Summary: We need to learn from the past to live in the present as we look to the future.
I often joke that the length of my sermons seems to be inversely proportional to the length of the passage. So get comfortable and settle in because as we finish our study of the book of Malachi this morning, we’re only going to look at the final three verses of the book. But what an important three verses these are.
Before we get to that passage, let’s set the stage with a quick review of what we’ve learned so far in the Book of Malachi. We’re going to do that in more depth during the “Connections” Bible study today so I encourage you to stay and be part of that discussion.
As we’ve done every week in the series, we’ll begin with the overall theme of the book. For one last time I’ll ask you to help me fill in the blanks:
God desires for me to pursue Him
in the same way He has pursued me
After developing that main theme in the first five verses of the book, we next looked at the rest of chapter 1 where God admonished the people and the priests for their substandard sacrifices. We summarized the main idea of that passage like this:
Worship that requires little
is worth nothing
From the first part of chapter 2, which focused on the unfaithfulness of the priests, we developed this big idea:
When it comes to discipleship
I can’t lead anyone else
further than I have gone
In the middle part of chapter 2, Malachi focused on how the Israelites had violated their marriage covenants. But that was only one symptom of the large issue which we addressed like this:
Being a covenant keeping community
is essential to our relationship with a
covenant keeping God
The last part of chapter 2 and the first part of chapter 3 dealt with God’s refining work in the lives of His people and gave rise to this important implication for our lives:
God loves me too much to let me continue in my sin.
In the middle part of chapter 3, God accused the people of robbing Him and we used that passage to develop this theme:
God desires for me to give to Him
in the same way He has given to me
Last week, we saw that it is indeed worthwhile to serve God because:
God takes notice of
take notice of Him
With those principles in mind, let’s read the concluding three verses of Malachi’s prophecy. Since this passage is so short, let’s read the passage out loud together.
“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
(Malachi 4:4-6 ESV)
Some commentators have claimed that these three verses are some kind of later addition to the Book of Malachi because they, incorrectly in my opinion, don’t see these verses as being consistent with the rest of the book. But after careful consideration of these words, I’m convinced they are indeed a very fitting conclusion. Here is how I’m going to summarize this passage:
We need to…
learn from the past
to live in the present
as we look to the future
The book of Malachi certainly serves as a bridge from the past to the future for the Israelites of Malachi’s day. And for them and for us, as the last book of the Old Testament it also serves as a bridge to the New Testament.
So let’s use our theme statement as an outline with which we can examine this passage.
1. We need to learn from the past – “remember”
In verse 4, God commands the people to remember the law of his servant Moses.
The entire book of Malachi shows us a covenant-keeping God who still loves and pursues His people even though they have not remained faithful to Him. So it’s not surprising that the final command in the book is a command to remember the law of Moses, which the people no longer observed. But the word “remember” conveys much more that just mental recognition:
“remember” (Hebrew “zakar”) =
“to bring to mind and act accordingly”
So when God commands his people to remember the law, He is calling them to once again become a covenant keeping people who not only know the law, but also put it into practice.
This idea of remembering is a common theme in the book of Deuteronomy. The command or admonition to remember is found 14 times in that book and in the majority of those uses, it is connected with the need to obey or keep God’s commands.