Weekly Word from Bro. David
June 16, 2016
From The Pastor's Heart:
We continue our series through the OT book of Malachi - the last of the OT prophets. I've entitled our study, Going Through the Motions because like God's people in Malachi’s day, we are involved in a lot of religious activity, but just as their heart was not in it, many of God’s people today don’t have the heart of serving God! Our hearts are on things that we substitute for serving God, things of the world.
How many of you are married? Let me ask you a very simple question. Have you ever done something you really didn't want to do but you did it because your spouse asked you to? Men, your wife asks you to go shopping with her (or to the ballet, or the opera) and that's not on the list of your favorite things. But you go anyway and you think, ''I'll go, but I sure don't have to like it!'' Ladies, maybe your husband asks you to go to the latest end of the world action movie with Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger (or maybe a football game, or rodeo) and you go because he asks, but your heart’s not in it.
That's what it means to go through the motions! And we don't just do that to our spouses, we do that to God. That's the issue that Malachi is addressing here in this text. Far too often when it comes to the things of God, we're simply going through the motions.
Today, we come to Malachi 1:2-5 and we see the first instance of the people's apathy and complacency. God responds by reminding the people of His eternal and enduring love for them and His desire for all nations to worship Him.
2 "I have loved you," says the Lord. "Yet you say, 'In what way have You loved us?' Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" Says the Lord. "Yet Jacob I have loved;
3 But Esau I have hated, And laid waste his mountains and his heritage For the jackals of the wilderness."
4 Even though Edom has said, "We have been impoverished, But we will return and build the desolate places," Thus says the Lord of hosts: "They may build, but I will throw down; They shall be called the Territory of Wickedness, And the people against whom the Lord will have indignation forever.
5 Your eyes shall see, And you shall say, 'The Lord is magnified beyond the border of Israel.' Malachi 1:2-5
Here we see the greatness of God. The Bible says, ''Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel.'' God is reminding His people of His greatness.
God's greatness is shown in His love and protection of His people: "I have loved you," says the Lord. "Yet you say, 'In what way have You loved us?' Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" Says the Lord. "Yet Jacob I have loved; vs.2
Like Nahum and Habakkuk, Malachi called his message an ''oracle.'' That word is also translated, ''burden.'' The prophets were men who personally felt ''the burden of the Lord'' as God gave them insight into the hearts of the people and the problems of society.
It wasn't easy for Malachi to strip the veneer off the piety of the priests and expose their hypocrisy, or to repeat to the people the complaints they were secretly voicing against the Lord, but that's what God called him to do. The task of a prophet is not to smooth things over, but to make things right. The first sin Malachi named was the people's lack of love for God.
That was the first sin Jesus mentioned when He wrote to the seven churches of Asia Minor (Rev. 2:4), 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Perhaps it's listed first because lack of love for God is the source of all other sin. For centuries, the Jews have recited the Shema as their daily prayer: Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ×References for Deuteronomy 6:4
4 "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. But the people that Malachi preached to doubted that God even loved them, so why should they love Him?
What a frightening way to start this prophecy! Because the instinctive response of God's people is: ''How have you loved us?'' To deny that God has loved them is to deny God. This contradiction of God lies deep in the heart of the people and shows their wickedness and rebellion.
God's greatness and power are seen in His covenant love and faithful protection of His people. Malachi presents two evidences of this love:
God clearly states His love: ''I have loved you''
When God gave the Law at Sinai, the emphasis was, ''Obey My Law because I am a holy God.'' But when Moses reviewed the Law for the new generation, the emphasis was, ''Obey the Lord because He loves you and you love Him.'' Both motives are valid today.
God visibly shows His love: ''I have loved Jacob''
As the firstborn in the family, Esau should have inherited both the blessing and the birthright, but the Lord gave them to his younger brother Jacob (Gen. 25:21-23). The descendants of Esau had their land assigned to them, but God gave them no covenants like Jacob's.
The statement that God loved Jacob but hated Esau has troubled some people. Paul quoted it in Romans 9:10-13 to prove God's electing grace for both Israel and all who trust Jesus Christ for salvation. But the verb ''hate'' must not be defined as a positive expression of the wrath of God. God's love for Jacob was so great that, in comparison, His actions toward Esau looked like hatred. When Jesus called His disciples to ''hate'' their own family (Luke 14:26), He was using the word ''hate'' in a similar way. Our love for Christ may occasionally move us to do things that appear like hatred to others.
Some have said ''I have a serious problem with Malachi 1:3, where God says, 'Esau I have hated.' I have a greater problem with Malachi 1:2, where God says, 'Jacob I have loved.' We certainly can't explain the love and grace of God, nor do we have to, but we can experience God's grace and love as we trust Christ and walk with Him.
In the days when the D.L. Moody was preaching in Chicago, a man, partially under the influence of alcohol, seeing the warm lights of Moody's tabernacle, staggered up the steps to the door. Upon opening it, he saw no one inside, but he did see the motto hanging above the pulpit: ''God Is Love.''
The man slammed the door, staggered down the steps, and said to himself, ''God is love? God is not love. If God were love, He would love me, and He hates me.'' He continued his uneven walk around the block, still muttering to himself. But those words began to burn into his mind. A power seemed to draw him back to the tabernacle. With the throngs that were now making their way into the tabernacle, he soon found himself seated inside and Mr. Moody was preaching. Once the sermon was over, Moody made his way to the door to shake hands with the people as they left.
But this man didn't leave. He continued to sit in his seat, weeping. Moody came over to him, put his arm on the man's shoulder, and asked,
''Is there something that I can do for you? What was it in my sermon that touched your heart?''
''Oh, Mr. Moody, I didn't hear a word that you spoke tonight,'' the man responded. ''It's those words up there over your pulpit - 'God Is Love.''' Moody talked with him, and soon he gave his heart to God.
Instead of asking the question, ''How have you loved us?'' God's people should know the answer! Jeremiah 31:3, 3 The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you.
Lamentations 3:22-23, 22 Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
Or Psalm 136:
1 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. 2 Oh, give thanks to the God of gods! For His mercy endures forever. 3 Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords! For His mercy endures forever: 4 To Him who alone does great wonders, For His mercy endures forever; 5 To Him who by wisdom made the heavens, For His mercy endures forever; 6 To Him who laid out the earth above the waters, For His mercy endures forever; 7 To Him who made great lights, For His mercy endures forever-- 8 The sun to rule by day, For His mercy endures forever; 9 The moon and stars to rule by night, For His mercy endures forever. 10 To Him who struck Egypt in their firstborn, For His mercy endures forever; 11 And brought out Israel from among them, For His mercy endures forever; 12 With a strong hand, and with an outstretched arm, For His mercy endures forever; 13 To Him who divided the Red Sea in two, For His mercy endures forever; 14 And made Israel pass through the midst of it, For His mercy endures forever; 15 But overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea, For His mercy endures forever; 16 To Him who led His people through the wilderness, For His mercy endures forever; 17 To Him who struck down great kings, For His mercy endures forever; 18 And slew famous kings, For His mercy endures forever-- 19 Sihon king of the Amorites, For His mercy endures forever; 20 And Og king of Bashan, For His mercy endures forever-- 21 And gave their land as a heritage, For His mercy endures forever; 22 A heritage to Israel His servant, For His mercy endures forever.
23 Who remembered us in our lowly state, For His mercy endures forever; 24 And rescued us from our enemies, For His mercy endures forever; 25 Who gives food to all flesh, For His mercy endures forever. 26 Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven! For His mercy endures forever.
His steadfast love endures forever.