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Malachi 1

Sunday Morning Bible Study

January 4, 2015

Introduction

Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Regular:  2900 words    Communion: 2500 words

Next book:  Luke

The person

We don’t know anything about him as a person.

He talks a lot about the priesthood, and some have suggested that Malachi might have been a priest.

Malachi = “my messenger”

His name comes from the word for “angel” or “messenger”.

The time

Malachi is the last of the Old Testament prophets who would tell of the coming of the Messiah.

Malachi ministered around the time of Nehemiah.

You will see some of the same problems dealt with in Malachi that Nehemiah faced – defilement of the priesthood, marriages to foreign wives, and neglect of tithes and offerings.
We would place his book as having been written somewhere between 450-400 BC, about 100 years after Haggai and Zechariah.
The Temple had been rebuilt, Temple worship had been restarted, but the people had begun to once again fall into spiritual decline.

The things developing spiritually in the nation would eventually develop into the sects of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

There is a subtle sense of rebellion and hard-heartedness towards God, reflected in the phrase we will see throughout the book where they answer an accusation with “In what way …”.

It’s a little like a rebellious teenager questioning a parent’s authority.

There are eight issues that God brings up:

Questioning God’s love

(Mal 1:2 NKJV) —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;

No reverence for God

(Mal 1:6 NKJV) —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?’

Polluted sacrifices

(Mal 1:7 NKJV) —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.’

Marriage problems

(Mal 2:14 NKJV) —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.

Confusing what is right and wrong

(Mal 2:17 NKJV) —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?”

Straying from God’s laws

(Mal 3:7 NKJV) —7 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?’

Tithes

(Mal 3:8 NKJV) —8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.

Harsh words against God

(Mal 3:13 NKJV) —13 “Your words have been harsh against Me,” Says the Lord, Yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’

1:1-5 Loved by God

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

:1 burdenmassa’ – load, bearing, tribute, burden, lifting

This is a “heavy” message from God.

:1 to Israel

The message is directed to all twelve tribes.

: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;

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

:2 I have loved you

This is the last book of the Old Testament, and it begins with a reminder that God loves Israel.

(Dt 10:15 NKJV) The Lord delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day.

(Dt 33:3 NKJV) Yes, He loves the people; All His saints are in Your hand; They sit down at Your feet; Everyone receives Your words.

:3 Esau I have hated

Sometimes in the Bible the word “hate” carries the idea of “loving less”.

(Gen. 29:30-31; Pr. 13:24; Luk 14:26; Mat. 10:37)
(Ge 29:30–31 NKJV) —30 Then Jacob also went in to Rachel, and he also loved Rachel more than Leah. And he served with Laban still another seven years. 31 When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren.
(Dt 21:15–16 NKJV) —15 “If a man has two wives, one loved and the other unloved, and they have borne him children, both the loved and the unloved, and if the firstborn son is of her who is unloved, 16 then it shall be, on the day he bequeaths his possessions to his sons, that he must not bestow firstborn status on the son of the loved wife in preference to the son of the unloved, the true firstborn.
(Pr 13:24 NKJV) —24 He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
(Mt 6:24 NKJV) —24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
(Lk 14:26 NKJV) —26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
(Mt 10:37 NKJV) —37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

Paul quotes this verse to talk about God’s choices in whom He loves.

(Romans 9:13–16 NKJV) —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.
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.
God chose to love Israel (Jacob)
Be careful here of getting sidetracked on what it means for God to “hate” Esau.  The whole point in our text is to point out that God loves Jacob (the Jews).

:3 laid waste …For the jackals

The descendants of Esau were known as Edomites.

The land of Esau’s descendants would be laid waste in coming years.

:2 In what way have You loved us?

Lesson

Don’t question God’s love

Be careful about getting caught up in what it means that God “hates” Esau.  The point is that God LOVES Israel.  That’s who God is speaking to.
God loves us too. Jesus said,
(John 3:16 NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

God’s love for the world was demonstrated in the giving of His Son for us.

Jesus also said,
(Jn 15:13 NKJV) Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
Paul wrote,
(Romans 5:8 NKJV) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

You may think that God isn’t going to love you because you are such a jerk.  Yet Jesus died for sinners, not good guys.

John wrote,
(1 John 3:16a NKJV) By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.

The cross is our proof of God’s love for us.

Paul wrote,
(Romans 8:31–39 NKJV) – 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
You may not understand what is going on in your life, but that doesn’t change the fact that God does indeed love you.
It was proven on the cross.
I need to face my difficulties knowing that God loves me and is for me, not questioning it.
Sometimes God has bigger priorities in this world than my comfort.

Sometimes God’s priorities may put me in some discomfort, but it will always be for a greater purpose.

Don’t equate your comfort level with God’s love for you.

: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.

:4 They may build, but I will throw down

The Edomites might try to rebuild, but they will never fully come back.

Nebuchadnezzar not only wiped out Jerusalem in 586 BC, five years later he invaded Edom as well.
The Nabataeans (550-400 BC), an Arab people, would eventually drive the Edomites completely from their territory and they would settle in southern Judah.
Under the Maccabees, the Edomites were forced to become circumcised and became absorbed into Judaism, though they were known as Idumean.
The last known Edomite was Herod, who was an Idumean.

While the Edomites would be scattered and not be allowed to recover as a nation, Judah had been scattered by the Babylonians, and had rebuilt their nation.

Even after being scattered again by the Romans in AD 70, they have once again recovered as a nation.
This was a sign that God did indeed love Israel.

:4 the Territory of Wickedness

People will know that the reason that Edom has been scattered was because of their wickedness.

:5 Your eyes shall see, And you shall say, ‘The Lord is magnified beyond the border of Israel.’

:5 The Lord is magnified beyond …

God is able to work outside of the nation of Israel, demonstrated by how He would deal with Edom, their enemy.

He’s a “God without borders”. (like “Doctors without borders”)

Now that we’ve established that God loves Israel, how have they returned God’s love?

1:6-14 Bad 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?’

:6 A son … a servant

It is understood that a son honors his father.

It is understood that a servant honors his master.

Since God is both a father and a master to Israel, they ought to be treating Him with honor and reverence, but they have not.

honorkabad – to be heavy, be weighty, be grievous, be hard, be rich, be honourable, be glorious, be burdensome, be honoured

reverencemowra’ – fear, reverence, terror

:6 In what way

This is the second time Israel responds to God’s charge with a challenge like this.

Throughout the book, Israel will repeat this phrase six times (1:2,6,7; 2:17; 3:7,8)

(Mal 1:2 NKJV) —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;
(Mal 1:6 NKJV) —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?’
(Mal 1:7 NKJV) —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.’
(Mal 2:17 NKJV) —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?”
(Mal 3:7 NKJV) —7 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?’
(Mal 3:8 NKJV) —8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.

It has been suggested that this is simply Malachi’s writing style, but I can’t help but see something else here.

Lesson

Lose the attitude

You’re going to see throughout this book that Israel has a bit of a snotty, spoiled-brat attitude.
Remember what they've been through - idolatry, judgement in Babylon, humility, calling on God, returning to the land, rebuilding their Temple, and NOW - they complain and challenge God. A sequence we can all fall into.
Every time God points out something, they challenge it.
It’s important to stay “teachable”.  Solomon had a lot to say about this.
(Proverbs 10:17 NKJV) He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, But he who refuses correction goes astray.
(Proverbs 12:1 NKJV) Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid.
(Proverbs 13:18 NKJV) Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction, But he who regards a rebuke will be honored.
(Pr 15:5 NKJV) A fool despises his father’s instruction, But he who receives correction is prudent.
(Pr 15:10 NKJV) Harsh discipline is for him who forsakes the way, And he who hates correction will die.
Illustration
Fred received a parrot for his birthday. This parrot was fully grown with a bad attitude and worse vocabulary. It was after all a Pirate Parrot.  Every other word was an expletive. Those that weren’t expletives were, to say the least, rude. Fred tried hard to change the bird’s attitude and was constantly saying polite words, playing soft music, anything he could think of. Nothing. He yelled at the bird and it got worse. He shook the bird; it got madder and ruder. Finally, in a moment of desperation, Fred put the parrot in the freezer. For a few moments he heard the bird squawking and kicking and screaming expletives, then suddenly there was quiet. Frightened that he might have actually hurt the bird, he quickly opened the freezer door. The parrot calmly stepped out onto Fred’s extended arm and said, “I’m sorry that I might have offended you with my language and actions and ask for your forgiveness. I will endeavor to correct my behavior.” Astounded at the bird’s change, Fred was about to ask what had brought this about when the parrot continued, “Might I ask what the chicken did?”

: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.’

:7 foodlechem – bread, food, grain

Malachi is referring to the meat of the sacrifices (vs. 8), not the showbread.

:7 In what way have we defiled You?

Showing contempt for the appropriate worship of God is showing contempt for God.

:7 The table of the Lord is contemptible

The “table” refers to the altar of sacrifice in the Temple.

The “table of the Lord” doesn’t refer to the “communion table” as we sometimes call it.

It is a reference to the altar of sacrifice in the Temple.

One of the pictures within the Jewish sacrificial system was the idea of providing food for God’s “table”.

Some sacrifices had to do with paying for the penalty of sin.
Other sacrifices were more like having a meal with God.

The people of Malachi’s day had a bad attitude towards eating with God.

contemptiblebazah – to despise, hold in contempt, disdain

: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.

:8 offer the lame and sick

Their contempt for sacrifice was shown by what they sacrificed.

The Law of Moses was clear that you could not use an animal with any kind of defect as a sacrifice.

(Deuteronomy 15:21 NKJV) But if there is a defect in it, if it is lame or blind or has any serious defect, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God.
(Le 22:20–25 NKJV) —20 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.’ ”

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."
No leftovers
I think that sometimes my offerings to God are a little like the next two meals you had after Thanksgiving dinner – leftovers.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Thanksgiving leftovers, but they’re never as good as the original meal.

Time

When it comes to the amount of time we give to God, I might base it on whether or not I think I have any time “leftover” at the end of the week.

I might want to have a daily time with God, but I never seem to have enough time “leftover” in the morning before work…

Money

When it comes to the amount of money I might give to God, I wait until the end of the month and base it on what’s “leftover”.

God promises us that if we put Him at the top of our priority list, He will take care of everything else.

Jesus said,

(Matthew 6:33 NKJV) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

It’s important to figure out what God wants us to give FIRST, and do it before anything else, and He will take care of the rest.

I think God would prefer that the things we might give Him would be the “firsts” instead of “seconds”.

(Ex 23:19 NKJV) The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God…

You need to think about what amount of time or money you ought to be giving God.

Set that time or treasure aside FIRST, and then let the rest of your life live on the leftovers.

:8 Offer it then to your governor!

We can do a better job of serving properly when it’s a boss or some other important person watching us.

Could you imagine having your boss, the governor, or even the president over to your house for dinner?

What would you serve them?
Leftovers?
Would you run to the nearest McDonald’s … and rummage in their trash cans for leftovers?
Or would you want to present the best meal possible?

We often have a better sense of what is proper when it comes to relating to people on a human level than we do with God.

: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.

:10 who would shut the doors

God challenges the priests that there ought to be someone around who has the courage to shut the doors to the temple in order to prevent the other priests from continuing to offer bad sacrifices to God.

Shutting the door would be preferable to the bad offerings.

: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.

:11 from the rising of the sun

From the east to the west, or another way of saying, “all around the world…”

:11 My name shall be great among the Gentiles

God is saying that there will be a day when He is worshipped properly even by Gentiles.

There is some debate as to what this means.

Some, like the Roman Catholic Church, say that this means that their form of worship (which does include incense) is what God is talking about.
Some suggest it is talking about the time of the Millennium, when there will be a third Temple, and even Gentiles will come to present acceptable offerings.
Others suggest it might be talking about us Gentile believers, not in presenting Levitical sacrifices, but spiritual worship.
When the woman at the well asked Jesus about where the proper place was to worship God …

(John 4:21–24 NKJV) —21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The point is that if even the Gentiles will one day figure out pure worship, how come the Jews are struggling to do it correctly?

:11 puretahowr – pure, clean

:11 offeringminchah – gift, tribute, offering, present, oblation, sacrifice, meat offering

:12 “But you profane it, In that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is defiled; And its fruit, its food, is contemptible.’

:12 profanechalal – (Piel) to profane, make common, defile, pollute

: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.

:13 Oh, what a weariness!

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 it’s just too hard to get to church”.

: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.

:14 the deceiver who has in his flock a male

Just like the farmer who gave God the sick calf…

The idea is that a person has made a vow to sacrifice a male animal to the Lord, but when it comes time to fulfill that vow, they find a sick or lame animal and sacrifice it instead.

:14 For I am a great King

How do you respond to God, the great King?

Lesson

Worship

Malachi has given us several components to acceptable worship.
Honor
Verse 6 used two different words to describe how we ought to approach God.
The words used in verse 6 are:

honorkabad – to be heavy, be weighty, be grievous, be hard, be rich, be honorable, be glorious, be burdensome, be honored

reverencemowra’ – fear, reverence, terror

The word for “honor” carries the idea of “weight”.

If you were to put God on one side of a balance scale and other parts of your life on the other side, which side would be “heavier”?

The word for “reverence” speaks literally of “fear” or even “terror”.

Video:  Russians are scary

As much as God loves us, when we realize just how big and powerful He is, there’s a part of us that ought to tremble.

Attitude
The words used to describe the Jews’ attitude toward sacrifice were “contemptible” (vs. 7) and “weariness” (vs. 13).
The people were “sick” of what they perceived as an obligation to offer sacrifice to God.
They were “tired” of coming to church.
In contrast, the writer to the Hebrews records,

(Hebrews 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.

Cost
While the people were trying to get away with as inexpensive sacrifices as possible, true sacrifice is something that ought to cost you.
Towards the end of his reign as king, David had done something quite offensive to God.

As a result, a plague began to spread across the land.

David realized that he could end the plague if he were to confess his sin and offer to God an appropriate sacrifice.

A fellow named Araunah stepped up and offered to give David not only the place to make the sacrifice, but also the wood and the animals, David realized this wasn’t the right solution.  HE was the one who was supposed to bring a sacrifice, not Araunah.

(2 Samuel 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.

Note:  We no longer need to sacrifice for the purpose of paying for our sin.

That’s something that Jesus did for us.

Our sacrifices are more like that “dinner with God”, fellowship with Him.

But when you set the table for God, don’t serve Him leftovers, serve Him the best.