Sermon #1 Malachi Sermons
Text: Malachi 1:1-4:6
Subject: The Message of Malachi
Date: Sunday Evening — March 1, 2009
Tape: Malachi #1
Readings: Frank Hall and James Jordan
The title of my message is Malachi — God’s Messenger. Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi were prophets sent of God to speak in his name, as his voice, to the children of Israel after they returned from the long years of Babylonian captivity. During the days that Haggai and Zechariah preached in Jerusalem the temple was being rebuilt. When Malachi came on the scene, the rebuilding of the temple was complete, the sacrifices had resumed, and the ordinances of divine worship had, to all outward appearance, been restored.
But things were not as they seemed on the surface. Malachi spoke for God in that period following the days of Haggai and Zechariah. It was an era that corresponded in many ways with the day in which we live. There was a remnant, like Malachi himself, who was faithful; but, for the most part, among those who wore the name of the Lord and professed to be his people, men and women who were actively involved in religion, there was a terrible coldness and indifference toward the Lord God. Unbelief was evident. The Word of God was read in his house with regularity. The form of religion was maintained. But no one, neither the priests nor the people, seemed to believe God. They maintained a form of godliness, but denied the power of God (2 Timothy 3:5). Religion, with these people was nothing but a ritual, an outward exercise. And the way they performed their religious duties demonstrated that they were a people who drew nigh to the Lord with their lips, but their hearts were far from him. In Malachi’s day, as in the religious world today, for the most part the people who professed to be worshippers of God were “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power of it” (2 Timothy 3:4-5). — That is, pretty much, the state of religion at any given time. Where there is gold, there’s sure to be an abundance of fool’s gold.
Š Find sheep, and you are sure to find goats.
Š Find wheat, and tares are abundant.
Malachi was just the man for the hour. He stepped in at just the right time as God’s messenger. In fact, that is what his name means; and that is what he was ― My Messenger. We know nothing else about him. He was a man sent of God with God’s message for his people in his day. What a great honor that is for God to put upon any man! O my God, make me your messenger, or let me not pretend to be!
The book of Malachi is unique in three specific ways. First, Malachi brings the Old Testament to a conclusion. His was God’s last word to his people for four hundred years. For more than four hundred years, the heavens would be silent until John the Baptist appeared as the voice of one crying in the wilderness, “prepare ye the way of the Lord.” God’s last word in the Old Testament was a call to repentance; and his first word in the New Testament was the same. ― “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Malachi’s message was a clear declaration of judgment deserved and grace promised.
Second, unlike other prophets, Malachi’s message was delivered as a dialogue. Malachi was not like the dialogue preachers of our day. His dialogue was not a dialogue between himself and those who heard him. God’s prophets are never sent to carry on a dialogue. They are sent to deliver a message. Malachi simply presents his message in the powerful, authoritative form of a dialogue. He asked a series of questions, and he answered them. Twelve times in the first three chapters of his prophecy, he says, “ye say,” and shows that what the people said was in direct contrast with what God says in his Word.
The third unique quality of this prophecy is the fact that almost the entire prophecy is written as the direct word of God. Gareth Crossley points out, “Of the fifty-five verses in this book, forty-seven are spoken by God ― the highest portion of all the prophets.”
Malachi’s prophecy begins with a declaration of God’s distinguishing mercy, love and grace to his elect, as it is set forth in the Scriptures (Malachi 1:1-5)..
(Malachi 1:1-5) “The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. (2) I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, (3) And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. (4) Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever. (5) And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel.”
Yes, God’s love is special, distinct, distinguishing love. He loves his elect, his Jacob. Everything he does is for his elect, for their eternal salvation and everlasting good. Esau exists only because of God’s love for Jacob. The reprobate exist only to serve God’s purpose of grace toward his elect. That is exactly the meaning the Holy Spirit gives to this passage in Romans 9:11-26. Let every redeemed sinner ever remember that we owe everything we have and shall have in Christ to God’s distinguishing mercy, love and grace bestowed upon us in Christ from eternity (Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 9:15-18; 1 Corinthians 4:7).
(Jeremiah 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.”
(Romans 9:15-18) “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (16) So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. (17) For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. (18) Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.”
(1 Corinthians 4:7) “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”
The prophecy of Malachi was given shortly after the time of Nehemiah. Read the book of Nehemiah and you will find the setting of this prophecy and this threefold description of the Corruption in Israel:
1. Israel was corrupted with half-hearted indifference toward God and his worship. The priesthood was corrupt; and the priests taught the people to despise God’s altar (Nehemiah 13:7-9, 29; Malachi 1:6-8).
(Malachi 1:6-8) “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? (7) Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. (8) And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts.”
2. The children of Israel had embraced idolatry and formed an idolatrous alliance with the heathen nations around them (Nehemiah 13:23-27; Malachi 2:10-16), which resulted both in mixed marriages, a mixed language, and a disregard for God’s law.
(Malachi 2:10-16) “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers? (11) Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god. (12) The LORD will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the LORD of hosts. (13) And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand. (14) Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. (15) And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. (16) For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.”
3. The God od Glory was robbed by those who ought to have been devoted to his honor; and the support of his house and his worship was neglected (Nehemiah 13:10-12; Malachi 3:8-10).
(Malachi 3:8-10) “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. (9) Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. (10) Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
The Levites who served in the house of God were not given their inheritance in Israel as God required. These men and their families were to be supported by the offerings and tithes of the people, so that they could give themselves to the service of the house of God. But they were working in the fields to provide for themselves, and the house of God was neglected.
One of the great reasons why those who preach the gospel are to live by the gospel, being supported in their livelihood by the generosity of God’s people is that the Word of God and the preaching of the gospel be not neglected. When those who are responsible for the ministry of the gospel neglect prayer and study, those to whom they preach suffer.
It was at this time, in these deplorable conditions, that God raised up Malachi. He was not a tea-sipping socializer. Malachi was a prophet, God’s messenger. Everyone thought the prophet was old-fashioned, out-of-step with the times, and a troublemaker. And they were right. Prophets are always old-fashioned, out-of-step with the times, and troublemakers for those who despise God and his Word. But the faithful servant of God, like Malachi, cannot be silenced. He will, like Malachi, stick his finger directly in the middle of the sore spot in the hearts of men and press hard, forcing those who hear him to know their sin.
Perhaps the saddest part of the story of Malachi is the fact that the people were not aware of their awful condition. They were insulted by Malachi’s message. This is demonstrated by seven points of dialogue between the Lord God and those who claimed to be his people.
1. “Wherein hast thou loved us?” (1:2)
Israel’s insolence in asking this question is shocking, until we are forced to acknowledge that we who are the objects of God’s great love often think of our God’s love with the same insolence (Psalm 73:2-3, 13-14).
(Psalms 73:2-3) “But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. (3) For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”
(Psalms 73:13-14) “Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. (14) For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.”
Sometimes we are so blind that we fail to see the tokens God’s amazing grace and special love for us.
(Malachi 1:2-5) “I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, (3) And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. (4) Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever. (5) And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel.”
Oh, what a great lover our God is to us! The Lord God has, throughout history, protected, cared for, and provided for us, destroying our enemies on every side, because he is determined to magnify himself from upon the border of Israel, and determined to make us see and know his glory in saving us.
2. “Wherein have we despised thy name?” (1:6)
Next, the Lord reminded Israel that a son honors his father and a servant honors his master, but they had no fear of him in their hearts. Is that not the case with many today? Is it true of you? ― of me? Let’s be honest. We profess that we belong to Christ, that we believe God, but where is his honor?
(Malachi 1:6) “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?”
As I read Malachi 1:7-14, I blush with shame. How often I offer to God my Savior that which is polluted, and lame, and sick, and worthless! David said, “I will not sacrifice to the Lord that which doth cost me nothing.” But we have polluted our God by our demonstrative irreverence and indifference toward him. Have we not? Does that sting? Perhaps you ask, “Wherein have we polluted thee?” That is exactly what these people did. Look at verse 7.
(Malachi 1:7) “Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible.”
3. “Wherein have we polluted thee?”
They offered animals that were lame and sick and blind for sacrifice. They offered the most contemptible things to God and called it sacrificing, worshipping, and honoring God! No earthly ruler would tolerate such action. Men would not even treat their employer like Israel was treated God, like we treat him.
I say with Malachi (1:9), “I pray you, beseech God that he may be gracious unto us.” — How much better he deserves than I give! I’m tired of giving God my leftovers! Aren’t you? I know this ― He’s tired of it; and he refuses to accept such “sacrifices!” My God, give me grace to give you the best of…
Now, read at chapter 2, verse 17.
(Malachi 2:17) “Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?”
4. “Wherein have we wearied him?”
Note the context of this question. The priests, who were supposed to keep knowledge, seek the word of God at his mouth, and serve as messengers of the Lord of hosts, departed out of the way, caused the people to stumble at God’s law, corrupted his covenant, and led the people to deal treacherously with the Lord (vv. 7-11).
(Malachi 2:7-11) “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. (8) But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts. (9) Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law. (10) Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers? (11) Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god.”
Remember, Malachi was a prophet, God’s messenger. He did not speak in vague terms that might be interpreted in any way men might choose. There was no misunderstanding this man. He specifically identifies the evil into which Israel’s religious leaders led them.
Š First, the priests led the people to profane God’s holiness that he loves, by wedding themselves to the daughters of strange gods (v. 11).
They had been “partial” in declaring God’s Word, preaching only what they found suitable. They watered down the Gospel, making it no gospel at all! They profaned God’s altar, the place where his holiness was displayed in the sacrifices he required. By wedding themselves to the daughters of strange gods, they said, “The satisfaction of justice is not really necessary. Christ’s substitutionary atonement is not the only way sinners can come to God. Grace is good; but grace is not essential. As long as you are sincere, come to God any way you want to, and he will receive you.” The priests led the people in the way of Cain, ran greedily after the error of Balaam, and the gainsaying of Korah.
Those men who were of the priestly family had become the ministers of Satan, beguiling Israel from the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3).
Š Second, the worship of God had become nothing more than superstitious froth, sentimentalism, and emotionalism (v. 13).
(Malachi 2:13) “And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.”
Š Malachi’s third charge proved that these people were mere hypocrites, pretending worship God while living according to their own brute lusts. They utterly disregarded the Word of God and their responsibilities before him, as was manifest in their disregard for marriage (vv. 14-16).
I know to whom I am speaking. I know that some of you are divorced and remarried. For some, that is not something you chose, but what another forced upon you. For some, the whole thing took place before God saved you. For others, it was a matter of utter disregard for the glory of God on your part.
I deliberately preface my next comments with this word. ― That which is past is past. Leave it there. If Christ has forgiven your sin, it is forgiven. The people of God ought not hold it over your head.
Illustration: “I could never allow…”
Now, having said that, hear me and hear me well. ― There is no such thing as a biblical divorce. Marriage is for life. And there is no such thing as a divorce that is “best” for all involved, or “best” for the children. Hear what God says.
(Malachi 2:14-16) “Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. (The vow I took 40 years ago, the covenant I entered into was not just with my wife, but with my God.) (15) And did not he make one? (He made Adam and Eve one). Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. (God made Adam and Eve one and instituted the union of one man and one woman for the moral preservation of humanity [1 Corinthians. 7:14].) Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. (16) For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.”
Š In verse 17, the faithful prophet declares that the religion of such people is nothing but lip service, and that it is a weariness to God.
(Malachi 2:17) “Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?”
When men and women abandon the authority of God, despise his law, and disregard his Word, there is no standard (for doctrine or for conduct, for worship or for life) by which to live (v. 17). When every one does that which is right in his own eyes, they call evil good and good evil, and justice is gone.
But blessed be our God, he will never abandon his own. Look at chapter 3. I cannot tell you how anxious I have been to get to this part of Malachi’s message. Here we see Christ our Savior, in whom alone we have hope, by whose grace we are saved and kept.
Š Christ is our all-glorious Substitute, in whom and with whom God has established his covenant, and in whom he delights (Malachi 3:1).
(Malachi 3:1) “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”
What a great word of grace this is! The Lord God declares to his people, his chosen. Covenant people that he will send Christ, “the Messenger of the covenant,” and assures them that it is he “whom ye delight in!”
Š He sits as a refiner and purifier, and he will purify all his own (Malachi 3:2-3)
(Malachi 3:2-3) “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: (3) And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.”
Š Our sacrifices are made acceptable and pleasant to our God in and by our Substitute (Malachi 3:4).
(Malachi 3:4) “Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.”
Š He is the Lord our God who changes not; and “he hateth putting away” (Malachi 3:6).
(Malachi 3:6) “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”
5. “Wherein shall we return?” (3:7)
(Malachi 3:7) “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?”
Their attitude suggests that they did not even know they had strayed from the Lord. They actually thought they were doing God a service.
6. “Wherein have we robbed thee?” (3:8).
(Malachi 3:8) “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.”
“Will a man rob God?” It is almost as if they responded, “Preposterous! A man will not even rob a fellow man.” But God said, “Ye have robbed me” in tithes and offerings.
7. “What have we spoken so much against thee?” (3:13)
(Malachi 3:13-14) “Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee? (14) Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts?”
The context in verse 14 indicates that they had spoken against the Lord in both word and action. Oh, they had kept up their religious ceremonies, but they were not worshiping God in their hearts. All the time that they were bringing torn, lame animals for sacrifice, they were trying to outdo each other in making money, procuring divorces, and indulging their lusts.
THE FAITHFUL REMNANT
In the midst of all these people with an empty profession of faith, was a little remnant that feared the Lord. They “spoke often one to another; and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name” (Malachi 3:16).
Then Malachi leaped over the centuries and saw the time when men shall be rewarded. A remnant of Israel, the “hidden treasure” of Matthew 13, will experience the fulfillment of Jehovah’s words: — “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him” (Malachi 3:17).
Chapter 4 of Malachi speaks of that day of Christ’s coming when the proud and the wicked shall be like stubble. But to those who fear his name, the appearing of Christ will be the “Sun of righteousness” (v.2), arising with healing in his wings. Blessed, blessed day is any day when Christ, the Sun of Righteousness arises upon our poor souls! As surely as the Sun arises, he arises “with healing in his wings!” Jehovah-rophe lacks neither the will nor the skill to heal every malady of our poor souls! I see the Sun arising…
(Psalms 103:3) “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases.”
(Isaiah 33:24) “And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.”
(Isaiah 53:5) “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
(Hosea 14:4) “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.”
You sons of Jacob, chosen race,
Our God’s the God of sov’reign grace;
He will perfect what He designed;
Our God can never change His mind
Though rocks dissolve, and hills remove,
And shaken are the skies above,
Though oft in Satan’s snare we’re caught,
Our God’s the same. He changes not.
And, though His saints unfaithful prove,
He loves us with unchanging love!
Our comfort often ebbs and flows;
But God no variation knows!
This sacred truth our hearts shall cheer,
Till all things temp’ral disappear,
And in the new creation’s plains,
We praise our God Who cannot change!
Listen to sermons at FreeGraceRadio.com