Summary: Today, we can base our present hope of salvation on the fact that we need a Savior, God provides testimony for the Savior we need, and He has provided Christ as our Savior.
1. The first principle concerning our present hope of salvation is the problem of man (2:17)
2. The second principle concerning our present hope of salvation is the preparation by the messenger (3:1a)
3. The third principle concerning our present hope of salvation is the promise of the Master (3:1b)
Do you remember the old Heinz ketchup commercials? You remember the ones where the little boy would have his French fries all ready. They would be all ready and all he needed was some ketchup. So he would pick up that old glass bottle—yes, kids, ketchup didn’t always come in a squeeze bottle. And what would happen when he turned that bottle upside down over his fries? Nothing. Nothing except that song—anticipation. That boy wanted that ketchup so bad, but it seemed like it would never come out. That’s kind of the way it is this time of the year—especially for kids. The decorations start to go up, the trees get put up, the presents start getting wrapped. The air is full of anticipation for Christmas. The thing about Christmas is that it happens every year at this time. We know when it’s coming—there’s no surprise. Think back to the Old Testament times for a minute. They knew that God was going to send them a Messiah—a Savior. They knew, because God continually told them through the prophets. He continually told them and they continually ignored Him. Sometimes they would listen for a minute, but then they would go ahead and ignore Him anyway. They ignored it so many times that finally, God stopped speaking to them. His message to them through Malachi was the last time He spoke to them for 400 years. But what message had they ignored that caused God to not speak to them for so long? They were ignoring God’s message of hope. His message of hope for their salvation. His message of hope for the world’s salvation. That message of hope hasn’t changed. Tonight as we look at God’s last message of hope in the Old Testament, I want each of us to rejoice in our present hope of salvation. In order to do that, Malachi will show us three principles concerning our present hope of salvation. The first principle is the problem of man.
The problem of man. It doesn’t take a very deep reading of the Old Testament to figure out that Israel had some problems. Almost immediately after God led them out of their bondage in Egypt, they started complaining. God parted the Red Sea and they wanted water to drink. God fed them with manna and they wanted meat. God gave them the promised land and all they could see were the giants. So God made them wander for 40 years. After God finally let them cross the Jordan into the Promised Land, they still didn’t listen to Him. They were supposed to conquer everything and kill everybody. But they didn’t. They let most of them live. And they’re still having problems with those folks even today. That crazy guy in Iran who wants to wipe Israel off the face of the map is one of them. But back to history—even after they entered the promised land, Israel continued to disobey God during the time of the judges, the kings, the divided kingdom, and eventually the exile. Even after the exile—after God allowed Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem and some of the Jews returned. Even then—after all the Jews had been through because of their disobedience. Even then, they didn’t obey God. Not only did they disobey God, they tried to justify their disobedience. When Malachi told them in verse 17 that God was tired of their words, they argued with him. They said, “how have we wearied Him?” and went on to attempt to justify their evil by saying that God approved of it. Not only did they say He approved of it, they said He delighted in their evil. “God delights in us. He’s a God of love—He doesn’t judge us.” Because of that attitude, God quit talking to them. Scriptural writings and prophesy ceased for 400 years after Malachi. Sometimes we look at the Jews and think—how stupid and hard-headed could they be? The Bible’s favorite term is that they were stiff-necked. I mean, they had the presence of God right there in their temple. They had His word passed to them through the prophets. They had seen God’s awesome works in Egypt, the Red Sea, and the Jordan River. How could they have been so stiff-necked? But then again, how can people today be so stiff-necked. Looking in the Old Testament at Israel is almost like looking into a mirror at our own society. America has been the most materially blessed nation in the history of the world. Even our poorest citizens live well compared to people in many other countries. God has protected us. He’s provided for us. And he’s prospered us. But have we obeyed Him in return? I’m not telling you anything you don’t know when I say that drug and alcohol use is running rampant. Gambling and pornography are everywhere. Homosexuality is being looked at as normal. I saw a statistic last week that said 40% of babies are now being born out of wedlock. And that just speaks of the ones being born. What about the untold numbers of babies murdered in the womb each year in this country. The problem is awful. Every bit as awful as Israel’s was. And we are wearying God with our words the same as they did. We weary Him when we stop calling sin what it is and start calling it a personality disorder. When we live like we want to live and want God to endorse our lifestyle. When we treat God like a warm fuzzy teddy bear and ignore the fact that He demands a changed lifestyle. The problem is enormous. The prognosis is not good. The outcome is bleak. Now imagine if God had left Malachi’s prophesy off there. How utterly hopeless would the next 400 years have been. But thank God He didn’t. Because the God of the Bible is a God of hope. You see, the first principle concerning our present hope of salvation is the problem of man, because we can’t know hope unless we first see our utter hopelessness. And that’s what we’ve seen. We’ve seen the problem. But God didn’t leave us with only the problem. He gave us hope for a solution. The second principle concerning our present hope of salvation is the preparation by the messenger.