This is a text reader for the article below:
Message Audio Player:
Malachi… last message before total silence Pt. 2
We began the prophetic book of Malachi last week and ended in chapter 2 verses 11-17.
I began our lesson last week with a preview of the sins God was addressing through Malachi and pointing out that they were the exact same sins God had already address Judah about through Nehemiah not that long before.
Those sins were:
- The priesthood was defiled (Nehemiah 13:29, Malachi 1:6-2:9)
- Marriage was corrupt in Israel (Nehemiah 13:23-25, Malachi 2:14-15)
- The tithe that should go to the Levites was kept from them (Nehemiah 13:10-11, Malachi 3:8-12)
So the fact that God is having to revisit these same issues, tells you the hearts of the people we are dealing with here.
Now last week we covered the first two sins of the defilement of the Priesthood and the corruption of the marriages of God’s people. Regarding this later one God goes on record in Malachi as hating divorce.
God, in His infinite love provided for the man a companion so that he would NOT be alone in life or in His God given work.
Divorce and adultery were real sins in Judah, but they also serve as a clear picture of Israel in general as regards their relationship to and with God!
As I said last week, the exact same way earthly marriages grow cold and distant, dispassionate and overfamiliar, humdrum and no longer compelling is the same way it happens with God.
In both cases it is a lack of single-mindedly setting one’s attention towards the object of their love. SPENDING TIME together, which is central to the core of both meanings of the word “companion”. Deliberately seeking the other’s face and not just what they can accomplish FOR you. Valuing and treasuring them. Placing them first as the scripture implies we should.
- “Love the Lord your God with ALL….etc.”
- “Those who are married are concerned with the things of the world, how they may please their spouse.”
When we fail to do these things our relations and connection with God and mate become more obligatory than passionate and so lose a great deal, if not all, of the life and blessings they were designed to give.
The words treachery and treason are very closely related and looking up the full meaning of the words reveals why. It is a terrible breach of trust to betray a mate. It reveals a relationship which was never truly mature to begin with OR an infectious sickness which has compromised the relationship from within for some time.
We closed out with the last verse of chapter 2 which revealed just how deep and pervasive Judah’s sin was.
Let’s read that…
“(17) You have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet you ask, “How have we wearied Him?”
When you say, “Everyone who does evil is good in the LORD’s sight, and He is pleased with them,” or “Where is the God of justice?”
They could see the sins of others, stood morally outraged at them and then, just like Adam and Eve, they looked back at God as if to blame Him.
“Why aren’t You judging THEM! Why does it look like those who do evil are blessed?!”
They asked this as if they were above reproach, as if they HAD no sin.
Of course we know that people really don’t truly desire justice meted out based upon our performance because that would destroy us all. What people want is a cloak for their sin. A person who takes the spotlight off of them because in their minds, THAT person over there is FAR worse of a sinner than I am.
So just like we learned early on in our Trek Thru the Bible, God desires NOT just obedience, but our hearts. That was the lesson of the WHOLE BURNT OFFERING. It represented passion! No wonder David, the man after God’s Own heart, issued a new command that at the giving of the whole burnt offerings at the beginning and end of every day songs of praise should be given to God.
This happened at a turning point in David’s life which I believe mirrors what God is addressing here in Malachi.
Back in 1Chronicles 13 & 2Samuel 6 we learn of David’s first attempt to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to its rightful place in Jerusalem, because it was there that God had chosen to place His name.
In these chapters we saw how the attempt, though beginning in great joy, ended in failure and anger. God had killed Uzzah for reaching out to stabilize the Ark as it was being transported on a ox drawn cart. This angered David and he essentially dropped off the Ark of the Covenant at the closest place possible which might meet with God’s approval. This was the house of Obed–Edom and his 68 associates who were worshipers and leaders in music and song to God.
This was a dark time for David during which he built his house in Jerusalem. We are not told what transpired in his relationship with God. We are left with a few simple clues and our imaginations to fill in the gap, but without a doubt David had an encounter with God that changed him for the rest of his life.
David returned from attempting to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant angry at God, but the result was “David that day feared the Lord.” – 1Chron. 13:12.
During the ensuing 3 months David clearly consulted with the scribes regarding the law for what it might reveal concerning this terrible thing that had happened. When David realized what he had done in transporting the Ark of the Covenant or the Ark of the Presence in a way which was dishonoring to God, it created a different heart in him. He then went back to the house of Obed-Edom in confidence and rejoicing knowing he would return this time to Jerusalem with the Ark of God’s presence!
In 1Chronicles 15 we see David celebrating the return of the Ark of the Covenant by giving a song to Asaph – a LONG song which is recorded for us in 1Chronicles 16:7-36 in which some of the beginning words were…
“Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD!
(11) Seek the LORD and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!”
The words of this psalm are an entire series of bible lessons in themselves and that too is a lesson. David was a man of great passion. He thought and felt deeply…he was not a surface dweller or a shallow person. He had eyes wide open and he saw God in so many things with those eyes.
As I commented at the time I taught on this back in July of 2020, it reminds me of a much loved poem from William Blake,
“This life’s dim windows of the soul
Distorts the heavens from pole to pole
And leads you to believe a lie
When you see with, not through, the eye.”
David loved God…was passionate about Him and was not in the slightest embarrassed or ashamed of the ardor of that love.
People of great heart are often privy to insights regarding God and this life which pass right by others. While it is true that we need the scriptures to ground us in reality so that our emotions do not lead our hearts from the truth, those who feel things deeply and love without restraints or embarrassment, possess clearer, less obstructed eyes than the rest of us…and we are bound to thank God for their sharing what they see with the world.
David was a man who learned his lessons well. He made mistakes after this and sinned in ways which even punished the whole nation, but God never lost David’s heart.
We see much later in David’s life when Israel incited God to anger it also angered David and like Moses, that led him to act somewhat impetuously and sin himself which brought God’s judgment on David and the whole nation.
The sin does not strike us as that bad, but God had His reasons which are clearly laid down in scripture even before these events took place.
On the morning after this is what transpired and I believe it fits this lesson of loving God with our whole hearts.
In 2Sam. 24:11-18, it says,
“(11) When David got up in the morning, a revelation from the LORD had come to the prophet Gad, David’s seer: (12) “Go and say to David, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am offering you three choices. Choose one of them, and I will do it to you.’” (13) So Gad went to David, told him the choices, and asked him, “Do you want three years of famine to come on your land, to flee from your foes three months while they pursue you, or to have a plague in your land three days? Now, think it over and decide what answer I should take back to the One who sent me.”
(14) David answered Gad, “I have great anxiety. Please, let us fall into the LORD’s hands because His mercies are great, but don’t let me fall into human hands.”
(15) So the LORD sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the appointed time, and from Dan to Beer–sheba 70,000 men died.
(16) Then the angel extended his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, but the LORD relented concerning the destruction and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “Enough, withdraw your hand now!”
The angel of the LORD was then at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. (17) When David saw the angel striking the people, he said to the LORD, “Look, I am the one who has sinned; I am the one who has done wrong. But these sheep, what have they done? Please, let Your hand be against me and my father’s family.”
(18) Gad came to David that day and said to him, “Go up and set up an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.”
Here are several lessons wrapped up in one occurrence.
- God’s relationship with this man David, was unique. When do we ever hear of God offering man a choice in regard to his own punishment? This was obviously an outcropping or result of knowing God relationally in a way which allowed God certain freedoms which could not always be afforded most people whose relationship with God is more centered on self. For all David’s faults – he was a man who loved, pursued, trusted and sought to honor God in genuine sincerity and that counts for something with God.
- David knew and trusted in the character of God which he KNEW to be abundantly merciful!
- David eventually asked to bear the guilt of his own sin rather than let it pass anymore to those God had placed under his hand as a shepherd. You can see his shepherd’s heart never truly left him in his words of pleading to God – “David said to God, “Was it not I who commanded the people to be numbered? I am the one who has sinned and done evil indeed; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, O LORD my God, be against me and my father’s house, but not against Your people that they should be plagued.”
Not to be confused with an over-emotional push-over, but God is still easily moved by the feelings of our infirmities and is quick to relent of harm when He sees a contrite heart…and aren’t you glad it’s true!!!!
God requires sacrifice
2Sam. 24:19-25, “(19) David went up in obedience to Gad’s command, just as the LORD had commanded. (20) Araunah looked down and saw the king and his servants coming toward him, so he went out and bowed to the king with his face to the ground. (21) Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” David replied, “To buy the threshing floor from you in order to build an altar to the LORD, so the plague on the people may be halted.” (22) Araunah said to David, “My lord the king may take whatever he wants and offer it. Here are the oxen for a burnt offering and the threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. (23) My king, Araunah gives everything here to the king.” Then he said to the king, “May the LORD your God accept you.” (24) The king answered Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it from you for a price, for I will not offer to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for 50 ounces of silver. (25) He built an altar to the LORD there and offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the LORD answered prayer on behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel ended.”
What a stark contrast to these priests of Malachi’s day who offered only the weak, blind and sickly animals to God in order to save the best for themselves!
Now God moves on from addressing these first two sins and speaks to His future response. The way in which He will break a 400 year silence.
“(1) See, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to His temple, the Messenger of the covenant you desire–see, He is coming,” says the LORD of Hosts.”
Of course Malachi is not the only prophet to foretell this, in fact in the three Gospel accounts of this truth being fulfilled in John the Baptist and in Jesus, Mark quotes from Isaiah 40:3 to make this point.
The Gospel accounts of this are found in Matthew 11:10; Mark 1:2 & Luke 7:27.
This latter one from Luke I will read to you. Again it is found in Luke 7:24-35,
“(24) After John’s messengers left, He began to speak to the crowds about John:
“What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind? (25) What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft robes? Look, those who are splendidly dressed and live in luxury are in royal palaces. (26) What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and far more than a prophet.
(27) This is the one it is written about: “Look, I am sending My messenger ahead of You; he will prepare Your way before You.”
(28) I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John, but the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
(29) (And when all the people, including the tax collectors, heard this, they acknowledged God’s way of righteousness, because they had been baptized with John’s baptism. (30) But since the Pharisees and experts in the law had not been baptized by him, they rejected the plan of God for themselves.)
Nothing new here. In today’s world it is often the same. Many churches will not hire a pastor (which again is a horse before the cart proposition to begin with) but many will not hire a Pastor unless he has finished a certain level of education – some even requiring a Doctorate, which is amazing since the scriptural list of qualification never mention anything approaching a requirement like this. All the qualification in scripture are laser focused upon proven, approved character – not mental knowledge or academic achievements. The proof of this wisdom in scripture is borne out in the experience of the modern church. MANY who have Doctorates of Divinity have very cold walks if any walk with God at all. There is much learning, but the scriptures tell us that pride comes with much learning. Jesus has this to say about their much learning in scripture.
John 5:35-40, “(35) John was a burning and shining lamp, and for a time you were willing to enjoy his light. (36) “But I have a greater testimony than John’s because of the works that the Father has given Me to accomplish. These very works I am doing testify about Me that the Father has sent Me. (37) The Father Who sent Me has Himself testified about Me.
You have not heard His voice at any time, and you haven’t seen His form.
(38) You don’t have His word living in you, because you don’t believe the One He sent.
(39) You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. (40) And you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.”
It was true then and it is no less true now. With much learning does not come godliness. It does not preclude it, but it does tend to do more to stand in the way of intimacy than to facilitate it.
Then Jesus went on and said something else in which I believe we see a shadow of the accusations of Judah against God which we just read in Malachi 2:17. It is as if Jesus is picking up the conversation where it lay for the past 400 years.
“(31) “To what then should I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? (32) They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to each other: We played the flute for you, but you didn’t dance; we sang a lament, but you didn’t weep!
(33) For John the Baptist did not come eating bread or drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’
(34) The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’
(35) Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”
“(2) But who can endure the day of His coming? And who will be able to stand when He appears?”
Now I am glad we are coming to these verses. They illustrate perhaps even more clear than in other places how prophecy has but ONE ultimate fulfillment, but also has multiple partial fulfillments.
When Jesus came in the flesh, there was a certain amount of “cleaning house” that took place. He came to Israel and as I just said a moment ago, the leaders were corrupt. We read of Jesus being moved with compassion for them because they were like sheep with no shepherd.
The spiritual leaders of Israel drew near to God only superficially. They knew the scriptures, but then used them to appear godly before their fellow Israelite and as a gavel of judgment against them. There was not true intimacy with God in the greatest portion of them. JUST as it had been when God last spoke to Israel in Malachi’s day.
He addressed the Pharisees and experts in the law but they did not have ears to hear but they were not alone. The others had ears to hear, but only to a point. When He told those who followed Him that they would have to eat His flesh and drink His blood or they could have no part with Him – they all left Him and followed Him no more. Even His Own disciples forsook Him when the rubber really hit the road. So the house cleaning began back then, but if you keep reading we see that all this passage refers to was not entirely accomplished as Jesus’ first coming. This means that while verse 1 was completely fulfilled at the incarnation of Jesus, the very next verse will not be accomplished for some time yet to come. It had a partial and immediate fulfillment in His day, but not its ultimate fulfillment.
Let’s keep reading…
“(2) But who can endure the day of His coming? And who will be able to stand when He appears?” For He will be like a refiner’s fire and like cleansing lye. (3) He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the LORD in righteousness. (4) And the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will please the LORD as in days of old and years gone by. (5) “I will come to you in judgment, and I will be ready to witness against sorcerers and adulterers; against those who swear falsely; against those who oppress the widow and the fatherless, and cheat the wage earner; and against those who deny justice to the foreigner. They do not fear Me,” says the LORD of Hosts.
The sin of sorcery was one they picked up while in exile in Babylon which is most likely why it is mentioned here.
He speaks of purifying the sons of Levi. We know, as we read in Zechariah, that they, as well as their brethren, will repent when Jesus returns and places His feet on the Mount of Olives. Many will have repented when He comes for the Church 7 years before that at the rapture when “every eye will see Him”. Zechariah says they will weep for Him, having realized what they and their forefathers had done in rejecting Him. This will begin the purifying work we read of here.
You might think that because we, as Gentile Christians, have been made priests unto our God that we serve as the fulfillment of this prophecy but we do not. Though we might serve as a minor way in which it is fulfilled, most certainly not the ultimate way. This was spoken to Israel and we know from Paul that they were set aside for now until the fullness of the Gentiles have come in, then God will judge Israel and bring them to repentance.
As I have told you many times – the Old Testament, though it mentions the coming in of the Gentiles, it does not specifically see or predict the time of the Gentiles. Old Testament prophecy always skips over this time, since its focus was Israel as a U.
I think these verses, because of their familiarity to you, might help illustrate this more clearly than in others I’ve mentioned in the past.
(6) “Because I, Yahweh, have not changed, you descendants of Jacob have not been destroyed.
(7) “Since the days of your fathers, you have turned from My statutes; you have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of Hosts.”
While God does often seem to clean from top to bottom, He does eventually get to the bottom. While Israel’s spiritual leaders may have played a major role in leading Judah down the wrong path, they did not honor their priests either and so the problem was circular.
The Priests did not honor God before the people and the people did not honor the Priests.
I submit to you that if either had done their job, it is quite possible it would have worked towards the salvation of both!
We’ve seen this in the past. Times when the priests turned the hearts of Israel, but if you remember in the days of King Joash & King Josiah, it was the other way about! It seemed as if the hearts of the people responded quicker than that of the priests.
“But you ask: “How can we return?” (8) “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me!”
You ask: “How do we rob You?”
“By not making the payments of 10 percent and the contributions. (9) You are suffering under a curse, yet you–the whole nation–are still robbing Me.
(10) Bring the full 10 percent into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this way,” says the LORD of Hosts. “See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure. (11) I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not ruin the produce of your ground, and your vine in your field will not be barren,” says the LORD of Hosts.
(12) “Then all the nations will consider you fortunate, for you will be a delightful land,” says the LORD of Hosts.
This is an ongoing problem with God’s people. They somehow understand that when they give their lives to work for someone that they should be compensated for their labor, but those in the ministry often go without.
A great portion of the giving, in most churches, comes from about 15-20% of the people. They attempt to use something Paul did with a single fledgling church in Corinth, in order to bring them to maturity without suspicion as THE standard for churches throughout time. Paul did not receive money from Corinth at first, but later felt as if he had done them wrong in failing to do so. He even admitted that other churches were supporting him so that he could minister to them for FREE.
Yes, he was a tentmaker, but he was also an apostle. As such, he came to unevangelized areas. He could hardly come into town and start teaching and demand a salary. He had to earn a basis for trust.
As I said, people love to misquote Paul as supporting this failure to give, when Paul himself gave the reasons why he did not charge the Corinthians and that Jesus commanded His people to give to its spiritual leaders.
Let’s read that passage in order to connect what is happening in Malachi to us today.
1Corinthians 9:1-14, “(1) Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?
(2) If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. (3) My defense to those who examine me is this:
(4) Don’t we have the right to eat and drink?
(5) Don’t we have the right to be accompanied by a Christian wife, like the other apostles, the Lord’s brothers, and Cephas?
(6) Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?
(7) Who ever goes to war at his own expense?
Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its fruit?
Or who shepherds a flock and does not drink the milk from the flock?
(8) Am I saying this from a human perspective? Doesn’t the law also say the same thing?
(9) For it is written in the law of Moses, Do not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain. Is God really concerned with oxen? (10) Or isn’t He really saying it for us?
Yes, this is written for us, because he who plows ought to plow in hope, and he who threshes should do so in hope of sharing the crop.
(11) If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?
(12) If others share this authority over you, don’t we even more?
However, we have not used this authority; instead we endure everything so that we will not hinder the gospel of Christ.
(13) Do you not know that those who perform the temple services eat the food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the offerings of the altar?
(14) In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should earn their living by the gospel.”
In the “word of grace” movement I have heard them even pull Paul’s words wildly out of context to say God only expects New Covenant believers to give as they feel led. They do this by pulling out of context something Paul said while soliciting a special collection of funds NOT for a church or their pastors, but for the impoverished Jews in Jerusalem who were in an ongoing famine. THAT is where Paul told them to “Give as you determine in your hearts”. However, even then he told them if they give little they will receive little, if they give much they will reap much. Of course these “word of gracers” do not quote that part.
2Corinthians 9:7-13, “(7) Each person should do as he has decided in his heart–not out of regret or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. (8) And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.
(9) As it is written: He has scattered; He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.
(10) Now the One who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness, (11) as you are enriched in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us.
(12) For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many acts of thanksgiving to God.
(13) Through the proof of this service, they will glorify God for your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with others.”
Paul calls giving to you brother and to your spiritual leaders a proof of your obedience to the confession of the Gospel of Christ. Kinda makes you wonder where the non-givers – those who make up the other 80-85% of most congregations sit in relation to Christ.
Far from being an issue relegated to the Old Covenant, these are prinicples which are based upon God’s unchanging character – Whose character we are to be conformed into under the New Covenant! It is earthly minded, carnal Christians who look at such matters as bondage and legalistic. God is right and His character changes not. WE on the other hand should daily seek to become more and more conformed to His likenes in word and deed!
Most do not know the pressures and spiritual difficulties involved in pastoring. Though I will admit that many modern problems are self induced. God never called Pastors to be businessmen. He did not call them to build huge buildings, sub-divide families into groups for teaching purposes, hire staff, conduct fundraisers campaigns or even spearhead community evangelistic efforts. They were called to shepherd sheep. Most of this was done in homes and their efforts were in study, teaching and leading by example. They were to train the flock to go out and do the work of the ministry. Today, the Pastor has become the one-stop-shop for all things ministry related. They are CEO’s more than they are preachers, teachers and leaders and THAT is a source of MUCH of the sense of overwhelming despair associated with pastoring.
However, there IS a natural part of ministering which IS hard to endure. You do much investing of yourself into people often with very little return.
Year after year of teaching and preparation, while people’s lives remain largely unchanged. Very little spiritual growth and next to no honor or encouragement.
As of March 2022, the percentage of pastors who have considered quitting full-time ministry within the past year sits at 42 percent.
Among the stated reasons why are:
- The immense stress – 56%
- Feeling lonely and isolated – 43%
- Current political divisions – 38%
- Unhappy with its effect on family – 29%
- Future of their church does not look optimistic – 29%
- Pastor’s vision conflicts with church’s direction – 29%
- Church is in a steady decline – 24%
- Is becoming an unsatisfying job – 22%
- Don’t feel respect by my church – 21%
- Don’t feel equipped to cope with ministry demands – 19%
- Don’t feel support by staff – 12%
- Personal crisis of faith – 6%
- Ministry is not what I thought it would be – 6%
- Other things – 21%
That is just for those who had considered quitting. There is another list for the other 58% of pastors who have not considered quitting. Many of those are greatly discouraged. The numbers are less, but the reasons are the same.
Sad also are many of those same pastor’s reasons for staying!
As I said, much of that list is self induced, but ministry CAN be both draining and discouraging.
Even Jesus asked, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you?” and Paul said, “I am fearful for you, that perhaps my labor for you has been wasted.”– Gal. 4:11and “(14) Do everything without grumbling and arguing, (15) so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world. (16) Hold firmly the message of life. Then I can boast in the day of Christ that I didn’t run in vain or labor for nothing. (17) But even if I am poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.” – Php 2:14-17
And the writer of Hebrews says,
“(16) Don’t neglect to do good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices. (17) Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”– Hebrew 13:16-17
The body of Christ is just that – a body and we all give and receive grace from each other. The question on the mind of the church should not be what am I getting only, but what am I bringing? What am I doing? Am I seeking God for deposits of grace to give? Am I praying for the saints? Am I honoring my spiritual fathers and mothers, leaders and shepherds?
If we all asked such questions out of an honest and good heart, much of the rebukes God has sent in His word as through Malachi and today would be rendered unnecessary.