STUDIES IN MALACHI:Message 1

STUDIES IN MALACHI:Message 1

Theme: Indictments by the divine judge in two messages.

OUTLINE

Message 1 First and second indictments, Breaking the covenant by dishonoring 1:1-14, and breaking the covenant by deceit 2:1-17

Message 2 Third and fourth indictments, Breaking the covenant by disobedience 3:1-18, and Breaking the covenant by disrespect 4:1-6

INTRODUCTION

If you like court TV which is a popular reality show in these days, you should love Malachi. In this book the judge enters, the court is called to order, and the indictments are read. The judge is the jury, because, in this case the crimes are against the judge Himself. Thus God rebukes His ancient people, the children of Abraham. This is not a role that Judge Judy could fill though her firm adherence to law and order would be at home. It is, however, as the last book in the Old Testament, a perfect prelude to the New Testament and the gospels. After conviction comes repentance and that is how the New Testament gospels begin with a call to repentance and the announcement via John the Baptizer that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, which brings hope of forgiveness. Let us now enter the courtroom and hear true first two indictments.

MESSAGE 1

INDICTMENT ONE, DISHONORING GOD’S GRACE

Today we look first at chapter one which is focused on Israel’s dishonoring God’s grace and love. Hear the Lord’s indictment in this chapter 1:1-14. What follows is divine revelation. The word of the Lord came to Israel through Malachi: “I have shown love to you,” says the Lord, but you say, “How have you shown love to us?” “Esau was Jacob’s brother,” the Lord explains, “yet I chose Jacob and rejected Esau. I turned Esau’s mountains into a deserted wasteland and gave his territory to the wild jackals.” Edom says, “Though we are devastated, we will once again build the ruined places.” So the Lord who rules over all responds, “They indeed may build, but I will overthrow. They will be known as the land of evil, the people with whom the Lord is permanently displeased. Your eyes will see it, and then you will say, ‘May the Lord be magnified even beyond the border of Israel!’” “A son naturally honors his father and a slave respects his master. If I am your father, where is my honor? If I am your master, where is my respect? The Lord who rules over all asks you this, you priests who make light of my name! But you reply, ‘How have we made light of your name?’ You are offering improper sacrifices on my altar, yet you ask, ‘How have we offended you?’ By treating the table of the Lord as if it is of no importance! For when you offer blind animals as a sacrifice, is that not wrong? And when you offer the lame and sick, is that not wrong as well? Indeed, try offering them to your governor! Will he be pleased with you or show you favor?” asks the Lord who rules over all But now plead for God’s favor that he might be gracious to us. “With this kind of offering in your hands, how can he be pleased with you?” asks the Lord who rules over all. “I wish that one of you would close the temple doors, so that you no longer would light useless fires on my altar. I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord who rules over all, “and I will no longer accept an offering from you. For from the east to the west my name will be great among the nations. Incense and pure offerings will be offered in my name everywhere, for my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord who rules over all. “But you are profaning it by saying that the table of the Lord is common and its offerings despicable. You also say, ‘How tiresome it is.’ You turn up your nose at it,” says the Lord who rules over all, “and instead bring what is stolen, lame, or sick. You bring these things for an offering! Should I accept this from you?” asks the Lord.“There will be harsh condemnation for the hypocrite who has a valuable male animal in his flock but vows and sacrifices something inferior to the Lord. For I am a great king,”says the Lord who rules over all, “and my name is awesome among the nations.” The priests are mentioned several times here, but this indictment belongs to the people. The priests are just passing on the deplorable sacrifices that the people bring. Those stolen, lame, or sick sacrifices demonstrate the people's lack of appreciation for God’s love and grace. I want you to particularly observe how God states His love because it is something many Christians do not understand today. He illustrates through comparing Jacob which is Israel with Esau which is Edom. The bottom line is this, election is grace. Grace is election! Christians love to debate predestination and free will. They do this as if it were an obscure theological problem. It is not. It is the essence of salvation. God chooses us and sovereignly grants salvation to blind, deaf, indeed, dead sinners. God raises them spiritually through resurrection or what we generally call the new birth. One Sunday evening during my ministry i was sick and so I tuned into the evening service at a neighboring Baptist church. There I heard the pastor’s tortured explanation of being born again. My judgment is that he could not do it. It ended up being an explication of repentance and faith which is conversion, something we participate in, and not the new birth which is exclusively God’s action. It is a gift bestowed; it is grace. Israel despised it, “How have you shown love to us?” God chose them above all other nations, and he chose you too. In Luke 17 we have the story of ten lepers healed by Jesus. Only one returned to thank Him, and he was a despised Samaritan.  At a time when things like entitlement, accusation, venting ­anger, and violence seem to have taken hold of our culture, what kind of impact might gratitude have? Saying “I’m grateful” or “Thank you” does not simply express our thanksgiving but actually gives voice to a countercultural witness that has the power to push back the tide of resentment among us. Then there is room for a fresh appreciation of God’s renewing, saving grace. This is what Israel missed.

II INDICTMENT TWO: DECEIVING

The second indictment is for the priests and questions their honesty and integrity. Hear the judges indictment, in 2:1-17,“Now, you priests, this commandment is for you. If you do not listen and take seriously the need to honor my name,” says the Lord who rules over all, “I will send judgment on you and turn your blessings into curses - indeed, I have already done so because you are not taking it to heart. I am about to discipline your children and will spread offal on your faces, the very offal produced at your festivals, and you will be carried away along with it. Then you will know that I sent this commandment to you so that my covenant may continue to be with Levi,” says the Lord who rules over all. “My covenant with him was designed to bring life and peace. I gave its statutes to him to fill him with awe, and he indeed revered me and stood in awe before me. He taught what was true; sinful words were not found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and integrity, and he turned many people away from sin. For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge of sacred things, and people should seek instruction from him because he is the messenger of the Lord who rules over all. You, however, have turned from the way. You have caused many to violate the law; you have corrupted the covenant with Levi,” says the Lord who rules over all. “Therefore, I have caused you to be ignored and belittled before all people to the extent to which you are not following after me and are showing partiality in your instruction.” Do we not all have one father? Did not one God create us? Why do we betray one another, in this way making light of the covenant of our ancestors? Judah has become disloyal, and unspeakable sins have been committed in Israel and Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the holy things that the Lord loves and has turned to a foreign god! May the Lord cut off from the community of Jacob every last person who does this, as well as the person who presents improper offerings to the Lord who rules over all! You also do this: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears as you weep and groan, because he no longer pays any attention to the offering nor accepts it favorably from you. Yet you ask, “Why?” The Lord is testifying against you on behalf of the wife you married when you were young, to whom you have become unfaithful even though she is your companion and wife by law. No one who has even a small portion of the Spirit in him does this. What did our ancestor do when seeking a child from God? Be attentive, then, to your own spirit, for one should not be disloyal to the wife he took in his youth. “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, “and the one who is guilty of violence,” says the Lord who rules over all. “Pay attention to your conscience, and do not be unfaithful.” You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” Because you say, “Everyone who does evil is good in the Lord’s opinion, and he delights in them,” or “Where is the God of justice?” In our culture we are experts at blaming others for our own failures. The internet has provided an opportunity for many to put others down. Emotional tirades have replaced the search for the truth. In the words of the prophet good deeds are called evil, and evil good. Our time is like Malachi’s. Even from Christian pulpits and churches, false teaching abounds. Like the Priests and Levites of Malachi’s day, many modern day preachers have turned from the way and cause others to violate the law. The sanctity of marriage has bean lost and divorces abound even among pastors as it did among priests and levites. God hates divorce and many churches ignore it. I know this from personal experience trying to discipline a person and finding no help from neighboring churches they were attending at the time. Unspeakable sins have been committed. Idolatry reigns. There is one cause for this: as the priests of Malachi’s day corrupted the covenant, so modern pastors are promising to be faithful and not delivering. They are corrupting the covenant, and the people suffer. Ordination oaths seem to be meaningless to many. They promise to uphold the churches’ doctrinal position and then treat it as if it were outdated. I am personally acquainted with this. People who should be excluded from communion until they repent are welcomed at the table of the Lord. How is this different from Israel?  It is not.

CONCLUSION

You have entered the courtroom. If you were the grand jury would you agree with the indictments and the evidence. You should; and proceed to trial.