Since I know many others might well have the same question just asked by a FAM member on the private website, I want to share her question and my response here as well.
MNO (member name omitted) has been divorced for the second time and is now standing for the restoration of her covenant marriage even though her covenant husband has also remarried. Here’s her question: “I want to know if Deuteronomy 24:1-4 means that a woman who has married and divorced a second time can not remarry her first husband or have her covenant marriage restored. Please help me understand this Scripture.”
Well, that’s a very good question and something we’ve covered in previous conference calls, so I hope the following Scripture references will help clear up any misunderstanding MNO and others might have about that particular passage of Scripture.
First of all, it’s very important to understand and recognize the difference between the law of God, as described and stated in Exodus 20 and commonly referred to as “The Ten Commandments,” and the laws of Moses, which are stated throughout most of Deuteronomy and clearly acknowledged as “the testimonies and the statutes and the ordinances which Moses spoke to the sons of Israel, when they came out from Egypt” in Deuteronomy 4:45 (NASB). So the verses referred to above are part of Mosaic law (the same as today’s civil laws, statutes and ordances) and obviously not in keeping with the law of God. And that’s an important distinction that Jesus Himself acknowledged and declared in Mark 10:2-9 (NASB):
2 Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife.
3 And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?”
4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
5 But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.
6 But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.
7 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother,
8 and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.
9 What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”
So Jesus very clearly stated and affirmed that there’s a difference between Mosaic law and the law of God and that God’s law is NOT changed or amended in any way by any other law, including the Mosaic law found in most of Deuteronomy or the civil laws of today.
Furthermore, it’s noteworthy that the description of a woman who remarries after her husband divorces her as “defiled” in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 in fact acknowledges what GOD commanded in Exodus 20:14 (NASB)…“You shall not commit adultery.
However, with all that being said, God Himself actually addresses this matter and once again clearly differentiates HIS law and ways from the Mosaic law regarding marriage in Jeremiah 3. Not only that, the entire book of Hosea is all about how God takes us back after we’ve “defiled” ourselves, and He even instructed Hosea to marry a harlot to make that point as stated in Hosea 1:2-3 (NASB):
2 When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the Lord.”
And even though Gomer left Hosea for other lovers and had even remarried, the Lord instructed him to take her back and to remarry her in Hosea 3:1-2, which says:
1 Then the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.”
2 So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a half of barley.
Finally, to best understand this and anything else regarding God’s will and law concerning His Holy covenant of marriage, we just need to remember that as revealed in Ephesians 5:22-33, marriage is an earthly and symbolic representation of the relationship we have with Christ as His bride. As Ephesians 5:22-33 (NASB) says:
22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.
24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,
26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;
29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,
30 because we are members of His body.
31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.
32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
In other words, we can reasonably rely on what we know about our relationship with Christ to best understand God’s plan and will concerning marriage, which definitely includes the above question. So according to the Bible, nothing but death breaks or dissolves the covenant of marriage created when we exchanged marriage vows with our first spouse, who is thereby our “covenant” spouse.
Note: In order to clear up any misunderstanding or confusion regarding the above post as indicated by a response below, it’s important to stipulate that a “covenant” marriage is the first marriage for BOTH spouses and the only biblical exception is the death of either spouse’s first spouse.