Today is a big day, we finish the Old Testament with the prophet Malachi. Malachi chronologically the last Old Testament prophet and he was speaking to the returned Jewish exiles. Some of his prophecies will sound vaguely familiar, since some sin problems crop up like perennial weeds in the garden of human life. But there are also some slightly new themes that we’ll see addressed here that have a pretty direct application to modern Christians. But even more than these interesting new thoughts are the interesting Messianic prophecies. Let’s see…
It’s a classic response from teen boys and grown men, when they think everything was OK and are being informed that they’ve let some things slide a little further than they should have. Although we don’t see this exact word/phrase, we see the meaning a couple of times…
“‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?’ says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, ‘How have we despised Your name?’” Malachi 1:6, NAS95.
““Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.” Malachi 2:14, NAS95.
“You have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet you say, “How 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?”” Malachi 2:17, NAS95.
God goes on to tell them exactly how they had despised His name, for what reason God refused their offerings, and how they had wearied Him. They offered mediocre or even sick offerings to the Lord, which neither they nor their governors would have taken and eaten. They had unfaithfully broken their covenants of marriage with the wives of their youth (their first wife). They had complained bitterly against the Lord, because they thought evil men were going unpunished. These are things that they should have been aware of — God deserves the best, one’s marriage covenant is a covenant (you brought God in on it), and evil is always punished in God’s time.
There are certainly lessons here for us, too, lest we forget. God really does deserve our very best. It’s not just a matter of what God is worth; it’s also a matter of faith — that we will still prosper despite giving away our best to the Lord. Not just in terms of things we give in the collection plate, but even in our efforts and service to the Lord by serving others.
And covenants are sacred — and I mean sacred in terms of God being part of the agreement. Covenants are “making family” agreements, and whether we really intended to invite God in on the agreement, God is always part of a marriage covenant. The fancy ceremony is really superfluous to the agreement being made. Marriage is not what we want to make of it; it is what God has said it is — and it is God’s definition by which we’ll be judged one day. Thus, whether we like the traditional roles of husband and wife or not, we’ll be judged on that standard; whether or not we want to submit to one another sexually, we’ll be judged by God’s word; whether or not we want to stay with our husband or wife, we’ll be judged by God’s terms. Anything else is a violation of the covenant’s terms and subject to God’s judgement.
And finally, we’d be well advised to be very careful about our complaints about God’s apparent lack of interest in justice. It could be that He’s being patient with more than just your enemy; He could be exercising patience with you, too.
A time marker for the Messiah
There was a time marker found in Malachi 3:1 regarding the timing of the Messiah. It’s a time marker that really more for us than it could have been for the people of Malachi’s day.
““Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts.” Malachi 3:1, NAS95.
This Messenger that will be sent will clear the way for the Lord, who will suddenly come to His temple. For Jews between the time of this prophecy and the time of the destruction of the Temple in AD70, this prophecy would not have made much sense as a time marker, but for us who know that the Temple was not only destroyed but never rebuilt, this prophecy becomes truly significant. The window of time in which the Messiah could come has come and passed. This is not news to modern day believers, but for those who are not yet believers in Jesus, here’s a fairly strong verse to consider. If you’re looking for the Messiah, the window (also delineated by some other prophecies) for His appearance has opened and closed — look within the window and you’ll find Him!
Although Christians don’t generally pay too much attention to the prophecy about the forerunner, the Gospels do and the early Christians certainly did. John the Baptist is mentioned in all four Gospels as a strong proof of Jesus’ Messiahship. The prophecies and expectations come from the Isaiah 40:3 passages and from…
“’Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,’ says the LORD of hosts.” Malachi 3:1, NAS95.
“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.” Malachi 4:5, 6, NAS95.
He marks an even narrower window of time in which the Messiah would make His appearance. Put these windows together with the signs and miracles witnessed by scores and hundreds and thousands of people and you have a bonafide Messiah in Jesus.
So, if you believe, be strengthened in your faith. Jesus’ death on the cross has real meaning for your life (and the lives of others who would dare believe) and His resurrection has real hope for the hear after! Be reassured, be strengthened, be zealous, share, and be committed! There’s really good reason to do so!
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.