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Weekly Word

Entries in Curse (2)

Tuesday
Sep102013

Repentance Or A Curse?

Today we are going to finish our study of the book of Malachi.  We pick up in chapter 4 at verse 4.  This book ends with an instruction, a prophecy and an ominous warning.  If you look at the last words of the Old Testament you will see that they are about the earth being struck with a curse.  However the last words of the New Testament are, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Amen.”  This is very fitting in that the Old Testament lays the groundwork for understanding and receiving the work of Christ that would bring grace.  Without Christ we would only know the curse that comes upon those who sin.  But with Him we can know the grace that He has obtained for us.  Thus Malachi is warning Israel of a curse that will be upon them if they do not obey the Lord.

Remember God’s Instructions

It is clear from the previous chapters that Israel was not doing what they should be doing and that they were doing what they shouldn’t.  They are called sins of commission (commit) and sins of omission (omit).  They needed to go back and remind themselves of God’s instructions through Moses and the prophets that followed after him.  We could say that the Law of Moses was the commands and the prophets that followed were corrective instructions about the Law of Moses.  These corrective reminders are not correcting God’s Word, but rather correcting the actions and mindsets of the people who were supposed to be obeying it.

The command to remember the law is not so much about actual memory and more about the resistance in our heart that has caused us to move away from obedience to God’s command.  Sin pulls us away from God’s instructions through doubt, fear, and temptation.  We accept or create rationalizations for why it is okay for us to not obey God’s word, until we don’t even think about it anymore.  God in His mercy if faithful to send prophets who will shake us out of our lethargy and call us to remembrance of what God’s Word says.  Thus we are called to remember in order to obey.

Another reason remembering is important is because we may not receive another word for a long time.  Israel would go 400 years without hearing from the Lord again.  So it would be important for them to heed the command to actively remember God’s Word.  It is in these times of God’s “silence” that we can begin to doubt the importance of God’s instructions.  Or, we can fear those who have cast off all restraint and arrogantly flaunt their power.  Or, we can be tempted to join them.  However, Peter in 2 Peter 3 tells us that the world willfully forgets that the earth existed in the water by God’s Word and then perished in the flood at His command.  This willful forgetting may sound like an oxymoron, but it is what we do when we ignore what we know.  Peter also warns us that the present heavens and earth are reserved for a fiery destruction by God’s command.  We cannot afford to ignore God’s Word to the point of forgetting.  Many today believe that they can ignore God’s Word and still claim to believe in Jesus.  God forbid that we think such a rebellious attitude will be called faith.  In this age of changing definitions we forget that God will not be swayed by such flimsy techniques.  We will not get off on a technicality with God.

God Helps Us Remember

Now, God knows our weakness as humans.  He is faithful to remind us even though we may have fallen into unfaithfulness.  He sent Noah to the ancient world.  He sent Moses to Israel.  He sent Jesus to Israel and His apostles to the nations.  Thus he always sends His prophets and prophecy.  The Old Testament is filled with far more books of reminders and correction than it is with commands or instructions.  God also gave His prophets predictive prophecy that would verify the prophets were really from God.  The final Word from God until judgment is what He has given through Jesus and His Apostles.  It is an instructive Word and it is accompanied by predictive prophecy.  So as we see these prophecies fulfilled and lining up to be fulfilled, we can be encouraged in our faith to trust God’s Word, rather than jettisoning it.

Now Malachi gives a prophecy.  He says that Elijah would come before the Day of the Lord and remind them of the Law of Moses.  Particularly by turning their hearts back to one another.  Notice how remembering the Law is connected to relationships.  If you take the rules God gave you can put them in one of two categories: rules about our relationship with God and rules about our relationship with others.  In fact all relationships flow out of our relationship with God and His Word.  When we turn from God and His instruction it will lead to us sinning against one another, which then leads to a death of the relationship.  We are seeing this same breakdown in our own nation.  As we walk further and further away from God’s Word, our nation is seeing a breakdown in relationships at every level.  However, the bedrock relationships are those within the family.  A hallmark of American society in the 1900’s has to be the rising turbulence with the family.  Movements and ideas pitted husbands and wives against each other.  Children and parents are plied against each other.  Of course siblings have always struggled to love each other, but this is even further destroyed as a spirit of selfishness takes over the land.

Now John the Baptist was a fulfillment of this Malachi prophecy.  They had gone 400 years without a true prophet and then John comes out of the wilderness crying, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”  We know this for two reasons.  First, the angel Gabriel told John’s father Zechariah about John before his birth.  In Luke 1:17 the angel says, “He will also go before Him [messiah] in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”  The “Him” here is of course Jesus the Messiah.  But also notice that the angel clearly quotes from the Malachi passage.  Thus, John was not actually Elijah at the DNA level, but he prophesied in the spirit and in the power of Elijah.  Second, we know John is the fulfillment of this prophecy because Jesus said so.  Matthew 11:13,14, “For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.  And, if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.”  Jesus couldn’t be any clearer.  Notice that He says the Law itself was prophesying.  Each time it was obeyed a person was acting out a prophecy about Jesus.  When Jesus says, “if you are willing to receive it,” He is not just talking about  their faith or lack thereof.  It is also a warning about what would happen if they didn’t receive it.

Refusal To Repent Brings A Curse

Just as the nation of Israel rejected John the Baptist, so they went on to reject the Lord to whom the Law of Moses pointed.  Clearly the majority did not keep themselves in remembrance of God’s Word.  Thus a curse came upon the land.  Now the first part of the curse is a spiritual thing.  It is what we do to ourselves when we refuse to believe over the top of God’s grace to help us remember.  If we turn the lights off when God tries to turn them on, we make it harder to obey the next time.  This hardening of our heart builds spiritual calluses upon our mind and heart.  Over time we can endanger our eternity.  Even today, God’s grace has raised up a nation of believers who are reminding the world to turn back to the Creator.  When such overtures of love are rejected it affects what we become.  It hardens us and takes us down a path of pride.

The curse is also seen in the natural.  Pride always leads to destruction, both spiritual and natural.  God will not let pride exalt itself forever.  Thus Israel’s leadership trusted in its own wisdom and righteousness and went on to be destroyed by the Roman legions.  However we see this same warning to the world in our days.  We are becoming increasingly hardened against God’s Word and persisting in our own wisdom and pride.  This means the future of this world and its present system is under a curse.  Spiritually it refuses to see and in the natural destruction will come upon it.

However a remnant did believe.  They obeyed the Word of the Lord and were spared through the curse.  In the period leading up to Israel’s destruction in 70AD the believers knew that Israel was under a curse for rejecting Messiah.  The fled the city and escaped its destruction.  They knew that God had a heavenly Jerusalem for them and could let go.  But those who had refused to follow God clung to the earthly Jerusalem and paid a dear price.  We are in this same position today.  Clearly only a remnant of the world will truly believe.  How big is that?  It is bigger than the pessimists think and less than the optimists believe.  The main point is that if you dare to believe God in these trying times, He will bring you through and you will not be under a curse, but rather, a blessing from God Himself.  Does that mean you won’t have a difficult time?  Early believers were dragged out of their houses and taken to jail, sentenced to death, etc…  Jesus promised us tribulation in this dark world.  But our blessing is that no matter what the world does to us, it can’t take away our inheritance and place in God’s family.

Thus, a greater parallel to Malachi 4:4-6 lies ahead.  The ultimate Day of the Lord has not happened yet.  Though Israel was judged, the nations of the world were not.  The book of Revelation is about the coming Day.  Notice that God will be faithful to send a witness of the Truth and though a remnant believes and is saved, the majority will reject the message and perish under the autocratic rule of The Antichrist, the Man of Sin.  Difficult days lie ahead.  But God has given you the Truth at how to be saved out of them and led into a glorious future.  Get back into the words of Christ and His apostles.  Study how they make sense of the Old Testament and put your faith in Jesus today, because you will never need Him more than you will in the days ahead.

Repentence or Curse Audio

Tuesday
Jul092013

Glorifying God

Today we will move into chapter 2 of Malachi.  God continues to challenge the priests of Israel.  In chapter 1 he calls them to task for not correcting the people who brought lame, sick, and blind animals to sacrifice.  The priests not only were disobeying the Law, but they had also developed an attitude that God’s commands and the sacrificial system were tiresome.

Glorifying God

In verses 1-2 the priests are warned that if they do not give glory to God’s Name then a curse will come upon them.  So what does it mean to glorify God’s Name?

The word for “glory” comes from a root that refers to something heavy.  This is reminiscent of chapter one where the prophecy given to Malachi is called a “burden.”  To glorify God is to give Him (and His Words) a certain weight in the sense that He cannot be tossed aside lightly.  In fact God is to be glorified (treated as heavier) above all other things in this world. His Word should be too heavy to toss aside or ignore.  This is exactly what the priests have been doing.  In fact when we ignore God’s Word it is like ignoring a Mac Truck coming at you on the freeway.  It’s weight is real and you ignore it to your own peril.

Another way that we should recognize the weight of God’s Word is how seriously we take it.  If you were in line to inherit a large fortune and then were told by a lawyer that the Will had been changed and you now inherited nothing, you would want to see the document.  You would seriously read through every paragraph and line because you have so much riding on what it says.  God’s Word is even more important than that.  Yet, it is so easy at times for us to treat it as if it was just a bed time story.  If there is something in God’s Word that you don’t understand then it should bother you to the point that you study, pray, and seek for understanding.

Another thing about glorifying God’s Name is pointed out by Jesus.  He chastised the religious leaders for treating the traditions of men as more important than God’s Word.  Over time we can lose sight of what comes from the traditions of past leaders and what comes from God’s Word.  When they clash we should choose God’s Word over the top of men’s simply because God’s Word has greater Weight than men’s.  Thus we give glory to God when we obey Him over the top of men.

Remember how Paul commended the Berean’s for checking the Word to see if it backed up what Paul was saying?  This is the heart that we need to have.

The Coming Curse

God warned that a curse would follow on the heels of not glorifying Him.  Now in Deuteronomy 27-28 the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience were spelled out in the Law.  In fact, when Israel entered the land of Canaan they spit up into two groups on Mt. Gerazim and Mt. Ebal.  They recounted the curses and blessings.  So God is keeping His Word to which Israel agreed to be accountable.

Now it is one thing to be cursed by a witch, warlock, or shaman.  Christians need not fear these curses.  We can trust in the covering of the Son of God, Jesus.  However, when God sends a curse it cannot be avoided and there is no protection from it.  We Americans need to take this to heart because we have been tossing God and His Word aside both in the secular world and in the religious world.  We have been blessed by God to the point that we have become the greatest power in the world.  However, we will find that blessing cursed if we do not turn back to God and glorify Him.

What does such a curse look like?  Basically God begins to remove or diminish the blessings that he has given.  Their economy would plummet to the point that they would have to borrow from other nations instead of being the ones giving loans.  Their military would be defeated and they would eventually come under the subjugation of other nations.  Their population would be increasingly impacted by governmental corruption, crime, war, disease and overall generational degeneration.  In short God will face them to face the Truth of His Word.  Is any of this sounding familiar?  I believe that a curse from God has entered the land of the United States of America.  It is not an all or nothing thing.  It always comes slowly and over a long period of time so that people can repent.  Are we repenting as a people?  Quite the opposite.  We seem intent on pressing the pedal to the metal as we plunge off the cliff of rejecting God’s Word.  The curse will only become more obvious in the days, months, and years ahead.  We will be forced to face the Truth of God’s Word.

Know this: God always warns the ignorant and curses the unrepentant.  We become cursed because he removes his hand of protection and blessing.  Today we have become “willingly ignorant.”  God is faithful to warn through faithful Christians and devastating events.  Will we repent?  Each generation makes a decision as to what path they will walk: the path to blessing or the path to curses.  The path to curses always ends in destruction.  Paul warned Christians in Galatians 6:7-8, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”  We cannot make a mockery of God’s Word and expect anything but corruption and destruction, period.  But if we want “life” we must listen to what His Spirit is saying.

God Desires Faithful Servants

In verses 3-7 God tells them what is going to happen to them and then reminds them of the day when he first called the sons of Levi to serve Him.  There were some who took God’s Word lightly such as the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, who were killed by God for disregarding His command.  But the rest feared the Lord and glorified His Name by obeying.  They served God in Truth and in Faith.

Now we should remember that all believers in Jesus Christ are priests unto the Lord.  In 1 Peter 2:9 it says, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”  When you look at verse 6, God describes what he is looking for in a priest.

First we see that “God’s Word was in his mouth.”  Our mouth needs to be praising and speaking the Word of the Lord.  Why wouldn’t it?  Perhaps we let ourselves become enamored with other words?  Next we do not promote injustice.  God is concerned with the way that we treat one another.  It needs to be just, not as we define it, but as God defines it.  The priest of God needs to be at peace and straight with God.  There are no issues that are separating us.  Rather we are honestly seeking to serve Him with all our heart.  Next, we should “turn others back towards God.”    This is not just the job of pastors.  However, pastors should take it doubly to heart.  A priest encounters people who are walking away from God and works to encourage them back into the path towards Him.  Lastly, the priest of the Lord faithfully gives God’s message to a lost world.

O friends, how we need to recapture the true priesthood of all believers.  We are called to be the hand, voice, and Words of Jesus in the lives of our nation.  May we have a healthy fear of God that does not settle for being plundered by the enemy.  But, rather, rises up and faithfully speaks in the face of increasing notoriety.

Glorifying God Audio