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Malachi 1-4

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1/29/2006
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Malachi 1-4
Malachi 1-4
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39 Malachi - 2006

Join Skip Heitzig for this study of Malachi, in which God called for His people to turn back to Him and His ways. As the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi highlights the Jewish people's—and all of humanity's—need for salvation.

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This time, let's turn to the book of Malachi. We finish up the Old Testament this evening, and next Sunday night, beginning the New Testament. Malachi, let's listen to what it's all about. Malachi 1. A person's last words before the silence of death are often so revealing. What's inside of a person comes out. And it's interesting to compare the words of unbelievers to the words of believers at death.

For instance, the Scottish philosopher atheistic skeptic, David Hume, when he was dying, his last words in terror were, I am in the flames. The French atheist and skeptic, the one who mocked Christianity for so long, Voltaire. As he was dying, cried out and said, I am abandoned by God and man. I shall go to hell, and he did. Sad. When Mahatma Gandhi was dying, his last words were, for the first time in 50 years, I am in darkness. I can't see any light. I am in the slouch of despond, he said.

Interesting because the last words of believers like the Puritan Richard Baxter, who said, I have pain, but I have peace. Or the hymn writer, Augustus Toplady who wrote that famous song Rock of Ages. As he was dying said, I enjoy Heaven already in my soul. My prayers are all converted into praises. What a difference. The book of Malachi are the last words of God before a 400 year silence, before John the Baptist.

These are the last words before a long period of silence. And these last words are words of both despair as well as hope. Judgment is pronounced, but hope is promised. We don't know anything about Malachi, save the words that are in this book that he wrote. This is all that we have, and there is no description of Malachi given. In fact, the name Malachi appears nowhere else in the Old Testament.

And it is thought that it's not even a proper name at all. There are some who believe it's simply a title rather than the name of a person. Because the Hebrew word Malachi means my messenger. And the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament uses the term Angelos, or messenger angel. And so some people think that somebody else wrote it, and he identified himself as the messenger of the Lord.

That's the Jewish tradition at least. They say that Ezra wrote this book, and called himself Malachi or God's messenger. I don't think there's a reason to think that necessarily. It says, these are the words of the Lord that came to Malachi. And it's, I think, safe and OK to see him as the last prophet that preached to that restored Jewish nation that has now returned to their land, and the temple is rebuilt.

Malachi comes about a century after the prophets Haggai and Zachariah. So here's the deal. They were back in the land. The temple was there. Nehemiah was the governor of the land, and they had settled into a good spot. Outwardly things were on the way up again. It was a good time. There was the temple. The ritual of sacrifice was coming into play once again. But spiritually, they had already begun to depart from a real heartfelt authentic worship of the Lord.

They were in danger of going back to the very same practice as before the exile. That the prophets of long ago had put their finger on. The spiritual flame was already waning, and that fire on the altar of their hearts was already beginning to burn out. What's worse is they don't know it. That was the worst of all. They were straying away from God. Their hearts were not walking with the Lord, and they were completely blinded to it.

They were in denial. In fact, as the prophet Malachi begins his words, they argue with the Lord. What do you mean that's the case? How do you figure that? And you'll notice this throughout the book. That it's written in a very different form. It's not like Haggai or Zechariah or any of the prophets. It's written in a dielectric form. That is, it's like a dialogue, a contention going back and forth between two parties. And so you find a format throughout this book that there is an assertion, followed by an objection, followed by a reaction

God makes an assertion through the prophet, followed by their objection. What do you mean, we don't agree. Followed by God's reaction to that. And so thus it is throughout the entire book. The burden, verse 1, of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi. I have loved you, says the Lord. Yet you say in what way have you loved us. Was not Esau Jacob's brother, says the Lord. Yet I have-- yet Jacob I have loved.

Now I love the fact that in these last words of God in the Old Testament to his people, that among those words are the words, I love you. They had forgotten that God loved them. They are disputing here that God loved them. God says, I love you. They go, prove it. You know, there are so many people that are unaware that God loves them. That simple truth that we take for granted. Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

So profound, and yet to understand that love is missed by so many. This last week I had the privilege of being in the Philippines with Franklin Graham. He had a crusade there. And every night as a crusade goes, he called people to faith, and the Lord really poured out his spirit. The total of four nights and five events, 34,000 people gave their lives to Jesus Christ. Fabulous.

Now what struck me is as they were coming forward and they had all sorts of reactions, as often is the case at a crusade. So many with tears in their eyes. When Franklin told them God loves you, which his Father always did in every crusade. If you've ever heard a Billy Graham crusade, he'll always say, God loves you. And he keeps reiterating that. But the look in these people's faces when they heard that, it was almost like no, really? God loves me? It was such a revolutionary truth.

Now here, the people of Israel are saying, how have you loved us. Prove that you've loved us. So God goes back to their origin. When God first chose Abraham, Isaac, and then Jacob, who became Israel. Going back to their roots. Going back to their origins, that God loved them. You know, one of the things the devil wants to get you to do is to doubt the love of God for you. It's the oldest trick in the book.

In the Garden of Eden, the devil tried to do that with Eve. When Eve said, the Lord said we can have any fruit of the trees of the garden except for this one. The devil goes, well that's because the Lord knows that in the day that you eat there of, your eyes will be open and you'll be like God. In other words, God's holding out on you Eve. And caused Eve to try to doubt the love of God for her.

If God really loved you, then he would allow you to do this. And how many times does the enemy come and whisper those thoughts as you look at your condition. As you look at your own position. And this Satan goes, boy you're in a tough situation. I don't think God loves you. And then we start agreeing with the devil. That's the worst part. You're right, amen devil. That's right. Oh God forbid.

So in verse 2, was not Esau Jacob's brother, says the Lord. Yet Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated. And laid waste his mountain and his heritage for the jackals of the wilderness. So they question God's love. God then brings them back to the origins of the nation, when God made a choice to take Jacob and create a nation out of him.

Now you know the story. Esau was the first born of Isaac. Jacob was the twin, but came out second. It was according to Jewish law that the firstborn received the blessing, but you also know that Esau wasn't interested in spiritual things. And Jacob connived and stole his blessing, but the order was reversed. It wasn't the first born, but the second born who received the blessing.

So God is saying look, you're questioning my love. I loved you from the very beginning, when I made a choice with Jacob, your forefather, whom I renamed Israel. Now people have trouble with this verse, where it says I've loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated. In fact, a young man, a student came up to Dr. Griffith Thomas and said, I have a problem with this verse. My problem is it says that God hated Esau.

And Griffith Thomas said, you know, I have a problem with this verse too. But my problem is it says that God love Jacob. That's my problem. Not that he hated Esau, but it says that he loved Jacob. Now when it says God hated Esau, it doesn't mean in an emotional sense. It means in the sovereign sense of making a choice. God made a preferential choice to extend his love to Jacob. That would mean they would become God's avenue for blessing. Give them the land, and bring the messiah. That was God's choice.

But God also promised to bless Esau and his descendants. In a comparative sense, you might say, it looks like God would hate one and love the other. But that's not in an emotional sense. It's similar to what Jesus told us. He said whoever won't come after me and hate his father, mother, brothers, sisters, wives, children, and even his own life for my sake, is worthy of the kingdom. It's not that you're to actually go up to your wife and kids and go, I hate your guts because God told me I have to do it in the Bible.

But it's the idea that your love for God would supersede anything that it could only be compared to hate and compared to your devotion to the Lord. Your sold out to him. So this is God's choice. Look at your origins. How I have loved Jacob. Whenever you and I are prone to doubt the love of God for us, just stop right there and look back at God's track record.

Look at how God has loved you. And the best place to look is at the cross. God demonstrated his love for you, in that while you and I were sinners, Christ died for us. So look at the cross, and then look at the way God has kept you all these years. And all of the promises God has made and kept to you and sustained you. It's important to take that kind of inventory.

There's a beautiful tradition in Judaism, every Passover. When the Jews get together for their paschal meal. There is a word that they say, and they say it after several sentences. It's the word dayeinu, and it's translated, we would have been satisfied. And it goes something like this. Had he merely rescued us from Egypt, but not punished the Egyptians, dayeinu. We would have been satisfied, or it would have been enough.

Had he punished the Egyptians, but not destroyed their gods, dayeinu. We would have been satisfied. Had he merely destroyed their gods, but not slain their first born, dying dayeinu. Had he merely slain the first born, but had not given us their property, dayeinu. And they go all the way through, until they finally say, if he had done all of that but not even given us the land of Israel, we would have been satisfied.

Now it's a beautiful thing to say, and Israel wasn't always satisfied. But I think all believers could say, if God would have just provided salvation through Jesus Christ and that's all, it would have been enough. But he's done so much more. If he wouldn't spare his only son, but freely offered him up, how will he not with him freely give us all things. What a good God we serve. And here they're questioning God's love for them.

Even though Edom has said, we have been impoverished but we will return and build the desolate places, thus says the Lord of Hosts. They may build, but I will throw down. They shall be called the territory of wickedness. And the people against whom the Lord will have indignation forever. Your eyes shall see it, and you shall say the Lord is magnified beyond the border of Israel.

What is God saying? He's saying look, you're questioning my love. I have proved my love in the origins of your nation in selecting Jacob. But I have also proven my love to you in how I have given you this land. And even though it was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians, I brought you back. But then look east of you. Look at the descendants of Esau. And he says in verse 4, even though Edom has said we have become impoverished, we will return and rebuild the desolate places. They never did.

The descendants of Jacob came back to the land. The descendants of Esau never came back to the-- they tried to rebuild it after it was destroyed by the Babylonians, by the Egyptians. And eventually, and finally by the Nabataeans, but it's gone. So God said, boy have I loved you after all of your shenanigans, all of your sins. I brought you back. I didn't bring them back. They're obliterated.

When is the last time you met an Edomite? Can you remember? But when was the last time you met an Israeli? Have you ever met one? That's God's promise to that nation. He brought them back, showed his love. Now God turns, in verse 6, to the priests, the spiritual leaders of that land. A son, he says, dishonors his Father. And his servant, his master. If I then am the Father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my reverence, says the Lord of Hosts. To you priests who despise my name.

Remember in the New Testament, Jesus said something similar to this. He said why do you call me Lord, but you don't do the things that I say? It's awfully nice to hear that. Lord, Lord. Sounds so good. You call me that, but you don't treat me like the Lord. You don't do what I say. We sometimes have a problem, a disconnect between-- let's call it our formal theology, and our practical theology.

We don't always really believe in what we say we believe. It's so easy to say Jesus is Lord. But by the way some people who say that live, you must concur no, no, no Jesus isn't Lord. Their the Lord. Or Jesus is Lord until it's inconvenient for them. Because if Jesus is Lord, why are you sleeping around and being immoral?

If Jesus is Lord, why are you divorcing your wife? If Jesus is Lord, why are you out still doing drugs? I mean, where does the Lord bit kick in? So if I'm your Lord, if I'm your master, where is my honor? Son would honor his Father, and a servant would honor the master. Yet you say, here's their objection, yet you say in what way have we despised your name. You know, they're shocked that God would bring an accusation against them.

God says that these priests, you offer defiled food on my altar. But you say, in what way have we defiled you. By saying that temple or the table of the Lord is contemptible. They were offering blemished sacrifices. Something that God strictly forbade. In Deuteronomy 15 he said, you check those animals and make sure they're free from spots and blemishes, inherent defects, acquired defects. Make sure that they're not blind, they're not lame, but they're pure. Offer the best. The first slings of the flop.

And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is that not evil. And when you offer the lame and the sick, is it not evil. Offer it then to you governor. Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably, says the Lord of Hosts. Now they've been back in the land by this time, oh about 100 years.

As I said, this is about a century after the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. They're in the land. They've settled down. The temple is rebuilt. The sacrifices have been re-instituted, and life is getting better. Pretty good outwardly. But they're not really walking with the Lord in the same kind of dependence and authenticity and sincerity as when they first came back. They were waning already.

So much so, that they've just gotten real loose about their worship. Instead of giving the best to the Lord, it was well, let's give the cast offs to the Lord. Here's a sick lamb, let's offer that. I don't need that any longer. Now that attitude is unfortunately still with us. Hey honey, you know that old beat up chest of drawers that's out back, that we don't use anymore. And we've had for 30 years, and it's beat up, it's worth nothing. Let's give it to the church.

We've used the best of it, now let's give what's left, the worst, to the Lord instead of the best. You offer the blind, verse 8, the lame and the sick. Paul described a form of religion, where people would observe the form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. I think it was G Campbell Morgan who said, the profanity of the sanctuary is far worse than the profanity of the street. And here, these people felt quite content in just going to the temple, bringing a sacrifice. Even though it wasn't the best. Even though their hearts were not in it.

And they had the audacity to give to God what they would never give in the form of taxation to their governor. So God says, try passing this stuff off in your taxes and see how far that you get. Now what a difference in the way God gives. Whenever God gives, it's always his best. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world. A lamb without spot and without blemish. God's very best. His son.

But now in treat, verse 9, God's favor, that he may be gracious to us. While this is being done by your hands, will he accept you favorably, says the Lord of Hosts. Who is there even among you who would shut the doors so that you would not kindle a fire on my altar in vain. I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of Hosts. Nor will I accept an offering from your hands.

I think a better way to translate that would be, who is spiritual enough to shut the temple doors and put an end to this hypocrisy? In other words, God is saying, you know, I would rather see the temple closed down than to have all of this hypocrisy going on and people playing religion. Because if it's just all about keeping the ritual going, and going through the motions without the heart.

God says, I don't need it. Now that's not a new message. Isaiah chapter 1, to what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to me, says the Lord. I've had enough of burnt offerings. Enough of this ritual. Come now, let us reason together, the Lord said. God is after the heart, true repentance. Back in their history, back and 1 Samuel chapter 2, there were the sons of Eli, the priests. Like the priests of this day who were also very corrupt. And it says, now the sons of Eli were corrupt. They did not know the Lord. Imagine somebody in the ministry who doesn't know the Lord.

It's hard for us to fathom. But I remember one Christmas day about 15 years ago, it was a Sunday, like this last Christmas was on a Sunday. And the church in Albuquerque was packed, and I gave an invitation for people to come forward and make a commitment to Christ. And a man came forward, an older gentleman with tears in his eyes. And afterwards he confessed, I have been in the ministry all my life, and I honestly have never personalized a commitment to Christ till this morning.

Now it's hard for me to get my mind around that. How do you minister the Lord's truth without knowing the Lord. But here these priests were doing it. Now look at verse 11 in the following verses. God makes a very strong point in following that up. For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, my name shall be great among the Gentiles. In every place, incense shall be offered to my name. And a pure offering for my name shall be great among the nations, says the Lord of Hosts.

Now we know when that will be. We know that will be during the millennial reign of Christ. All the nations will flow into Jerusalem. All the earth will have the knowledge of the Lord. And even the Gentile nations will offer a pure praise under God. In that redeemed, restored earth, all the redeemed of the earth. All the nations of the earth that are redeemed. The Gentile nations will be offering praise unto God.

But you, verse 12, profane it. In that you say the temple of the Lord is defiled, and its food is contemptible. We've already covered text like Ezekiel chapters 40 through 48, which describes the re-instituted sacrifices, the millennial temple. Incense an offering that will be re-instituted in Israel. And here's the point that God is making. One day I'm going to get pure worship even from Gentile nations.

So I don't want impure worship from my own nation now. If that's going to be the result in the coming ages, that the Gentile nations are going to offer worship, you're my people. You're my priests. I don't want the impure worship from you. Jesus said to the woman at the well of Sumeria, that the Father is seeking true worshippers. Those who worship in spirit and in truth. For the Father seeketh such to worship him.

God is never interested in the blase, the ritualistic. Something that doesn't really come from an authentic heart of praise. He wants pure praise. He's always about the heart, the motivation. One person put it this way. We've become a generation of people who worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship. That, sort of, describes American life, doesn't it.

We worship our work. That work ethic, and it's all about my position in life, and the office, and my business. And then we play really hard. And then what's left over is, we play at our worship. And God is trying to get at that heart that was even prevalent back in ancient Israel. You also say, oh what a weariness. And you sneer at it, says the Lord of Hosts. And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick. Thus you bring an offering. Should I accept this from your hands, says the Lord.

But cursed be the deceiver who has in his flock a male, and takes a vow, but sacrifices to the Lord with his blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of Hosts. And my name is to be feared or reverenced among the nations. In other words, it's an insult to the majesty of God. But here's the deal. The priest, now 100 years later after coming back into the land, they've been there a while. And yes, the sacrifices are being re-instituted.

Temple worship is humming along. But it says, the priests are saying, what a weariness. What a drag. This is hard. They're sneering at it. To offer sacrifices in Israel, these priests had to go through some very exacting requirements, stipulations. On some animals, you'd lay hands. It had to be cut a certain way. Bled a certain way. Certain portions would be put on the altar and burned. Others would be discarded. Others would be eaten by the priest and the family.

And there were several stipulations for each of the sacrifices. And they just thought, you know, this is hard. This is worrying. This is a drag. Why? It's sort of like the person who says, oh church, so boring. Especially Sunday nights. You know, we've heard a great sermon Sunday from Pastor Chuck. And so invigorating, and why do they want us to come back Sunday nights, and it's so long. Oh what a wariness.

I know you don't say that, otherwise you wouldn't be here. Dwight Moody, who was an evangelist in Chicago, was a guy who kept a very rigorous schedule in preaching. And his family saw that he preached so much and he was getting just worn down, wearied by it. They try to tell him not to do so much. Because he would preach, he'd come home after Sunday and get ready for Sunday night. And he just looked so tired.

But Moody would always say, though I get weary in the work, I am never weary of the work. It's always a joy to serve the Lord. I might get tired doing it, but hey, what a great way to get tired. Never weary of it. They were saying what a wariness. We don't want to do this anymore. And Malachi 2, it continues the theme, a rebuke to the priests.

These guys who are supposed to be a blessing to the nation and give out God's word and be an example of God's truth. And now oh priests, this commandment is for you. If you will not hear, if you will not take it to heart to give glory to my name, says the Lord of Hosts, I will send a curse upon you. And I will curse your blessings. Yes, I've cursed them already because you do not take it to heart. You may want to write down in the margin of your Bible, Deuteronomy 27 and 28, and go read that later.

And you'll find all of those blessings and cursings promised. And there is a theme that's shown here, but it's a fundamental Old Testament theme. And that is that God blesses obedience, and God curses disobedience. Now when you get to the New Testament, you notice a change. Not that God changes at all, but simply under the covenant of grace. Whereas in the Old Testament, God curses disobedience and the undeserving, and blesses the obedient.

In the New Testament, God will sometimes pour out his greatest blessings on those who deserve it the very least. And you understand the difference. The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. And you see what a difference in the New Testament. That when sin reaches its high water mark, there's even more grace to overflow it. Mercy and grace poured out and extended, and the new covenant so superior to the old covenant.

Behold I will rebuke your descendants and spread refuse on your faces. Now notice this. The refuse of your solemn fees, and one will take you away with it. In other words, obey or else. And the or else is the implication that the priesthood, and the sacrificial system will end. Now it's interesting. If you look at this prophetically, you come to 70 AD. When in 70 AD, the Romans surrounded Jerusalem. Leveled it to the ground. Burned the temple.

And from 70 AD onward, there are no sacrifices in Jerusalem. There have not been since that time. The priests and the sacrificial system have ended. The system went away with the priesthood. They persisted in that, and they rejected their messiah. And Jesus saw that coming. And so if you read this verse prophetically, it's quite interesting. Where he says, and spread refuse on your faces. The refuse of your solemn fees, and one will take you away with it. And it was all taken away.

Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you. That my covenant with Levi may continue, says the Lord of Hosts. Now the ancestor of the priest, Levi, the original Levites were godly. And the next several verses will describe them, and contrast the ideal priest with the priesthood of that day. My covenant was with him. One of life and peace. And I gave to them to him, that he might fear me. So he feared me, and was reverent before my name.

The law of truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and equity. I love that term, that idea. He walked with me. It connotes an intimacy of relationship. A closeness of fellowship. It says and Enoch walked with God. And he was not, for God took him. And I love that beautiful scene in the book of Genesis when-- and the Lord walked in the cool of the day.

Said Adam, where are you. It was as if there was a time set aside every day when God would show up to take a walk with Adam. But that idea of going through life walking with God. What a descriptive, beautiful phrase that is of relationship. But he says, and turned away many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge. And that people should seek the law from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts.

Now that's the ideal priest. Somebody who fears the Lord. Listens to the Lord. Speaks for the Lord, and lives with his life what the Lord said in His word. And for a priest who's been given this sacred trust to be a representative of God, and give knowledge to the people. And be an example, what a wonderful position. And what a sacred trust. To be one who sneers at it and says, what a drag, what a weariness. This is so hard.

That's why anybody in the ministry should see it as nothing but pure privilege to be able to work full time for the Lord. If somebody says, oh this is hard. What I drag. Then don't do it. Better not to do it than to have that attitude. The Lord loves a cheerful giver, and the Lord loves a cheerful liver. I don't mean the liver, I mean, one who lives for the Lord.

Joy, not oh, what a weariness. And because the priest should speak knowledge. The priest, or the prophet, or in the New Testament sense, the pastor, should not only love it, but be prepared to do it. To stand before the people. Being ready in season and out of season. As Paul said to Timothy, preach the word. Be ready in season, out of season. Convince, reprove, encourage, with all suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when men will not endure sound doctrine.

I'll never forget a class that was offered here at Calvary Chapel years ago that I attended. It was by one of Pastor Chuck's teachers from his younger schooling days. His college days, Dr. Nat Van Cleave. He taught a class here on the ministry. And it was precious to sit under a man who taught pastor Chuck. And Dr. Van Cleave said something one night in a class here on campus that I'll never forget. He was talking to young men who wanted to be in the ministry.

And he was talking about the need to be prepared in God's word, just like this. Be ready to speak the knowledge of God. He said gentlemen, if you speak to 100 people for one hour and you get up there unprepared, you have wasted 100 hours of God's time. And I thought, well I've never heard it put quite that way before, but I never forgot it.

So I always wanted to both rejoice in the ability to share the trust of the gospel, and do it prepared. God is saying to these priests who despise it, you don't know the privilege you have. What a joy you should have in this. And not sneer at it, but rejoice in it as a messenger of the Lord of Hosts. But you have departed from the way. You have caused many to stumble at the law.

You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of Hosts. Therefore, I also have made you contemptible and base before all the people, because you have not kept my ways. But have shown partiality in the law. Have we not all one Father. Has not God created us? Why do we deal treacherously with one another by profaning the covenant of the Fathers?

Now there's a little bit of a shift here. He's still addressing the priest, but now he's addressing the sins of the priests. And the sin here is in their divorcing their wives and an ungodly union, mixed marriages. Which is mentioned by the way, it's the same setting in the book of Nehemiah. When Nehemiah came back to Jerusalem the second time, he noticed that many of these men had divorced their wives and had married pagan wives.

And the prophet addresses this here. Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned, notice this, the Lord's holy institution which he loves. He has marry the daughter of a foreign God. Marriage is God's institution. Man did not invent it, God did. The Bible doesn't say, and in the course of time, a bright idea came into man's head. And he thought, what a clever tax break. If I claim dependence by getting married.

Says the Lord said, it is not good that man should be alone. I will make a helper that is comparable to him. Now this is foundational, you see. Because it is God's holy institution, man has neither the right nor the competence to mess with it. The state doesn't. The government doesn't. People don't. It's God's holy institution. And because it's God's, his regulations will govern it.

And so it's his institution, he gives the ground rules. May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob, the man who does this. Being awake and aware who brings an offering to the Lord of Hosts. This is the second thing you do. You cover the altar of the Lord with tears. With weeping and crying, so he does not regard the offering any more, nor receive it with good will from your hands. What's he speaking about? Well these abandoned forsaken wives, who had been left by their husbands.

These priests who had married other pagan women. These forsaken wives had come to the altar and wept before the Lord. Covered the altar with tears. And so the Lord is saying that when their former husbands come to offer sacrifices, the Lord is saying, I'm not going to receive them. Now look at the next verse, yet you say for what reason. Or why won't you receive our worship? Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously.

She is your companion. And you could translate that from the Hebrew, she's your friend. I love it when a husband says, meet my best friend. Honey, it's his wife. She's your friend. She is your companion. And your wife, by covenant. Now you remember back in Genesis, we just made mention of it. When the Lord said, it's not good that man should be alone. God said, I'm going to make a helper. Or King James, a help meet for him, right. A helper comparable to him, matching him.

Now I know that doesn't sound awfully romantic. Meet my helper. It's like meet my assistant, but it is very romantic. It's the same word God used of himself. He's described as a very present help in time of trouble. And you know, in my life I've needed all the help I can get. And I'm so thankful that the Lord provided Lenya to give me lots of help. To balance me out.

I love what Matthew Henry used to say. He used to say, woman was not taken from man's head to be above him. She wasn't taken from man's foot to be below him, or walked on by him. She was taken from his side to be protected by him. From under his arm to be close to him. From near to his heart, to be his companion. The Lord says, I've been a witness. This woman who was to be your companion, you've dealt treacherously with them.

Verse 15, but did he not make them one, having a remnant of the spirit. And why one, he seeks godly offspring. Therefore, take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. When God brought the woman to the man he said, for this reason a man will leave his Father and mother, and be joined or cleave to his wife. And the two shall become one flesh.

Now verse 15, that we just read, where it says, but did he not make them one, having a remnant of the spirit. And why one, he seeks godly offspring. You could translate it this way. Didn't the Lord make the husband and wife one. Why? That you might bring forth a godly family. In other words, in context, divorce and polygamy are not conducive to nurturing up children in the fear of the Lord.

You're ruining the heritage here, the offspring that would be in a home that would be nurtured by the right kind of environment. So God made them one, one flesh. A covenant of one. The two shall become one. And by the way, when it says leave father and mother. Cleave unto his wife. Some translations even say glued. That's a good kind of glue. That's super glue man. You could even translate it, welded. I like that better.

When a welder takes some metal. And my dad used to be a welder. When he would take different metals and different parts and put them together, the more spots and the more connections he made, it essentially became one unit. Or if you take two pieces of paper and you glue them together, and you let it dry, it becomes one unit. You can't separate them without doing damage. They won't be the same.

God said, I made them one. That was God's intention from the beginning. For the Lord, the God and Israel says that he hates divorce. For it covers one's garment with violence says the Lord of Hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit that you do not deal treacherously. The language here refers to the old custom of a man spreading his garment over a woman, which was the symbol of I take you to my care and protection.

Remember in the book of Ruth when she said, spread your wings over me. And he put his garment and that night covered part of Ruth with it. As a symbol of, I'm going to take you to be my wife. But here the picture is a soiled garment. Like blood that has been splattered in a violent act. The garment has become defiled. That marriage, that relationship, that should be protective has become marred and spotted.

Now here it says, God hates divorce. Be careful here. Let's watch our attitudes. God does hate divorce. It doesn't say God hates divorced people though. God loves divorced people. And sometimes Christians can treat divorce as if it's the unpardonable sin. You say, but divorce is sin. And that's precisely why it's forgivable. God's all about forgiving sin, isn't he. And restoring broken people. Come now, let us reason together. Though your sins be as scarlet, I'll make them white as snow. He doesn't say except divorce. God forgives. God restores. God hates the sin of divorce, but God loves divorced people. In fact, a case when a welder takes some metal. And my dad used to be a welder. When he would take different metals and different parts, and put them together. The more spots and the more connections he made, it essentially became one unit.

Or if you take two pieces of paper, and you glue them together and you let it dry, it becomes one unit. You can't separate them without doing damage. They won't be the same. God said I made them one. That was God's intention from the beginning. For the Lord, the God and Israel says that he hates divorce. For it covers one's garment with violence, says the Lord of Hosts. Therefore, take heed to your spirit that you do not deal treacherously.

The language here refers to the old custom of a man spreading his garment over a woman, which was the symbol of I take you to my care and protection. Remember in the book of Ruth, when she said spread your wings over me. And he put his garment, and that night covered part of Ruth with it as a symbol of, I'm going to take you to be my wife. But here the picture is a soiled garment. Like blood that has been splattered in a violent act. The garment has become defiled. That marriage, that relationship that should be protective has become marred and spotted.

Now here it says, God hates divorce. Be careful here. Let's watch our attitudes. God does hate divorce. It doesn't say, God hates divorce people though. God loves divorced people. And sometimes Christians can treat divorce as if it's the unpardonable sin. You say, but divorce is sin. And that's precisely why it's forgivable. God is all about forgiving sin, isn't he. And restoring broken people.

Come now, let us reason together. Though your sins be as scarlet, I'll make them white as snow he doesn't say except divorce. God forgives. God restores. God hates the sin of divorce, but God loves divorced people. In fact, a case could be made that God is a divorced person. For he said, I will write Israel a bill of divorcement. So God can relate to that broken heart. And tonight if you're suffering under that, the Lord loves you. And the Lord has a special place in his heart for you.

You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, in what way have we wearied him. In that you say, everyone who does evil is good and the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them. Or where is the God of justice. Now they're implying, that look God, unbelievers get by with it. Heathens do this all the time. What about us? Why can't we do it. And so they ask the question, where is the God of justice. Now God's going to answer that question in the next chapter.

Behold I send my messenger, and he will prosper-- or excuse me, he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. Even the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight. Behold he is coming says the Lord of Hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming. And who can stand when he appears. For he is like a refiners fire, and a launders soap. Now these last two chapters are the best known of the chapters in Malachi.

It refers to the Messiah, we're moving into those predictions here. And God is answering the question. They asked back a few verses ago, where is the God of justice? So God says, I'm going to send my messenger. Now there's a play on words of the name Malachi. I will send Malachi, my messenger. But notice there are two messengers that are promised. And the second one is the Lord.

Where it says, and the Lord whom you seek, will suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant. So the first messenger will prepare the way for the second messenger, who is going to come to the temple. And that messenger is the Lord. Now you have an Old Testament proof of the deity of Jesus Christ. And it shows you that Christ had to come while the temple was standing, and he did. And that he would be called the Lord.

Now who is this first messenger? And you'll find that toward the end of this book-- by the way, as you can see chapter 4 is only six verses, so we'll make it, no problem. Just in case you're wondering, boy we're only in Chapter 3 and we don't have much time left. You can relax. Who is this first messenger that is promised? Is it Elijah? Is it John the Baptist?

Because toward the end, God will say, behold I am sending Elijah before that great and terrible day of the Lord. Well it's interesting. When John the Baptist-- when John the Baptist Father, Zacharias the priest, was in the temple, the angel of the Lord came to him. And said, that he would come, John the Baptist, in the spirit and in the power of Elijah. Turning the hearts of the children to the fathers, and the fathers to the children.

When John the Baptist was ministering, people asked him, are you Elijah. He said, no I'm not. Yet later on, Jesus said of John the Baptist. He said, all of the prophets prophesied until John. And if you can receive it, this is Elijah who is to come. So you could say, OK so he's an Elijah like for runner. And so, he probably fulfilled not only this, but that other one that we're going to read in chapter 4 that God is going to send Elijah.

However, having said that, Jesus later on, after the mount-- after the transfiguration on the mount with Moses and Elijah. Couple of the disciples said, how come the scribes say that Elijah is going to come. Jesus said, verily Elijah will come and restore all things. So John the Baptist fulfilled it in a sense. But Elijah, the prophet, Jesus said will come.

He appeared with Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration. And a case could be made that one of the two witnesses in Revelation chapter 11 is Elijah, along with perhaps Moses. Even as Malachi will predict. Let's read it. We'll put it together. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver. He will purify the sons of Levi. Purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord and offering in righteousness.

Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasant to the Lord as in the days of old. As in the former years. In the millennial reign, there will be a restored temple. And Israel will once again have a sacrificial system. You say why, and that's an interesting point that all millennialist often bring up. Why would God bring back sacrifices? Well just like we celebrate communion, and we look back to the cross, Israel has never had their own memorial feast.

And in the millennium, they will celebrate as a memorial of the finished work of Calvary, the cross, sacrifices, that in the Old Testament were predictive of that. And I will come near you for judgment, and I will be swift witness against sorcerers, against adulterers, against purgerer. Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, and against those who turn away an alien. Because they do not fear me says the Lord of Hosts.

For I am the Lord. I do not change. Therefore, you are not consumed oh sons of Jacob. Yet from the days of your fathers, you have gone away from my ordinances and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you says the Lord of Hosts. But you said, in what way shall we return. Will a man rob God, yet you have robbed me. But you say, in what way have we robbed you? In tithes and in offerings.

Now they say, oh how would we robbed you? How is it possible that finite, puny man robbed infinite, sovereign, unlimited God. God says, well in this case, you've rob me in tithes and offerings. And here was the condition. Because of the laxity toward worship. Because of the formalism, or bringing in enough support for the priesthood with the tithes.

In fact, in the book of Nehemiah, when Nehemiah comes back to Jerusalem the second time, he discovers that one of the enemies of the Jews, named Tobiah, is living in the temple sanctuary in an apartment. They took the treasury where they would normally take the ties and the offerings, and they had one of the enemies of the Jews living in the treasure house. The enemy had come into the place of worship. So God says, you've robbed me. You are cursed with a curse for you have robbed me. Even this whole nation.

Bring all the tithe into this storehouse. A tithe is 10%. Israel had to tithe of their grain, of their animals. Every third year, they also had a different tithe on top of that. Where they would give to the orphan, the widow, the stranger, as well as the Levites, and all of the levitical towns. That there may be food in my house. And try me now in this says the Lord of Hosts. If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such a blessing, that there will not be room enough to receive it.

Interesting promise to them. Because we're not to test the Lord. This is the only time that they are called upon to test the Lord. Test me in this. See if in response, I won't open up my blessings, the storerooms of heaven. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground. Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the fields says the Lord of Hosts. And all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land, says the Lord of Hosts.

I've heard pastor Chuck say so often, and I'm glad he said it so often. I found it to be true. It stuck. You can't ever out give God. You can't. Give, Jesus said, and it will be given to you. Pressed down, shaken together, and running over. Paul said to the Corinthians, whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly. Whoever sows bountifully will reap bountifully. So let every man give as he purposes in his heart. Not grudgingly or of necessity.

For God loves a cheerful giver. And, you know, literally it means a hilarious giver. And once again, it's the heart. It's never-- I could buy a new DVD unit with this money. I don't want to put this in the offering. Oh there's so many cool things I could do with it. Keep it then. You want to rob yourself of a blessing? But the Lord loves a hilarious giver. Take it.

[LAUGHING]

Lord. Yeah, all right. He loves it. Because he loves then to bless. And you see, Israel, they weren't just robbing the Lord. They were robbing themselves, because God had closed the spigots of heaven. Famine would eat the land as he promised. The rain wouldn't come. The blessings wouldn't be poured out. They were robbing themselves. But you can't out give God. Your words have been harsh against me, says the Lord.

They've spoken terrible things about the Lord. Yet you say, what have we spoken against you? You have said, it is useless to serve God. What prophet is it that we have kept his ordinance? And that we have walked his mourners before the Lord of Hosts. See they put on this outward display of fasting and mourning. And they thought that kind of show was enough. Putting on sackcloth, et cetera.

So now we call the proud, blessed. Those who do wickedness are raised up. They even tempt God and go free. Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them. And so a book of remembrance was written before him for those who feared the Lord, and who meditate on his name. They shall be mine, says the Lord of Hosts. On that day, I will make them my jewels.

I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him. Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked. Between the one who serves God, and the one who does not serve Him. So what a contrast to the half hearted. And the contrasts are those wholehearted. The remnant who had God centered conversations. They bragged on the Lord.

You know, the Lord is very interested in what you say of Him. It says they spoke to each other and the Lord listened. You know, I picture the Lord saying to the angels who are worshipping, wait a minute. Hold on. They are talking about me. Write this down. A book of remembrance. I love that. The Lord loves-- and isn't it wonderful, when we get together with another believer and they brag about God.

Hey let me tell you what God has done in my life. I love it. After church this morning, I had so many people telling me what God had done in their lives this week. I left much higher, much more excited than when I even came in the morning. Just to hear the testimonies of what God had done. Now we finish off the book, the next six verses.

For behold the day is coming. Burning like an oven. All the proud, yes all who do wickedly, will be stubble. Now most all of the Hebrew renditions of the Old Testament, called the Tanakh. Almost all of them. All those manuscripts include chapter 4 as a part of chapters, three chapters in the Hebrew Bible of Malachi. Chapter 4 is a very solemn postscript to chapter three.

So the Lord promises burning like an oven. Says the Lord of Hosts, they will leave them neither root nor branch. Speaking of the day. What day? The day of the Lord. The wrath of the lamb. The tribulation that would come. But to you who fear my name, the Son of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings. And you shall go out and grow fat like stall fed calves. Doesn't that sound fun?

Going out under the blessing of the Lord, and getting fat like stall fed calves. Yes, can't wait for the great supper. Can't wait for the millennium. You don't have to watch the calories. You shall trample the wicked for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on that day that I do this, says the Lord of Hosts. Notice the difference. Jesus Christ will either be a blasting or a blessing.

He will come and blast with indignation, or bless with salvation. He'll come as the blasting wind and fire that burns away the stubble. Or as the son of righteousness with healing in his wings. Remember the law of Moses, my servant. Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and the judgments. Now notice something in that verse. God says, that the law that he gave at Sinai, at Mount Horeb, was for Israel, not the church.

We're not under that law. That covenant that God made, the Sabbath laws, the dietary regulations, was a covenant God made for Israel. And that is explicitly stated in the Bible. So if somebody says, oh no, you got to worship on Saturday, not Sunday. We've got to keep the dietary regulations. Read the fine print. Read the not so fine print. It's there in black and white throughout. The law came by Moses, but grace and truth. That covenant came through Jesus Christ.

Behold I will send you an Elijah, the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And once again, Jesus was transfigured with Moses and Elijah on the mount. Speaking of the future kingdom. And somebody who is very similar to resembles Elijah, shows up in Revelation chapter 11. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.

Lest I come and smite, or strike the Earth with a curse. Notice how the Old Testament ends. Notice the last word, curse. Genesis opens up and introduces the curse that comes upon all of humanity, because of the sin of man. The Old Testament closes with Malachi. That curse is still there. By the time you get to the end of the New Testament. The last chapter, chapter 22 verse 3, it says, and there will be no more curse.

The Old Testament ends with a curse. The New Testament ends with grace. The last verse of Revelation says, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, Amen. What's the difference? Jesus Christ. What takes the curse away? Jesus Christ. God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be the righteousness of God in Him. He bore it all.

So for some, when Jesus returns, he will be a blasting furnace. For us who know Christ, for those of us whose sins have been placed on him, he comes with healing in his wings. Blessing. The son is a blessing. The sun in the sky is well, it's either a blessing or a blasting. Light, sunlight, is electromagnetic radiation. It exerts measurable force on whatever it strikes. It's traveling fast at 186,000 miles per second. But once you get out in the sun and sunlight hits your face, you feel it, oh.

But some of it is very long wavelength radiation. That doesn't do as much blasting as the short wavelength radiation. That can kill you. The Son of God comes with healing, but not everyone will receive Him. And for those who refuse Him, oh He's coming. But He comes as in Revelation chapter 19. He comes as one who brings an end to the rebellion of man. A complete judgment upon the earth. A complete purging of the earth.

And then judgment eternally for those who reject Christ. Tonight the Lord extends healing in his covering over you if you allow him. And no matter what your failure, no matter what your past. No matter how you've blown it, no matter what sin. If it's sin, it's forgivable. And you'll find God loves to restore. And just like God closed and said, I have loved you. Don't doubt his love for you tonight.

Heavenly Father, you've loved us with an everlasting love. How grateful we are to be your children. To be able to read over and over again, and saying over and over again of your love. Knowing that we're really just practicing for heaven, because we're going to be able to do that all the time with the innumerable angels that gather around your throne. Thank you for the fellowship we've had over your word tonight. Bless each one of your children. Those who have been here. Those who have listened by radio. Strengthen and whatever--

[SINGING]

Hallelujah Sing hallelujah, sing hallelujah, sing hallelujah
 
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