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Now let's turn to Malachi, the final word of God in the Old Testament period. God's final message before the coming of Jesus Christ.
Who Malachi was, where he came from, we know nothing. Some believe that the name of Malachi was just an assumed name, not the true name of the writer. But there is no real evidence to back up that belief. But the name Malachi... remember this morning I told you there were meanings in the names. That they just didn't name a child any name out of the dictionary, but they looked for the meaning of a name, and they named the child for the meaning of the name. Malachi means "my messenger." So Malachi was God's messenger, the last messenger of the Old Testament period. He doesn't give any background concerning himself as some of the other minor prophets do, telling you where they came from and who their fathers were. It just is,
The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi ( Malachi 1:1 ).
So that's your introduction to the book. Declaring the author and to whom the book is sent. Malachi, but the author, really, it's the word of the Lord. The messenger, Malachi, and the people addressed, Israel.
What is God's first word of the final word?
I have loved you ( Malachi 1:2 ),
What a glorious thing for God to say to a person, "I have loved you." Now that isn't a past tense. That is past and present, "I continue to love you. I have loved you." God's love never ceases. "I have loved you,"
saith the LORD ( Malachi 1:2 ).
But Israel in their cold spiritual condition responds,
Wherein have you loved us? ( Malachi 1:2 )
Rather than responding in warmth to God, there is the challenge of that love. Now many people today still are guilty of challenging God's love. So many times a statement is begun with the words, "If God loves me then why..." Oftentimes the circumstances of my life, which seem to be very difficult or adverse, cause me, at times, to challenge God's love.
Now you find that today in Israel there is a tremendous challenge to this statement by the people. If you would go over there today and proclaim to the people in Israel, "God loves the people of Israel," ninety percent of them would say, "If God loves the Jew then how come six million of them were killed by Hitler?" I've had them say to me, "We don't need that kind of love." But God declares, "I have loved you, saith the Lord."
We think of love as some weak kind of thing that just is totally indulgent. But the Bible tells us that if you as a parent totally indulge your child, if you do not correct your child, you really aren't demonstrating love for that child, but you hate your child. The failure for you as a parent to discipline your child is not a sign of love, but a disregard, of hatred. God, because He loves us, disciplines us. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth." But we're so used to thinking of love in the sickly sweet Hollywood sentimentality of the full moon and the beach in Hawaii and the guitars in the background and the waves gently coming up on the sand, you know. This whole kind of scene. That we don't understand the nature of true love and of real love. That's Hollywood. True love is strong, strong enough to rebuke when rebuke is necessary, strong enough to chasten when chastening is for the best good. Oftentimes chastening is necessary for our best good.
A child left to himself will bring reproach to his parents, according to the scripture. Because we love our children, we chasten them. Because we're concerned in their well-being and in their safety. We just, when they run out in the street, we just don't take a very haphazard attitude towards it, and say, "Oh, look he's playing in the street. Isn't that cute?" But we discipline the child. We tell them the dangers of playing in the street. We run out and we grab hold of them, and we get them out of the street, and we warn them of the dangers. If they continue and persist to go in the street, then we spank them to keep them out of the street. Because we know the danger that exists if they walk off the curb and into the street, and because we love them and are concerned in their well-being, we take that necessary step in the strength of discipline and we stop them.
So God in His love for us has that strength of love that brings discipline when we are doing those self-destructive acts. Now oftentimes it is during the discipline that we challenge the love of God. "If God loves me, then why is this happening to me?" It's happening to you because He does love you, and He's averting some tragedy down the road. You should be thankful. "Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth."
So there was the challenge, "Wherein does God love us?" God answers that challenge by pointing out the fact that He chose Jacob over Esau. Now they were twin brothers, and Esau was the elder. According to tradition, the blessings should have gone to Esau. The birthright should've gone to Esau. Though they were twins, because he was born first, the right of the birthright was his, and the blessing was his. But God reversed things. God gave to Jacob the birthright and the blessing and the promise. Being descendants of Jacob rather than Esau was the proof of God's love for Israel.
Now both the descendants of Esau and Jacob were destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and carried away as captives to Babylon. However, the prophecy here is that Esau will go there endeavoring will not be rebuilt, or Edom will not be rebuilt, the descendants of Esau. Though they are trying, their area is going to be wasted and desolate, and they're not gonna make it. They're not gonna recover. Whereas God is going to recover Jacob and Israel in the land.
Were they not brothers? the LORD said: and yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau ( Malachi 1:2-3 ),
Now a lot of times people get hung up on this idea of God saying He hated somebody. Actually, it is a term that means love in a lesser degree. "I loved Jacob, but I loved Esau in a lesser degree." The word "hates Esau" is a rather difficult translation.
but I laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever ( Malachi 1:3-4 ).
So the Edomites were to be destroyed. God was going to cast them down, though they tried to repatriate and recover, they were unable to do so. The Edomites were lost from history. Herod was the last of the Edomites, the king Herod. Then from there, their ethnic identity is lost in history.
The Lord said,
Your eyes see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel ( Malachi 1:5 ).
From the border of Edom, the border of wickedness, it'll be desolation. But God will be magnified from the border of Israel.
Now the Lord brings out here an interesting thing. He says,
A son honors his father, and a servant his master: if then I am your father, where is my honor? and if I be a master, where is my reverence? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And you say, Wherein have we despised his name? ( Malachi 1:5-6 )
So God says, "Look, a father receives honor from his son. In fact, under the law it says, 'Honor your father and your mother.' And the master receives reverence and respect from his slaves." God is saying, "Look, if I'm your Father, then where is the honor that you should be giving Me? If I am your Master, then why aren't you respecting or reverencing Me?"
Then the Lord speaks out about the priesthood. He said,
O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Where have we despised your name? [God said] In that you have offered polluted bread upon my altar; and you say, Where have we polluted thee? [God said] In that you say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. And ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if you offer the lame and the sick, is it not evil? offer it to your governor; and see how he thinks about it ( Malachi 1:6-8 ).
God said, "You wouldn't offer that kind of lame sick stuff to your governor, and yet, you offer it to Me." It's amazing how many times God gets the castoffs. You know, "I don't know what to do with it. I don't want to send it to the dump. I'll just give it to the church." The castoffs.
We had the ugliest rocking chair in our church parsonage in Tucson. It was double ugly. So we were talking with some of the members of the church about how we planned to get some new furniture in the parsonage, and we were gonna get rid of the rocking chair. "Oh no, no. You can't get rid of the rocking chair." We said, "Why not?" He said, "Well, that's our rocking chair; we gave it to the church." We said, "But we won't have room for it when our new furniture arrives. We'll bring it back to your house." "Oh no, we don't want it." But it had some sentimental value to them. But they really didn't want it themselves, so the church becomes a storage place. And we've got to have that dumb, ugly rocking chair in our living room, because they don't know what to do with it. Giving God the castoffs.
God speaks of His disdain for it, "Offering Me polluted offerings, offering Me the lambs that are sick, the lambs that are lame, the lambs that are blind, maim." "Can't do anything else with it, give it to God; use it for sacrifice." When God in the law said that they were to offer the firstfruits. When they offered a lamb, that was to be without spot or blemish. They were to offer, really, unto God the sacrifices that were the best that they had.
I read of a man who had an old upright piano in his home, and he loved playing the piano. So he went out and bought himself a beautiful Steinway, a baby grand. He didn't know what to do with the old upright piano, and so he decided, "Well, I'll give it to the church." He called the pastor, and said, "I have a piano I want to donate to the church." The guy said, "Fine." You know, and the Lord began to speak to him. He said, "You're gonna give that old rickety worn out upright to Me and you're keeping for yourself that Steinway?" God really began to nail this guy. So when the van came to pick up the piano, guess which one went on the van? The Steinway, and he kept his old upright. He just couldn't give to God the castoff. Yet, how many times we pollute our gifts by giving to God the castoffs. When God requires the first and the best of our lives.
God said, "Will the governor be pleased? Will he accept the person for that sick lame sacrifice he's trying to offer? Of course not."
Now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this has been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith the LORD of hosts ( Malachi 1:9 ).
"If the governor won't regard you for that sacrifice, do you think that I should regard you and be pleased?"
Then the Lord said,
Who is there among you that would shut the doors [for nothing] for nought? neither do you kindle a fire on my altar for nought ( Malachi 1:10 ).
Now there are some who have interpreted this as a professional priesthood. In other words, they don't just give their service to God, but they want pay for their service to God. However, that is not evidently what the Hebrew implies. God is saying actually, "I would just as soon that someone would close the doors of the temple so that you wouldn't offer Me any more of these sacrifices that are nothing. Don't bother coming. If that's all you have to offer, forget it. I just wish that someone would close the doors of the temple so they wouldn't be offering Me anymore of this junk. I can do without it." Is the idea behind the Hebrew text.
I have no pleasure [God said] in you ( Malachi 1:10 ),
He said, "These things don't please Me. I don't have any pleasure in your junk."
neither will I accept the offering from you ( Malachi 1:10 ).
Now, it should be of great concern to each of us when we consider the benefits of being a child of God, when we consider all that God has done for us. It should be a primary concern to us even as it was to the psalmist in Psalm 116 , when he said, "What shall I render unto the Lord for all of His benefits unto me?" When I think of all of the blessings and the benefits that God has bestowed on my life, the question, "What can I give to God?" Well, what can I give to God that He needs? He doesn't need anything that I have. You know what the psalmist finally came up with? He said, "I will just take His cup of salvation, and call upon His name." I don't know what to give to God. I'll just receive that which He wants to give to me. I'll take the cup of salvation, and I'll just call upon His name. Because you see, I really don't have anything of value that I can give to God that He really needs.
I read of a mission out in New Mexico where they were ministering to the Indians out there on the reservation. This one old Indian came into the meeting, and he was really touched. His heart was touched by God. So when they passed the offering plate, when they came to him, he told the usher, "Put it down lower." The usher put it down with a quizzical look, and he said, "Lower yet." He put it down lower yet, and he said, "Lower yet!" And finally he put the offering plate on the floor. The old Indian stepped in it, he said, "It's all I have!" Giving himself. But you know, as far as God is concerned, that's all He wants. What better gift can you give to God than just giving yourself to Him? Giving God your life. Take the cup of salvation; call upon the name of the Lord.
Now the Lord speaks concerning the Gentiles. The priesthood has been more or less corrupted.
For from the rising of the sun even to the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts ( Malachi 1:11 ).
So that promise which is yet future in the Kingdom Age, when Jesus shall reign, where ere the sun doth her successive journeys run. When every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord to the glory of God the Father. When Psalms 2:0 is fulfilled and the Father has said to His Son, "Ask of Me, and I will give you the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy dwelling place." When that glorious day has come, "From the rising of the sun, even to the going down thereof, the name of the Lord shall be great among the Gentiles, and in every place incense shall be offered unto My name, a pure offering."
Now we are told in the book of Revelation, chapter 5, that when Jesus takes the scroll out of the right hand of Him who is sitting upon the throne, that the twenty-four elders come forth with little golden bowls filled with incense that they offer before the throne of God. The Bible tells us that the incense is the prayer of the saints.
Now the offering of incense is a symbolic act. The sweet savor, the sweet savory smell going up is a symbolic act. We were talking Thursday night of the danger of taking the symbol and replacing the symbol, or using the symbol to replace the reality. How this is so commonly done in religious realm, where you take a ritual that began as a symbol and soon you place a greater emphasis upon the ritual than you do the reality. And you forget the reality, and it's all, your trust is just in the ritual itself. The offering of incense was a ritual symbolic act, for the prayers were to represent... or the incense was to represent the prayers of God's people that ascends up to God as a sweet smelling savor before the Lord. How God enjoys the prayers of His people. So in the book of Revelation, the incense, these little golden vials full of incense, odors, which are the prayers, it says, of the saints. So that offering of incense, the pure offering is actually the prayers that are offered up to God from around the world from the hearts of His people in every language.
Now God says concerning the Gentiles, "They will be offering up of these sacrifices; My name shall be great."
But [He said] you have profaned it ( Malachi 1:12 ),
That is, you've profaned the name of God, the name of the Lord.
in that you say, The table of the LORD is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible ( Malachi 1:12 ).
Now, they had begun to take a very bad attitude towards their service to God, and their worship of God. It had become a labor. It had become a burden to them. It is tragic when people are serving God out of a sense of obligation or pressure, or giving to God out of the sense of pressure. It, to me, is tragic that churches use pressure tactics to get people to make their pledges for the year. They use that old psychology of sending two or three important people from the church to your home to sit down and to discuss with you what will be your pledge for the church for this next year. Of course, you don't want to look like a skinflint, and these people are important people, and you want to look good to them. And so while they're there, you are more or less coerced into making a pledge that is really more than you intended to give, but you just want to look good in the eyes of the people. But then each month as you get your little dun from the church saying your pledge is due, you get angry and you write out that check, and your name has a little cross on the "t", you know, that indicates that, "I don't like this, but I made the promise." You're actually resenting what you give to God, and that's terrible. You'd be better off by far not to give to God at all than to actually resent.
God doesn't want you to resent anything. That's why Paul the apostle in the New Testament said, "Let every man as he has purposed in his own heart set aside that portion that he wants to give to God" ( 2 Corinthians 9:7 ). For your giving should never be out of constraint. It should never be through pressure, for God loves a cheerful, and the word in the Greek is hilarious giver. Now whatever you can give to God hilariously, give. What you can't give to God hilariously, keep. Don't pollute. God says, "You polluted the whole thing." Why? Because of the attitude of your heart when you're giving to God, your attitude of that is contemptible. "Oh, I've got to do that again." None of my giving to God should ever create within me a contempt. If it is, then I shouldn't be doing it. God loves a cheerful, hilarious giver.
You said, O what a weariness it is! ( Malachi 1:13 )
"Oh, do we have to go to church again tonight? Oh no! There's a neat program coming on T.V. and I've got to watch it. If I'm not there, they're going to be calling me. I don't want them to call me. I can't stand it." "Weariness to Me!" Oh, what a sad, sad state of spiritual affairs when the things of God become worrisome. Tragic.
My wife always gets after me, because even on vacation I can't stop ministering. Going to Hawaii next month for a vacation, but we'll be ministering in Honolulu for Bill Stonebreaker while we're there. But I love it. You know, it's not wearisome to me. She would like to be with me more. In fact, she told me tonight to pray about spending more time with her. I'm praying about it. The ministers' wives are many times the unspoken heroes of this whole warfare. We talk about the sacrifices a minister has to make, but the wife also makes many sacrifices. I thank God for the sacrifices that Kay has made, and the reflection of those sacrifices in the lives of our children. Because I was gone so much, a great part of the burden of giving to the children that security, in word and love and all within the home, fell upon her. She made it a point to never allow the children to come home to an empty house. Always to be there whenever they came home from school, and we thank God for the blessed fruit that we have now from those sacrifices that she made while we were engaged in the work of the Lord.
But if serving God ever becomes weariness to you, then it's time to get out, time to do something else. Surely you should not be inflicting yourself upon others, if you yourself have become weary doing the work of the Lord. You say, "Oh, what weariness it is!"
and you've snuffed at it, and you've brought that which was torn, that which was lame, that which was sick; thus you brought an offering: and should I accept it? saith the LORD. But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and vows, and sacrifices unto the Lord a corrupt thing ( Malachi 1:13-14 ):
God pronounces a curse upon that man that would make a promise to God and then substitute on it, and give God, sacrifice something that which is corrupted.
for I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is awesome among the heathen ( Malachi 1:14 ).
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Malachi 1". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent