Archive for the ‘Malachi’ Category

Malachi 4

Malachi 4 has the prophet reminding God’s people that there is a day of reckoning coming.  “For behold, the day is coming…. shall set them ablaze…. will leave them neither root nor branch”.  God’s people needed to be reminded that the day is coming. God still has eternity to right all wrongs and reward all good.  It’s hard to be patient when it seems like bad people get away with things while good people suffer.  But God has it under control.  He absolutely will make things right in His time.

God promises a fire but there is a big difference between the refining fire applied to God’s people and the burning fire against the ungodly. Does it matter, how we respond and relate to God?  “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall”.  It absolutely does.  If we fear God and walk in obedience in His presence, we’ll walk in the sunshine of righteousness and experience His blessing and joy.

Malachi paints a picture of what that walk will look like:

  • They shall go out – they will be free and enjoy their liberty
  • They shall leap – growing strong and prosperous in the Lord
  • They shall tread down the wicked – enjoying the Lord’s victory in their life

God promises a great life for those who will walk in obedience to Him.  It is a walk, day by day, moment by moment, that will lead us to experience all God’s goodness and blessing.

God wants us to come back to Him.  And when we do, good things happen.  “He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers”.  This promise speaks of more than the reconciliation of families. When God turns the hearts of the children to their fathers, it also has in mind turning back all our focus to the God of their fathers, to the faith of the patriarchs.  Life is all about relationships.  It begins with our relationship with God, but that extends to marriages and families.  God cares about all those relationships.  He has been clear about that through His prophet Malachi!

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Malachi 3

Malachi 3 has the prophet responding to the whining of God’s people.  Israel complained that God seemed to reward the wicked and did not exercise His justice in the world. God responds to their complaint by saying, I will set things right with My Messiah, and before Him will come My messenger”. “Who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap”.  Both the launderer and the refiner work to clean, not to destroy.  God is in the restoration business.  But He has to clean up sin for us to come back to Him.

God reminds us that He never changes and His love and desire for us is always the same.  “I the Lord do not change”.  God is always there, always waiting, always willing to restore and redeem us.  But mankind has always had an issue – sin.  And as such, we are facing the reality of that sin.  “From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them.  Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts”. God makes it clear.  There is a path back to Him.  But we have to take a step and come back to Him.

One area where we get on the wrong side of God is around money.  Scripture tells us that ‘money is the root of all evil’.  God does have some expectations about money.  First and foremost, we must never forget that all of what we have is not ours, but God’s. And we need to be sure that we are returning to Him what is already rightfully His.  In the case of Malachi – it is about tithing.  God says “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me.  But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’  In your tithes and contributions”.  God is paying attention.  He expects us to return a portion of what He has entrusted to us to Him.

Some of us really struggle with that idea that we have to give some of our hard earned money to God.  But it actually isn’t ours.  And God does have a promise for those of us who take Him at His word. “And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need”.  We can’t outgive God.  I’ve been tithing for decades and He is faithful – always.  We can trust God and what He promises.  If we are faithful to give to Him, He’ll reward us with His ongoing blessing.  Our life and marriage is living proof of that faithfulness!

Malachi 2

Malachi 2 has the prophet addressing his own.  “O priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings”.  Malachi confronts the priests because their work was not from the heart.  They were going through the motions and putting on a show, but were not walking in obedience with the One who can give them truth.

Malachi reminds them of the covenant between God and Levi.  “My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him.  It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. True instruction, was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity”.  The relationship between Levi and God was a good one – based on a covenant of fear.  He walked with God and did God’s work well.

But things are different now with this group of priests.  “But you have turned aside from the way.  You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction”.  These priests were not following God nor the covenant.  They were spewing lies and leading people astray.  These priests did what was good for them without regard for God’s truth.

Malachi ends the chapter talking about something near and dear to God’s heart – marriage.  When we sin against our marriage or our marriage vows, we sin against an institution that God has established. Marriage is God’s idea, not man’s; He formed and established the first marriage as a pattern for every one afterwards. Because it is an institution, we are not allowed to define marriage any way that pleases us; God has established it and we must conform to what He has established.

Malachi delivers God’s view on marriage.  “The Lord, the God of Israel, says that He hates divorce”.  It doesn’t get much clearer than that.  Specifically, we can say that God hates divorce for at least three reasons:

  • God hates divorce because it breaks a solemn vow
  • God hates divorce because it is harmful
  • God hates divorce because it illustrates turning away from our belief

There is no doubt that God allows divorce in particular circumstances, though divorce is never commanded. God’s heart is always for repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation in marriage.

Malachi 1

Malachi 1 has the prophet gearing up to dump God’s correction on His people.  But before he does, he reminds them that God truly loves them.  “I have loved you, says the Lord”.  Before God corrects His people, He assures them of His love. This lays a foundation for their obedience, because if they love Him, they will keep His commandments.  Obedience is definitely a sign that we love and are true followers of God.  If we insist on our own ways and doing our own things, we will never truly walk with Him.

Guzik lays out the story of Malachi.  His prophecy is built around seven questions the people asked God. These questions revealed their doubting, discouraged, sinful heart.

  1. In what way have You loved us? (Malachi 1:2)
  2. In what way have we despised Your name? (Malachi 1:6)
  3. In what way have we polluted You? (Malachi 1:7)
  4. In what way have we wearied Him? (Malachi 2:17)
  5. In what way shall we return? (Malachi 3:7)
  6. In what way have we robbed You? (Malachi 3:8)
  7. In what way have we spoken against You? (Malachi 3:13)

And God answers them all.

God asks Israel to find assurance in His election. He wants them to understand that they are chosen and remain His chosen and favored people. But there is an issue with God – how they have followed.  “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am  a master, where is my fear”?  The people were talking out of both sides of their mouth. They expect God to treat them as His own, but they refuse to honor and obey Him as they lived.  It was how they despised and defiled Him.

Here is the reality of God then, and our God now.  “For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts”.  God alone is worthy of our praise.  He has set Himself apart from everything else and He alone will be glorified and praised.  It won’t just be His people that figure that out.  God will make His name great to all people in all lands.

Malachi 4

Malachi 4 has the prophet telling us what is to come.  He begins by assuring us “behold, the day is coming”.  There is a day of judgment that will come, and we will stand before God and give account.  It will be “burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble”.  Sin will be dealt with at that time.  God cannot ignore sin.  His nature and character won’t allow that.  So we will be judged based on how we have lived.  Sin is missing the mark, failing to meet God’s requirements.  And left to stand on our own, we will fail that test.

Sin will cost us everything.  “The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch”.  The only solution we have is Jesus Christ, whom God sent to the Cross to atone for our sin and give us the cleansing from sin that will set us free.  The outcome of judgment for those who are covered by the blood of Christ is that “the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall”.  What a difference the outcome will be.

In one case, sin will cause fire and destruction.  In the other, where Christ’s blood has made us white as snow, we’ll romp around like newborn calves.  No worries, no stress, just blessing in God’s presence because of the mercy and grace given freely to us through Jesus.  God wants us to “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him”.  We can’t remember it if we don’t read it and study it and learn it.  We have to spend time in God’s Word to understand what He wants for us.

God has sent us prophets like Elijah to teach us “before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes”.  We’ve been given the truth and the time to understand what God expects, to realize we fall short, and to receive His gift of grace that was offered to us through Jesus.  Now it is up to us to respond.  God moves in the hearts of those who come to him.  “He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers”.  He heals relationships and sets us free from the burden of sin.  But we have to receive His gift.  We have to be born again!

Malachi 3

Malachi 3 talks about the coming reality that Jesus “will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord”.  We will all stand before the Lord and be judged based on how we have lived.  It isn’t optional, it will be.  And the prophet goes on to tell us that “I will be a swift witness” as we stand and give account for our actions.  It won’t be based on how good we believe we have been.  Judgment will be based on how well we obeyed.

God’s standard doesn’t change.  “For I the Lord do not change”.  We have no excuse – we can’t say that we didn’t understand the expectations.  God wrote the manual and set the standard clearly, and it won’t be moving.  He never changes.  The truth is that all of us unfortunately “have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them”.  We’re going to come up empty when we stand before the Judge on our own efforts.  But God had a plan.  He sent Jesus to the cross to deal with our shortcomings and sin, and He promises that if we “Return to me, and I will return to you”.  He is always there ready to receive us back.

Malachi points out one area that we fall short – in how we handle our money.  “You are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contribution”.  We fail to give to God that which is His – the tithes and offerings we owe Him.  God has made it clear that we need to “Bring the full tithes into the storehouse”.  It isn’t for us to interpret what that means.  God’s been clear that the first 10% is His, of all that we have, and failure to return that to Him is like stealing from Him.  Not a very smart move.

But he goes beyond just telling us to bring the tithes.  He reminds us that if we are obedient we can “thereby put me to the test….if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need”.  I’ve experienced His faithfulness in this way when we tithe.  We will never out give God.  We can’t give more than He will bless.  And how we handle our money around tithes is a big differentiator in our obedience.  “You shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him”.  When people look at you, what do they see?  A person who walks in obedience, or one that does things your own way hoping God will bless you.

Malachi 2

Malachi 2 has the prophet speaking straight and powerfully to the priests who are off the tracks.  “If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name….then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings….I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces”.  Wow – there is a big problem here.  The priests are not listening to God.  They are not giving Him honor.  They will pay a price for that choice, and it is a deliberate choice, so God will deal with them.

God has been clear about His expectations.  He made a covenant with Levi and He says “My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me”.  God had an understanding with Levi about how the priestly lineage was to live.  And these current clowns that Malachi is addressing are not fearful of God at all.  They are just doing whatever they want.  Levi responded to the covenant this way: “He stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity”.

Levi took the covenant seriously.  He lived in fear of that covenant.  Malachi makes clear the expectations.  “For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts”.  The role of the priest is to guard the truth and teach the people as a messenger of the Lord.  It isn’t to ignore it and do whatever you want.  Malachi calls them on the carpet and says “you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant”.  Some strong words from the prophet from God Himself.

God is clear He won’t just ignore the disobedience.  “I make you despised and abased before all the people”.  There is a price to pay for ignoring God.  He goes on to ask the question “Why then are we faithless”.  We take things into our own hands and do what we want, not what God has commanded.  And one area Malachi calls out here is divorce.  He tells them to “guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth”.  Then comes one of the strongest statements in scripture on the topic.  In the ESV, it says “For the man who hates and divorces, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence” but in many translations it is more direct where it says “God hates divorce”.  Bottom line is that God cares about how we live.  He wants us to live in obedience with Him, and to treat marriage as another very serious covenant that cannot be lightly ended.

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