Summary: God was showing them what COVENANT was all about.
1. Gen. 8:1 and Ex. 2:24 (Read)
2. God Remembered? The Covenant. He never forgot Noah, it simply means HE was faithful to HIS covenant with Noah.
3. Malachi (My Messenger) was speaking to a different time of history than most other Old Testament prophets.
A. Jeremiah and Ezekiel – wrote of the coming judgment of God upon Judah.
B. A time when Daniel and the young princes, including Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednigo, were taken captive into Babylonian captivity.
C. Other prophets – like Isaiah prophesied during the captivity about a future deliverance. Malachi, however, was the last OT prophet. The final messenger before the coming of Messiah.
4. Gradually the people returned. Life return to normal.
A. They were the clearest example of God’s covenant power ever seen.
B. God was showing them what COVENANT was all about.
5. And right at that point you get a good picture of what the book of Malachi is all about—a study in contrast.
A. God remembers His covenant and they had forgotten it!
6. Malachi’s writings are not about:
A. Daniel in a lion’s den.
B. Or rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls.
7. Malachi is talking to people moving into a NEW TEMPLE—who still have old hearts. The "Huh, What?" generation ("Yet ye say wherein...")
8. 50 years have passed since Haggai and Zechariah prophesied—all the Temple and city has been rebuilt.
A. No captivity—life was easy—and they forgot the covenant of God!
9. It is to this people that Malachi steps on the scene—
A. The line between the people of God and the people around them has begun to disappear.
10. And like most all prophets—“repent” was a common word of his vocabulary.
A. Malachi prophesied against their:
C. Robbing God
E. All these were articles of a Covenant with God.
11. God remembered His Covenant—they forgot!
12. Important to notice: the social environment that was then present.
13. The people were back in their home city and temple, but with very little of their original wealth and prosperity.
A. The land hadn’t been farmed in many years.
B. They were starting all over again.
C. Times were tight.
D. Crops were lean.
E. Herds were smaller and thinner.
14. God had always made it clear that when His people went through their herds for a sacrifice—pick the most perfect they could find to present to God.
15. That wasn’t difficult—when the pastures were filled with many fat and healthy cattle as it was before the captivity.
A. But it became harder to do when—few and lean were their herds.
B. Couldn’t justify the burning on an altar for a one-shot religious ritual!
C. The emotional justification--"I don’t think God would expect us to offer our best cattle..."
16. SO. . .the people brought what THEY FELT was more realistic—it was easily explained and justified.
A. THE FEELINGS AND SOCIAL CLIMATE BEGAN TO DICTATE THEIR SACRIFICE—THEIR OBEDIENCE—THEIR WORSHIP!
17. God’s real complaint is with the priest of the Temple:
A. Malachi 1:6 “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?”
18. Because the people were not happy with the COST of obeying God—the priests wishing to content the people allowed the people to transgress.
A. The priests, got a certain amount of meat and food that was offered to God—if the people stopped sacrificing—they would starve.
19. God rebukes the priest because:
A. They had given into what was EXPEDIENT rather than what was right.
B. They had tailored a message that was more in keeping with what would fit the times rather than hold to God’s methods.
20. Malachi 1:8 “And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts.”
A. So both the people and the priest cared more about a VISIBLE influence than on an INVISIBLE one.
21. THIS HAS ALWAYS BEEN A MASSIVE THREAT TO TRUTH!
A. John 5:44 “How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?”
22. NOTICE: 1st, the message becomes shaped to the taste of the people. And 2nd, Once that occurs the presence and power of God evaporates from among His people.
23. And God is furious with the priests for not making clear to the people that:
A. God will not accept anything less—than His will and His way!