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For today’s sermon, I will be preaching out of the book of Malachi. I sit back and see what is happening in our Christian church, our relationships with our spouses and one another. It is almost scary how much history repeats itself for our people and we choose to ignore it. Instead of learning from the mistakes of those in the bible and how God dealt with them, we choose to be legalistic about just about everything and we justify our actions. I have been guilty of it in the past and I am humble enough to say it.
The book of Malachi is the last of the old testament prophetic books written. During 539 B.C., Israel was being disillusioned about the prospects of renewed glory and freedom for their nation. You see, Israel was allowed into the promised land and after a couple generations, they expected to be as prosperous as King Solomon’s reign. Then when they did not get what they felt they deserved, they started to be disobedient. Then Malachi was sent by God to challenge those who felt God was unfaithful to them, but actually they were the ones that were being unfaithful to God. Malachi started running disputes between the people of Israel and God. Malachi explained how they were halfheartedly worshiping God. They were not giving their all to Him.
“Even so, from where the sun rises to where it sets my name will be great among the Gentiles. Incense will be brought to me everywhere, along with pure offerings, because my name will be great among the Gentiles,” says the Lord of the Heavenly Armies.
Malachi directs his message to the priest. They were guilty of breaking the rules they were sworn to protect and uphold. They were offering defiled sacrifices to our Lord. The priest were permitting people to bring less than their best to God. Malachi told the priest it was better to close their doors than to continue their hypocrisy. He was telling them, giving God offerings is about what is in your heart, not about giving him what you do not want. Malachi was foreshadowing how us Gentiles would praise God and lift his name up high, however, the Jews who were God’s own people were being deceitful and not respecting our maker.
Even today this happens! We spend hundreds, or even thousands on ourselves, but when it comes to providing for God’s kingdom, we offer a dollar on the offering plate and think it is ok. How can you expect God’s full blessings, when we do not give him what He rightfully deserves. Giving offerings to God is not about what is being taken away from you, but the realization that you have nothing. If it was not for the grace of God, you would not have a job, that pretty car you like or the roof over your head. If you cannot give financially due to honestly being in over your head in debt, what is keeping you from picking up a broom and giving your time to the church or the community. Be a kind person and serve others like Jusus did and don’t expect anything in return. You should be giving all you have to God because he deserves the glory. Make everything you do, be in His name.
“Do we not have one father? Has not one God created us? Why does each of us act deceitfully, each man against his own brother, to profane the covenant of our ancestors?”
I love this verse, because after dealing with the priest, Malachi now turns to the nation of Israel as a whole and confronts the men who divorced their wives to marry pagan women. They were profaning God’s convent. Lord gave specific requirements on his law of marriage (Ex. 34:11-16, and Deut. 7:3-4) and still His people were not obeying. You see, not only were the priest being disobedient, but the people were following their examples. There was so much turmoil in this time. The priest were not meeting the expectations that God gave them, then the people followed suit. That is the issues with being in leadership positions. If you are in a position of authority or where people follow you, you MUST live by example. No one said you have to be perfect, but you need to be humble and accept when you are wrong on somethings. Yet on the other hand, if you see someone doing something wrong, you need to step up and rebuke that person in love. You cannot be timid in correcting a person. In that time, people were not wanting to accept their immoral selves, they just lived in a way that made themselves happy. Much like today, these people did what made them happy and put God second in their lives.
“You are cursed under the curse- the entire nation- because you are robbing me! Bring the entire tithe into the storeroom that there may be food in my house. So put me to the test in this right now.” says the Lord of the Heavenly Armies, and see if I won’t throw open the windows of heaven for you and pour out on you blessings without measure.”
From the time of the patriarchs until Malachi’s time, the nation frequently disobeyed God’s word, and God had to send prophets to call them to repent and return to Him. The people instead of listening to Malachi, they argued with God’s servant. Malachi had to break it down barney style! He told them three different areas in their life that they were robbing.
First, back in that time, if the people did not want to carry a ton of food to the temple, they would convert it into money and add an additional 20 percent to ensure they were not cheating God from his offerings. They did not want to rob or short change God in any way, not because they feared Him, but because they loved Him. People gave their best animals and crops, but the generation that Malachi had to rebuke did not.
Secondly, the people were robbing themselves, by robbing God. They were not receiving the promises God told Israel they would get by being faithful, on the contrary, insects came and destroyed many crops and fruit trees were not bearing any fruits. The blessings they were expecting never came because of their disobedience.
Lastly, they were robbing others. Gentles came to see how God treated his people and how fruitful they were in the past. But after seeing the unfruitfulness of his people, some people who could have been converted to following God were not. They were pushing Gentiles away instead of bringing them to God.
The reason why the book of Malachi is so important to us today is because it shows us how history repeats itself. The stories of the bible state the same thing in general over and over again. God’s chosen do not listen, and someone comes to put them back in the right path. What I feel the Holy Spirit wants everyone to get from this message is to do the right thing always and always give your all to God. I understand life is hard, I understand relationships fail, I understand the economy is bad, but if you put your all in God, that season of your life will pass and you will enter another season of fruitfulness. There are two main issues addressed in Malachi that affect everyone of us today. People are deceiving themselves and the convents that they make to one another and God. Whether it is marriage or friendships, many people are selfish and do not put God first and do not have a sense of serving and helping others. They deceit themselves and then others by pretending to put others first, but their actions speak louder than words. As people, none of us are perfect, but as Christians, God wants us to give Him the best of us because he sent Jesus down and gave the best of Him. We are to strive to keep our covenants with God no matter what. When it comes to offering, do not give diseased calves or pennies off a dollar. Give whole heartedly. If you give and serve with your entire heart, God knows the truth and you will be blessed. If you cannot give financially, give your time. As long as you are serving others for God, you will be blessed. It is not all about money, but the time you give to Him and others.
Secondly, that YOU either accept all of God and be all in. Accept his blessing and live a life worth being proud about, or deceive and rob God and do not receive His blessings. Throw away your blessings for temporary worldly desires. In the end, it all comes down to free will and the choices you make in life. There is no blame to put on anyone else when judgement comes. There is only the truth. Did you give your all to God and his kingdom, or did you rob yourself from eternal life with Him?
These two points summarize the overall message. But it all comes down to giving your all. Now are you all in? Learn from the Jews in Malachi’s time, we do not have to continue making the same mistakes over and over. The bible was given to us to teach us not to make the same mistakes. Life is not just about you. Think about all those in your life that you interact with. Are you setting a proper example? When you do not do what God commands of us, we rob him, ourselves, and worst of all, push others away from Jesus Christ instead of leading them to Him. I have to take a look at myself in the mirror and pray to not be one of those people. I want to lead others to Christ by planting seeds in their minds and letting see me not by words, but by actions. As Christians, if we were all to do this, the world will be a better place. Understand you are not perfect, lean on God’s grace to guide you and help you to a better person. Then pay it forward! We are all meant to be His messengers. Now wether or not you chose to be one, is on you.