Summary: The driving force of this word to God’s people is to bring them back to the place of genuine gratitude, respect, reverence, honor and love for the Lord (1:6, 11, 14; 2:5; 3:5, 16; 4:2, & 5).
This book is filled with Theological lessons, Christological (about Jesus) lessons, Eschatological (end times) lessons and practical lessons - we will focus on the later. It will jolt your modesty. But it’s a Word from God.
This book is written in time when you would have thought God’s people would have been in revival. They returned from exile and the temple and walls had now been rebuilt but their spiritual lives were drifting from the Lord and to make things worse they were living in a state of denial about that very fact.
This is where we find Israel in Malachi’s day, a nation that is backsliding.
1. It was experiencing peacetime, but with the Edomites that surrounded them they probably experienced occasional terrorist attacks from their ancient enemy, thus frustrating them … sounds pretty contemporary!
2. Israel’s economy was pretty good, but it was in decline and facing some difficulties … this may explain some of their failure to give their tithes. (Mal. 3:6)
3. Their worship had degenerated into rituals, no life to it … most of the people in the nation were religious but not really spiritual … sound familiar?
4. The age of miracles had apparently passed, there were the stories of Elijah, but nothing much seemed to happen anymore in the area of the miraculous.
5. They had grown tired of all the prophets saying the Messiah would soon come, yet it never seemed to happen.
6. They were bored with life, it was the 2nd or 3rd generation since the rebuilding of the temple and their restoration to the land under Nehemiah. (Dennis Marquardt)
The driving force of this word to God’s people is to bring them back to the place of genuine gratitude, respect, reverence, honor and love for the Lord (1:6, 11, 14; 2:5; 3:5, 16; 4:2, & 5).
Could there be a more relevant word for God’s people today? Yet, the response of today’s people could be just like that of those in Malachi. Notice the response of their argumentative or mooting questions.
There are eight argumentative questions the people asked:
1. “How have you loved us?” (1:2).
2. “How have we shown contempt for your name?” (1:6).
3. “How have we defiled you?” (1:7).
4. “Why [does the Lord no longer pay attention to our offerings]?” (2:14).
5. “How have we wearied him?” (2:17). 6. “How are we to return?” (3:7).
7. “How do we rob you?” (3:8).
8. “What have we said against you?” (3:13).
God wants us to worship Him. He doesn’t need us, for He couldn’t be a self-sufficient God and need anything or anybody, but He wants us. When Adam sinned it was not he who cried, "God, where art Thou?" It was God who cried, "Adam, where art thou?" -- A.W. Tozer, Worship: The Missing Jewel. Christianity Today, Vol. 41, no. 5.
God’s burden for His people is conveyed through the message He sends them. What type of message was it? It was a:
I. COMPELLING MESSAGE
What makes this message so compelling? Because of what God
A. Discloses - He reveals 1:1 “the burden of the word of the Lord”
God understands the pain of love such as: rejection, sickness, death
B. Does - He reaches 1:1 “to Israel”
C. Declares - He reassures 1:2 “I have loved you”
The first step to backsliding is doubting God’s love.
Jer 31:3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, [saying], Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
II. COMFORTING MESSAGE
A. A message of hope 1:1 “to Israel”
Their present state was not hopeless by the shear fact that God was dealing with them again. No matter where you are today, if God brought you here for this Word and He’s dealing with you - then there is HOPE. How will you respond to God’s Word?
B. A message of help 1:2 “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?”
You may be in a family that doesn’t accept God’s love or love God but that doesn’t mean you have to reject His love
Ps 34:19 Many [are] the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
C. A message of healing (their and our relationship with the Lord)
III. CHALLENGING MESSAGE 1:1-5
“Usually ‘oracle’ or ‘burden’ introduces a divine declaration of a threatening nature, although promises can be included in the message” Herbert Wolf
A. It conveys the alternative 1:2-5 “I hated Esau” 1:4 “I will throw down”
God’s hate and Judgment
He deals with two issues to challenge them:
1 The perspective issue - Your doubt of God’s love is unfounded if you’ve entered into covenant with Him - look at the past - Esau and Jacob: With all his advantages (grandson of Abraham and son of Isaac and twin brother of Jacob - his father prayed 20 years for him) Esau still rejected the birthright. But God loved Jacob who entered into covenant with Him.