Is there any hope for a marriage that begins badly? Can God bless a bad decision about marriage? In the second of this mini-series (Eps. 138-142), discover why we can be sure that God doesn’t leave us alone even after an impulsive decision.
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” Thanks for joining me today as we continue the topic of marriage, specifically, “Making the Best of a Bad Decision.” The question at hand is simply this: Is God able to bless a foolish vow? I want to tell you the story of a woman who called me on the phone and said, “You know, my husband and I, (she called him her husband) we were actually married in a motel room because we were involved passionately. We wanted to come together sexually and we wanted God to bless our marriage. So, we said our vows right there and we prayed and we asked God for blessing. But now,” she said, “my husband wants out of the marriage. He doesn’t think that that was a legitimate vow.” Now, I talked to the “husband” and he said, “You must understand, I was seduced into this, because” he said, “this woman actually had her wedding dress in the trunk of the car in case this would happen. She put on the wedding dress even in the motel and we said our vows before God but,” he said, “that isn’t really marriage.” So, the woman said, “I took these vows seriously.” He said, “I don’t take these vows seriously. I want to walk away from the marriage.” Well, there’s nothing you can do if a person wants out of the marriage and he walked away but the question before us is this, is it possible for God to actually bless a foolish vow?
Now, you might be surprised at this but I’m actually going to look at the ninth chapter of the book of Joshua and I’m going to summarize what happened here and perhaps you will remember the story. Explicitly, in the book of Deuteronomy, God said to Joshua and to the Israelites, “Do not make a covenant with any of the people in the land.” Alright, Joshua is now in the land and the Gibeonites come to him and they deceive him. They say, “We are not from the land but we have come from a far country. Look at our satchels and how worn they are. Look at our shoes and how worn they are. Our sandals are worn out.” Very interestingly, Joshua, who walked with God, the Bible says in the ninth chapter, “So the man (that is the man of Israel) took some of their provisions but did not ask counsel from the Lord and Joshua made peace with them.” He made a covenant with them. I mean, that’s amazing. I talked to many couples throughout my career as a pastor and sometimes I ask them, “Did you ever ask the counsel of the Lord?” “No, I just assumed, you know, she was a Christian or he was a Christian and so we were married.” Bad idea. We should always ask the counsel of the Lord, especially in critical covenants such as marriage.
Now, the question is, what’s going to happen as a result? Well, I’m summarizing scripture here but Joshua said, “Yes, we will keep our covenant but you are going to be involved as our servants. You are going to bring water to the altar and you are going to be wood cutters.” Now, here’s what shocks me. In the book of Nehemiah, centuries later, after the Israelites go into Babylon and all of those things take place, they come back and the book of Nehemiah says, “These are the people who came out of Babylon. Among them, the Gibeonites” of all things! They survived all of those centuries. Now, here’s what I want you to understand. Did you know what happened next when Joshua made this covenant? Very fascinating. There was a group of kings around Jerusalem and they said to themselves, “We know that the Gibeonites have made a covenant with Israel. We’re going to fight against the Gibeonites.” And they get armies together and they come to get the Gibeonites and you know what happens? Joshua has to defend the Gibeonites and this is when he prays and he says, “‘Sun, stand thou still at Gibeon and moon at the Valley of Ayalon’ and the sun stood still and the moon stopped until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? ‘The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set about a whole day.’ There’s been no day like it, either before or after” and we’d all agree. Yeah, there’s no day quite like this miracle.
Do you realize, my friend, that God was able to bless Joshua even though he was fooled into making a bad decision. My point today is not to justify anybody’s bad decisions but to say this, God does not forsake us when we even make a bad covenant. And in the fifteenth chapter of the book of Psalms, it says this, “Who is it that ascends into the hill of the Lord?” Well, it lists various characteristics and then it says, “The one who swears to his own hurt and does not change.” In this series, I’m not dealing with the issue of divorce but I do have to say this, there are two things that should not be done prematurely, one is embalming and the other is divorce. You have made, perhaps, a bad decision in retrospect but God is there and able to take where you are at and use it for His glory. Now, next time, what I’m going to be talking about is some myths about marriage. Don’t miss it but as for today, be encouraged, God is with you, and you just go with God.