at the first part of the passage before us

·         First, I realize the controversial nature of this topic and by no means desire to communicate that my position on this topic is the only position and everyone else is wrong

-          this is the position that God has led me to at this time—I will do my best to support it over the next two weeks

·         Second, by no means do I desire to communicate that any divorced person is some king of “second-class” citizen – that will not be the case in this church

·         Third, I understand that there are a lot of “what if” types of questions and scenarios that we could entertain this morning – my goal is to state what I believe the texts say as clearly as possible

-          I will come back to the issue of the difficult questions that the Bible doesn’t address in closing


·         Lastly, as with all issues, we must examine the Bible to find the other texts and contexts that address it


-          I will incorporate what I believe to be the most relevant texts to us this morning

Transition:  Now let’s begin with Mark 10:1

Bible Geography:  Beginning at Ch9—Caesarea Philippi—Galilee—Capernaum—(Ch 10) Region of Judea and

                                                                                                                                                    Beyond the Jordan

1- The Dialogue     v2-9                           cf:  Matt 19:3Matt 5:31-32 record the teaching but not the dialogue

A-    The Pharisees ask a question         v2              

1-      They came to Jesus in order to discredit Him in the eyes of the people so that He would lose His popularity and be easier for them to destroy (motivation)

2-      Their question was meant to place Christ as odds with Moses, the great giver of God’s law

B- Jesus responds with a question     v3


1-      The question that Jesus responds with was meant to provide the occasion for confronting not only their sin, but also their twisted interpretation of Moses reference to divorce in Deut 24:1-4

a-      Divorce had been a very volatile debate among the Jewish people for quite some time

There were 2 opposing viewpoints

o       Rabbi Hillel (liberal) – divorce for the most trivial reasons

o       Rabbi Shammai (strict) – divorce was never permissible

o       The group here with Jesus are the disciples of Rabbi Hillel (liberal view)

b-      In Matthew 5:31 Jesus introduces the “it was said…but I say to you” wording to tell the people that what they had heard taught on divorce by the Pharisees was wrong and that what he was telling them was right.

Summary:  Jesus set the proper boundaries for the discussion. The issue was not rabbinical interpretations, but the teaching of Scripture.[1]

            C- The Pharisees answer Jesus’ 2nd question                     v4       cf:  Matthew 19:7


1-      the Pharisees justification for easy divorce was based on an erroneous interpretation of Deut 24:1-4


Ø      the debate that arose between the schools of Rabbis in Deut 24 was based on the words “some indecency”


·         Hillel interpreted it as these Pharisees did – divorce for any reason was acceptable

·         Shammai interpreted differently – only divorce for sexual immorality was acceptable

·         I take the meaning of these words to mean something that was repulsive based on Deut 23:12-14, not necessarily having to be a sexual act (it’s closest contextual context)

Ø      this is the only part of the interpretation that I believe the Pharisees got right – they got nothing else right

-          an interpretation with the meaning of repulsion would be that Moses was referencing a divorce that was initiated because a husband found something indecent or repulsive about his wife

-          this would be the equivalent to burning toast, squeezing the toothpaste wrongly, etc


a-      These Pharisees interpreted Moses words as “If you wish to divorce your wife for any reason whatever, go right ahead, but be sure to hand her a divorce certificate.” [2] - just make sure that you do it properly according to the legal procedure

b-      The real meaning of the passage, however, is, “Husband, you better think twice before you reject your wife for frivolous reasons. Remember that once you have put her away and she has become the wife of another you cannot afterward take her back; not even if that other husband should also have rejected her or should have died.”[3] – unbiblical divorce / no remarriage

Ø      The Pharisees interpreted Moses’ words to mean that if you found something distasteful (“some indecency”) in her then go ahead and divorce her

Ø      They comforted themselves with the thought that as long as the legal forms were filled out properly a divorce was perfectly lawful – after all that would be preferable to adultery wouldn’t it (in their minds)

Ø      My Summary of Deuteronomy 24:1-4


·         the focus of the passage is not whether divorce is permitted – it is a recognition of the legal process

·         Moses point is that unbiblical divorce (for any small reason) leads to adultery and therefore is to be avoided

·         I believe the passage also assumes that remarriage will take place because the certificate is given to assure that it is a “legitimate” remarriage and not adultery – the certificate protected her remarriage against the defilement of adultery

-          what else would a women who had no rights by herself, no money and no value outside of marriage going to do

-          here the woman goes out, I believe as was expected, and got remarried

-          we are not told that she was wrong for getting remarried, but that her remarriage was wrong because it followed an unbiblical divorce(Matt 5:32)

-          I believe that Moses and Jesus are standing together here both condemning divorce for any reason outside of adultery

·         I believe that in Deut 24 we have an unbiblical divorce and I base that on Jesus’ refuting of the Pharisees misinterpretation of the passage and the teaching in Matthew 5:31-32 that makes divorce acceptable in the case of adultery and unacceptable for reasons other than adultery

-          the woman and her second husband and the prohibition of her marrying her first husband again is seen as defilement and perpetual adultery because it is an unbiblical divorce

Summary:  Improper divorce (some indecency) leads to defilement/adultery in the remarriage (Mt 5:32) not the accepting of divorce for any and every reason

Conclusion to Part 1

1-      Jesus asks the Pharisees the question about Moses’ teaching to expose their faulty interpretation of it

·         it was never permissible to divorce someone for reasons other than adultery

2-      Prepare your position before you find yourself directly affected by divorce (illustration of daughter)

·         if you don’t you most likely will be heavily influenced by your emotions

·         you might be convinced of divorce or no divorce but for the wrong reasons

3-      Moses and Jesus together uphold the holiness of marriage (serious nature) – the exact opposite of the Pharisees

4-      How are you doing at upholding God’s view of marriage?  What does your marriage look like?


·         Patient, humble, serving, loving – more concerned about your spouse then about yourself

·         How would your kids define and describe your marriage?

·         Is your marriage a mess?  Maybe it is because God is not a part of your life?  Salvation

·         Eph 5 – divorce is a reflection on Christ’s relationship with his church and is a tragedy



Begin reflecting the Redeemer by upholding His view of marriage

Beginning of Part 2

D- Jesus addresses the Pharisees misinterpretation of Moses’ teaching     v5-9

5-      Hardness of Heart

6-      From the Beginning

Ø      Exception clauses appear at this point of the discussion in Matthew 19:3

Conclusion:  MacArthur 26-30

The Hard questions about divorce that aren’t answered in the Bible


[1]MacArthur, John Jr: The MacArthur Study Bible. electronic ed. Nashville : Word Pub., 1997, c1997, S. Mk 10:3

[2]Hendriksen, William ; Kistemaker, Simon J.: New Testament Commentary : Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark. Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1953-2001 (New Testament Commentary 10), S. 377

[3]Hendriksen, William ; Kistemaker, Simon J.: New Testament Commentary : Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark. Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1953-2001 (New Testament Commentary 10), S. 377


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