The final sections of Malachi emphasise last things like the coming again of Jesus (‘The Day of the Lord’), judgment and separation. On the day of Christ’s coming, a distinction (separation) will be made between those who served God during their life (the righteous) and those who didn’t serve Him (the wicked) [Mal. 3:18]. It is important to note that apart from whether one rejects or accepts Christ as one’s Saviour, this division between the righteous and the wicked is indicated by pretty down-to-earth things, such as how one treats his wife (marriage) [2: 10-16] or how one uses one’s money and other earthly resources [3: 6-12]. Today’s passage warns us to be careful how we use our words because we will, in part, be judged by them [3: 13-18].
There are “bad” (’harsh’) words [v.13-15] and there are “good” words [v.16-18]. Our words show whether we are those who serve God or those who don’t serve Him [v.14,18]. Our words indicate whether our names are written in God’s “book of remembrance” [v.16], the Lamb’s book of life that will be opened at Christ’s judgement. Do you think your name is written in God’s book? Will you be in Heaven after you die? One indicator to the future is how you use words. Do your words speak harshly of God or do they esteem (respect) Him?
In the Name of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God (John 1:29,36),
When you read the title, “Put to the Test”, who did you think is the one being tested? Usually as we read the story of God’s people in the Bible we might gain the view that God is the one always testing His people; maybe it is a test of their faithfulness to Him or of the genuineness of their love and devotion. However, the opposite is the case in this week’s passage in Malachi, the Lord is the one being tested (or rather submitting Himself for testing).
The context is that the Lord charges His people of robbery. As is the case in Malachi the people respond with a question, “How have we robbed you?”. Apart from the answer, which is that they have been robbing the Lord by withholding their tithes and offering, the Lord throws down the challenge to bring their full tithe and see if He will respond with heaven-sent generosity. Have you ever noticed and responded to the Lord’s call to be generous with your earthly goods (see 2 Cor. 8 and 9)? Have you ever tested the Lord in this manner? Have you any stories of how the Lord has responded generously to your testing of Him?
In the Name of Christ, who was rich yet for our sakes became poor (2 Cor. 8:9),
The Q&A format we have become familiar with in Malachi means we are entering a new section at (2:17). The verse makes it clear that the Lord has become weary of His people. We see the reason for His weariness in the two (2) phrases attributed to them. In the first, the people were saying in effect that the Lord, their God, was not holy. And added to that, the second (in the form of a question) was making the terrible claim that the Lord was not just (righteous).
The Lord’s response to this awful situation was to say He would send, not one, but two messengers (3:1). While “Malachi” means ‘messenger’, he was not being referred to. Can you work out who the two messengers of (Malachi 3:1) are? You will find a hint to the first in (Mal. 4:5; compare Mark 11:14 and Luke 1: 16,17). As to the second messenger, look up (Isaiah 40:3; Mark 1:1-3; Heb. 12:24).
As you prepare for worshipping the Lord together this Sunday, ask if these messengers have come to the Lord’s people yet. And see if you can figure out from (Mal. 3:2-6) what either or both would do or have done.
In the Name of Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant,
Having noted the failures of the priest-leaders of the Lord’s community [Mal. 1:6-2:9] in Malachi’s day (c. 460-430 BC), this week we move into a section that focuses on the failures of God’s covenant people as a whole [Mal. 2: 10-16].
Have you ever had the experience of feeling God wasn’t answering your prayers? That was the situation in Malachi’s time (see 2: 13-14). Often we can still be doing spiritual exercises, such as praying, reading our Bible, singing spiritual songs, going to church and generally being a good neighbour. And yet, our walk with God seems dry and joyless. Maybe spiritual things don’t seem real, we feel we are going through the motions. There is no vital communion with the Lord and no living relationship with other believers. What’s the problem?
It could be that we have a heart (internal) issue. While we are praying or singing praises our heart is not right with the Lord. It could be we are tolerating sin in our hearts or thoughts. That was the issue in Malachi’s time. God’s people were doing all the right spiritual things yet their marriages were in crisis. Some hadn’t entered marriage correctly (v. 11-12), while other were living out a lie within their marriage (v. 13-16). As you read this short passage, please note that personal, inner sin has a negative effect on the whole community of the Lord’s people as well as in your own life A key word to notice is “faithless”, which occurs five (5) times in this short paragraph.
In the Name of Christ, who is always faithful over God’s house (Hebrews 3:6)
Do you ever feel that you are just going through the motions of being a Christian? Have you ever had the experience that being a follower of Jesus is a bit drab and colourless? Or worse still, do you ever feel discouraged, disheartened or disillusioned despite being one of the Lord’s people? Well then maybe our new series on the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, is for you.
“Malachi” means ‘my messenger’ [or possibily, ‘messenger of the Lord’] The idea of being a messenger of the Lord is a key one running through this little book of prophecy [1:1; 2:7; 3:1]. Being a contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah, Malachi speaks to God’s people about 100 years after they had returned from exile in Babylon [that’s why, along with Haggai and Zechariah, he is called a “Post-Exilic Prophet”].
The excitement of rebuilding the Temple [see Haggai] and anticipation of a greater future linked to the coming of The Messiah [see Zechariah] had died down. Life had settled down into a rather dull routine. Maybe there wasn’t the same depths of false belief or blatant idolatry as in earlier times of Israel’s [God’s covenant people] history, but there was a deadness about their spiritual life. One commentator [Bible study writer] has summarised the situation in Malachi’s day as one in which Israel was guilty of ‘Losing Touch with the Living God’ [John Benton]. Does this describe your spiritual state with God? Are you going through the motions in your relationship with the Lord Jesus? Well then, maybe Malachi is the book for you.
“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord” (Rom. 12:11),