Scripture reading – Malachi 2; Malachi 3; Malachi 4
Our study of the Old Testament Scriptures concludes today with a brief summary of three chapters in the book of Malachi – chapters 2, 3, and 4, (chapter 4 is so brief I decided to combine it with this devotional, and devote tomorrow’s devotion to an introduction of the New Testament Scriptures).
Malachi’s focus on unfaithful priests continued in chapter 2, for those spiritual leaders were guilty of accepting inferior offerings, and sacrificing them (though they knew they were a violation of God’s Law, 1:7-8). The prophet confronted the priests, and accused them of despising the privilege of the priesthood (2:1-2). He warned the priests, the LORD would curse them for they had not served from the heart (“ye do not lay it to heart,” 2:2). In a graphic portrayal of God’s disdain for their hypocrisy, the LORD warned, “I will corrupt your seed [grain, or possibly their children], And spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts [refuse which was supposed to be disposed of outside the city]; And one shall take you away with it” (2:3).
It was the duty of the Levites to live righteous lives, and teach the people the Law (2:4-7). Yet, many of the priests had led the people astray, causing them to stumble (2:8). They had corrupted the Law, and God warned he would cause the people to despise them (2:9).
Particular condemnation was directed to men of the tribe of Judah, for they were guilty of divorcing their wives, and taking heathen, idolatrous wives (2:11). Those men were hypocrites, and Malachi warned they would be “cut off” and their sacrifices rejected by the LORD (2:12-13). Some men came hypocritically to the altar with sacrifices and tears, but the prophet warned, the LORD “regardeth not the offering any more, Or receiveth it with good will at your hand” (2:13). Hypocritically they dared to ask, Why? Why does the LORD reject our sacrifices? (2:14)
Malachi spared no words in condemning the men, for they were guilty of violating the sanctity of marriage (2:15). Rather than rejoicing in the wife of their youth (Proverbs 5:15-21), and honoring God’s design for husband and wife to be “one” (meaning, “one flesh,” Genesis 2:21-25; Matthew 19:16), they had divorced their wives. Tragically, 21st century believers and their churches have followed this same pattern of wickedness, and divorce is commonplace. Malachi declared God’s heart on the matter of divorce, and said, “16For the Lord, the God of Israel…hateth putting away [divorce]” (2:16a). Why? For divorce is as violent to the spirit, as tearing a garment (2:16b). Divorce is an act of treachery against God and one’s spouse (2:16c).
Warning: God will not hear our prayers, nor receive our praise when we are hypocrites in actions, attitudes, and words (2:17).
Two great prophecies of the Old Testament are found in Malachi 3. In verse one we read the prophecy of a “messenger” the LORD promised to send, and was fulfilled by John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, the Messiah (3:1; Matthew 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:27; John 1:29-31). We find the prophecy of the first coming of the Messiah (3:1b-6) that would be fulfilled by Jesus Christ. He was “the messenger of the covenant,” for in Him the people delighted for He preached of the love, grace, and mercy of God (3:1b).
Remembering prophecies often carry an imminent application and a far-reaching implication, the LORD likened the Second Coming of Christ as a fire of judgment, for He will be “like a refiner’s fire, and like a fuller’s soap” (a picture of purifying and cleansing, 3:2-3).
The sins of the people were recorded in Malachi 3:5, but we are reminded that God is immutable, loving and gracious for He assured Israel, “fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts. 6For I am the Lord, I change not; Therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (3:5-6).
Malachi confronted two other sins of the people (3:7-15). Though the people had vowed they would give the LORD the first fruits (Nehemiah 10:34-39), they had robbed God of His tithes and offerings (3:7-8). Malachi warned, while they robbed God of that which was His, they had sacrificed God’s blessings (3:9). The prophet exhorted the people, “10Bring 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” (3:10).
The people also denied their wrongdoing, and complained against the LORD with “stout” (hard) words (3:13). They complained there was not profit in serving God, saying, “It is vain to serve God” (3:14).
Our study of Malachi and the Old Testament Scriptures concludes with a final prophetic message. Malachi 4:1 foretold the Second Coming of Christ as a day of fire and judgment of the wicked: “all that do wickedly, shall be stubble” (4:1).
Though the wicked have reason to fear the coming of the LORD (4:1), believers who fear and revere His name, will greet the “Sun of righteousness,” (4:2a), who brings healing and blessing (4:2). Christ’s future coming is described as a day of rejoicing, and pictured as calves released from their stalls and leaping for joy (4:2). In that day, the wicked that persecuted the righteous will themselves be judged, and “they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet” (4:3).
Closing thoughts (4:5-6) – The Old Testament Scriptures concludes with a promise and a great warning. The LORD promised the day will come when He will send the Old Testament prophet Elijah, whose coming will precede the Second Coming of Christ near the end of the Great Tribulation (4:5). Elijah’s ministry would not only announce the coming judgment of the LORD, but would also heal the homes of God’s people, and “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, And the heart of the children to their fathers” (4:5a).
Our study of the Old Testament began with sin and the fall of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman (Genesis 3). The Old Testament concludes with a warning that prophesied the Second Coming of Christ and His judgment, for the curse of sin will not be removed until He comes again (4:6).
Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith
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