Malachi – The Answer to what God wants
As I prayed about what to study and learn after reading and meditating on the Psalms, which taught us many ways to praise God, I am drawn to Malachi, the Prophet. This is the last book in the Old Testament before the New Testament. I feel drawn to begin in the New Testament, but must stop off at Malachi to get my heart ready, to focus my mind so that I can have the right attitude for our next journey in God’s Word.
Our next journey will involve silence and listening, learning and growing, confession and peace, giving God what HE wants. The book of Malachi is a challenge to take God seriously, not just in giving but in every aspect of life.
Imagine going to the temple of God with your family in tow. The husband turns to the wife and asks, “Did you bring a sacrifice?”
“No, I thought you took care of that!” The husband tells the wife to go on ahead and he will go to a sheep pen to see what he can find. He sorts through the sheep. The fat wholly one will cost too much. Another sheep looks good but he could buy that one to enter in a contest. He finds a healthy one, but no, I could use that to breed other healthy sheep. Finally he finds a frail lamb with a broken leg. “Ahh, he says, “This will be a good one to get rid of…”
What the man does not know is that God has been watching his actions and hearing his thoughts. God has been observing the choosing. What God has heard the man say is, “I will give a token, but I won’t give my heart.”
Such an attitude angers God. Such anger is found in this, the last book of the Old Testament. “You bring hurt, crippled, and sick animals as gifts. You bring them as gifts, but I won’t accept them from you.” (Malachi 1:13)
We don’t offer sheep each time we worship, but we do have an opportunity to give. Some people arrive at the altar with no thought given at all to their financial responsibility before God. “What do you want to give,” says the wife to the husband. He says, “Let me see what I’ve got.”
We forget God is watching and can hear our hearts. We forget that God has challenged us to challenge Him. “Bring to the storehouse a full tenth of what you earn so there will be food in my house. Test me in this, says the LORD All-Powerful.” “I will open the windows of heaven for you and pour out all the blessings you need” (3:10).
Randy and I are entering a new phase of life that involves “fixed incomes”. I need to study Malachi and remember not to let up now in my giving for it is God who blesses and will provide all that we will need. Ah, now I know why God led me hear. Maybe it will help you, too, but this preaching is mostly for me.
1 This message is the word of the Lord given to Israel through Malachi.
God Loves Israel
2 The Lord said, “I have loved you.”
But you ask, “How have you loved us?”
The Lord said, “Esau and Jacob were brothers. I loved Jacob, 3 but I hated Esau. I destroyed his mountain country and left his land to the wild dogs of the desert.”
4 The people of Edom might say, “We were destroyed, but we will go back and rebuild the ruins.”
But the Lord All-Powerful says, “If they rebuild them, I will destroy them. People will say, ‘Edom is a wicked country. The Lord is always angry with the Edomites.’ 5 You will see these things with your own eyes. And you will say, ‘The Lord is great, even outside the borders of Israel!’”
The Priests Don’t Respect God
6 The Lord All-Powerful says, “A son honors his father, and a servant honors his master.” I am a father, so why don’t you honor me? I am a master, so why don’t you respect me? You priests do not respect me.
“But you ask, ‘How have we shown you disrespect?’
7 “You have shown it by bringing unclean food to my altar.
“But you ask, ‘What makes it unclean?’
“It is unclean because you don’t respect the altar of the Lord. 8 When you bring blind animals as sacrifices, that is wrong. When you bring crippled and sick animals, that is wrong. Try giving them to your governor. Would he be pleased with you? He wouldn’t accept you,” says the Lord All-Powerful.
9 “Now ask God to be kind to you, but he won’t accept you with such offerings,” says the Lord All-Powerful.
10 “I wish one of you would close the Temple doors so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you and will not accept your gifts,” says the Lord All-Powerful. 11 “From the east to the west I will be honored among the nations. Everywhere they will bring incense and clean offerings to me, because I will be honored among the nations,” says the Lord All-Powerful.
12 “But you don’t honor me. You say about the Lord’s altar, ‘It is unclean, and the food has no worth.’ 13 You say, ‘We are tired of doing this,’ and you sniff at it in disgust,” says the Lord All-Powerful.
“And you bring hurt, crippled, and sick animals as gifts. You bring them as gifts, but I won’t accept them from you,” says the Lord. 14 “The person who cheats will be cursed. He has a male animal in his flock and promises to offer it, but then he offers to the Lord an animal that has something wrong with it. I am a great king,” says the Lord All-Powerful, “and I am feared by all the nations.
God condemned Isaral’s complacent and contemptuous attitude toward him. The priests withheld their best animals from the sacrifice, and the people got tired of waiting for the Messiah.
What we learn…
We can learn the most from God when we give him our undivided attention. The greatest gift to give back to God is ourselves. Our money and time will follow if we give the first gift with the right attitude.
Are we tired of waiting for the Messiah to come back again? Are we complacent? Where is our focus? Do we trust God to provide? Have we “tested” God with our finances? What choices is God observing in my life? What does God hear my heart saying?
The only thing broken to bring to God is…ourselves. Let Him heal and restore us to be all He intended for us to be.
In Jesus Name, Amen