Summary: God examines our lives for gaps in our faithfulness and offers Himself and His ways as the solution to those gaps.

Good morning. I hope you eat meals together as a family because you can learn so much about God, especially if you have children. Meal times in the Green household can be interesting. They range from the benign of mixing our food in weird combinations to the gross, renaming our food after the innards of various animals. My wife is fond of saying “You never know what to expect when you eat with three male children… ages 5, 10 and 41.”

During one of our more civilized meals my oldest son informed us that he had decided what he wanted to do when he grows up. With all the innocence and enthusiasm that only children can offer, he joyfully informed us that when he grows up he is going to work in a chocolate factory. “That’s my boy!”

Not wanting to be out done by his brother our younger son announces that he is going to work in an ice cream factory. “That’s my boy!”

What followed was a fun dream session where we imagined ourselves consuming inordinate amounts of chocolate and ice cream.

Do you remember when you were a child and the dreams you had of your future. Maybe you dreamed of being a fireman or an astronaut or commanding a battleship. I don’t know what your dreams were but I do know this. They were great dreams that inspired grand hopes of the future.

Now in my 41 years of life I have heard numerous children share their dreams and in all those days I have never once heard a child say, “When I grow up…”

• I want to get married so I can be unfaithful to my spouse.

• I want to become CEO of a fortune 500 company so I can embezzle money.

• I want to lead a battalion of troops so I can desert them when the first bullet flies.

Children don’t dream of being unfaithful. And I don’t believe that adults set out to be unfaithful. And I don’t believe that Christ-followers intend to be unfaithful either. Yet at times, perhaps in a moment of quietness or during a time of struggle or even through the violence of crisis, we discover there are gaps in our faithfulness to God.

As we have been studying the book of Malachi the past couple weeks we have discovered that Israel had significant gaps in her faithfulness to God. Gaps so pronounced, in fact, that authentic worship in the temple and authentic worship as a lifestyle was not happening. So God is going to take Israel out to the proverbial woodshed to deal with their rebellion.

While God is going to get in Israel’s face, and ours, about unfaithfulness, let’s keep something important in mind. The fact that God responds makes this a story of love and hope. You see, God wants His people to be in an obedient relationship with Him and when they are not He takes action. God addresses unfaithfulness because He loves us too much to allow gaps to remain in our relationship with Him.

This morning let’s continue the story by taking a look at Malachi chapter 3. In this chapter God unmasks 3 gaps of unfaithfulness in the lives of Israelites and proposes His means for closing those gaps. Before we leave today it is my hope that we allow God to examine our lives for gaps in our faithfulness to Him and that we will be open to His solutions for closing those gaps.

Before we look at the scripture, let’s pray.

1. Israel had a gap in their theology. They denied that God was pure and just: Read 2:17 – 3:5

Theology, folks, refers to what is true regarding God. In verse 17 we see the accusation of the people and in verses 1-5 of chapter three God’s response. The nation’s accusations against God cause God to say that their words weary Him or wear Him out. So what are these accusations that so weary the Lord?

* God cannot discern between good and evil.

He calls evil good and is pleased with those who do evil. The author Josh McDowell has written a children’s book entitled A Topsy-Turvy Kingdom. The king leaves and chaos ensues. Things that had been determined to be wrong are said to be right and things that had been right are now wrong. Israel had wondered so far from God that they could no longer see clearly the character of God. Their theology of God was so clouded that they accused God of favoring those who do evil. This led naturally to their second accusation.

* The God of justice is nowhere to be found.

The fact that people who cared nothing for the things of God prospered could only mean that the God of justice had abandoned them. Israel mistook God’s silence as abandonment. In reality the people had lured themselves into a place of self-deceit regarding their own personal sin. They considered themselves righteous. These are the same people who accused God of not loving them, dishonored God by offering 2nd hand sacrifices, followed deceitful religious leaders and divorced their spouse at the drop of a hat. One can only imagine the lifestyle of the people whom Israel considered evil. Since they were being “obedient” and evil was not being confronted by God they could only conclude that God was no longer a just God.

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