- Text: Mal. 1:6-11.
- Malachi is the last book in the OT.
- It was written in about 435 B.C., about 100 years after the first Jews returned from Babylonian captivity.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- God put it this way: they “do not fear Me” (Mal. 3:5). Cf. Psa. 36:1.
- In other words, there was a lack of genuine reverence in Israel. Reverence is “the practical recognition of the greatness of God” (John Benton).
- 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
- In the Law of Moses, God gave the honor of the priesthood to the family of Aaron.
- Officiating at the temple sacrifices and ceremonies – Lev. 21:6.
- Instructing the nation in God’s law – Lev. 10:11.
- Judging disputes over application of the law to specific cases – Deut. 17:8-11.
- 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.
- If they would not repent, God warned of serious consequences – Mal. 2:1-4.
- There is no more disastrous failure than a failure of example – e.g. David in 2 Sam. 12:13,14.
- Today, we are “a spiritual house” and “a holy priesthood” (1 Pt. 2:5).
- Do we appreciate the privilege? Do we accept the responsibility? Cf. Mal. 2:7,8.
II. Disregard for God’s Marriage Law
- 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.
- In Mt. 19:3-12, Jesus summed up God’s marriage law “from the beginning.”
- “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
- While both parties are living, there is only one exception to the permanence of marriage: adultery.
- In the absence of that cause, divorce is a sin — it does the very thing God said not to do.
- 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).
- We can’t disregard our marriage vows and continue to worship God without repentance.
- Nor can we mistreat our mates and continue to worship God without repentance – 1 Pt. 3:7.
III. Degeneracy in Worship
- The people to whom Malachi preached had made a mockery of worship – Mal. 1:7,8,12-14.
- If they would not repent, they should “shut the doors” and “not kindle fire on my altar in vain” (Mal. 1:10).
- There were at least three ways that the people of Israel had perverted the worship of God.
- Their worship was no more than a mechanical routine — with no involvement of their hearts.
- They had combined worship and ungodly living. Cf. Isa. 1:12-17.
- They were giving the Lord nothing more than their leftovers. Cf. 2 Sam. 24:24.
- Worship is “a right response to the true nature of God.” If so, acceptable worship would involve the following.
- A true conception of God – Ac. 17:22,23.
- Doing only what God authorizes in worship.
- Worshiping sincerely, from the heart.
- There could be no worse insult to God than showing irreverence to Him in the very act of worship!
- Although they lived many years ago, it is dangerous to disregard the prophets.
- For the times in which we live today, there is no more powerful prophet than Malachi.
- Malachi calls us not only to a reverence for God, but to a reverence that is radical (“root” of the matter).
- 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).
- How willing are we to hear when God warns us today?
- Our responsibilities as a spiritual priesthood?
- Our attitude toward His marriage law?
- Our practice of public and private worship?
- The last chapter of the last book in the OT presents us with a clear choice – Mal. 4:1,2.
Gary Henry – WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com