03 September 2016

Stone 33 - Malachi

Malachi is the final book of the Old Testament and the conclusion is as profound as one might expect. Of course, each of the 39 Old Testament entries are books with endings in their own right but the message of this book is very pointed and convicting. Let's take a look at the last book before a span of 400 years without any writings until Jesus arrives on the scene.

Rebellious Children
Immediately, the book opens up with God pointing out a huge problem...
"I have loved you," says the Lord. But you ask: "How have you loved us?" (Mal 1:2)
This defiant response of the people... "How have you loved us?"
So self-centered in nature.
The question implies that God has not loved them - as they are unaware - surely, if God had loved them they would have known it, right? What do they think it means to be loved by God? What are they expecting? What are the signs that one has been loved?
I would venture a guess that they feel they should be pampered and blessed with health, wealth, and happiness. However, as we have read throughout the Old Testament, the Israelites have had their share of ups and downs and perhaps they are a bit bitter about it.

You can almost hear the snarkiness of the Israelites now. With one hand on a hip and the other pointing a finger right in the face of God they pose the question while spewing forth all of the reasons they think support their claim. Then they turn their back to Him and walk away in a sort of modern "mic drop" arrogance as if God is really speechless and without rebuttal.

We see it again in verse six.
"A son honors his father, and a servant his master. But if I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is your fear of me? says the Lord of Hosts to you priests who despise My name." Yet you ask: "How have we despised your name?"
Again in verse seven.
"By presenting defiled food on my altar." You ask: "How have we defiled you?" When you say: "The Lord's table is contemptible."
Time and again God answers them and they deny the accusations by asking 'How?'.

**As a father of five myself, I know the pain of this situation. More than once I have told one of my children that I love them only to have them respond with a curled lip and the words "No you don't."

But now look to Malachi 1:13...
You also say: "Look, what a nuisance!" "And you scorn it," says the Lord of Hosts.
God wants a relationship with the Israelites and they seem to find the idea burdensome. How different are we in this age? Not much, I fear.

In chapter two, God talks about how the people are hurt because He does not accept their offerings by asking why He does not accept them (Mal 2:13-14). This is compared to a marriage and Israel has been spending time worshiping other things.

God says He is wearied by the words of the Israelites and they respond with "How?". God points out that they say things like "Everyone who does evil is good in the Lord's sight." or "Where is the God of justice?" (Mal 2:17).

Malachi 3:13-14 brings another denial as God tells the people that their words against Him are harsh. They ask what they have spoken against the Lord and I guess they are not happy with the answer. God tells them that they have said that it is useless to serve God because they have gained nothing.

**Even to this day people ask a similar question. What will we gain? Unfortunately, while the answer to that question is very appealing, people often overlook the eternal benefit in light of the immediate or short term benefit. This is a decision that has eternal consequences.

**There is still hope. There is still time. This 2000+ year old message is still applicable today. The Old Testament message points to a savior we now know as Jesus. We will begin to look at that next time as we pick up in the New Testament 400 years later.

In the meantime, please enjoy these resources from the folks at Join the Bible Project and RZIM.

Worship: A Clue to Meaning in Life
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Until next time...

No comments: