God Initiated A Divorce

This is what the Lord says: “Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce with which I sent her away? Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? Because of your sins you were sold; because of your transgressions your mother was sent away.”

-Isaiah 50:1, NIV


Much shame surrounds making the choice to divorce an unfaithful spouse. This is especially so–as I have heard–for those who are faithful Christian spouses entertaining the idea. A powerful message is sent against taking the step to divorce a spouse who has demonstrated hard-hearted, contempt towards God and his/her spouse by committing adultery. The marriage in many evangelical communities seems to be more important to retain than the exhortation to not commit adultery.

I quote today’s Scripture to make a non-pc point (for an evangelical, that is):

God himself initiated a divorce!

It says so here.

God says, “Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce with which I sent her away?”

And why did God divorce Israel? The answer is in the same verse: “‘because of your transgressions your mother was sent away.'” I suggest this likely is a reference to Israel turning to other gods–i.e. being unfaithful and thereby committing adultery with foreign deities.

God took such choices seriously.

And God refused to be treated with contempt.

He made it official.

Gave Israel a written certificate of divorce.

And sent her packing.

And to the pastors or scholars out there who point to how God welcomes back Israel, I will point them back to the plain words of this passage. A divorce took place according to God’s own words. And not only did a divorce take place, God chose to divorce Israel. 

Any reunification after this passage–and there is for some of Israel (a remnant)–speaks more to a situation of remarriage after divorce than to prohibiting divorce in the first place.

Scripture is clear: Reasons exist where divorce can be a godly choice. I teach on this blog that adultery is the clearest and most consistent justification for a godly divorce.

God cannot sin. He divorced. So, divorce must not always be sin.

God cannot sin. He chose to initiate divorce. So, initiating divorce must not always be sin.

It really is that simple.

Don’t buy the lies or cultural pressure that tells you otherwise.

Stand on the truth.

Stand on Scripture.

That’s a rock that cannot be moved.

6 thoughts on “God Initiated A Divorce”

  1. If this word “divorce” is to be taken literally, permanent sense then I would ask you to consider the rest of the verse and apply it literally as well. Who are God’s creditors referred to in Isaiah 50:1. To whom is God indebted? Absolutely no one, I am sure you would agree with me.

    The issue of whether divorce can be done without sinning is one I still waver on as there are grounds given in Scripture for divorce and yet it is something God hates.

    But I would also ask you to consider Isaiah 54:5-7, particularly verses 6 and 7: “For the Lord has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God. For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you.

    This certainly does not sound like God permanently divorced Israel from Himself. Malachi 2:16 states that God hates divorce, as I am sure you are aware. Our God is an unchanging God who keeps his covenants and promises. I believe God kept His covenant with Israel though He put her away for a while. Only with the death of Christ did things change as discussed in Romans 7:1-4.

    1. What then does “divorce” mean if not “divorce”? This seems like an inane Clinton-esque tap-dance around whether “is” is “is.” Of course, I am not saying God went into a civil court and obtained a certificate of divorce. It is a metaphor. However, the metaphor is one that utilizes the concept of divorce.

      As to the reunification piece, I would point you to my rebuttal of Pastor John Piper’s position (click here).

      Finally, if God even “temporarily” divorced Israel, my point still stands. God divorces Israel. The reunification is more an argument for remarriage than an argument against divorce.

    2. Lightning- “For the Lord has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God. For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you.” A couple things with that: 1) If you’re going to reference that verse in regards to adultery it seems logical to assume that you’re placing the cheater in the role of God. The faithful spouse is the one that’s been cast off, deserted and grieved. Not the cheater. The cheater is the one that went “oh, this wedding ring? Yea, that means nothing. You’re hot and I want to do you instead of my spouse (flings ring off to the side *insert the ding sound as it hits the floor here*). Therefore it seems your argument from the verse would be for the faithful spouse to wait around for the cheater to gather them yet again with great compassion….yea….that doesn’t work, nor is that healthy. That results in the “Pick Me Dance” (see here) and the faithful spouse just lying there waiting for the cheater to have some sort of divine epiphany that will make them suddenly stop screwing everything on two legs that walks by them.
      2) I think that verse would actually give more power to the argument for remarriage. Being able to divorce in the case of adultery and then remarry someone that’s actually faithful, that’s God’s grace and compassion bestowed on the faithful spouse, the one that was deserted, cast off and grieved as mentioned in the verse.

      Switching the roles round and placing the cheater as the one that was grieved, deserted and cast off yet again places all the responsibility for any failures on the faithful spouse, it victimizes the cheater and completely ignores that the cheater did anything wrong by cheating in the first place.

      The references to God divorcing Israel in the bible are still relevant. God does divorce Israel AND still keeps his covenant with them. Israel was a nation, not one individual and it took minimally hundreds of years for His covenants to be fulfilled. DM can elaborate further on this but God’s covenants (there were multiple ones) with Israel also involved curses. God was still with them fulfilling his covenant even when they were getting their butts kicked big time. Countless times Israel forfeited what God promised them. Thousands were killed after making a golden calf, they weren’t let in the promised land and made to wander until all the original people that were supposed to inherit the land had died. I’d argue that those people were actually permanently divorced from God b/c of their actions. God’s covenants often times get fulfilled with a new generation of Israel, not the one it was originally promised to, and I would liken that to him permanently divorcing himself from one generation and then restoring that covenant through remarriage to a new generation. He doesn’t permanently divorce himself from Israel as a whole entity, but he does divorce himself from subsets within Israel. A new covenant is made when a faithful spouse remarries after divorce in the case of adultery, thus restoring their marriage covenant.

  2. another good one…an issue that I have been dealing with recently. guilt of being the one to file, yet being the faithful one. thanks again.

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