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July 18: 2Sa 2 | Jeremiah 8 | Matthew 19

Reading 1 - 2Sa 2:8-10

"Meanwhile, Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul's army, had taken Ish-Bosheth son of Saul..." --

(Ish-bosheth is only a weak puppet; Abner is the real power) --

"...and brought him over to Mahanaim. He made him king over Gilead, Ashuri and Jezreel, and also over Ephraim, Benjamin and all Israel. Ish-Bosheth son of Saul was forty years old when he became king over Israel, and he reigned two years. The house of Judah, however, followed David" (2Sa 2:8-10).

Ish-Bosheth is a Hebrew name meaning "man of shame." Comparison of several Old Testament passages indicates that this man was referred to under several names. In 1Sa 14:49 the name is probably Ishvi (ASV) or Ishui (KJV), unless this is another name for Abinadab (1Sa 31:2). In 2Sa 2:8 the name is Ishbosheth. In 1Ch 8:33 it is Esh-baal, a compound which was probably the original name. Some think the name was intended to exalt Yahweh as Lord (or 'baal'), but was changed to Ishbosheth (as apparently happened with "Jerubbaal" of Jdg 6:32, altered to Jerub-Besheth of 2Sa 11:21) when the story of his shameful murder was related (2Sa 4:1-12), in order to make it refer prophetically to the manner of his death.

Reading 2 - Jer 8:12

"Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when they are punished, says the LORD" (Jer 8:12).

"When they are punished" is, literally, "in the time of their visitation" (AV). "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace -- but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming [or 'visitation'] to you" (Luk 19:42-44). Compare also Jer 6:6 -- the city is "visited" -- as well as Jer 10:15; 11:23.

The temple was a hypocritical symbol, and the people were robbers and idolaters. As in Christ's day, the temple was incurably infected with the "leprosy" of sin and uncleanness. And, after priestly "visitations" showed no improvement, the Law of Moses required that the leprous house be taken down and its stones carried forth (Lev 14:45; cp John 2:17).

Reading 3 - Mat 19:3-9

"Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?' 'Haven't you read,' he replied, 'that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh"? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate'" (Mat 19:3-6).

God's purpose was clearly that man and woman joined together in marriage should be joined together for life. Only the death of one of the parties should terminate the bond. It is easy to see various reasons for this. The very method of Eve's formation ("bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh") laid the basis for this indissolubility; the mental and moral qualities of man call for it; and the purposes of marriage in the increase and nurture of the race demand it.

It is plain that estrangements and separations between husbands and wives, whenever and wherever they exist, are incompatible with the high standard of conduct which the Bible sets forth. In the light of this exalted teaching, it is considered that where estrangement is threatened between husband and wife it is a Christian duty to seek patiently and actively a renewal or resumption of normal relationship.

Not only is this the duty of husband to wife and wife to husband, but also of those who can offer wise counsel with patient understanding. Where estrangement followed by separation has already happened, and while reunion is still a possibility, the pursuit of divorce and remarriage is a definite negation of the teaching of the Lord -- because the successful pursuit of such a "solution" removes forever the possibility of reconciliation. These considerations apply with added force where there are children to consider.

"It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.' But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to commit adultery, and anyone who marries a woman so divorced commits adultery" (Mat 5:31,32).

" 'Why then,' they asked, 'did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?' Jesus replied, 'Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery'" (Mat 19:7-9).

Divorce obtained by a brother or sister on any ground except that allowed by Jesus is a sin which cannot be overlooked. Nevertheless, the ecclesia should not exclude the possibility of true repentance after the fact.

Furthermore, while remarriage by a divorced person, or marriage with a divorced person, are contrary to the highest ideals as expressed by Christ, it is possible to envision circumstances in which it would be unjust for an ecclesia to lay down a course of action without discrimination.

In dealing with all who come short of the divine ideal, our aim should be, not only to admonish and rebuke, but also to restore. While trying to maintain to the fullest the high standards of Christ's teaching, we must beware of slipping unconsciously into an attitude toward offenders which the Lord would condemn. To achieve the right balance in these matters in the spirit of our Lord's teaching, calls for prayerful and persistent effort and humility of mind.


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