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Weekly Word

Entries in Malachi (4)

Tuesday
Jul232013

Malachi: A Treacherous Heart II

Last week we saw that when the priests had shown favoritism within God’s things they had become despised by the people.  Today we will look at how this treachery against God and each other was not just among the priests.  It was riddled throughout society.

It is important for people in the United States of America to listen to this message because our society is riddled with the sin of treachery as well.  We live in times when most people do what is right in their own eyes and have no concern of being faithful to God and their fellow man.

Mixing God’s Things With Demonic Things

In Malachi 2:10-12 the problem of mixing God’s things with demonic things is highlighted in the area of marriage.  They were profaning the covenant that God had made with them.  Now to profane something is to pollute something that is intended to be pure.  God’s covenant and His holy things were supposed to be kept pure, but they were mixing pollutions into everything.

It is interesting to me that today we have a similar problem.  There is a certain irony and hypocrisy to the fact that we will bend over backwards to fight pollution in the natural all the while embracing pollution spiritually.  The very arguments that are raised against pollution and for greater restrictions and bondage will beg the question later.  Why did you not feel this way about spiritual matters?  Today we are using all our creativity to make even larger and larger “pumps” of spiritual pollution.

When you mix God’s things with demonic things you are committing treachery against God and against your fellow man.  Now the word treachery means to act covertly, i.e. have a hidden agenda.  When we live to only please ourselves or we use religious things to cover selfish desires, we are acting through covert means that will end in injury to our nation.  This is the ultimate treachery because it makes us enemies with God and it makes us fools who undermine the very foundation upon which they stand.

You may wonder why I use the phrase “demonic things.”  I do so because it is the heart of the matter.  God’s concern here is not that inter-racial marriage was happening.  This had never been the problem.  It had always been marrying those who worshipped false Gods.  Now we are told that the desire to make images and worship them as Gods, and the stories that surfaced about such gods, had their source in the demonic.  Fallen spiritual beings had a vested interest in getting humans to “worship” them under the guise of a religion.  To marry in to such things was to mix worship for the true God with worship for demons.  God warned the Israelites that their hearts would be turned away from him by these marriages.  Now marriage in concept is a good thing.  But when we mix it in such a way it becomes a bad thing.  In 2 Corinthians 6:14 Paul used the phrase “unequally yoked.” “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.  For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”

Today we are a people who are embracing and “marrying” into all manner of ideas and teachings from around the world.  These teachings and philosophies have nothing to do with the way of the Lord and will in the end lead to destruction.  We need to recognize the treachery throughout the land and within our own heart that starts with first mixing, but ends up jettisoning the Truth of God.

How can we stop such treachery?  It starts by seeing it in my own heart and choosing to live God’s Way and His Way alone.  It then moves to pleading with the hearts of those around you to turn back to God’s way and be faithful to His Word.  God help us to turn back the tide of pollution that has made us an abomination to God and threatens our very existence.  Selah!

Treacherous Heart II Audio

Tuesday
Jul162013

Malachi: A Treacherous Heart

We pick up today in Malachi 2:8.  The Lord has been challenging the priests of Israel about their sins.  Now the message begins to transition into a problem that was riddled throughout all of Israel: Treachery.  Starting with the priests, verses 8-9 use the word treachery to speak of the favoritism that the priests were showing.

Showing Favoritism In God’s Things

In the 1990’s several articles were written speaking of polls that showed the fall of the reputation of ministers.  A high percentage of the population held a low esteem of pastors.  Part of the reason for this is that people kept running into leaders and churches that showed favoritism in God’s things.  Recently a similar article came out only this time the profession on the hot-seat was journalism.  Journalists have now found themselves at the bottom of professional esteem along with ministers and lawyers.  Why?  Mostly because they have showed favoritism in how they have reported the Truth.  Now whenever a person purports to speak on behalf of truth, they are dealing with God’s territory.  Even though journalists are not operating in an official religious capacity, their insistence that they are speaking the truth puts them in an area that God not only takes seriously, but He will also defend.  Many journalists today have departed from the righteous reason to report news and have corrupted the proper ways of reporting in order to shape the opinion of the public.  This is called a treachery in verse 10.  Treachery is when we work under the cover of something good in order to do something bad.  We use the good to get people to trust us but in the end we are only interested in how it can help us, which is not good.

The priests were using the good things of God for their own purposes and God will not suffer such wickedness.  They were not walking on the path that God’s Law had prescribed to them.  They had reasoned themselves away from God Way.  Now we need to remember that God’s Way is the The Good Way.  It is the way that leads to life.  But, there is a way that seems right in the eyes of a man but the end of it is death.  These priests had left the path to life and were now on a path that led to destruction.  It didn’t look like that to them.  In fact somehow they had convinced themselves that what they were doing was the thing that would bring them what they wanted.  Ultimately we are all responsible for our own path.  But God will deal with those who are an “accessory to the crime.”  It is not an excuse, but it is inexcusable.  Thus these priests and any who do such things need to confess it and repent of it.

When it says that they had shown partiality in the law, this is a reference to Leviticus 19:15.  “You shall do no injustice in judgment.  You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty.  In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor.”  Here God is warning Israel against perverting justice whether for the poor or for the mighty.  Notice how He points out the reasons why we might do either one.  Those who pervert justice for the sake of the poor might think they are doing a good thing.  The poor are in a pitiable situation and don’t have anything in life.  So to pervert justice for them might seem almost spiritual: “fighting for the little guy.”  However, God condemns this.  No society can prosper that rewards wickedness whether from a poor person or a rich one.  Now on the other side we can be tempted to pervert justice for the mighty.  Notice here the word “honor” is used.  These mighty people are heavy weights and can do a lot for us.  Thus we are tempted to esteem them as of greater weight than the poor.  God says not to do it.  Thus we have the cultural image of the “Lady Justice” being blindfolded.  Justice is based on the facts in evidence rather than on who is standing before it.

Now we today have been shown the way by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of His Apostles.  How much more important is it for us to pay attention to God’s heart in these matters?  If we pervert justice within the Church of Christ then we not only bring shame on God’s reputation but we also cause ourselves to be contemptible in the sight of the world.

When we adopt a “pick-and-choose” mentality with the things of God we will find that God will not accept such activity.  It is an abomination to Him.  In respect to people, we cannot allow ourselves to pick and choose who we are going to be hard on and who we are going to be easy on.  God will not stand such wicked actions.  We should uphold justice with grace with all people.  In respect to duties or teachings of Christ, we cannot allow ourselves to be partial either.  When we choose which teachings we will follow and which we will disregard, we only bring discipline and judgment from God down on our own heads.  This is a problem that is riddled throughout our society, both in the Church and outside of it.  It is abhorrent to God and is destroying us as a people.  Unless we confess that it is sin and turn away from it back towards the Good Path, then we will continue to slide towards the destruction that awaits such stiff-necked people.  May God give us the grace to see our sin and repent.

Treacherous Heart 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

Tuesday
Jun252013

A Heavy Word to a Loved One

We are going to begin a verse by verse walk through the book of Malachi.  This is the last book of the Old Testament and the end of the section that is called the “Minor Prophets.”  They are called minor because their written prophecies are very small compared to the “Major Prophets” like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.  Malachi literally means “my messenger.”  So there is some dispute as to whether the prophet’s name is Malachi or it is a reference to his prophetic role.  Note that there is no reference to a father ( e.g. Zechariah, son of Berechiah, son of Iddo; or Haggai the son of Shealtiel).

The prophecy is given to Israel during the period after their exile into Babylon and subsequent return.  So let’s begin to look at what God had to say to these people who had been judged by God and now were back in the land rebuilding.

God Reminds Us Of His Love For Us

Verse one begins by calling the Word of the Lord a burden or heavy load.  It is a picture of a camel or donkey that has been weighed down with something to carry.  Malachi received a “Word” from God that was very heavy.  Love can be a fun and light thing, but it can also be very heavy.  God and Israel had been through some very stormy waters.  And, now, the people of Israel had come to a place where they doubted God’s love for them.  Often the myopia of our own circumstances can cause us to think we have it so bad when, in reality, we have it far better than others.  Such is the case with Israel.

Malachi employs a technique where God makes a statement and then points out how Israel is questioning this.  Thus, God says, “I have loved you.”   Whether they were saying it out loud or only in their hearts, God could hear their response, “In what way have you loved us?”

As a Father, God had judged Israel’s actions as wrong.  He had disciplined them and now was restoring them.  What child doesn’t sometimes feel like their parent doesn’t love them?  All of us feel this.

We can grow insensitive to God’s love for us because we want things to be different.  We don’t have the bigger view that a parent would have, much less God.  The present realities of now cloud our ability to see God’s love.  Remember, God is not content for us just to be happy.  He wants us to be like Him.  Thus we chafe under the discipline it takes to become like God.

Next God reminds them of the difference between their nation and the nation of Edom.  As Israel was the descendants of Jacob, so Edom was the descendants of Esau.  It is not surprising to hear God say that he had loved Israel.  But it is surprising to hear God say that he has hated Esau.  What?  There are two points to make about this statement. 

First of all, in this context hate is more a comparison that God loved Israel more and didn’t choose Esau like he did them.  God’s blessings upon Israel were greater than Esau and Edom.  It is not so much about a intense dislike for someone as it is about the lack of a loving choice.  Think of it from the prospective of the jilted person.  Jacob thought he had married Rachel, but instead was given Leah.  Now Jacob did not have an intense hatred for Leah, but he wasn’t satisfied with her.  He worked another 7 years to get Rachel and then demonstrated that he “really” loved Rachel in countless ways in the decades ahead.  The Bible says that when God saw that Leah was unloved (same word translated hated here) he opened her womb.  Jacob may not have had an intense hatred of Leah like we think, but he didn’t “love” her like he did Rachel and that hurt Leah.  Similarly, God is saying that when Jacob and Esau were in the womb, God had chosen to bless Jacob above his brother.  Esau would not receive the same blessing, although he was blessed in many ways as well.  This choosing was not based on biology (same mother and father).  Nor was it based on birth order (the first would be less than the second).  Now we should be careful of confusing this with salvation.  The role and purpose that God was giving to Jacob played a part in salvation, but it was not an declaration that Esau could not be saved. 

Esau could have recognized God’s calling and chose to join with his brother, like Jonathan did.  When Saul was rejected and David chosen we see two very different spirits on display.  In refusing to accept this change, Saul pitted himself as an enemy against David and, even worse, against God.  It led to his eventual physical and spiritual destruction.  Now Jonathan on the other hand recognized the just nature of God’s judgment and chose to embrace David and thus embrace God.  Though Jonathan is killed because of Saul’s folly, no one would make the case that Jonathan was not “saved” or went into eternity with God’s mercy upon him.

Thus Esau and his descendants went on to go down the same path Saul chose,  that of a rebel and self-trust.  The emphasis here is not on what Edom had become, but on that original choosing.  Thus it might be better to see this as Jacob was loved, but (in comparison) Esau was unloved.  The calling is what is in view here.  We can fight against the calling of another or we can join with them and be blessed.

Because of their similar choices, both Edom and Israel had been defeated and destroyed.  Yet, God revealed that he would help Israel rebuild, but he would not help Edom.  In fact God states that he would pull down anything that Esau’s descendants tried to rebuild.  God was not going to bless their wickedness.

We might be quick to cry “foul” here, but recognize that in all of this the issue is not God giving one salvation and refusing to give it to another.  Both are equally able to be saved.  However, because of his calling God would restore Israel.  In fact we know that Israel would go on to a point of rebellion that would cause God to cast them out of the land again between 70 AD and 135 AD.  Both found that not matter what your calling is, only faith in God would bring salvation.

In verse 5 they are told that they would see God’s love for them and recognize that His greatness would overflow the boundaries of Israel, which it did in Jesus the Messiah.

Thus in these last days all nations have the same opportunity to hear the Heavy Word of the Lord and repent.  We, like Jonathan, can agree with God’s rejection of us and acceptance of Jesus.  We can secure for ourselves the favor of God by serving Jesus as Jonathan did David. 

Further Thoughts

It is never easy to deal with heavy things.  But they will never go away unless we face them.  God has given every individual the choice to enter into His love by following Jesus, or remain forever under His judgment.  Have you made that choice to believe on Jesus and follow him yet?  Believe me when I say that the day will come when those who have put their faith in Jesus will see his glory revealed over all the earth as he returns to take up the governance of the earth.  And, all those who have chosen against him will find themselves on the losing side of the battle.  God loves you.  Why would you die?  So, choose life today.

Heavy Word Audio