The Book of Malachi - Part 1
The Book of Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament. The Book was written sometime after the return of the Jews from the seventy years of Babylonian captivity. The book was particularly admonishing the the priests and the people about their improper way of offering sacrifices and giving to God. It seemed that after the seventy years of exile, the Jews have forgotten the proper way of worship. The book also warned the people about God's coming judgment and the Second Coming, the Day of the Lord.
An example with Esau
Malachi started his book with a tough warning. In Mal 1:2-5, God was telling the Jews of the assurance of His love and promises to Israel their patriarch and reminded them of the fate of Esau. Esau turned his heart against his own brother, Jacob then against his parents and God. He sold his holy birthright to Jacob, and that sealed his fate. Eventually he married pagan women and lived among the Gentiles. God took away from him the blessings to become a great nation therefore turning the territory of his generation into a desolate land. God was bringing this into the people's memory so that they will not commit the same mistakes. Please read The Prophet Obadiah for details about Jacob and Esau (Israel and Edom).
The sins of the Jews
God was regarded low by the priests, even lower than to one's own master or father. That was a great offence against the Lord.
But the priest have become insensitive to this so that they don't even know they are guilty of the sin. So they asked the Lord what was their sin.
The priest became very complacent about the unacceptable sacrifices written by Moses in Lev 22:17-33. Probably, they have been burning offerings to God for years and centuries, they forgot the important rules or even more possibly, they have lost their sincerity and faith. Time can easily change our lifestyles but that should not change the way we worship God. Jesus Christ had put an end to animal sacrifices by offering Himself on the cross but God still demands same kind of worship, do offerings they did before—not animals or grains anymore but our own bodies.
Therefore, if God rejected blemished animal offerings before, He will also reject our bodies if we are corrupted by the standards of this world. Worship is not only found in the confines of the worship hall but more importantly how we conduct ourselves daily with the rest of the world. We live today in a most trying times in all history. More and more people have access to knowledge by means of handheld electronic gadgets. People are becoming less physically sociable but more electronically sociable as we are more opened to all sorts of worldly influence greatly reducing our fellowship time for God. The message of Malachi is even more real nowadays.
The priests are admonished
But is this the Levi with whom God made a covenant of life and peace the Levi, the son of Jacob? The first Levi, the third son of Jacob through Leah (Gen 29:34) was a violent man killing many, not promoting life (Gen 34:25-30; 49:5-7). The real Levi is Jesus Christ, our High Priest in the order of Melchizedek, the first High Priest (Heb 4:14-15; 5:5; 6:20), the One whom Malachi was talking about having the covenant of life and peace. In the New Covenant with Jesus Christ, every believer is a priest of the Lord (Isa 61:6; 66:21; 1Pet 2:5-9; Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6). This admonition is for us, present generation who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ, our God.
God is more specific to our moral duty towards God. Judah became detestable to God's eyes by becoming immoral—marrying unbelieving women. And even that was not the worst part. They also divorced their wives in order to remarry whom they choose disregarding the command not to marry unbelievers (Deut 7:2-4; Josh 23:12-13; Ezra 10:10).
These days, marriage is no longer considered sacred. Very few consider marriage seriously anymore as reflected by the 50% of all marriages in America that end in divorce. The passage says that guarding our spirit (against temptation) and keeping the faith is one of the best weapons to avoid marriage break-up. Sexual temptations abound among men and women alike that can ruin the very foundation of society—which is the family. The children are the real victims of marriage break-up.
Do not question God about our miseries
God is also wearied by so many people today accusing God of injustice. Many of us, me included, who questions why the ungodly prosper while the believers suffer.
A psalmist had once complained about the prosperity of the wicked:
And Jeremiah also once questioned the Lord at the time when Judah was suffering, about to fall in the hands of the Babylonians:
Even Job, known for his enduring faith once had a doubt about God's justice when he faced, perhaps the cruellest trial in the Scriptures:
If God's most faithful servants had questioned God's justice, how much more of us, of ordinary faith? Every believer has at least once or many points in their lives for sure doubted God's justice. God knows about this. There's nothing new but it has made God weary about our lack of faith. God's had written for us in the Scriptures the answer on this question... "Why do the wicked prosper and the faithful suffer?"
Read all the verses of Psalm 37 and have faith, for God cares for you. Ever wondered why no apostle had lived a comfortable and wealthy life? All they had to show are suffering after following Jesus Christ. They were actually became poorer and martyred. God may never lead us to those same footsteps. He will only take us to where our faith will be able to bear. God pushed His most trusted servants to the limits of their faiths in order to prepare them for a greater rewards that moths and rust can not destroy but a hundredfold blessings in Heaven. Soon we will see the name of the twelve apostle engraved on the foundations of the Holy City (Rev 21:14) with all the wealth and power for eternity. Read also the Eight Beatitudes why we have to rejoice if we are deprived of earthly pleasures. Let us not question God for all our sufferings. Soon in Heaven we shall see the orphaned, the beggars and the diseased in the street, the homeless, the starved people in Africa, Asia and everywhere, the victims of injustice, all enjoying the best rewards God can provide.
It is not a sin though to enjoy the bounty of God's earthly blessings. However, having a great comfort and wealth is also likened to man sleeping with an enemy. Once a man obtain great comfort and wealth, most certainly he becomes a slave to money. Then, given a choice between losing all and following God is almost impossible (Mat 19:24). And that is certainly dangerous since a man can not serve two masters (Mat 6:24). We have to emulate Job who treated money as a slave not a master and God will provide us more. Malachi also had answers to those who complained about the "injustice" why the sinners prosper and the righteous suffer.
[Related: Modern Idolatry]
We will continue next week on this study of the Book of Malachi.
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