Malachi: A Call to Radical Reverence

 

Introduction

  1. Text: Mal. 1:6-11.
  2. Malachi is the last book in the OT.
  3. It was written in about 435 B.C., about 100 years after the first Jews returned from Babylonian captivity.
  4. Although many years had gone by, the city of Jerusalem was still in deplorable condition — and what is worse, the spiritual life of the people was badly in need of repair.
  5. Israel had become so lazy and apathetic and cynical, they questioned whether it made any difference whether they served God or not – Mal. 2:17; 3:13-15.
  6. During this period, Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah, along with Malachi, rebuked God’s people for a number of sins — but back of all these specific problems, the basic problem was this: the people simply did not respect God.
  7. God put it this way: they “do not fear Me” (Mal. 3:5). Cf. Psa. 36:1.
  8. In other words, there was a lack of genuine reverence in Israel. Reverence is “the practical recognition of the greatness of God” (John Benton).
  9. Let’s look at three examples of the failure of Israel in Malachi’s day to respect and fear the Lord.

I. Corruption of the Priesthood

  1. In the Law of Moses, God gave the honor of the priesthood to the family of Aaron.
    1. Officiating at the temple sacrifices and ceremonies – Lev. 21:6.
    2. Instructing the nation in God’s law – Lev. 10:11.
    3. Judging disputes over application of the law to specific cases – Deut. 17:8-11.
  2. Faithful, godly priests would have been a great help to Israel, but in Malachi’s day, the priests were ungodly — as leaders, they were more a hindrance to the nation than a help.
  3. If they would not repent, God warned of serious consequences – Mal. 2:1-4.
  4. There is no more disastrous failure than a failure of example – e.g. David in 2 Sam. 12:13,14.
  5. Today, we are “a spiritual house” and “a holy priesthood” (1 Pt. 2:5).
  6. Do we appreciate the privilege? Do we accept the responsibility? Cf. Mal. 2:7,8.

II. Disregard for God’s Marriage Law

  1. In Malachi’s day, the men of Israel were unlawfully divorcing their wives — and then compounding the problem by unlawfully marrying Gentile women – Mal. 2:10-16.
  2. In Mt. 19:3-12, Jesus summed up God’s marriage law “from the beginning.”
    1. “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
    2. While both parties are living, there is only one exception to the permanence of marriage: adultery.
    3. In the absence of that cause, divorce is a sin — it does the very thing God said not to do.
  3. Malachi said, “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 good will from your hands” (Mal. 2:13 NKJV).
    1. We can’t disregard our marriage vows and continue to worship God without repentance.
    2. Nor can we mistreat our mates and continue to worship God without repentance – 1 Pt. 3:7.

III. Degeneracy in Worship

  1. The people to whom Malachi preached had made a mockery of worship – Mal. 1:7,8,12-14.
  2. If they would not repent, they should “shut the doors” and “not kindle fire on my altar in vain” (Mal. 1:10).
  3. There were at least three ways that the people of Israel had perverted the worship of God.
    1. Their worship was no more than a mechanical routine — with no involvement of their hearts.
    2. They had combined worship and ungodly living. Cf. Isa. 1:12-17.
    3. They were giving the Lord nothing more than their leftovers. Cf. 2 Sam. 24:24.
  4. Worship is “a right response to the true nature of God.” If so, acceptable worship would involve the following.
    1. A true conception of God – Ac. 17:22,23.
    2. Doing only what God authorizes in worship.
    3. Worshiping sincerely, from the heart.
  5. There could be no worse insult to God than showing irreverence to Him in the very act of worship!

Conclusion

  1. Although they lived many years ago, it is dangerous to disregard the prophets.
  2. For the times in which we live today, there is no more powerful prophet than Malachi.
  3. Malachi calls us not only to a reverence for God, but to a reverence that is radical (“root” of the matter).
  4. When God commands His people to “give honor to my Name,” no hope is given to those who “will not listen . . . [and] will not take it to heart” (Mal. 2:1,2).
  5. How willing are we to hear when God warns us today?
    1. Our responsibilities as a spiritual priesthood?
    2. Our attitude toward His marriage law?
    3. Our practice of public and private worship?
  6. The last chapter of the last book in the OT presents us with a clear choice – Mal. 4:1,2.

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com