Continuing our genocide conversation, Malcolm points to a women who divorced her husband after ‘signs from the Lord’. My (hopefully final) response is short and twofold:
a) Is she a prophet through whom divine revelation flows?
b) Where in that mess of self-justification does God directly and undeniably command her to divorce?
All I read looking through the link is someone selfishly deciding to do something, then looking for every possible excuse to not feel guilty.
Maybe I have not been communicating as effectively as possible. While a specific divine command may override more general commands for the specified action/time/event, this is not some lightly taken thing.
In the Bible these overriding commands occurred when God spoke directly to and through His prophets while shaping the God-chosen nation the of Israel. Anybody receiving and transmitting a divine command from the Lord is a prophet and being a prophet is not something taken lightly. It is a major, nation-shaping event and any proclaimed prophet has tests to pass for which the penalty for failure is death (and likely damnation).
Breaking God’s law under God’s command is not something done lightly. There is no, ‘I was praying and saw a whisp of smoke, then my preacher spoke on something vaguely related’ to it. It is ‘God spoke directly to me clearly and unmistakeably and called me to Himself through miracles, angels, and visions.’
In the Bible, the prophets were clearly and unmistakeably called by God. They were generally hesitant to obey God and had fairly miserable lives. Those they prophesied to/for/against generally did not like what they had to say (hence, Saul disobeying Samuel) and usually responded grudgingly, at best. So, when I write of following a revealed divine command, it is no small thing I speak of. It is a divine revelation of Biblical proportions that you will likely detest and will shatter your life and the lives of those around you.
A prophecy isn’t needed to call people to do what they want or would have done anyway. Anybody using a divine command to justify something they wanted to do already is engaging in delusional self-justification and anybody desiring divine revelation for themselves strikes me as foolish.
When I talk of a divine command it is something on a fundamentally different order than the everyday Christian interactions with God such as praying over which job to take, learning something revealing from a sermon, the small coincidences of life chalked up to God’s grace, ‘small morsels from God’, or feeling God uplifted you through worship.
Finally, on the topic of divorce and divine command, we can look to Ezra.
While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly. And Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam, addressed Ezra: “We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. Therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God, and let it be done according to the Law. Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it.” Then Ezra arose and made the leading priests and Levites and all Israel take an oath that they would do as had been said. So they took the oath.
Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib, where he spent the night, neither eating bread nor drinking water, for he was mourning over the faithlessness of the exiles. And a proclamation was made throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the returned exiles that they should assemble at Jerusalem, and that if anyone did not come within three days, by order of the officials and the elders all his property should be forfeited, and he himself banned from the congregation of the exiles.
Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin assembled at Jerusalem within the three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month. And all the people sat in the open square before the house of God, trembling because of this matter and because of the heavy rain. And Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have broken faith and married foreign women, and so increased the guilt of Israel. Now then make confession to the LORD, the God of your fathers and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.” Then all the assembly answered with a loud voice, “It is so; we must do as you have said. But the people are many, and it is a time of heavy rain; we cannot stand in the open. Nor is this a task for one day or for two, for we have greatly transgressed in this matter. Let our officials stand for the whole assembly. Let all in our cities who have taken foreign wives come at appointed times, and with them the elders and judges of every city, until the fierce wrath of our God over this matter is turned away from us.” Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahzeiah the son of Tikvah opposed this, and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite supported them.
Then the returned exiles did so. Ezra the priest selected men, heads of fathers’ houses, according to their fathers’ houses, each of them designated by name. On the first day of the tenth month they sat down to examine the matter; and by the first day of the first month they had come to the end of all the men who had married foreign women.