Reading For Wednesday Malachi 3:1-18
The God of judgment was nearer than any of the skeptics imagined. Malachi stressed that the coming of God would be both sure and sudden. The words suggest something shocking and unexpected, but certain. God was sending his messenger who would later be identified as John the Baptist. This messenger would “prepare the way.” John prepared the way by preaching repentance. The Lord would suddenly visit his temple and perhaps the “covenant” would be the New Covenant announced by Jesus and ratified by his shed blood. The Jews expected Messiah to come in judgment of the pagan. Malachi was warning the cynics that they would be the first to be judged. God would burn away corruption and purge the people of sin. The coming one would sit as a refiner and purifier of silver in judgment. The process would begin with the priests. The purified priests would offer righteous offerings. These offerings would be acceptable again as they had been before. God himself will be the prosecuting witness against sorcerers, adulterers, those that swear falsely, and those that oppress hired workers, widows, the fatherless or the sojourner. God’s judgment would fall on those who do not fear God. Obeying God is a clear manifestation of godly fear and reverence.
God does not change, and he will not be satisfied with less than perfect holiness. At some point, he must initiate judgment against those who sin against his law. His love and compassion are on display and will not consume them. Disobedience was an ever-recurring pattern in Israel. However, their self-righteousness blinded them to their need for repentance. The defiance of the people regarded their tithes and offerings. Disobedience brought a curse upon their land just as the unfaithfulness of the priests had brought a curse upon their ministry. The curse probably took the form of drought, poor crops, and economic depression. While the curse was in progress, the people continued to rob God. In calling the people to repentance with respect to tithes and offerings, Malachi sets forth a challenge, commitment, and a consequence. Bring the tithes into the temple storehouse they would see a change in their fortunes. God would respond to the faithful tithing of his people with abundant rain, protect them from pests, and bring their crops to maturity. God's people would be the envy of all the nations.
Finally, God charges that the words of the people had been harsh against him. Their attitude toward serving God was that there was no value in keeping the ordinances and obeying the commandments. They fasted, mourned, lamented, and walked in sackcloth, but worshiping God was like a funeral ritual. The people viewed the evildoers as more blessed than the righteous. In the opinion of the skeptics, those who arrogantly disregarded God’s law were happy and prosperous. They seemed to disobey God and yet escape any punishment. God does not forget the faithful. “A book of remembrance was written before him.” God does not forget. The book pictures God’s providence, omniscience, and his knowledge. A day was coming when God would acknowledge his own and they would be a “treasured possession”. The Lord would spare them as family and make a distinction between the righteous and the wicked.
Things To Consider:
- How did the ministry of John the Baptist fulfill this prophecy?
- Why is God's judgment such a fearful thing?
- Why is it important to see that God continues to call his people to return?
- How can we please the Lord?
- Why is it significant that God does not change? How does this bring you comfort?
- How do you rob God?
- How should a follower of Jesus regard material wealth?
- Are there times that you think God lets the wrong people prosper? Why?
- How does knowing that God hears all our words make you feel? Why?
- How does knowing that you are God's child influence the way you see him? Why?