The book of Malachi is one of the most unique in the scriptures. It is written almost like a court room drama. The interaction between God and the people can be divided into seven parts. Many of the parts begin with a statement by God, followed by a reply from the people, and then an explanation by God. The message of Malachi is relevant to us today! We’ll look at the seven “acts” of Malachi and how we need to examine our relationship with God to see if these same problems have begun to permeate our lives.
[Gary Petty] Well, good evening everyone. It's nice to have you here. Nice to have everyone that's watching online. If you please rise here we'll ask God's blessing on the Bible study. Our Father, our King, we come before You in humble submission to You, Father, that You just give us the privilege to even come before You. And here we are here and others that are on the hook up here this evening.
We're here humbly before You, asking You to help guide us through part of the scripture, Father. We need Your guidance, we need Your understanding in how to take this book of Malachi written so many years ago and how it can be applied to us today. So Father, we ask for Your help and Your guidance and we praise You and we ask all these in Christ Jesus name, amen.
We've been going through the Minor Prophets. We haven't been doing them in order, just a number of reasons. Mr. McNeely and Mr. Myers and I wanted to do different ones and so we got out of order based on what we were going to be here and able to do them. But tonight, we're going to be doing Malachi which is the last of the minor prophets in your Bible.
Malachi takes place around 430 B.C. About 100 years before, the Jews began to come back, and in fairly large groups, into the Promised Land. We know, you go through them, Ezra, Nehemiah and as these people came out of the Babylonian Empire in captivity, and they came back and the difficulties they had being able to rebuild the temple. That Zerubbabel's Temple wasn't anything like Solomon's temple, they were discouraged by it but it was built and they began to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
And, it took a number of generations but eventually, they started to have some peace, prosperity, and once again there was a Jewish homeland. They didn't have near the numbers that they'd had before. It wasn't near as prosperous as it was before but there was some prosperity. They weren't starving and they had houses and they had land and there was Jerusalem. It wasn't near the city had been under Solomon.
The temple wasn't near as what it had been, but they had the whole thing. God had brought them back just like He prophesied He would. And so, here we have around 100 years after this exodus back and the rebuilding of this nation. And we have God sending them a prophet. Because now that the nation was rebuilt, a certain set of problems started to arise. It's interesting because it's not dealing with some of the problems that happened before, where you have paganism and other issues. It’s problems inside their worship of God, what was happening inside their nation in their worship of God.
When you read Hosea or Amos, you see messages to people. We look to the Minor Prophets, there's messages to Judah and Israel, that you could look at and pull out and say, "Okay, we can apply this to nations today." When you look at Joel, the book of Joel, this applies to the whole world. There's part of the Day of the Lord there in Joel that applies to the whole world.
When you get to Malachi, we're going to find really a message. There's a message that was given to those people and there's the message that is applicable to us today. When we look at the book of Malachi, we're looking at a message that's applicable to the Church. It's not necessarily a message that you'd would apply to a nation. As we go through this, we'll see it. It is a message that would apply to the Church.
And so, as we go through this, we need to be very open to God's direction in this because we will find, if we understand this message, yes, it was given to Judah. So the first message was to Judah. But how do I apply it today is to the Church, and if it's to the Church, we have to be open to this message. And it's very hard because they were being corrected by God. And we have to look at this and say, "Is this a correction for us?" How do we apply the book of Malachi to us today?
What's interesting about the book of Malachi? First of all, let's just talk about one word that's important in Malachi. It's malak, Hebrew word malak. Now malak means messenger. In the English Bible, most of the time, malak is translated angel, the messengers of God. But, there are many times when it applies to human beings because they're messengers but the translators translated angel because we differentiate between a human messenger and an angelic messenger.
So we have the same word. There's four very important malaks in this book of Malachi. Let's go to Malachi 2:7 Malachi 2:7For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
American King James Version×. We have a lot to cover tonight. We'll try to give you an overview of a very complicated book, so we'll be jumping around a little bit. But, this is very important to understand this concept of messenger that's inside this book.
Malachi 2:7 Malachi 2:7For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
American King James Version×says, "For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge and people should seek the law from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts." Now, malak, if it was an angelic being, that would be translated angel, but these are the priests. The priests were supposed to be messengers of the law of God. And we're going to see this that they were failing in doing that.
There's another couple of messengers in Malachi 3:1 Malachi 3:1Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in: behold, he shall come, said the LORD of hosts.
American King James Version×, "Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me." Now, it says, "And the Lord whom you seek." This part of this verse is quoted in the New Testament. Anyone knows who it is? John the Baptist. So this messenger, it's a prophetic message about John the Baptist and then it says, "And suddenly -- and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple even the Messenger of the covenant in whom you delight."
So this second messenger is Jesus Christ, the Lord of the covenant. So here we have three malaks mentioned. The priests who are the messengers of God concerning the law, we have the messenger who would be John the Baptist, and a prophecy of the Messenger who would be Jesus Christ. Anyone know who the fourth Malach is in Malachi? It's a trick question.
Malachi. His name is messenger. Malachi, he's a messenger from God. So anyway, the four malaks of Malachi includes the one himself who was sent. He's the messenger of God. So this idea of a messenger is real important in this in this book, prophetic messengers -- or prophecies about messengers: John the Baptist, about Jesus Christ, about the priest being messengers and he's a messenger from God. He's a malak, Malachi.
Now, when we go through the book of Malachi, it seems very confusing. Some people say, well, it seems like almost like a conversation. Here's how I break Malachi down to be able to understand it. Malachi is like a courtroom drama in which God is making accusations against the priests and the people of Judah, and what we have is their defense which is usually a question of that is sort of disrespectful to God, like, “show me the proof.” He made an accusation. "Show me the proof." And God's response is the proof. He explains what He means.
As we go through this, I believe Malachi should be read today in the Church as God's indictment against His people, that we have to be careful that we don't end up like the ancient Jews did in their relationship with God. Let's look at what I mean here. Let's start in Malachi chapter 1, verse 1. "The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi." Now, this Israel here isn't the ten tribes. They had already been taken into captivity. It's Judah that had come back.
He says, "’I have loved you,’ says the Lord." So God... Here's the message from Malachi. God says He has loved you. Now, you think well they would say, "Oh good, yes, God loves us." It's an indictment because notice the response. “Yet, you say ‘What way have you loved us?'” I don't know. “We are His blessed people. Here we are, yeah, we're living in this Promised Land, but we have the scrolls that tell us about the judges, the time of judges, about Abraham, about David and Solomon and Jeroboam. We have all these scrolls and that seems like a whole lot better time than we are now. So how are You loving us?"
Now, notice there is an indictment, there is a response, and then God explains it. He says, “’Was not Esau Jacob's brother?’ says the Lord. ‘Yet, Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.’” God's response is, "You say I have not loved you. Look at your history! I have chosen you over other people." I mean He could have used another argument. He says, "Look what I did to ancient Egypt. What do you mean? What do you mean? Just four generations ago, I brought you out of your forefathers out of Babylonian captivity which you could go to the book of Daniel and it prophesied I would do that. What do you mean I haven't loved you?" And this begins a set of conversations.
Now, they weren't literal. Someone said as a stylized conversation. Yeah, that's what it is, between God and His people. “How have you loved us? We're not all real rich. Life isn't always good for us.” So, that’s the first of the indictments. We're going to go through the whole list of indictments here. Let's go to verse 6 now. We're going to look at the second indictment.
That's why this is going to take us... We're going to have to go through this rather quickly because there's that list of indictments. What I hope to do is, in the end, you can go back and reread Malachi. And of course, if you do any study of the history of what Judah was like at this time, in the context of how they lived, this makes perfect sense, but it also you realize how it could apply to us.
He says in verse 6, "A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father." God says, "I am your Father, ancient Judah.” "’Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence?’ says the Lord of Hosts.” Notice who He talks to. "To the priests who despise My name." He says, "You say I'm your Father, but you don't pay Me the honor that you would even a physical father. You say that I am your Master, but you don't do what I say. Do you have a servant? You expect him to do what you say." So it's an indictment.
And notice their response, the end of verse 6, “Yet you say, ‘in what way have we despised Your name?’" and it's funny. He says, "Let me tell you what your answer is," and their answer is, "Oh, no, no. How have we despised You?" Now, He's talking to the priests. So the priests’ defense would have been, "What are You talking about? Every morning and every evening, we do a sacrifice in that temple. Every Sabbath day, we have special services and we have teaching and we have music or we have special sacrifices. Every Holy Day we come here and we do this daily activity. So how can You say we've despised Your name? We're doing what we're supposed to do." Notice what He says in verse 7. "You offer defiled food on My altar." They say, "Wait a minute. Well, how can You say that? We take the lambs. We're up to our elbows in blood half the time and we cut their throats and we do all the things we're supposed to do, and we throw them on the fire. What do You mean we offer defiled food?" And notice what it says. “But you say, ‘In what way have we defiled You?’"
He says, "By what you say." This is very important. They were doing their religion. They were doing their religion. They showed up when they were supposed to. They dressed the way they were supposed to, and they sort of acted the way they were supposed to. But He says, "You have a different problem.” “By saying, ‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’” In other words, "Boy, serving God is hard. There's really no rewards to it, but you have to do it."
They were serving God out of a sense of compulsion, not because they wanted to. The religion of God was taking place. That's why I say, when you look at Malachi, we say, "Okay, let's read this and try to apply it to the United States of America." No, no, we need to read Malachi and apply it to the Church. It says you do this but you really don't have your heart in it. You do it by compulsion.
“And when you offer the blind,” verse 8, “as a sacrifice, is it not evil?” They were told they were to bring their very best to God, and they were bringing what was available to God. This is real important for you and I to think about. They were commanded to bring the best to God in their worship and in their sacrifices. You and I have sacrifices we're supposed to do of our time, of ourselves, of how we serve other people, which brings us to some interesting questions.
Because the indictment to the Church is, are we giving our best to God? Are we giving our best to God every day: in our prayer, in our study or our service to others. And you say, "I don't have time. I’ve got my career and I've got this and I have that. And you know, to relax, I play two hours of video games every night and it..." Stop a minute. Is the Lord's table contemptible? Are we giving our best to God?
“And when you offer the lame and the sick, is it not evil?” And then He makes a very interesting comment, He says, “’Offer it then to your governor. Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?’ says the Lord of hosts?” And He says, "Okay, why don't you just show up in your sandals." The way some people want to come to church, you know, cut off shorts and a T-shirt and you show up, didn't shave, didn't really take a shower. That's okay, God accepts me just the way I am.
Malachi's injunction against the Church is, "Show up in any important place - show up to work that way. See how long you keep your job.” I mean unless you are ditch-digger. Now, most people would dress better to dig ditches than sometimes they'll show up to worship God. How modest are we? What are we advertising when we walk into the church?
He says, “’But now, entreat God's favor, that He may be gracious to us. While this is being done by your hands, will He accept you favorably?’ says the Lord of Hosts.” In other words, he says, "God will accept us. Ask God for..." Oh, that grace thing, that's only in the New Testament. "Ask God for His favor," that's what grace means. Ask God for it. Go to God, receive it. But, we can't be doing that and be offering Him the little bit of time and effort we have left after we do everything else we want to do.
Let's skip down to first verse 12, because now He really goes on and talks to them about what they're doing here. He says, "But you profane it." He's talking about these offerings that they bring, continuing this vane effect. Really, what He says in verse 11 is important. So let's go up to verse 11, let's read this. “’For from the rising of the sun, even to the going down, My name shall be great among the nations, great among the Gentiles. And in every place incense shall be offered to My name and a pure offering, for My name shall be great among the nations,’ says the Lord of Hosts.” God says, "I'm the God of everybody and someday, every nation will bring sacrifices to Me." But then He says in verse 12, "But you profane it."
He says, “You ask Me, ‘how do You love us?’” “Yeah, You love us. Show us. Yeah, You really don't love us.” And He says, "What do you mean? None of the nations have been chosen by Me to be My servants. I've chosen you, and you profane My name.” “’But you profane it that you say the table of the Lord is defiled and this food is contemptible. And you also say, “Oh, what a weariness.” And you sneer at it,’ says the Lord of hosts. You bring the stolen, the lame and the sick. Thus, you bring an offering, should I accept this from your hand?”
It goes on and He says, "There will come a time that My name will be feared in all the nations." They had a pretense, they had a pretense of worship. They did the rituals. They showed up when they were supposed to but inside, inside it was like, “Oh no, another Sabbath. Oh no, this is just..." and they just no longer loved to do God's work.
You know what's funny about a pretense? It's harder than actually doing what's right. The more we try to pretend to be the people of God, but we're not really living it, the harder it is to actually do the pretense. We could put so much pretense, so much work into, “But look at me, I'm a Christian. I'm a Christian,” that we're not busy being Christians. That's why some people do good deeds, not for the right reasons, so that people will say, "Oh, look, that's a Christian." They don't do it because they love somebody. They do it because, “Well, the people see me. They'll like my church.” Not because they do it because it's good for the person they're doing it to.
You know what pretense, it reminds me of a story of a man who was hired to do a job. It was way over his head. He knew it. He was scared about it. He knew he couldn't do it. He was worried sick. He goes into his office the first day. It's this big plush office and he thinks, "I can't do this job. I don't know want I'm going to do. I guess I'm just going to have to act like I know what I'm doing." And just then, there was a knock on the door.
So he picks up the phone and says, "Come on in." And the guy walks in, he holds up his hand. He says, "Just a minute." He says, "Yes sir, yes sir. No problem. I know it's the biggest account we've ever had in the history of the company and I'll take care of it. I'm the best man for the job. Yes, sir, I appreciate your confidence." Hang up the phone, looked at the man and said, “What can I do for you?" He said, "Nothing, I just came to hook up the telephone." Work real hard at pretense, okay? We work real hard at it instead of just being ourselves, being authentic, being who we are as true Christians and following of God.
Let's go to verse 1 here of chapter 2. "And now, O priests, this command is for you. If you will not hear it, and if you will not take it to heart,” take it to heart. He says, "if you'll just listen to what I want, but not just listen, I want it to be part of your motivations." When you talk about heart, you're not just talking about thoughts. You're talking about what motivates us, our emotions, what drives us. Most of the time as human beings we’re driven by wrong emotions. “’To give glory to My name,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘I will send the curse upon you. I will curse your blessings. Yet, I have cursed them already because you did not take it to heart.’”
They were cursed because they would not take it to heart. They continued the rituals. Understand, the priests did not stop doing the sacrifices. They did not stop keeping the Sabbath. They did not stop keeping the Feast of Tabernacles. They did not stop doing the Passover. They did it. They did it day after day, year after year. It's just what they did.
The real true meaning behind it, the joy of it, the sadness of it. The Passover can be a sad time as [inaudible]. All that was gone, just wrapped up and just walk sleepwalking through their religion. Verse 7, "For the lips of a priest should know knowledge." We read this earlier. “’People should seek the law from his mouth for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But you have departed from the way. You have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
In fact, verse 9 says that they have shown partiality in the law because this seemed despicable to them, and the covenant of Levi is very interesting because God had made a very special covenant with the tribe of Levi, that was different than the covenant He had made with all the rest of Israel.
When He called Israel out He says, "You are my nation of kings and priests," but they could not do it. So He said, "Okay this tribe,” this tribe that stuck with Moses, this tribe who stayed with Him and supported Him and supported God, “this tribe will serve Me as my priests,” and all of Israel had to honor them as priests. And He says, "You've broken that covenant."
You know, part of the covenant that God made with you? Keep a marker here. We're going to come right back to this. Let's go to 1 Peter, chapter 2. He's talking here about the Church, the new covenant people. And what does He say? Verse 9, "You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation." This is us, these are Christians, this is the Church of God. "His own special people that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light, who were once not people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy."
If you remember when, in Hosea, this here is a play on the names of his children. Peter's doing this deliberately. Remember the children of Hosea and the prostitute? And this is a play on those names. We are the priesthood of God. We are here to sacrifice our lives for God. And the question is, for the Church today, are we sleepwalking through the rituals? Is it just what we do? Or is this coming from the core of who we are? Because we are the priesthood now, a chosen nation, just like they were a chosen nation. And, we are to show God's way in the world, just like ancient Israel was supposed to show God's way in the world.
So obviously, the book of Malachi does have importance for us. “Well, yeah, it's talking about a bunch of priests, that's not us.” Oh yeah, it is. We're not the Levitical priesthood, so the first application isn't to us, but the more modern application is to us.
Now, let's go back to Malachi. We’ve got to continue rolling through all these indictments, that's why we're not spending a lot of time. We could spend hours on this book.
We have to look at the indictments, look at the responses and say, "Is this what I do to God?" Chapter 2 verse 10, I tell you what, let's go to verse 13. First, let's get to verse 13 first. It says and this is the second thing you do. So we're going to talk about a first and second thing. But, I want to show you the indictment. "You cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and crying. So He does not regard the offering any more nor receive it with goodwill from your hands."
He says, "You bring your worship to God and He doesn't accept it any more." Their offerings, their tithes, they kept saying, "Well, we go to the temple but there's an emptiness in our religion," an emptiness in their religion. They did it, they've done it now for four generations since those first people would come back out of Babylonian captivity and faced all kinds of problems and struggles. It wasn't the struggle to follow God now. You know, you're living in a nation that followed God.
The priesthood was there, so why? He says, "Yet, you say, ‘For what reason?’” “Why are You not accepting our worship? We sing praises to You. It's great music. Why isn't this happening? Why are you not involved in my everyday life?” Well, let's go back and now look at the first reason, because this question indictment comes in the middle of this.
He says in verse 10, "Have we not all one Father?" Yes, we all have one Father. "Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously with one another by profaning the covenant of the Father?" Okay, we all have one Father. We all have one God and He says you have broken your covenant with God because of the way you treat each other. He needs to explain that.
“Judah has dealt treacherously and an abomination has been committed in Israel and Jerusalem, for Judah has profaned the Lord's holy institution which He loves.” They profaned God's holy institution which it says He loves. This is special to Him, it's important to Him. It's wonderful to Him, and what is that? “He has married the daughter of a foreign god.” They were marrying outside of Judah, to pagans. In other words, they weren't marrying. This isn’t actually an issue that Jews can only marry Jews in terms of their heritage. It meant the followers of God can only marry the followers of God.
In the New Testament, the Church is made up of people from all different ethnic backgrounds. And Paul tells us the same thing. We are to marry in the faith. Boy this gets hard now. “Yeah, Malachi's part of that Old Covenant stuff. We don't have to think about that.” The book of Malachi applies to the priesthood of God of which we are, and marrying those who are not of the faith is not proper.
Now, God doesn’t strike you down. No. God says, "Okay, you're married now. You have to stay married." You can't say, "I'm going to go now divorce somebody because they're not in the faith." “You know, I'll do that,” once you're married. What He is saying is we should not be doing it. I know that's not politically correct. I know that's not politically correct in our own church. But it is the message that we need to hear.
He says, "May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob the man who does this thing being awake and aware yet who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts." He says, "Don't bring your offering to Me." Now, this doesn't mean, if we marry somebody who's not in the faith that you and I should not appear in the Church or be cut off from God. But the same principle applies because Paul says it to the New Testament Church.
Then notice now, it is verse 13. He says, "Okay, you keep saying why doesn't our religion work?" So let's go to verse 14. For what reason? And He says, "Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth with whom you have dealt treacherously, yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant.” The covenant we make at marriage is between us husband and wife and God. It is not, “I promise to love you and take care of you and it's so wonderful. Yes, and I promise to love you and take care of you. And well, you know what? We don't really love each other. We don't want to take care of each other. We've been married two years, let's divorce.”
The covenant we make at marriage is between two people and God. When that covenant is broken, you have damaged your relationship with God because you've broken a covenant with God and that's what we don't think about. If we look at the spirit of the law in the New Testament, if it says, you know, it's not just wrong to commit adultery, it's wrong to lust after a person. We look at the spirit of the law is actually more strict than the letter of the law. How much more should this be strict in the Church of God?
We somehow have grown into an idea that if this marriage isn't happy, I have the right to divorce. Who gives you that right? And the arguments is, "Well, me! I'm not happy." But the problem is it’s a three-way covenant. Does God give you that right? “Well, yes, because He wants me to be happy.” Hmm… He wants you... He wants you to be happy within His holy institution, and it takes a lot of work to be happy within that holy institution, to make it be holy, to make it be right.
He says, “Did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore, take heed to your spirit and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth." He says, "Why do you think God created marriage?" Because you're His children and He wants you to produce children who will be His children. “No, no, we got married just because he was fun to be around. He was a good dancer. I got married to her because she's a good kisser.”
God said, "Well, that's nice. That's why I designed it. I like marriage, I love it." But marriage is an obligation to Him. It is an obligation to God, and this nation was breaking that obligation and God was going to punish them. The Greeks would come along and eventually, the Romans would come along, and destroy their nation again.
Verse 16, "’For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce for it covers one's garment with violence,’ says the Lord of hosts." I've counseled lots and lots of people who went through a divorce and one of the most common explanations is it's like a ripping apart. It's like I've been ripped apart inside. It is violence. Divorce is violence. Understand that. I didn't make that up. It's what God says. "Therefore take heed to your spirit that you do not deal treacherously." This is a very important thing. It's not something that we can take lightly.
They took it lightly. We say, "Wow, those Jews really didn't get it, did they?" Do we get this in the Church of God? Now, there are situations where divorce is allowed. In the New Testament, you can find those situations. So there are situations where divorce is allowed, but those are very stringent guidelines to where divorce is allowed. Or you can divorce, you just can't remarry. To break those guidelines is to sin against God. So we need to understand that.
So now, the next indictment. It goes to another indictment at verse 17. "You have wearied the Lord with your words.” He says I'm tired of hearing you talk.' You say, "Oh, come on, You've beat us up for all this other stuff. In what way have we wearied Him?" “Yet you say, ‘In what way have we wearied Him? In that you say, ‘Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them,’ or, ‘Where is the God of justice?’”
Now, it's very interesting because He indicts them and then says, "Well, you have two extremes here. Two extremes, and both extremes are wrong." The one is, the one is calling evil good. In other words, God isn't that concerned with our behavior. Now, does this sound like the world we live in today? God, really isn't... He has no concern with laws and He isn't that concerned with our behavior. He's only concerned with how we feel about each other because that's how love is defined.
So evil is good, and so we have a difficult time. You know, we look at the evil in this world and we feel compassion on people who suffer because of that evil, but that doesn't mean we can say, "Okay, the evil is okay." I've sat in prisons and I've sat in coffeehouses. I've sat in my own house. I've sat in other people's houses and I've sat and I've listened to people who have committed the most terrible sins you can imagine. Of course, I have my own list add to that.
I have talked to people who have committed every sin you can think of. Or have broken every one of the commandments literally and in the spirit. And if they are repentant, we can help bring them back to God. And if they are not, God does not accept them. He's still waiting for them to repent. He's still waiting for them to repent. No unrepentant sinner will become part of the eternal family of God. No unrepentant sinner will become part of the eternal family of God. There is no universal salvation.
And then the Jews, “Oh, come on, God's not that concerned with unimportant things, you know.” Yes, He is.
Then the other extreme is this is, “Where is the God of justice?” In other words, they're really concerned with law and all they want to do is condemn everybody. And you're mad at God because, “Well, He's not being hard enough on everybody.” So you have the one extreme that's incredibly liberal to the point of everything goes, and then you have the other extreme which is so concerned about law, there's no room for mercy. There's no room for compassion. It's just, "Where is the God of justice? This person needs to suffer. This person needs to suffer and that person needs to suffer."
So it's very interesting, is it? In this case, He shows two extremes, same indictment thought, same indictment. He says, "I get tired of your talking." I hope—I’m a talker—I hope I never appear before God. He says, “Oh, Gary. Okay, you've made it, but man, just shut up. I got tired of your talking somewhere around, I don't know, 1987.” They wearied Him with their talking.
Malachi 3:1 Malachi 3:1Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in: behold, he shall come, said the LORD of hosts.
American King James Version×. Let’s see how much I want to read here with the time I have left. Well, we already read verses 1, verse 1 where it talks about the messengers. So let's skip down to verse, verse 2. "Who can endure the day of His coming?" So God says, "I'm going to come visit Judah, and there will be a Day of the Lord." There is a greater Day of the Lord that we know when Jesus Christ returns. So this also would apply to that. “And who can stand when He appears, for He is like a refiner's fire, like a launderer's soap. He will sit as refiner and purifier of silver. He will purify the sons of Levi, and purify them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering of righteousness."
You know, when Jesus Christ returns and the nation of Israel is re-gathered to Him, the Levites have to go back to serving Jesus Christ as He reigns from Jerusalem and serving God the Father. They will be back in their acts of service which they had failed at this time.
He then gives a list of things that He is very upset with them. Verse 5 says, “’I will come near you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against sorcerers, against idolaters, against perjurers, against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, and against those who turn away an alien, because they do not fear me,’ says the Lord of hosts.” Hospitality towards strangers was a very important part of what God had taught ancient Israel.
"For I am the Lord, and I do not change. Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob." He says, "The only reason you're not destroyed is because I don't change, and I am merciful." Remember how He starts this book: "I love you." He didn't start the book with, "I want to punish you." He started the book with, "I love you." And their response was, "Oh yeah, yeah, sure. Where do You show us love?"
He says, "Think about Esau. Let's make a list of all the people that I delivered out of your hand, destroyed, did things to, saved. Think of Lot. Think of all the times I saved you for generation after generation after generation, so that you people could be right now here where you're supposed to be, in your land. And you don't think I love you?" He says the only reason... Now, towards the end of the book, “the only reason why you exist is because I have this... this is who I am, and I do love you."
Look at verse 7, “’Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from my ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,’ says the Lord of hosts. But you said, ‘In what way shall we return?’” “Okay, but we're doing it all right here. What do You mean return to You? We worship You. We are Your people, we have the scrolls, we have the temple, we have the land. We have Moses, we have the Ten Commandments. How in the world are we to return to You? We're already there.”
We have to be careful as God's people that we'll do that in the Church, that in our arrogance because God has given us so much. We do have the Word of God. We have the Scriptures. We have a Church. We have freedom of worship. We can never get to the place where we say, "What do you mean, return to you, God? That's what people in the world do. We need to tell the world to repent.” We don't earn that right until we're living a daily life of repentance.
We could tell the world to repent all day long. And if the Church isn't living a daily life of repentance, God won't bring anybody. He won't bring anybody. He can't. And Judah said, "Well, how do we repent? How do we return the Lord? We're already Your people." That's what I'm saying. This book is... “I'm not gonna tell the people of United States, ‘Return to God.’ Well, they're not even God's people. It's secular human society, it’s not God's society.” But the Church is. The royal priesthood. We have to have a daily life of repentance, of humility before our God.
Now, here's another indictment. The indictments are coming now. Verse 8, “’Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me!’ And they say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’” “Oh, come on now. Now, You're saying we robbed You?" And you know what He says, "In tithes and offerings." He says, "You don't give to Me what I say is Mine, that you are to give to Me in humble worship." He says, "You want to know how to return? Look here, let's just start here." He could have picked a lot of different ways. He said, "But you robbed Me. You're cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation." So He then asked them, “Please bring in the tithes and offerings.”
Now, let's look at the last of the indictments. Malachi 3:13 Malachi 3:13Your words have been stout against me, said the LORD. Yet you say, What have we spoken so much against you?
American King James Version×, "Your words have been harsh against Me." Before, He said "You weary me. I'm just tired of your arguments." But He says now... He says, "You have really said harsh things against Me." And of course, what did they say? Yet says the Lord... “Yet you say, ‘In what ways have we spoken against You?’” “Who, us? We worship You. We have some of the best songs we sing on Sabbath. We've even updated the music. We have the best choir." Which I imagine the Levite choir was pretty good. "We have the best choir. We have stringed instruments. We have a whole orchestra of the place. What do You mean? How are we being harsh against You? We do the ritual prayers every day. So, how are we harsh?"
“You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God. What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, that we have walked as mourners before the Lord of hosts?’ So now, we call the proud blessed, for those who do wickedness are raised up. They even tempt God and go free.” When it came down to it, they measured their relationship with God by how many things they had. And so, if they didn't consider themselves rich enough, “God, He's just not fair.” And so, they were harsh against God.
Quite a set of indictments, isn't it? It's easy to say, "Boy, those old Jews, they sure didn’t know what they were doing." But, we have to look at Malachi and say, “Are we, as the Church of God, those who have the covenant now, are we guilty of these same things?” Because if we look at this and we prayerfully study it, we have to admit, at least sometimes, we are guilty of at least some of these things.
Now, this doesn't in the book of Malachi, because the book of Malachi is actually a very positive book. So let's read now part of the end of the book. Verse 16 of chapter 3, "Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard. So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord, who meditate on His name."
People who think about it. They think about their religion. They think about their things they do. They're not motivated by their raw emotions. They're not motivated by their carnality. They think about it. They understand God's way. They live God's way and it's interesting. And, they have a positive relationship with other people who live God's way. And God says, "I remember those people." He says, "I write their names in a book." “’They shall be mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘on that day that I make them my jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him, that you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between the one who serves God and the one who does not serve him.’”
He said, "You know what? There is a point,” He says, "I know who serves Me and I know who doesn't serve Me," and He says, "There's a day I bring them together as My children, as My jewels, My favorite things."
Verse 4, now He starts moving ahead, and these prophecies of when He starts gathering his people together, both the people of Israel and the Church and then the whole world. Then, when Jesus Christ comes back, it's not just for the Church, it's for the whole world, as He begins to gather the world in to Jesus Christ to take them to the Father. “’For behold the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly, shall be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,’ says the Lord of hosts.” And here we have a prophecy about what in the New Testament would be called the Lake of Fire.
“That they will leave them neither the root nor branch.” He says, “I'm going to destroy the wicked someday.” But He says, "I'm going to bring all those who serve Me, who loved Me, who understood that I love them." And He says, "I'm going to make them My children.” “’But to You who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings, and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
The rest of this book is about the coming great and dreadful Day of the Lord. There's this positive aspect—indictment after indictment after indictment, response, response, you know, defense, defense, defense and then we have, "Nope, you're guilty, guilty, guilty." That's like a courtroom drama. And the defendants lost each case. They lost every case. They were guilty, but then He reminds them, "But I'm going to gather those together at that day in the future, and the wicked will be burned up in the lake of fire. And then all those who follow Me..."
And you look at this last chapter here, and it sort of reminds me of some of the statements in the last couple of chapters of Revelation, the lake of fire in Revelation 21, where the New Jerusalem comes down—now He's not talking about New Jerusalem here, but it's the same concept—comes down and God gathers all that its left, all the people who have repented and turned to Him and now are part of His family.
And we have this little glimpse. It's not as clear. It's not as detailed as the end of Revelation, but this little glimpse, the end of the of the Old Testament, is a little glimpse at what's at the end of the New Testament, gives us a much more detailed understanding. And so, the rest of this book is about the coming day of the Lord, that God is coming back to judge humanity.
And so, as you can see we have Malak-i, the messenger of God, who came to bring a message to people, who after four generations of return, after coming back into the Promised Land, had slid into a complacency. They looked good, but their lifestyles, their hearts weren't right with God. The priesthood wasn't right with God. And He put them on trial.
I worry sometimes. I wonder, are we as the Church on trial? I thought about that a lot over the last 25 years. Are there times we’re on trial before God? And God is making indictments and our response is, "We don't do that. Well, that's not me. That's that person. God, I'm glad I’m not like this publican, because I fast twice a week and I do this and they do that."
Malachi can be a very discouraging book, but it's also a very positive book, because he says, "Turn to Me and you'll be My jewels. Turn to Me and you'll be My children forever because that's why I made you." He said that to the ancient Judah, He says the same thing to the Church today no matter what our background is, ethnic background, color, race, it doesn't matter. It's the same thing. “You will be My jewels.”
I know that was the book of Malachi as fast as it can be talked about. Any comments or questions about Malachi? Someone said in her Bible, it said it was “a stylistic conversation.” You see why it's a stylistic conversation? It is a conversation. But I look at it as a courtroom drama. This is Perry Mason stuff. This is good stuff. And that they're always guilty on every charge. Yeah.
[Man in audience] What does it mean in chapter 4, where it’s talking about He’s going to send Elijah to come again to prophesy? What does that mean exactly?
[Petty] I will tell you my interpretation of this. It means He's going to send someone like Elijah the prophet.
[Man] Not the Elijah.
[Man] Just someone like Elijah?
[Petty] Like Elijah.
[Man] Could it be any reference to the two witnesses in some way?
[Petty] Could be.
[Man] I’ve heard it said that Elijah and Elisha sometimes are going to kind of be like the two witnesses. Revelation 11:8 Revelation 11:8And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
American King James Version×, it talks about [inaudible]. I’m just curious if it had any connection.
[Petty] Could be. I know you want me to nail it down more than that, but I can't. I can only say we look at these things and they we know they fit together, exactly how they fit together we speculate on. We know they do, so we need to be looking at them. How exactly they fit together? Some people will say, "I have it figured out. I have it figured out." I don't have it all figured out.
I just know it all fits together at the end. I know that. But how it all figures out, I'm not that smart. And some people may have it figured out, and later I’ll say, "Boy, I was stupid because I didn't." I think we'll figure it out when it happens or as it happens, or looking back sometimes we’ll say, "Ah, I see what God was doing." You see what I mean? We'll see it at some point. We'll understand entirely what God is doing. But I tend to wait... as God shows us, we'll figure it out. So, sorry, I know you wanted more than that but... Yeah?
[Woman in audience] In Malachi 3:10 Malachi 3:10Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me now herewith, said the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
American King James Version×[inaudible]
[Petty] Malachi 3:10 Malachi 3:10Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me now herewith, said the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
American King James Version×, “’Bring the tithes of the storehouse that it may be food in My house and try me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessings that there would not be room enough to receive it.’” In ancient Israel's time, that would have been primarily a physical blessing. That would have been spiritual too, okay, because of a relationship with God.
But remember, that was a physical covenant with a physical nation. What the old covenant is is how to administer God's law in a nation. That's why there's so many laws about land and how many people you can marry and who gets the land and all this stuff, and how the temple is supposed to be built. It's all about how to worship God as a physical nation. The laws of God and that covenant are the same as the laws of God and the new covenant, which is an illustration of how to do those laws in a Church.
So, that for them would have had a lot of physical components and some spiritual components. For the Church, it’s going to have a lot of spiritual components and some physical components. Does that make sense? See, you’ve got to understand the covenants. So these people who read this the first time, that was primarily a physical issue with a added benefit of a relationship with God. For us, it is a spiritual relationship with God with a few added physical benefits, because we're under a spiritual covenant, the New Covenant. Same laws, different administration. Does that makes sense?
Okay. We’ll end one minute early. I know Mr. Myers has never done that. Thanks for coming out tonight, and we'll see you in what, is it two weeks, Mr. McNeely? Three weeks. And we have another Bible study in three weeks. I don't remember what the subject is. Who knows? Okay. It's one of the Minor Prophets. Okay, we know that much. So come out. Well, the announcement will be made. And for all those that are watching, we'll welcome you back in three weeks.