Summary: God loves me too much to let me continue in my sin.
[“Be Careful What You Wish For” video]
In life, it’s so easy to look at the circumstances around us and to wish for something without really having a full understanding of the entire situation. For the boy in the video, his wish certainly ended up putting him in a place he never imagined and one that he would have never wished for had he seen the whole picture.
As we continue our journey through the book of Malachi this morning, we’re going to see that the people of Israel made a similar mistake. They looked around at their circumstances and made some assumptions about God based on their observations. And as a result, they, too, made a request of God without really understanding what they were asking for. But fortunately for them, God is going to treat them with mercy and grace, and not give them what they are asking for, at least not until He first gives them the opportunity to get a glimpse of the future so they can understand all the ramifications of their request.
But God is not exactly going to go easy on them either. The people have rebelled against God and God is not going to ignore that. He is going to hold them accountable for their actions and is going to take some steps that will be painful for them in order to help them turn from that rebellion and turn back to Him.
And the reason God is going to do both of those things – treat them with mercy and grace on one hand and hold them accountable for their sin on the other – is because of the main theme that we developed our very first week in Malachi. So let’s begin once again this morning by reviewing that overall theme. Let’s fill in the blanks:
God desires for me to pursue Him
in the same way He has pursued me
With that theme in mind, turn in your Bibles to the last verse of Malachi chapter 2. You’ll want to keep your Bibles open to the passage that begins there in verse 17 as we examine that passage this morning.
I’m going to approach this passage a little differently this morning. We’ll just work through these six verses rather methodically and discuss some of the important issues that are contained in these verses. And then we’ll wrap up our time by focusing on some important implications for our lives.
This passage begins with…
1. The people’s question (2:17)
You have wearied the LORD with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”
The people made their judgments about God based on what they could observe rather than what God had revealed to them through the Scriptures. They saw the evil nations around them flourishing and assumed that meant that God considered their evil to be good. But they even went beyond that – they claimed that God actually delighted in evil. But that idea certainly violates what God had previously revealed about Himself in His Word.
The Psalmist made it clear that God not only does not delight in evil, He doesn’t even allow evil in His presence:
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
(Psalm 5:4 ESV)
And the prophet Isaiah warned against those who would call evil good:
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!
(Isaiah 5:20 ESV)
And then after they looked around at the nations around them, they reflected on their own plight. Their crops were failing. The temple was only a shadow of its former glory. Israel no longer had its own king and they were under the rule of a foreign nation.
So in their eyes, things just weren’t fair. After all they were God’s chosen people. They were the ones who should have been prospering. And in their minds, their enemies were the ones God should have been punishing. So they asked:
• Where is the God of justice?
I want you to remember that word “justice” because God is going to use that very same word a little later in the passage when He answers this question.
As I’ve already hinted at, perhaps the people should have been a little more careful about what they asked for. Because God is about to answer their question – but certainly not how they expected.
2. God’s answer (3:1-5)
We’ll look at God’s answer in more depth in just a moment, but we could summarize his answer with just two simple words: