Summary: Malachi #8
Serving to the End
A man stopped by a house with a sign out front that said,
“Talking Dog For Sale.” The owner directed him to the backyard to see the dog. He was pretty skeptical and called out, “You talk?” “Yep,” the mutt replied. The man then said, “So, what’s your story?” The dog looked up and said, “Well, I discovered this gift when I was young and I wanted to help the government so I went to work for the CIA. I jetted around from country to country.
I’ve spied on world leaders because no one ever figured a dog could eavesdrop. I was one of their most valuable agents.
I uncovered some incredible secrets and was awarded a bunch of medals. I had a wife, a mess of puppies, and now I’m just retired.”
The guy couldn’t believe his ears! Who ever heard of a dog that talked? He was already thinking of ways he could use an eavesdropping dog. He turned to the owner and said,
“How much do you want for him?”
The owner replied, “Ten dollars.”
To which the man replied, “Your dog is amazing. Can I ask why you’re selling him so cheap?”
The owner just shook his head and said, “Because he’s a big liar!”
That reminds me of the older gentleman who had serious hearing problems for over 10 years. He finally went to the doctor and was fitted for a set of hearing aids that enabled him to hear perfectly. On his follow-up visit a month later, the doctor said, “Your hearing is now at 100%. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again.” To which the man replied, “Oh, I haven’t told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to conversations. I’ve ended up changing my will three times!”
As we come to our passage today, it’s helpful to think of God as eavesdropping on some conversations. He’s listening in as two groups of people are talking. The first group is speaking against Him. The other speaks in awe of Him. Group #1 looked around and complained. Group #2 looked up and comprehended.
And God heard it all.
Let’s listen in ourselves to these conversations in Malachi 3:13-18.
Group #1: Looked Around and Complained (vv. 13-15)
These people were lodging three complaints against God:
1. “We’ve said nothing wrong” (v. 13)
Their first complaint against God is that they’ve done nothing wrong. Look at verse 13.
God is saying that His people have been openly obstinate with Him. The King James Version uses the phrase, “You have been stout against me.”
Once again, for the 7th and final time in the book, the people deny that they have a problem: “What have we said against you?”
As God eavesdrops, notice that He doesn’t say that the people are saying strong words to Him, but rather against Him.
The form of the verb “said” means “to speak to one another in conversation.” They were talking to each other about their complaints against God. And yet, when they’re confronted with this, they’re quick to deny that they’ve done anything wrong.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to find people who will agree with our complaints? We’re attracted to those who are sympathetic to our feelings, aren’t we?
When we grumble against God we want others to grumble with us.
2. “Serving is useless” (v. 14)
In verse 14, God tells them in no uncertain terms what their next complaint is.
When God dealt with their denial it had to very disarming.
They must have thought God could not hear what they were saying. They were basically saying that worshipping, tithing, and serving had no purpose! It was all empty, vain and useless!
The word “gain” is a technical term used for a weaver cutting a piece of cloth free from the loom. As used here it has the negative connotation of someone expecting his or her “cut” or percentage, as a hit man would demand for his work. This shows a consumer mentality: What will I get out of this? What’s in it for me?
These murmurers are complaining here. They’re saying that even if they mourned before the Lord they felt like it was of no benefit to them. They had kept the outward appearance of the Law and wondered why things weren’t getting any better for them.
Their thoughts were very similar to what we read in Isaiah 58:3:
“Why have we fasted…and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?”
When they were involved in ministry they felt it didn’t matter.
They were echoing the sentiment we find in Job 21:15:
“Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?”