Malachi 1 & 2
Malachi is a minor prophet. Minor doesn’t mean insignificant. It means short. Minor prophet. Major message.
For more than 2000 years the Christian faith has influenced art, culture, government, economics and science. For a thousand years the church was the storehouse of knowledge, the stimulus for original thought and on the cutting edge of art and academics. We still experience the effect today. Hospitals bear the names of saints and denominations: St. John’s and St. Francis, Baptist and Presbyterian. These centers for science and healing find their foundation in the church. Many of our Ivey League Universities began as seminaries. The culture and traditions you live in, regardless of your belief or practice of faith, would be vastly different if not for the effects of Christianity. I believe the world is better for it.
But that’s not a popular thought today. We live in a world that is increasingly post-Christian. Faith is viewed as the enemy of science. Some circles consider faith a childish crutch for the ignorant and uneducated rather than the foundation of every other intellectual discipline. The sins of Christian culture and history, of which there are many, are amplified while the good that has been done is ignored or attributed to some other source.
Interestingly enough, this is nothing new. Malachi addresses the Old Testament, Jewish version of this very thing.
Listen to Malachi 1:2, “I have always loved you,” says the Lord. But you retort, “Really? How have you loved us?”
The level of insolence of the children of Israel is remarkable. But it’s a level of insolence we experience everyday. It happens so often we’ve almost gotten used to it. Our nation is blessed. We’ve experienced the favor of God like no other nation in the history of the world. Yet when the gospel is preached, when truth is presented, when God is discussed our national response, “Really? How have you loved us?”
Our problem is simple. We want to blame our failures on God and our successes on our own rugged self-determination. We may choose to ‘worship God’, but like the children of Israel in Malachi 1 we do it on our own terms rather than on God’s terms. We offer up lame or stolen sacrifices. We shape our worship to reinforce what we think rather than what God wants. You see God’s response in Malachi 1:10, ““How I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered!” In other words, God would rather see churches shut down than see people falsely worship him. And we’re seeing that happen today. The influence of the church is waning. People of the Christian faith are being marginalized.
Chapter 2 reveals why. It’s not simply because of the wickedness of non-Believers. They’re non-Believers. Wicked or not we should expect them to doubt the faith, deny it’s significance and work to minimize the influence of the church. Malachi identifies the problem. He says it’s the people in the church.
Malachi 2:2, “Listen to me and make up your minds to honor my name,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies…” He’s talking to the priests. He’s talking to the children of Israel.
Remarkably, in chapter one he says that there are non-Jewish people who worship him more purely than his chosen people. I see that today. There are people, disconnected from the church, who worship God more admirably than many who are in church every time the doors are open.
Malachi 2:2 offers the challenge and the solution. Listen to God. Honor his name.
That’s about coming to God on HIS terms. It’s about offering to God what he wants rather than what’s convenient for you. It’s about giving more than you think you can afford and trusting God to provide. It’s about surrender and submission. It’s about knowing his word and his will so well that you can actually live by them. It’s about recognizing the amazing number of ways God has expressed his love for you.
Regardless of our culture we can listen to God and honor him. What will you do today?
Thank you for the many ways you have expressed your love for me. I am remarkably blessed. May I never forget it. Today I hope to recognize and remember even more ways you have demonstrated your love for me. I want to worship you in the way you choose. I want to hear your voice and honor you.
I love you, in Jesus name –