Friday, April 14, 2017

Malachi, part 1, The Last Book of the Old Testament

Malachi, part 1
Malachi (“my messenger”) was written by Malachi. This book is the last of the Minor Prophets and fits in our timeline just after Esther and the institution of the feast of Purim. Since Malachi addressed many of the same matters that Nehemiah tried to reform, it is thought that we can date Malachi during Nehemiah's governorship. Both Malachi and Nehemiah deal with priestly laxity (Mal. 1:6; Neh. 13:4-9), neglect of tithes (Mal. 3:7-12; Neh. 13:10-13), and inter-marriage between Israelites and foreigners (Mal. 2:10-16; Neh. 13:23-28). When will they learn?
In a quick reading of chapter one you’ll find the Lord a bit angry to put it mildly. He says, “A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” He calls out the priests for showing contempt for his name by offering defiled food on the altar. Read the following and you’ll begin to feel the mounting anger:
 10 “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. 11 My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD Almighty.
 12 “But you profane it by saying, ‘The Lord’s table is defiled,’ and, ‘Its food is contemptible.’ 13 And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the LORD Almighty.
   “When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the LORD. 14 “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the LORD Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.
 What else is the Lord saying? Should we give Him our very best? How can I give the Lord anything less than my best?

Skip to chapter 3 and watch for John the Baptist and Jesus in verse 1:
 1 “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty.
Read 3:6-10:
 6 “I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.
   “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
 8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
   “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
   “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
 There have been a slew of television evangelists who use these words to line their own pockets. Really study these verses. Look at verse 6. The Lord DOES NOT CHANGE. The Jewish people, the descendants of Jacob, ARE NOT DESTROYED.  And there’s a promise here that the Lord makes: Return to me, and I WILL RETURN to you. Keep reading and notice the conversation that God invents between man and Himself. Are we robbing God? If we tithe and offer above and beyond our tithes, will He bless us? YES!