Weekly Word from Bro. David
June 9, 2016
From The Pastor's Heart:
Today we continue in the introduction of our new Bible study series through the Old Testament book of Malachi. It's a series I've entitled Going Through the Motions because here we see God's people performing the rituals of religion without a heart for God. They're still in church; they even come on Wednesday nights. They're faithful to Sunday school; in fact, they might even teach a class. They serve in various ministries; some may even be deacons or church officers. But, their heart is far from God. They were going through the motions. And you know as well as I do, just like in Malachi's day, these days it can be easy to go through the motions.
Malachi acknowledges his role as a prophet and identifies his book as the word of the Lord. In keeping with this, nearly half of the remaining 54 verses of this concise and profound book are punctuated with ''says the Lord of hosts,'' ''says the Lord.''
The book comes from ''the Lord''; it is an ''oracle'' in the form of the word; it is addressed to ''Israel''; and it comes ''by Malachi.'' Several other prophets also are titled ''the word of the Lord'' (Hosea, Joel, Micah, Zephaniah). By contrast, Jeremiah and Amos are both called ''the words of [the prophet],'' but in both cases the heading goes on to make clear that the Lord was the prophet's source.
What we have seen is that this is no ordinary message. God has spoken; these are His words, to His people, through His prophet. We must have a clear understanding that the Bible presents to us no ordinary message. We affirm this intellectually, but we are going through the motions so often that we don't allow the power of the Word to transform our lives. This is God's Word; it is His truth; it is living and powerful; therefore I must listen, learn, love, and live it.
Verse 1 identifies the contents of this work as an ''oracle'' or, perhaps better, ''a burden,'' with implications of urgent responsibility and even dread. While Malachi directs his message to the postexilic remnant state of Judah, in verse 1 the prophet confers on this people the ancient comprehensive designation of ''Israel,'' thereby identifying them as accountable for all the covenant obligations and as heirs of all the covenant promises of God.
As our culture moves even further than the 'conventional religion' of Christianity, it is harder for us to find room for God in our lives, and so harder for us to find room for the word of the Lord in our lives.
This book identifies itself as the ''word of the Lord'' and it is directed to the people of God. God has a message for us, and to fail to respond to the words of this prophecy is to fail to respond to God. This is His Word! Let's look briefly at a few of the messages introduced here:
In Malachi 2:7, the prophet refers to Levi, the priest. Notice what he says, ''people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.'' The prophet is reminding the people of the requirements of the law. These are people who have grown apathetic and complacent in their relationship with God. He is once again calling them to holiness!
Malachi prophesies of the coming of John the Baptist. ''Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me'' The coming of John the Baptist was also spoken of in Isaiah 40:3, Mark 1:2-5, Malachi 4:5-6, Luke 1:16-17.
Malachi 3:1 reveals that John the Baptist was simply preparing the way for the Messiah. ''And the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.'' Who is this “Messenger of the covenant”? None other than Jesus Christ.
Malachi promises that John the Baptist will come and the ''messenger of the covenant” would come after him. When Jesus Christ came, He ushered in a New Covenant; He fulfilled the law and opened the way of salvation!
Malachi brings an important message, but it is not well received. The prophecy plays out in the form of a question and answer. God questions His people and they answer each question defiantly. God's people just won't listen. Isn't it tragic to see married couples when they have stopped listening to each other? Isn't it frustrating to be in a workplace in which people will not listen to each other?
Isn't it sad when politicians just repeat their formulas, and don't listen anymore? And isn't it distressing when we feel that our friends don't hear what we are saying to them? I can tell you from experience, it is frustrating and disheartening when a preacher pours his heart out and people turn a deaf ear.
All of these things are very sad, but it is even more tragic when God's people don't listen to Gods words to them it is easier to speak than to listen. It is easier to speak to God than it is to listen to God. The words of Malachi are the words of God, for 'no prophecy ever came by human will, but men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
God has chosen to reveal Himself to us through His Word. He has spoken! Are you listening? Have you heard God's voice and responded in obedience? It's vital for God's children to learn to hear and to heed His voice. Take time to listen to the Spirit.
Let's try to land the plane in our neighborhood. What is the meaning and purpose of this prophecy and of this sermon? Well, let me see if I can give you a real-life illustration that will bring it home.
When we give our children instructions there are several things that we want to see happen.
First, we want them to receive the instructions with gladness. They need to listen and respond affirmatively when we give instructions. There is no room for huffing, puffing or talking back. Obedience is the first time with a happy heart.
Second, we want them to remember the instructions that we have given. You would be amazed how often I have seen a parent give a simple instruction and then the child walks away to obediently follow, but forgets what they have been asked to do.
Third, we want them to respond in obedience. Remembering and listening do not equal obedience; following instructions equals obedience. And, of course, there is no room for discussion or backtalk.
But here we see God's people are being prideful and rebellious. God has given instructions and instead of following gladly, they are talking back. Here are some practical takeaways that we must remember!
Receive: listen to God's voice, He has spoken! The question is not, ''Has God spoken?'' He most certainly has, through His Word and through His Spirit. We must listen to His voice above the noise of this world and above our own rebellious heart.
Remember: choose God's side, He knows best! You cannot remain neutral when it comes to the things of God. James 4:17 says, ''So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.'' You must rid yourself of apathy and complacency.
Respond: follow God's commands, He deserves obedience! This is an incredibly practical book. God deals with issues like hypocrisy, infidelity, divorce, false worship, arrogance, and apathy. All of these things hit home for us today. ''Today, if you hear His voice do not harden your heart'' (Hebrews 3:15)
Life is too short to go through the motions. God deserves and demands complete obedience: receive, remember, and respond.