For the LORD, the God of Israel, said that he hates putting away: for one covers violence with his garment, said the LORD of hosts…
Sin indulged gathers force and violence. The oozing stream from the bursting reservoir becomes a torrent, and the torrent becomes a deluge. Lust leads to treachery, treachery to cruelty, cruelty to violence. There is a terrible momentum in evil. Impetuosity in sin is human energy diabolically directed. The Jews that had put away their wives drove them from their houses with violence, and though conscious of the evils they were committing, yet appealed to the Mosaic law of divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1), and sought to make that law a garment to hide their sin. But the prophet reminded them that God was cognisant of their sin, and would reveal it.
I. THERE IS A DISPOSITION IN MEN TO COVER UP THEIR EVIL DOINGS. Men especially seek to hide acts of violence. Passion makes a man disreputable. The wrong-doer must put himself right with society. This is attempted in various ways.
1. By appealing to the Scriptures. Its teachings are perverted, its examples are distorted, and its injunctions are separated from their context, and wrongly applied. Truth is woven into a garment of sophistries to hide their sin.
2. By subterfuges and false explanations. Men think that their real characters are not known by their fellow-men. They try to make their vices appear virtues.
3. By sheltering themselves behind the evil practices of the great. The lower classes make a garment of the vices of the upper, individual responsibility is forgotten. The moral character of a deed cannot be covered by prevailing customs, however elegant, nor by popular vices, however applauded or legalised.
4. By exercising themselves in the indulgence of their passions. Excuses are the garments which some men ever wear. They excuse themselves —
(1) Because passions are not self-implanted.
(2) Because of their strength.
(3) Because they are generally yielded to.
II. THIS DISPOSITION TO COVER UP EVIL REVEALS A CONSCIOUSNESS OF GUILT.
1. Man is conscious of moral emotions. His evil acts trouble him. The loudest witness to a man's guilt is in himself.
2. Man is conscious of a sense of shame in guilt. Years of persistent vice can hardly prevent trembling confusion in the evil-doer when discovered in his sin. He is self-condemned and ashamed.
3. This disposition often leads to an increase of guilt. Confession of sin brings mercy, cleansing, and peace; but the covering of sin, callousness, Divine displeasure, and ruin. It manifests obstinacy and determined rebellion. Men seek to cover up evil —
(1) From fear of dishonour.
(2) To escape punishment.
(3) To silence conscience.
(4) To avert the anger of God.
III. THIS DISPOSITION TO COVER UP EVIL IS RECOGNISED BY THE LORD OF HOSTS. Vain are all subterfuges in an universe filled with God. Every evil is known by Him in its true character. Violence is not "expedient pressure"; it is violence.
1. His omniscience secures the detection of every evildoer.
2. His justice secures the avenging of the wronged.
3. His holiness secures the exposure and punishment of every wrong-doer, however carefully he may cover his violence as "with a garment."All covering of sin by man is folly. God alone can cover it by His mercy in Christ Jesus.
(W. Osborne Lilley.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.
WEB: For I hate divorce," says Yahweh, the God of Israel, "and him who covers his garment with violence!" says Yahweh of Armies. "Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you don't deal treacherously.