13 And this is the second thing you do:
You cover the altar of the LORD with tears,
With weeping and crying;
So He does not regard the offering anymore,
Nor receive it with goodwill from your hands.
14 Yet you say, “For what reason?”
Because the LORD has been witness
Between you and the wife of your youth,
With whom you have dealt treacherously;
Yet she is your companion
And your wife by covenant.
The wives in Israel were so treacherously abused that they had no recourse but to cry before the Lord. THEY are the ones covering the altar with tears and bringing their cries to the Lord.
For this reason, God will not hear the prayers or accept the offerings of the husbands. You cannot treat your wife as a slave, a servant, or a beast, without bringing upon yourself the wrath of God.
In fact, Peter alludes to this passage in 1 Peter 3:7
1 Peter 3:7 (NKJV)
7Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
If you treat your wife with anything less than the honor befitting a firstborn heir of eternal life in Christ, you are also dealing treacherously with her.
God hears the cries of the oppressed and he answers them.
Remember, dear ones, that Lazarus received evil things on this earth for a time, but when he died he was carried by the angels to the bosom of Abraham, and rests in the arms of Jesus for eternity.
The rich man, on the other hand, who was treacherous to Lazarus, was tormented day and night.
God knows how to deliver the godly and give them peace. The cries never go unheard.
She is a wife by covenant. This does not mean that you can treat her however you wish and she is not allowed to leave you. That is contrary to everything we know about covenants. I have written on that before. Malachi is using Old Testament language to say what Peter says in the New Testament. She is a co-heir of eternal life, a wife by the covenant you made with her, and that covenant can be broken.
Israel understood broken covenants. They had already been cast out of the land because they broke the covenant with their God. And now, as they are resettling the land, they are treating their wives, whom they made covenants with, the same way.
Which follows – they deserve to be cast out.
God is bearing witness of your treachery, and refuses to hear your prayers as long as your wife is covering the altar with tears.
Matthew 5:25–26 (NKJV)
25Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.
26Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.
In Malachi, the adversary is the oppressed wife, crying out to the judge. Make peace with her before Christ comes in judgment. Repent of your treachery, for there is a God in heaven coming to hand you over to judgment.
In fact, it would be better to give her a divorce and send her away (verse 16).
Therefore, the wise man will hear.
Take heed to your spirit, and do not deal treacherously. (Verse 16)