Malachi 1-2

Thursday Evening Bible Study

August 31, 2006

Introduction

The book was written between 450-400 BC.

It’s been about 100 years since the Jews returned to the land from Babylon. The second temple has been rebuilt. The walls of Jerusalem have been rebuilt.

A sense of apathy has set in among the people. Is it all worth it? Is it worth following the Lord?

Malachi 1

:1-5 God’s love for Israel

:1 The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.

MalachiMal‘akiy – “My messenger”, based on the word for “messenger” or “angel”.

J.Vernon McGee: “He is the Western Union boy who brings the last message from God to the people of Israel.[1]

:2 "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 Jacob I have loved;

Paul quotes this verse.

(Rom 9:10-16 NKJV) And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac {11} (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), {12} it was said to her, "The older shall serve the younger." {13} As it is written, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated." {14} What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! {15} For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion." {16} So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.

God’s “love” for Jacob was demonstrated in that God chose Jacob before he was born, God decided before the boys were born that Esau would one day server Jacob.
In our society, we appreciate the freedom to love who we want. We wouldn’t appreciate it if someone picked out our husband or wife for us – we want to have that choice to ourselves.
God has a choice who He will love. God can love whomever He wants to love. He can also choose not to love whomever He wants.

:3 But Esau I have hated, And laid waste his mountains and his heritage For the jackals of the wilderness."

The people of Edom were the descendants of Esau. Nebuchadnezzar not only invaded Judah in 586 BC, he also invaded the land of Edom as well. The Nabataeans (550-400 BC) would eventually drive the Edomites completely from their territory.

:4 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.

:5 Your eyes shall see, And you shall say, 'The LORD is magnified beyond the border of Israel.'

God’s hate for Esau would be demonstrated by their never again rebuilding.

In contrast, even though the Jews would go through difficult times, and even be scattered one more time in AD 70, God isn’t finished with them, and they would return. This is a sign for us of God’s love for them.

:6-14 Polluted Offerings

:6 "A son honors his father, And a servant his master. If then I 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. Yet you say, 'In what way have we despised Your name?'

Fathers are honored by sons.

Masters are honored by servants.

We ought to give God honor and reverence.

:7 "You offer defiled food on My altar. But say, 'In what way have we defiled You?' By saying, 'The table of the LORD is contemptible.'

contemptiblebazah to despise, hold in contempt, disdain; to be despicable; to be vile, worthless

:8 And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, Is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?" Says the LORD of hosts.

offer the lame and sick – this was forbidden …

(Lev 22:20-25 NKJV) 'Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer, for it shall not be acceptable on your behalf. {21} 'And whoever offers a sacrifice of a peace offering to the LORD, to fulfill his vow, or a freewill offering from the cattle or the sheep, it must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no defect in it. {22} 'Those that are blind or broken or maimed, or have an ulcer or eczema or scabs, you shall not offer to the LORD, nor make an offering by fire of them on the altar to the LORD. {23} 'Either a bull or a lamb that has any limb too long or too short you may offer as a freewill offering, but for a vow it shall not be accepted. {24} 'You shall not offer to the LORD what is bruised or crushed, or torn or cut; nor shall you make any offering of them in your land. {25} 'Nor from a foreigner's hand shall you offer any of these as the bread of your God, because their corruption is in them, and defects are in them. They shall not be accepted on your behalf.'"

The idea was that you don’t give God your “leftovers”, you don’t give God the things that you don’t think are worth anything.

Lesson

Giving the best

Illustration

There was a story about a farmer whose cow gave birth to twins. He was so excited he told his pastor on Sunday that he was going to give God one of the calves. The pastor asked if he could come over and look at the calf that the farmer was going to give to the church. “Not yet” said the farmer, I haven’t decided which one I’m going to give to the church. A couple of weeks later the farmer called up the pastor and asked him to pray because one of the calves had gotten sick. The pastor asked if the farmer had decided which of the calves he was going to give to the church. The farmer replied, “Not yet”. The following week the farmer called up the pastor and informed him that he was sorry but that God’s calf has died.

Illustration

There was a little boy who was going to church on Sunday, and his mother gave him two dimes, one for him, and one to give to church. On the way to church, the little boy dropped one of the dimes, it rolled into the sewer. After church, he stopped and bought some candy. When he got home, he told his mother about losing the money. She asked him about the candy. He said, "Oh, It was God's dime that I lost."

What do we give to God?

It’s hard to apply this principle to our money because the church doesn’t care if you give a wrinkled twenty dollar bill or a crisp twenty dollar bill. It’s all the same.
But how about something like our time?
Do we give God our best time, or just what’s left over at the end of the week if we have anything left over?

offer it then to your governor – Could you imagine inviting the governor over for dinner, then driving over to the nearest McDonald’s, and rummaging around in the trash can for leftovers and serving it to the governor?

That’s a little what it’s like when we don’t give God our best.

:9 "But now entreat 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.

:10 "Who is there even among you who would shut the doors, So that you would not kindle 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.

God wished that somebody would lock up the Temple to keep people from offering bad offerings.

Keith Green wrote a song that sort of expressed this thought:

“To obey is better than sacrifice. I want more than Sundays and Wednesday nights. And if you can’t come to me every day, then don’t bother coming at all.”

:11 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.

Even though the Jews were not giving proper sacrifices to God, there would be a day when God would be honored among the Gentiles.

That’s us.

:12 "But you profane it, In that you say, 'The table of the LORD is defiled; And its fruit, its food, is contemptible.'

contemptiblebazah to despise, hold in contempt, disdain; to be despicable; to be vile, worthless; same word as in verse 7.

:13 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 hand?" Says the LORD.

weariness[email protected]’ah what a weariness, toil, hardship, weariness

These people didn’t like the idea of giving God their best, so they said things like, “Oh church is a waste of time” and instead of dropping the offering God wanted in the Agape Box, they threw in a couple of quarters …

:14 "But cursed be the deceiver Who has in his flock a male, And takes a vow, But sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished; For I am a great King," Says the LORD of hosts, "And My name is to be feared among the nations.

Lesson

Acceptable worship

God deserves reverence and honor.
And that means that we ought to be looking to give God our very best.
Acceptable worship involves having the right heart.
It’s not complaining about God or the things at church:

“The table of the LORD is contemptible” (vs. 7)

“Oh, what a weariness” (vs.13)

It’s having a heart of gratitude.

(Heb 13:15 NKJV) Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

Acceptable worship involves sacrifice, it involves giving God the very best.
David had sinned by calling for a census of the people. As a result, a plague began to spread around the land. When David found that the remedy to the plague was confessing his sin and offering God a sacrifice, a fellow named Araunah offered to give David his threshing floor and oxen for the sacrifice. David realized that this wouldn’t be a sacrifice:

(2 Sam 24:24 NKJV) Then the king said to Araunah, "No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing." So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

A sacrifice costs something. It costs us the very best. God gave us His very best.

Malachi 2

:1-9 Corrupt Priests

:1 "And now, O priests, this commandment is for you.

This is directed at the priests.

:2 If you will not hear, And 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 have cursed them already, Because you do not take it to heart.

curse your blessings – God would dry up the supply of blessings, the crops wouldn’t produce, etc., and that would affect the priests because people wouldn’t have as much to give.

:3 "Behold, I will rebuke your descendants And spread refuse on your faces, The refuse of your solemn feasts; And one will take you away with it.

refuseperesh fecal matter, dung

Sounds pretty gross to me.

:4 Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you, That My covenant with Levi may continue," Says the LORD of hosts.

Levi was one of the sons of Israel, one of the tribes, this was the tribe that the priests came from. This was the tribe of Moses and Aaron.

The would be something happening to shake up the world of the priests, kind of like having poop spread on their face, it would make them realize that they need to straighten up.

:5 "My covenant was with him, one of life and peace, And I gave them to him that he might fear Me; So he feared Me And was reverent before My name.

Speaking of the earlier priests…

:6 The law of truth was in his mouth, And injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and equity, And turned many away from iniquity.

 

:7 "For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, And people should seek the law from his mouth; For he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.

Lesson

Ministry

We might apply these principles just to the Jewish priests, or perhaps you might think this is just for pastors. But the truth is, the Bible teaches us that we are all “priests”.
(Rev 1:6 NKJV) and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father…
What a priest should do …
keep knowledge – study the word
people should seek – have answers for the people around you. They’ll come to you for questions.

(Deu 33:10 NKJV) They shall teach Jacob Your judgments, And Israel Your law. They shall put incense before You, And a whole burnt sacrifice on Your altar.

messenger of the LORD – Malachi’s own name meant “my messenger”, we ought to take it seriously to “speak” for God.

:8 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.

caused many to stumble

When Samuel was still a little boy, the high priest Eli had sons who “caused many to stumble” …

(1 Sam 2:12-17 NKJV) Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the LORD. {13} And the priests' custom with the people was that when any man offered a sacrifice, the priest's servant would come with a three-pronged fleshhook in his hand while the meat was boiling. {14} Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; and the priest would take for himself all that the fleshhook brought up. So they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. {15} Also, before they burned the fat, the priest's servant would come and say to the man who sacrificed, "Give meat for roasting to the priest, for he will not take boiled meat from you, but raw." {16} And if the man said to him, "They should really burn the fat first; then you may take as much as your heart desires," he would then answer him, "No, but you must give it now; and if not, I will take it by force." {17} Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.
Their selfishness and pushiness caused people to not enjoy coming to church. They even went so far in abusing their position that they committed adultery with some of the women who came to the tabernacle to worship (1Sam. 2:22).

God desires that His people represent Him accurately.

God is not selfish. He is not pushy. He does not abuse His authority.

:9 "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."

:10-12 Mixed marriages

:10 Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously with one another By profaning the covenant of the fathers?

:11 Judah has dealt treacherously, And an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem, For Judah has profaned The Lord's holy institution which He loves: He has married the daughter of a foreign god.

:12 May the LORD cut off from the tents of Jacob The man who does this, being awake and aware, Yet who brings an offering to the LORD of hosts!

The Jews were commanded not to marry someone who wasn’t a Jew:

(Exo 34:15-16 NKJV) "lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they play the harlot with their gods and make sacrifice to their gods, and one of them invites you and you eat of his sacrifice, {16} "and you take of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods and make your sons play the harlot with their gods.

For the Jew, there were a couple of reasons – God did not want the Jews to fall away and start worshipping other gods. God also wanted to preserve the Jewish race, because the Messiah would come through the Jews.
For us, I don’t see a prohibition against marrying someone of another race, but we do have a prohibition against marrying an unbeliever.
(2 Cor 6:14-15 NKJV) Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? {15} And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?

:13-17 Divorce

:13 And 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 anymore, Nor receive it with goodwill from your hands.

Lesson

More than tears

The people were weeping that God didn’t seem to listen to them or accept their offerings. But there was a reason for God to not accept their offerings.
There was a problem in the lives of the people. And instead of dealing with the problem, they just wanted to weep and make God feel sorry for them.
It’s not enough to cry.
You must turn around.
Paul had sent a pretty serious letter to the Corinthians. But it didn’t just make them sad, it made them turn around.

(2 Cor 7:8-11 NLT) I am no longer sorry that I sent that letter to you, though I was sorry for a time, for I know that it was painful to you for a little while. {9} Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to have remorse and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. {10} For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation. We will never regret that kind of sorrow. But sorrow without repentance is the kind that results in death. {11} Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish the wrongdoer. You showed that you have done everything you could to make things right.

:14 Yet you say, "For what reason?" Because the LORD has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, With whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant.

Here’s the reason God was not listening to their prayers – they were divorcing their wives.

: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.

:16 "For the LORD God of 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."

Lesson

Divorce

Illustration
Sally was driving home from one of her business trips in Northern Arizona when she saw an elderly Navajo woman walking on the side of the road. As the trip was a long and quiet one, she stopped the car and asked the woman if she would like a ride. With a silent nod of thanks, the woman got into the car. Resuming the journey, Sally tried in vain to make a bit of small talk with the Navajo woman. The old woman just sat silently, looking at everything she saw, studying every little detail, until she noticed a white bag on the seat next to Sally. “What’s in the bag?” asked the old woman. Sally looked down at the bag and, smiling, said, “It’s a box of chocolates. I got it for my husband.” The Navajo woman was silent for another moment or two. Then speaking with the quiet wisdom of an elder, she said: “Good trade.”
What’s so funny about that???
Illustration
After 17 years of marriage, a man dumped his wife for his young secretary. His new girlfriend demanded that she wanted to live in the couple’s Multimillion dollar home, and since the man’s lawyers were a little better, he prevailed. He gave his now ex-wife just 3 days to move out. She spent the first day packing her belongings into boxes, crates and suitcases. On the second day, she had the movers come and collect her things. On the third day, she sat down for the last time at their beautiful dining room table by candlelight, put on some soft background music, and feasted on a pound of shrimp, a jar of caviar, and a bottle of Chardonnay. When she had finished, she went into each and every room and deposited a few half-eaten shrimp shells, dipped in caviar, into the hollow of the curtain rods. She then cleaned up the kitchen and left. When the husband returned with his new girlfriend, all was bliss for the first few days. Then slowly, the house began to smell. They tried everything; cleaning & mopping and airing the place out. Vents were checked for dead rodents, and carpets were steam cleaned. Air fresheners were hung everywhere. Exterminators were brought in to set off gas canisters, during which they had to move out for a few days, and in the end they even paid to replace the expensive wool carpeting. Nothing worked. People stopped coming over to visit... Repairmen refused to work in the house...The maid quit... Finally, they could not take the stench any longer and decided to move. A month later, even though they had cut their price in half, they could not find a buyer for their stinky house. Word got out, and eventually, even the local Realtors refused to return their calls. Finally, they had to borrow a huge sum of money from the bank to purchase a new place. The ex-wife called the man, and asked how things were going. He told her the saga of the rotting house. She listened politely, and said that she missed her old home terribly, and would be willing to reduce her divorce settlement in exchange for getting the house back... Knowing his ex-wife had no idea how bad the smell was, he agreed on a price that was about 1/10th of what the house had been worth ... but only if she were to sign the papers that very day. She agreed, and within the hour, his lawyers delivered the paperwork. A week later, the man and his new girlfriend stood smirking as they watched the moving company pack everything to take to their new home... including the curtain rods.
Actually, it’s not all that funny. And I don’t think there’s ever a sense of revenge and getting even that ever makes it better.
God hates divorce.
That’s a pretty harsh statement, especially with the divorce rate so high in America. I’ve heard statistics that show that the divorce rate in the church is as bad as it is in the world.
Statistics show that somewhere between 40-50% of the marriages taking place today will end in divorce.
Illustration

A study of divorced couples with preschool children shows that after a year of divorce, 60% of men and 73% of women feel they made a mistake and should have tried harder to make marriage work. People have no idea how much anguish and stress is caused by divorce.

-- Dr. E Mavis Hetherington

Divorce stinks.
There are acceptable reasons for divorce.
Unfaithfulness

(Mat 19:8-9 NKJV) He said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. {9} "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery."

Abandonment

(1 Cor 7:15 NKJV) But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.

But keep in mind that just because a marriage is in a place where God will allow for a divorce, doesn’t mean that divorce has to happen.

Look at the prophet Hosea and his wife Gomer. He married a gal who was a prostitute. Then she went back to work. And God commanded Hosea to take her back.

This is the way God deals with us. We are unfaithful and He takes us back.

“What if I’ve been divorced, what should I do?”
Some people would actually advocate that you go back to your first spouse. And there might actually be some cases where that’s exactly what needs to happen.

If neither has remarried, it might not be a bad idea to talk about reconciliation.

But if either of you’ve been remarried, it’s too late for that marriage. You can’t undo the mess.

If you were the one who caused the divorce, you need to admit your fault.

You need to confess your sin to God. You need to confess your sin to those you’ve hurt.

And you need to remove “divorce” from your vocabulary.

I’ve heard that Barbara Bush has quoted Ruth Graham saying something like, “Being married to Billy, the word ‘divorce’ has never entered into our vocabulary. Murder maybe, but never divorce”.

So why can’t I just divorce my spouse, get remarried, confess my sin, and go on like everyone else?
God doesn’t want you to commit sin.

When you commit sin, it’s like pounding a nail into a piece of wood. When you ask for forgiveness, God pulls out the nail. But the hole is still there.

Remember that God HATES divorce. Do you want to do something God hates?

There are always consequences to sin.

God would much rather you stay with your spouse, learn to love him/her like you should, and avoid the much greater pain of divorce.

Also, you’ll most likely find many of the same problems in your next marriage, because you’re still in the picture!

Changing spouses is no guarantee of happiness, but it is a guarantee of a lot of pain.

What if I’m separated from my spouse, or divorced for the wrong reasons, but neither of us are remarried?
Hold out for your marriage until:

1) The other spouse remarries, which would end the possibility of you marrying them again.

2) It is clear they’ve abandoned you and have no plans to come back.

:17 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 in the sight of the LORD, And He delights in them," Or, "Where is the God of justice?"

These are things that tire God out:

People who call evil things “good”.

(Isa 5:20 NKJV) Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

People who complain about God’s lack of justice.

(2 Pet 3:9 NKJV) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
He will come back. He will make things right. But for now He continues to show kindness and patience.
(Rom 2:4 NKJV) Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
 


[1]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary: The Prophets (Malachi), electronic ed., Thru the Bible commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991). 15.