Summary: The fourth message from the series on Malachi
“A Clear Call to Faithfulness”
In our passage today Malachi turns to dealing with the subject of the people’s indifference to the Lord’s will. They are visibly blaming their problems on God rather than seeing them as a result of their own unfaithfulness. The people are being unfaithful to one another, especially to their wives, who were being abandoned in favor of younger pagan women. The people are displaying a lack of loyalty in their relationships with others, their marriages and ultimately their relationship with God. It is so amazing to stop and think about just how easily we lose focus in our relationships. A simple fact we need to remember is that in order for us to have a growing relationship with God we need to get the relationships with others right first. Just like a successful relationship with God our interpersonal relationships must be based on complete faithfulness. Malachi leaves no doubt of the damage unfaithfulness can do in any relationship. The bottom line is that for a relationship to be meaningful to us and pleasing to God it must be characterized by faithfulness. Malachi issues a stern command for the people to stop this treachery. The people needed to turn from their sin and begin working to restore the broken relationships. Malachi’s obvious task is to call the people’s attention to their sins and to give them a clear call to return to faithfulness.
I. Malachi begins this part of his message by reminding the people that they are a distinctive people called by God.
A. The Israelites have begun to abandon the basic principles that made them unique has a nation.
1. God was the father of Israel. He had created this special nation at Mt. Sinai.
2. The rhetorical question “Is there not one father to all of us?” does not teach the doctrine of the universal fatherhood of God. Rather here the text is stressing the uniqueness of Israel as a nation.
3. The rhetorical question “Did not one God create us?” does not refer to the original creation, but to the creative act by which God chose Israel as his own people.
4. Intermarriage defiled “the covenant of our fathers.” The practice was a menace to the distinctive faith which was the basis of God’s covenant with Israel as well as their national existence.
5. In the midst of the covenant nation Israel, of which the postexilic community was the representative, an “abomination” had been committed. The term is used to describe pagan idolatry and immorality.
B. God has chosen the church to be a distinctive people and many times we are guilty of abandoning the basic principles that make us unique as a people.
1. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10—NIV)
2. What makes the church unique is not the traditions that we hold, it is our mission and the message that we share.
3. When we elevate methodology, when we exhibit characteristics of the world in our interpersonal relationships we begin to lose the very things that helps make us unique.
4. What the church perceives as their mission will always define who we are and why we exist.
5. When the church becomes unfaithful to the message and ceases to carry out their God given mission the church ceases to be the church.
II. Malachi quickly points out that their sin and unfaithfulness is destroying the very relationships that God considers important.
A. The people were consistently showing a lack of faithfulness in their dealings with others within their community.
1. If God’s people have only one Father, then they must be brothers and sisters - and his question is “why then, if they are family, do God’s people experience disloyalty among them?”
2. All betrayals, from the slightest unkindness to the grossest injustice, merit God’s disapproval.
3. When we are disloyal to one another, this displeases God. So disloyalty among the family of believers breaks our relationship to God.
4. The church is made up of people, who have the tendency to disagree and not get along.
5. When this is taken into consideration we will quickly discover the importance of faithfulness in our relationships with one another.
6. Nothing can take the focus away from our relationship with God faster than bitterness and unfaithfulness, especially among the family of believers. We need to remain loyal to one another.
B. The people were showing no regard to the covenant of marriage that was established by God.