To be truly Biblical Christians we not only need to be well versed in the New Testament but we also need to understand the Hebrew scriptures in light of Christ.
TEMPLE DESTROYED 586 BC / 1ST EXILES RETURNED 538 BC / TEMPLE REBUILT 516 BC / EZRA ARRIVES 458 BC / NEHEMIAH ARRIVES 444 BC
About Malachi, the man, the book and the context.
Malachi the Man: We don’t know much about him except this message. He lived in the years after the nation of Israel had return from Babylonian exile. A contemporary of Ezra & Nehemiah though probably a generation after (overlap) He lived in Jerusalem aprox. 450 – 400 BC 1st recognition of His prophetic writings is at about 400 BC. Prophetic mostly by speaking from Yahweh’s point of view.
Malachi The Book: It reads like a legal proceeding. Question and answer style. There are a number of exchanges between God and the people. An accusation or statement is made by God (through Malachi) and then the people respond (through Malachi) and ultimately God has the last word. In terms of last word this book is often refereed to as the last word from one of God’s Prophets that He sent to the Jews before going silent for 400 years [J. B. & J. C.]
Malachi The Context: The Israelites had returned from exile,, they rebuilt the temple in 516 BC. 42 years later Ezra arrives in 458 Nehemiah arrives at the beginning the year 444 BC. At the end of Nehemiah chapters 8-13 we see that unified public reading of the Torah, community wide public confession, they sign and seal a covenant to observe of the Law of Moses at the end of 444 BC. Malachi writes just 40 or so years later and whatever obedience was pledged, it seems to be lost in one generation!
Malachi’s message has the overtone of judgement because God’s people had not learned from the consequences of their past sins. The disobedience that had cause God to send them into exile was becoming their way of life again. Corruption was growing amongst their leaders and had infected the priesthood as well.In light of Christ we read this from the perspective of being God’s people, and it is timeless in detailing the human condition regarding our sin and waywardness.
1 This is the message that the Lord gave to Israel through the prophet Malachi.
- Malachi means ‘My Messenger’ The message is to Israel / God’s People
- Word message here can translated as Burden or Oracle…not a light message
2 “I have always loved you,” says the Lord. But you retort, “Really? How have You loved us?” And the Lord replies, “This is how I showed My love for you: I loved your ancestor Jacob, 3 but I rejected his brother, Esau, and devastated his hill country. I turned Esau’s inheritance into a desert for jackals.”
- God declares His enduring love for His people [Israel]
- This first reply of the people starts this pattern of arrogance and self-focus
- From God’s point of view all humans deserve to be rejected by Him, and yet..
- God showed His love by bestowing undeserved favor upon Jacob’s family
- God set apart the family of Abraham, Issac & Jacob by His undeserved love
4 Esau’s descendants in Edom may say, “We have been shattered, but we will rebuild the ruins.” But the Lord of Heaven’s Armies replies, “They may try to rebuild, but I will demolish them again.
- Contrast between what people want and the finality of God’s Will
- This is the ultimate fate of those who don’t know Yahweh
Their country will be known as ‘The Land of Wickedness,’ and their people will be called ‘The People with Whom the Lord Is Forever Angry.’ 5 When you see the destruction for yourselves, you will say, ‘Truly, the Lord’s greatness reaches far beyond Israel’s borders!’”
- God explains how it could be for the descendants of Jacob…
- Knowing and trusting God is the only way to believe in HIS justice
- You realize HE is in control of EVERYTHING
6 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says to the priests: “A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. If I am your Father and Master, where are the honor and respect I deserve?
- After proving His love God turns to how Israel has responded to that love
- When faced with their actions of disrespect they obfuscate and justify
- ‘What did we ever do’?
- God says you want to call me Father without showing me any honor
- God says you want to call me Master / Lord without showing fear or reverence
- What do you think God deserves from you?
You have shown contempt for My name! “But you ask, ‘How have we ever shown contempt for Your name?’ 7 “You have shown contempt by offering defiled sacrifices on My altar. “Then you ask, ‘How have we defiled the sacrifices?
- Contempt for God’s name means contempt for all that HE stand for (reputation)
- Again His people say: ‘How have we mocked and ridiculed your reputation?’
- The hardened heart cannot even see how it rebells and disrespects God
- How do we make sure we are not giving God our leftover devotion / sacrifice
- God tells them they have done it and they are like; ‘how have we done it?’
- They know better, just like we know better
- We know we are to give to God in ways that actually cost us (sacrifice)
“You defile them by saying the altar of the Lord deserves no respect. 8 When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
- The offering of ‘lame’ sacrifices is a blatant show of disrespect
- Giving to God things that don’t have value to you is not really a sacrifice
- You would not think of blatantly disrespecting your earthly ruler…why God?
- Notice the title God gives HIMSELF here
9 “Go ahead, beg God to be merciful to you! But when you bring that kind of offering, why should He show you any favor at all?” asks the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
- This speaks of how relationships work…it’s a two way street
- We can claim to want God’s mercy but on what basis?
This thread is going to continue in the passage next week… God has more to say!
SUMMARY V.1-5: God has a burden for His people to know His heart. HE has always separated His chosen by His love & Grace. In HIS self-existent wisdom HE chose Jacob for Grace and Esau for destruction. Yahweh’s greatness is proved by HIS righteous, holy, perfect justice AND His overwhelming, everlasting, undeserved mercy.
SUMMARY V.6-8a: Obeying biblical standards is the only way to honor God as Father AND respect Him as Master, otherwise we show contempt for who HE is. It starts with sacrifice.
As people called by Yahweh / Christ we are to sacrifice the most important stuff we have. It was always meant to cost us something to honor & respect God for who He is.
SUMMARY V.8b-9: God’s chosen people are to grow [through teachable failures] in their desire to obey sacrificially, while being real about their shortcomings. In Malachi’s day they were calling something sacrificial that was not. In our lives it’s being real about the cost to follow Christ. HE deserves our honest, sacrificial efforts to obey. When we make excuses and cut corners we damage our relationship with HIM.
In what ways do you personally recognize the loving favor of Christ and display gratitude for it?
If the God of Scripture is your Father & Master, how do you specifically show Him the honor and respect He deserves?
What have you sacrificed in your life since becoming a follower of Jesus Christ? What will you sacrifice to become a follower of Christ?
How honest are you about what living sacrificially for Christ based on Scripture requires? What impact does a lack of honesty have on your relationship with Christ?