The Lord’s Ledgers: Malachi 3:13-18

Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord. But you say, How have we spoken against you?You have said, It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape. (v.13-15)

Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. (v.16)

God’s Library & Ledgers (OT)

-David knew about the “book” and the “book of the living” (Ps 56:8; 69:28)

-Moses knew about the “book” (Ex 32:32-34)

-Nehemiah knew about God’s record-keeping (Neh 13:14)

-Daniel knew about the “book” (Dan 12:1)

God’s Library & Ledgers (OT)

The apostles would come to know it too.

-“Rejoice that your names are written in heaven (Luke 10:21)

-Paul knew about the “book of life” (Phil 4:3)

-John knew about the “book of life” and the “Lamb’s book of life” (Rev 3:5; 20:12-15; 21:27)

They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him. (v.17-18)

Summary Points:

-The Lord cannot and will not forget His people.

-In distress or uncertainty, victory is as near as recounting His goodness. Name His excellencies.

-You belong to Him, dear believer.

Body Giving

I hope you can see this passage today as warning rather than judgement. If you are out of alignment with God’s Word there is forgiveness if you repent. As we look at this passage today there are some important principals to keep in mind: Jesus’ church has always read the Old Testament Scriptures and taken the principals of what God commanded for His people, the nation of Israel, to apply today to Christ’s Body, the New Testament Church. Some of the specifics are not always the same but the principals hold true because it is the same relationship.

The Nation of Israel was a united Group that God dealt with as a whole. Jesus’ church is a united group that God deals with as a whole. Pre Christ: God’s people were a body who’s spiritual life centered around the Temple. This was the spiritual infrastructure God provided for them. United Worship. Post Christ: As Christ’s Body our spiritual life is centered around the local church. This is the spiritual infrastructure God provides for us. United Worship. The same principles that applied then apply now. Because God doesn’t change!

As members of a local Body of Christ’s purchased followers, we share in the blessings that come from honest relationship AND in the consequences for unrepentant disobedience.

If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. ~ 1st Corinthians 12:26-27

As members of Christ’s Body we are all called to relational honesty with God. Today’s passage may convict you, my prayer is that you will make changes to align your life with God desires of HIS people. I also know some of you may disagree with what I am going to say. But this is not some ‘new’ interpretation. The application of this passage has been agreed upon by Christ’s followers for 2000 years. If you disagree, I encourage you to search the Scriptures and seek out one of the Elders to talk about it with. I remind you that as a covenant member of Midtown church the traditional application of this scripture is part of our covenant to each other.

Our culture here at Midtown is based on the honest application of ALL scripture. It is based on mutual sacrifice and communal obedience to the revealed will of God. What we are looking at today is an essential aspect of our discipleship and I would say that until you come into alignment with this scripture your discipleship will be stunted and incomplete. Partial obedience is disobedience.

Malachi 3:6-12

6 “I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. 7 Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned My decrees and failed to obey them.

  • Throughout scripture God has revealed Himself to be ‘Immutable’ (unchanging)
  • The interpenetration of this passage begins with this fact: Same God OT & NT
  • Because His love, mercy, grace and compassion are constant…we exist
  • We are no different than the nation of Israel as far as failing to obey God
  • Because of who He is we can still be His people
  • Praise God that we do not get what we deserve from HIM!

Now return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’

  • This command is to be acted on NOW (delayed obedience is disobedience)
  • This is a call to repentance (define repentance)
  • But no one has ever repented when they didn’t think they needed to…
  • What hubris to say to God: ‘I have not strayed’
  • Like the rich religious leader Jesus encounters in Luke 18
  • The opposite is found in David’s prayer psalm 51 (transgression / inequity / sin)
  • Since they (US) seem to need an example, God is going to use tithing as one

8 “Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated Me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat You?’ “You have cheated Me of the tithes and offerings due to Me.

  • God establishes agreement that His people should not cheat Him (we agree?)
  • Everyone can agree that as His people we are to be honest with God
  • HE points out they & we cheat Him…and again there is denial of sin
  • HE then hits them with the truth (and HE knows the truth) God is all knowing
  • Two separate things, tithes & offerings (all together about 23%)
  • The focus here is on the tithe (tenth) that pertains to everyone
  • A percentage makes it equal for people of different incomes
  • There are prescribed offerings that are situational to different people
  • BOTH are due to Him, as in commanded as part of the relationship

9 You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating Me.

  • Then God declares that His blessings have been withheld from the nation
  • We are to be united in sacrificial giving. If one cheats we all share the guilt
  • As Christ’s body we are interconnected by Christ’s indwelling Spirit
  • We answer to God as individuals and as a Body
  • This Body is only as obedient as the least obedient member of it

10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple.

  • Obedience to this for Christ’s people has always been giving 10% to the church
  • The specific command is: bring ALL the tithes to the ‘Storehouse’ (not 8%)
  • This provides for the spiritual infrastructure of the community (Temple / Church)
  • The only way to read this: Members of Christ’s body give 10% to the church
  • That shared sacrifice is at the heart of what a ‘Body’ is about
  • This is what provides for the ‘spiritual feeding’ of God’s purchased people
  • Giving of a portion of tithe to other entities is saying ‘I know better than God’

If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put Me to the test!

  • The command comes with a promise if we are obedient
  • God says if you do it…we will get a look into what Heaven is really like
  • If we do this, everyone in the whole Body, God will show ‘The Kingdom Come’
  • It will blow us away! We will have so much [God Stuff] we will have to share it
  • There is no hoarding of Heavenly blessings [spiritual not material]
  • God says ‘I dare you to try it and see what happens!’
  • We are never to test God unless He tells us to…

11 Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 12 “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

  • He lists some examples for the people at that time tied to agriculture
  • We can understand this as a the blessing our means of provision
  • Everyone, of various backgrounds, will recognize God blessing His people
  • Our Body will be a source of delight to the entire community at large


Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Part of that unchanging nature is His grace and mercy for His chosen people. His unchanging compassion, patience and love keep Him from giving US what we deserve for our disobedience.

Christ is always there to take us back when we repent. We must be honest with Him about our sin, truly owning it. The example of cheating God specifically referenced is disobedient giving to the spiritual infrastructure He provides for us. (Temple / Church)

Since we are a Body (interconnected), if one part cheats God we are all cheating Him! As Christ Body we are only as obedient as the least obedient members of the that Body. Jesus’ Church shares blessings and curses.

God commands His people, in unity, to give 10% of what they receive to HIS ordained worship structure (Temple / Church). This fully enables HIS people to be fed spiritually. If we do this as a body He promises to bless us beyond what we can imagine.

Christ says to His Body; try not cheating Him, try being obedient to what He has called each of us to do (specific to this passage; tithing to our church Body).

If each member of this Body were to obediently tithe, we will experience unimagined blessings, but more importantly, God will be fully glorified!


In what ways can you practice thankfulness for God’s grace in dealing with your sin and disobedience?

How well do you own up to your sin? What specific sins can you own up to with God today during communion?

Do you view giving 10% of your net income to your local church as a Scriptural command or as an optional practice? In either case, what drives your behavior?

Do you believe that giving to other ministries, missionaries or of your time is part of the tithe commanded in this passage? What Scripture backs up such decisions?

Redemption & Judgement

This passage give us hope and challenges us. As the last prophetic Word God would give to the Israelites it is a combination of the ‘Carrot & The Stick’. While God is chastising His people He is also pointing them to great hope in His Messiah.The part of Malachi message we are looking at today gives us great insight into God’s redemptive plan through Jesus the Messiah.

It begins with the human tendency to doubt God’s justice based on what we can see. We see evil people ‘prosper’ in this world and wonder why God allows the systematic oppression that happens at the hands of those who do not believe in Him. What they, and we, can fail to see is that God has a plan of judgement and redemption…And He has revealed it to us…But His timetable for this plan is not revealed, not meant to be revealed…It is to remain a matter of faith! Jesus made it plain as to when His 2nd advent would occur: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” ~ Jesus @ Matthew 24:36

We know it is coming, we know what is going to happen… we just don’t know when. The challenge is; are we ready for that day? Do we belong to Christ and if so are we living as HE would have us live? This passage guides us as to what we are to DO TODAY as Christ’s ‘Purchased People’, trusting that CHRIST WILL RETURN one day to bring HIS perfect justice to this world.

Malachi 2:17-3:5 (NLT)

17 You have wearied the Lord with your words. “How have we wearied Him?” you ask. You have wearied Him by saying that all who do evil are good in the Lord’s sight, and He is pleased with them. You have wearied Him by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”

  • Words ultimately reflect attitudes
  • What you say flows from what is in your heart.” ~ Jesus @ Luke 6:45b
  • God is frustrated, worn out by the attitude of His people at this time
  • 1:2 They don’t believe God has always loved them
  • 1:6 They don’t believe they have shown contempt for His reputation
  • 1:7 They don’t believe they have defiled the sacrifices
  • 2:14 ‘why doesn’t the Lord accept our worship’ while they violate marriage
  • Now they make two false accusations against God and He is getting weary…
  • He wants to partner with His people for His glory and this is what He gets…
  • Faithless hearts and fruitless living: Rebellion!

1 “Look! I am sending My messenger, and He will prepare the way before Me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to His Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

  • ‘Look’ or ‘Behold’ often proceeds a prophetic word from The Lord
  • Jesus @ Matthew 3:3: The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!’
  • Then the Christ [The Lord you are seeking] will then be found in HIS Temple
  • Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? ~ 1st Corinthians 6:19
  • The [hoped for] Messiah was to be the ‘Messenger of the Covenant’
  • Jesus @ Matthew 26:28: “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

2 “But who will be able to endure it when He comes? Who will be able to stand and face Him when He appears? For He will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes.

  • Are you ready for this, faithless, fruitless Judah?
  • Dual aspect of ‘when He comes’… a prophetic mixing of the two advents
  • In His 1st coming He challenged the religious authority calling for refinement
  • When HE returns it will not be a call to refinement, but a final judgement of evil
  • In His 1st advent He transforms those who will honestly face Him
  • We cannot remain the same and follow Him

3 He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord. 4 Then once more the Lord will accept the offerings brought to Him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as He did in the past.

  • The use of the term ‘sit’ speaks of a patient process [that is happening now]
  • Purifying the Levites: raising up leaders of who model acceptable sacrifice
  • Christ now accepts the offering of a poor spirit and a contrite heart
  • Romans 12:1: And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

5 “At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

  • A better rendering of initial phrase: Then I will draw near to you for judgment…
  • While Christ is patient in His refinement, He is also swift to bring judgement
  • He details what the Israelites think He is blind to [verse 2:17]
  • It is a summary of the evil that God is being accused of not care about
  • The people at that time were saying: ‘Where is the God of Justice’?
  • God says: ‘I am going to deal with these people who do not fear me’
  • And again He calls Himself ‘The Lord of Heaven’s Armies’ [Confrontation]


After all that God has demonstrated about Himself, it wears Him out that His people do not trust in His justice and believe He is good with those who do evil. God is frustrated by the faithless words and fruitless lives of those He has chosen to be HIS.

God foretold He would send one to prepare the way for Himself, John the Baptist. Then God Himself [Christ] will come and ultimately inhabit His temple,[His people indwelt with His Spirit]. The Messiah is surely coming! This is about His 1st Advent.

We must relinquish our claim on our lives in order to belong to Christ. He comes to refine and redefine those He calls. He is patient to do His work in Us. He will change His new ‘priesthood’ and teach them how to sacrifice in an acceptable way [lay down your life].

The justice Judah was looking for will come with the second advent. But are they ready for it? Rebellion against God that leads to systematic oppression will be put on trial. Those who do not reverence the Lord of Heavens armies will face HIS swift justice.


Does the oppression and injustice of our world make you doubt God’s goodness and justice? How do you prevent that attitude from infecting your view of God?

Are you convinced you cannot belong to God without radical change and refinement? Can you see how belonging to Christ means then end of you running your life?

What needs to change to make your life an acceptable sacrifice too God?

How can you follow Christ by witnessing against the systematic oppression that God will surely judge?

For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. ~ Ephesians 5:8-11 (NLT)

Marriage Mirrors Our Relationship With God

This is the last word that God’s people would receive from a prophet before John the Baptist sets the stage for Jesus. Todd earlier talked about studying the Old Testament in order to better understand the New, to give it context and depth. As we read this, try to let the description enrich your understanding of the people who Jesus came to save.

Israel is out there finding new ways to get it wrong, as well as continuing the old things that God exiled them for in the first place. They are still not holding up their covenant with God, and Malachi is putting them on trial.

Today’s message circles around several different covenants, between God and Man, between Man and Wife, and between believers. The book of Malachi uses the word “covenant” at a higher rate than any other book in the Old Testament, so let’s ask: what is a covenant?

In the Old Testament we see that it’s exclusively a relationship with people not related involving obligations established through an oath.It is a promise or a bond. A binding agreement. Contractual; I’ll do this, and you are going to do that. The difference between a contract and a Covenant is that you do you part whether or not the other party does their part.

Last week we heard about the horrid practices that the people, and even the leaders and priests had fallen in to. Sacrificing ill or deformed animals, neglect of His laws and instructions on how to live.

The focus of the text now transitions to the ways in which the laypeople were sinning by breaking their covenant with God. We will see in today’s text how God continues to give opportunities to repent even when his people are ignorant to their mistakes and their sin.As dark as it is, this letter is an encouragement that even though the human condition remains unchanged from 2400 years ago, there is a God who will not stop seeking us, who did what we could not comprehend by taking on flesh, and what is beyond understanding that he would dwell in us through his Spirit.

Malachi 2:10-16

10 Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? 11 Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem.

• Israel’s unity with each other is based in the common source of life.

o This is still true today. God put the breath in your enemies’ lungs.

• God brought them all out of Egypt, made his promises to their ancestors, and their faithlessness to each other profanes those covenants.

• It was their responsibility, as a community, to keep the promises God made with their ancestors.

o There is one God, who created all of us. This creates a responsibility in us to love and to care for everyone, but especially our community, our church.

• To clarify, vs 11 says Judah. Here this accusation refers to all of God’s people. Post-exile we only see references to Judah but it means everyone.

• Easy to read this and think how far Israel has fallen from the days of Moses, Joshua or David. But I was reading my son’s bible, the story of Joseph and how his brothers throw him in a pit for dead, and then go one further by selling him in to slavery. The kids’ bible doesn’t name them, but those brothers are the actual patriarchs and namesakes of the tribes of Israel. Judah and Levi themselves were murderers who left their kid brother for dead because their dad gave him a coat.

• This sinful behavior has been engrained in their DNA of Israel.

• And yet God calls these actions an “abomination”, something that causes disgust and hatred.

For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts!

• This seems like a very harsh punishment, if all we’ve ever been told is that God is merciful. True! His mercy is very great, however he’s also the sole arbiter of justice. There is no expiration or shortage of his mercy. But there is an end date to the distribution.

• We see Israel again continues to fall short of God’s expectations, this time in a familiar way. Taking foreign wives was one of the chief complaints Ezra had a generation ago.

• Sometimes this old language does not strike me in the way I’m sure it affected the original audience.

• God is calling for the removal of the thing at the absolute center of Jewish life, descendants and family ties.

• God does not want his people entering a marriage covenant with people who do not serve him. This was true then; it is true now.

o 2 Corinthians 6:14 “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”

• This text gives me an opportunity to ask the question: are you getting serious about marrying someone who isn’t following Christ?

o If getting married means becoming one flesh with someone, how does that work with a nonbeliever?

o Is that kind of union exemplifying faithfulness to God and his community?

13 And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.

• The retort in vs 14 of “why not”. Why doesn’t he regard their offering?

• God says I’ll tell you exactly why. The people who are supposed to be honoring God are defaming him by making promises in front of him and breaking them.

• In these two verses, I believe the reason God is upset is fairly straight forward. His people are making promises and not keeping them.

• The men in Judah are being faithless to their wives, their covenanted companions.

• Contrast that to God who is always faithful to his promises. It seems every time I preach, I get to circle back to this theme. God desires us to be faithful in the same way.

• In a different way, we are all covenanted together in the New Testament church. As believers we have testified our faith. As members we have covenanted to support each other in our walk with Christ. If we let it slide, we’re a part of it.

• There is ignorance in their response. A lack of awareness as to why or what God might be mad about.

• It’s not like there should be any confusion, its spelled out pretty well what God expects. They have his revealed word and commandments, his law. They have had good leaders and priests over the generations who have continually reformed the nation back towards Gods way. And they certainly have the memory of his anger and punishment through war, exile and pestilence.

• God no longer accepts their prayers and offerings, because of faithlessness in their marriage covenants.

o 1 Peter 3:7 “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman… so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.

• God does the joining in a marriage covenant.

• Matthew 19:6 “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

• God is elaborating that the point of marriage is children. We have this idea that today because of science and culture that we can chose if we want to have kids. This is a biblical reminder that God created marriage “for godly offspring”.

• This is a distinct contrast with the wording “daughter of a foreign god” earlier.

• Spiritual union and faithfulness are a prerequisite to produce those spiritual offspring.

• Part of God’s plan is to create a lineage that honors him, so like Psalm 145 says we commend His works to the next generation.

• Divorce has deep-reaching consequences beyond the individual and can affect the whole community and the building up of Godly offspring.

• Notice that the back half of this verse warns us to be on the lookout.

• God is telling us here that we should guard ourselves against unfaithfulness. It is a spiritual attack that convinces us to be justified in our sin.

• We know that God is faithful and commands us clearly to be faithful.

16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

• “who does not love his wife” shows this is talking about divorce based on aversion (feeling of dislike).

• God hates divorce. Different translations say this a bit more explicit.

o NLT: “For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty

• Divorce was not good for them and it’s not good for us.

• God has a picture of his people, his relationship. It’s not something to take lightly. He values it. It’s not a promise between two people, or a piece of paper, or a useless holdover from a different time. it’s a spiritual reality.

o There is a slippery slope in our culture, the devaluing of marriage in society has led to increased divorces, and a general disrespect for the covenant.

• There are a couple biblical moral reasons to get divorced, but “the man who does not love his wife” is not among them.

• All the sacraments are depictions of our relationship with God; it’s a big deal.

• To the audience, divorcing your wife is to throw her to the wolves, it is rough.

• NIV says the man who divorces his wife “does violence to the once he should protect”

• I think to cover your garment with violence happens when you do not love your wife. It invites chaos and violence says the LORD!

Humans have a sense of what is right and wrong. Innately we know what it means to be faithless. In Mere Christianity Lewis observes that we humans when we do sin, almost always try to excuse our bad behavior away. If a friend accuses us of breaking a promise, we find reasons why the rules don’t apply.

This quote is talking about people who made a marriage promise without understanding what it meant or willingly ignored the seriousness of it.

Someone may reply that he regarded the promise made in church as a mere formality and never intended to keep it… They were imposters, they cheated. Who would urge the high and hard duty of chastity on people who have not yet wished to be honest?” CS Lewis

We can’t be faithful unless we are honest first.


God spoke a curse that the people would be cut off from his promises because of marriage to women who worshiped foreign gods

God had stopped accepting the offerings and prayers of the people because the Israelite men were not faithful to their marriage covenants.

God hates divorce, not the people who get divorced.

Ask yourself:

What does it mean to be faithful? o Study the real thing, God’s word!

In what ways am I not being faithful? o Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

In what ways am I justifying my faithlessness?

Why should we ponder these questions?

God has called us to be faithful.

In order to do that we need to know what that means.

Second, we need to identify what areas we need to improve

Thirdly we need to remove the blockers that tell us we don’t need to change

God keeps his promises, and calls us to do the same.