Tuesday, May 6, 2014

"Malachi"

I heard the name Malachi in my sleep this morning.  I took that as God's leading to read the book of Malachi, so I did.  I asked Him beforehand to help me to see what I need to see.  I want to share with you what I saw:

God is speaking to His people, telling them how they have turned away from Him.  He is reminding them that judgement comes as a result. He also reminds them that if they repent, He will bless them instead.

Malachi 1:10-14 talks about how God's people have cheated Him and profaned His name by promising perfect sacrifices but offering injured, crippled or diseased animals instead.  In verse 12 it says: "But you profane it [His name] by saying of the Lord's table, 'It is defiled,' and of its food, 'It is contemptible,' and you say, 'What a burden,' and you sniff at it contemptuously," says the LORD Almighty."

We are doing the same thing today.  We do not honor the Name of God.  We profane it by the way we misuse His name in our language.  We act as if His Word (spiritual food) is defiled and contemptible.  We consider His Word and His will as a burden and we sniff at it contemptuously.  We do this by compromising His Word to suit us and by rationalizing away our sin.  This injures, cripples and causes disease in us!

In verse 14 God says: "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."

Week after week, many Christ followers go to worship services more out of a habit or sense of obligation rather than a desire to meet with God.  We have lost the fear of the LORD and our fruitlessness in our worship services and in our daily lives bears witness to that.

Malachi chapter two addresses the priests.  In verses 1-2, we read, "And now this admonition is for you, O priests.  If you do not listen and if you do not set your heart to honor My name," says the LORD Almighty, "I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings.  Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not set your heart to honor Me." I think it's safe to say that the Church, especially in America is experiencing curses - even the blessings of our freedoms are being cursed!

Verses 7-9: "'For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge and from his mouth men should seek instruction - because he is a messenger of the LORD Almighty.  But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble, you have violated the covenant with Levi,' says the LORD Almighty."  Each Believer is considered a priest.  1 Peter 2:9 says, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him Who called you out of the darkness and into His wonderful light." Back to Malachi: "So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed My ways, but have shown partiality in matters of the law."  Of course the entire book of Malachi was written to the Israelites, but God continues to use the whole of His Word to speak to His people today.  These passages parallel the state of the Church, (as I already mentioned) especially in America. Christians are daily being more and more despised and humiliated - just read the daily news! Church, we have got to remember who we are and why we are here!  In Christ, we were made holy! We need to repent of our sins and begin again walking as children of the light! 

Continuing in Malachi 2:10-12, "Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us?  Why do we profane the covenant of our fathers by breaking faith with one another?  Judah has broken faith.  A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the LORD loves, by marrying the daughter of a foreign god."   How does this apply to the Church today?  As I mentioned earlier, we have compromised the Word of God and twisted it to suit our own desires, and to justify our sins.  There are even some who are now saying that the Muslim's Allah is the same as Jehovah God!  This is not so!

Malachi 2:13, "Another thing you do: you flood the LORD's altar with tears.  You weep and wail because He no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands.  You ask, 'Why?'  It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant."

All throughout Scripture, God uses marriage to represent our relationship to Him.  The Church is the bride of Christ and Christ is the bridegroom.  Again, God is telling us today that we are guilty - guilty of leaving our first love.  We have broken our marriage vows by adulterating with the world!  God is telling us, "So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth." (verse 15b)  He says this twice!

Chapter two goes on to point out, "You have wearied the LORD with your words.  'How have we wearied Him?' you ask.  By saying, 'All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and He is pleased with them', or 'Where is the God of justice?'"

Going on to chapter three verse six: "I the LORD do not change...Return to Me, and I will return to you," says the LORD Almighty. And in verses 8-12 God points out how the people have robbed Him by neglecting to trust Him with their tithes.  He assures them if they will trust Him in this way, that He will bless them with so much in return, they won't have room to store it all! And in verses 13-15, God calls out the people for not trusting in Him and His ways.  They've been saying that it is "futile to serve God," because in their eyes it didn't seem to do any good.

Fortunately, we see a change of heart in verses 16-18: "Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard.  A scroll of remembrance was written in His presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored His name.  'They will be Mine,' says the LORD Almighty, 'in the day when I make up My treasured possession, I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him.  And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked between those who serve God and those who do not." I prefer the New Living Translation rendering of verse 17: "They will be my people," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies. "On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child."

Oh, how I want to be in God's scroll of remembrance because I feared Him and honored His name!

Malachi chapter 4 talks about the Day of the LORD, which refers to the Day of Judgement.  Those who fear His name need not dread this day, because for them it will be a day of healing and release!
"But for you who revere My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.  And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall." (verse 2)

That image makes me smile.  Can't you picture calves out leaping and skipping because they are so happy to be out of the stall and in the green open pasture?  One day we will be released from our earthly bodies and into our perfect new bodies! Glory!

Malachi ends with these words: "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.  He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, or else I will come and strike the land with a curse."

I'm reminded of a brief dream I had either before or after hearing the name Malachi in my sleep this morning.  I saw my son as a young child.  He was standing just outside the door.  I reached down to pick him up and bring him back into the house. I then loved on him just as I used to.  Oh how God our Father wants to love on His people! But we must repent - become as innocent children again.  

"They will be my people," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies. "On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child."

Father God, how I pray that we, Your people, will repent of our sins.  Forgive us for allowing sin to enter our lives, causing us to be crippled, injured and diseased.  Forgive us for sniffing at Your Word contemptuously!  Forgive us for defiling Your name!  I pray that we will once again honor You and revere Your Name - for Your Name is great and greatly to be praised!  I pray that we will return to our first love, Jesus Christ, so that we can be presented to You as undefiled, without spot or wrinkle.  I pray that we will fear You and honor You so that we too can have a scroll of remembrance written on our behalf in Your presence!  Father, turn our hearts back to You. Amen.






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