Summary: Now what has Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest of the "Chaplinitis" era (when the fame of the legendary comedian spread like a wild contagion) in common with Book of Malachi (Last Book of the OT section of the Bible) containing a sizable section about Ch
OF CHAPLIN AND CHAPLAINS
Let me relate a bizarre yet true story, before I get started with my main theme. Before that… those of us who don’t know about, Charlie Chaplin, let’s put up our hands? Well, not many hands would go up, for most of us know that he was a huge movie star in the silent-picture era sending many (and often) to the world of boisterous laughter with his patented comedy. One of the by-products of his popularity-also referred to in medicinal terms, as Chaplinitis- was the look-alike contests that mushroomed around the Globe in early 20th century. Participants in many such contests would attempt to imitate Chaplin dressed as the “tramp” character, he made popular in his films.
Action: Display of animation of Charlie Chaplain antics...
Now this is where, it all becomes really surreal. As the look-alike contest fever was its peak, Charlie Chaplin himself entered a look-alike contest in a San Francisco theatre without the knowledge of the judges! Amazingly, he failed to even make the finals!!! So fine-tuned were the Chaplin imitators that the human judges, with all their obvious limitations could not distinguish the original from the many copies (permit me to use a photo-copying parlance here).
The question is could God have made a similar mistake? NO WAY! The omniscient God (Heb 4:13) is not easily to be deceived. We may with our excellent acting, which would make an Oscar winner proud, get away with our well-hidden hypocrisies with our fellow human beings, but in front of an all-seeing God, we are bound to stand exposed. Just as people, mostly Chaplains (read Priests) during Malachi’s (in whose name the last book of OT is titled) time were, which brings me to the point. While all the Books of the Bible (OT and NT together) have to be cherished and relished (for they hold many valuable lessons to us- in II Tim 3:16, 17- notice the emphasis on the beginning words “ALL SCRIPTURE”) somehow by strange paradox in modern day Christendom, in the context of OT, Christians seem to be having a MAJOR problem with the MINOR prophets.
Inexplicably the Books from Hosea to Malachi (by the way who gave us the right to classify them disdainfully as Minor prophets?) are never studied in depth leave alone explored for the rich nuggets of truth, they contain. Hence, I feel challenged to focus on the subject of God’s omniscience, using the Book of Malachi as the point of reference.
FIRST THINGS FIRST…
Action: Display of a picture of a hypocrite without a mask
Firstly let’s get right the historical background to the Ministry of Malachi. Now, who were the people, the “messenger” (in Hebrew Malachi means “messenger”) brought God’s message to? They were the Jewish re-settlers in the land of Palestine, coming back to the Promised Land, as it were, after a 70-year exile in the land of Babylon in line with the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29:10, Ezra 1:1-4). Now what about the spiritual climate at that time? Going by all that is outward, what would have been the reading of the human “Spiritual Met Dept”, so to speak? Prima facie, very good! For one thing, God’s chosen ones’ during Malachi’s time were not out and out idol-worshippers like their unrepentant, hard-hearted forefathers, who brought upon themselves the punishment of banishment (from the Land of milk and honey) despite several warnings to that effect from their contemporary prophets (II Chronicles 36:15-21). What more under the able leadership of leaders such as Zerubbabel and Nehemiah, they had painstakingly (in Jerusalem) reconstructed their broken down temple and walls. Add to this re-instatement of temple services and the offering of regular sacrifices, and a picture of a spiritually healthy nation emerges. Right? WRONG! For Malachi doesn’t come-up with a message complimenting them. Far from patting their backs, we find him rapping them hard, as it were, on their knuckles.
What prompted him to do so? In the Jewish society, while on the surface, everything seemed good, beneath it lurked troubles, big ones at that! Spiritual lethargy had set in amongst the God’s people, who were going about their spiritual lives mechanically (like us some of us go about the Lenten season, as though we can getaway having a seasonal affair with Him) without paying much attention to its finer details. Compounding the crises’ were the errant Chaplains (read Priests), who were the very definition of lukewarm devotion. At a time, when their exemplary lives ought to have spurred the laity they themselves were showing scant interest in the paramount matter of worshipping God properly. Talk of fence eating the grass…
Primarily, Malachi focuses’ on three problem areas’ in the Jewish society of his times…the ones’ concerning offering, divorcing and tithing.
Action: a) Display of picture of three-legged calf