Summary: Ways we fail to worship rightly
Malachi 1 - 10/16/16
Turn with me this morning to the book of Malachi, chapter 1. Before you start turning to the index to see where Malachi is, simply turn to Matthew and page to the left about three pages. Malachi is the last book in the OT. It’s in a group we call the prophets, minor prophets - because they are shorter than some of the longer prophetic books like Isaiah. Malachi’s name means “my messenger” and he was sent by God to warn the nation of Israel.
In the 1929 Rose Bowl, California’s center, Roy Riegels recovered a quarterback fumble and ran 65 yards before being tackled at the one yard line by his teammate Benny Lom. Benny was shouting as the two players ran towards the goal line “TURN AROUND! YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY”. “Wrong way Roy”, as he came to be known, forced his team to have to punt from their end zone. Georgia Tech blocked the punt scoring a 2 point safety that won the game for them.
Malachi is preaching to the nation of Israel that they are going the “wrong way” spiritually, and unless they stop and turn around, they are headed for judgment. The last three books of the Old Testament – Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi – were all written after their return from Babylon.
There were at least three groups of people, leaving at different times, who returned to the city of Jerusalem. Zerubbabel led the first assembly back and under Haggai’s ministry, they laid the foundations of the Temple. The Temple was completed during Zechariah’s time and then Ezra the priest led another group back from Babylon to rebuild the altar. The last return came under the leadership of Nehemiah, who led the people to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem.
Malachi 1:1 starts out, An oracle: The word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi. An oracle is actually a “burden.” Webster defines it as something carried that is difficult to bear. It has the idea of something heavy, a load to be lifted up. The words to follow in Malachi are not light or trifling but weighty and substantial. The prophet recognizes that what he is about to communicate to people is not fluffy stuff that will just tickle the ears but will ultimately trouble their souls. While the Word of the Lord is heavy, notice that it is written not “against” Israel, but “to” them. God wasn’t out to blast them. He wanted to bring them back. So let’s read together this burden from the heart of God’s messenger.
Read Malachi 1 - Pray
As we look today at Malachi 1, we see a burden on Malachi’s heart. His people were going the wrong way, and he does his best to call them back to the right way. Notice how God starts this message: “I have loved you,” says the LORD. The emphasis is on God’s faithful love for His unfaithful people.
To help us understand our passage today, think of the beginning and the end of Malachi as two bookends. At one end is the beautiful statement found in verse 2: “I have loved you.” On the other end we find a promise in verse 2 of chapter 4: “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.” The prophecy of Malachi begins with God’s love in the present and ends with God’s promise for the future. And everything in between is God’s program to get us from here to there. God wants to turn our lives around, and as part of His program for our spiritual progress, God longs for us to give Him our best. Because He has given us His best - He has loved us with a perfect love, and unfailing love, an everlasting love. And Malachi starts out reminding the people - not of coming judgment - but reminding them of the love of the Lord.
Today, if your life needs turned around, I would encourage you - not just to thing about coming judgment - but to think how very much God loves YOU! Just as you are - full of doubts and fears and failures and mistakes. God loves you!
Many times throughout the OT, God proclaims His love for His people.
Exodus 34:6 God declares His name and says, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.
Jeremiah 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
Zephaniah 3:17 “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”