Summary: A look at our circumstances and their impact on our relationship with our Lord.
The Sun (Son) of Righteousness
Two men are standing on the front lawn of a church. One man is leaning on the church’s sign and the other is looking at it from the front. The sign reads:
Bible Believing, Hand Clapping, Foot Stomping, Hemlines Below The Knee, Tie Wearing, Blood Washed, Coffee-And-Donuts-During-Sunday-School-Eating, Council Of Nicea Appreciating, Non-Denominational
The man leaning on the sign is saying, “When you don’t believe in man written creeds, you have to squeeze a lot of doctrine into your name.”
Now just so you know; that has absolutely nothing to do with my message today, I just think it’s funny!
You know, I see people especially Christians who lose an appreciation for where they truly are because they have forgotten where God brought them from. This sometimes shows itself as complaining, whining or however you want to put it. Hey I try to look at the bright side of every situation, I mean if my neighbor’s grass is greener than mine, I at least appreciate the fact that I am still above ground to see it.
Turn with me please to Malachi the 3rd chapter and the 13th verse. Malachi is contrasting two types of people.
Read Malachi 3:13-18
The form of the verb “Said” (V 13) or “Talked” (V 16) means "to speak to one another, to carry on a conversation." It’s like our modern day term, "to rap." I don’t know the origin of that term, but I suspect it comes from the word "rapport." You have an affinity for the person you are “rapping” with. The term "to rap" came out of the student rhetoric of the Sixties and has found its way into our language today. Before it became associated solely with a particular musical genre, it was used to describe a kind of, open, in depth talking either as individuals or a group the “Rap Session”. It’s a very apt term to describe the sort of conversation that we can have with certain people who understand what we are saying and who agree with it. I believe that is what Malachi means when he uses the words "said" and “talked” here.
Malachi says there were two groups of people speaking together. There is another occurrence of this term "speaking together" in the book of Ezekiel. Some of the people of Israel standing alongside walls, were "talking together" about the prophet. In that particular situation they were hostile toward the prophet, but they were acting as though they were hearing his words. The Lord told Ezekiel,
"You will be to them as one who sings or plays well on an instrument, for they will hear your words but they will not do them."
Malachi refers to a group of people who were gathering together to talk, to rap about the things of God, but they were betraying a certain attitude. They had this attitude in common and it was the basis for the attraction they had for one another. Now when I say attraction don’t read anything into that. Aren’t we all attracted to people who are sympathetic to our feelings that may even share our dislikes and grumble along with us. Misery loves company!
On the other hand, there was another group of people with an entirely different attitude who were meeting to talk. Both groups were talking about the things of God, but their speech betrayed something about their hearts, and the condition of their hearts in relationship to God.
Those in the first group are described as saying,
"It is vain to serve God. It is profitless, empty, to serve him. What profit is it that we have kept His charge and that we have walked in mourning before the Lord of hosts?"
In reference to the spirit of Judah during this time, the Israelites were looking at their circumstances and feeling that because their circumstances were grim, God had forsaken them. They looked at Israel and the nation and concluded that the righteous suffered and the wicked flourished. Now that is nothing new. You can find that attitude…Well…wherever you find people talking.
Even David comments in one of his psalms that it seems that the wicked flourish and the righteous are suppressed, inhibited, and frustrated. I used to think that attitude was a distorted view caused by our own suffering. But, I have come to believe that it actually is true that externally, superficially, the wicked seem to have things much better than the righteous. The righteous, always seem to get the short end of the stick. But that’s a very humanistic view, a view from our selfish perspective. What we all have to understand is that God's love for us is not demonstrated by our circumstances, but by our destiny. God is at work in our life-not to make life easy for us, but to make us men and women in the full sense of the word, to enable us to grow to maturity. Circumstances may be grim indeed, but we do not look at the circumstances and say, "God doesn't love us"; we look at the purpose God has in mind. It is our destiny our ultimate destination, that demonstrates the love of God. But there were some in Israel who were reasoning from their circumstances that God had rejected them. This group arrived at the conclusion found in verse 15,