Malachi: Are You Ready?
Open your Bibles if you would to the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi. I'm excited. This is the 39th book that has been preached. We've gotten through the whole Old Testament after today. So, if you want an overview sermon of any book in the Old Testament, after today, there'll be one online on our website. So, praise God for that. It's been wonderful to go through all these books, and I hope you've been able to hear them.
Malachi is a wonderful book. I want to ask you this question. Are you ready? Are you ready to see Jesus today? Are you ready to stand before him, and give an account of your life? Are you ready to embrace him and embrace the truth and the theology realized as we would see him face to face? Are we ready to see Jesus? Do you remember Joseph from the book of Genesis? Starting around chapter 37. We see the account of his life he was born around chapter 30. What do you think Joseph thought about God's love? It's important for us to consider this today. Because for us to be able to stand before Jesus Christ, we would want to know that he is loving, and we will want to have that...an accurate understanding of his love in our lives. So, Joseph, what did he think? You remember him? Betrayed by his brothers. The youngest of 12. Do you think Joseph thought at that point that God was loving and kind? At what point in Joseph's life, do you think he had a right understanding of God? It's important for us to think about this. And it plays into what we're going to learn today through Malachi. As a boy, he was favored by his father. Did that help him have a right view of God? As a teenager, probably around age 17, he was sold into slavery. Did that give him a right view of God? Or maybe when he was in an Egyptian jail; or when he was 30 years old, as the vice-regent of Egypt. You can see that was his age, specifically in Genesis 41:46. Or how about when he saw his brothers finally and he had all the power to do everything he wanted to do to them, and he finally saw those who had ruined his life. Was that when he had a right view of God? Did he know God loved him? Did he know it when he had the opportunity to forgive or to execute his brothers? No one would have even questioned him. Or was it when Joseph forgave his brothers and brought all his relatives to live in Egypt? That was quite humbling. Egyptians wouldn't even have a meal, with the Israelites, with those people from this foreign land that they considered dirty. Or was it when Joseph provided for them and finally told them who he was, and said, "You need to come live with me?" And you need to live here because there's five more years of famine on the way, and I'm going to provide for you. God has put me in this position. When did Joseph have a right view of God in his life? Well, I think it was his whole life. It was Joseph who said in Genesis 45:7 that it was God who sent him to Egypt into slavery at age 17. To quote, preserve life. Joseph said it was God who gave him children in Egypt and a wife in Egypt...Genesis 48:9. It was Joseph who was even kind to his brothers after his father died. Genesis 50:19, and it was Joseph who said, "...as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good." God was in charge of my whole life brothers. God was in charge of everything about me and, and where I live and what happened to me and, and even now it's not me who provides for you, but it's God through me who provides. And finally, it was Joseph, who reminded his brothers of God's covenantal faithfulness to them. In Genesis 50:24, saying, quote, "God will visit you; and will bring you to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob." And then Joseph died. At what point did Joseph understand God's love? See, I think it was during the slavery; I think it was during the favoritism; I think it was during his teenage years; I think there was a great understanding of God's love, even before he was made Vice-Regent, even when he was falsely accused. God favored him and blessed him and everything that he did; and everyone could see that. They knew Joseph worshiped a different God. And he didn't complain. His whole life, he understood God's love. Dear friends, do you understand God's love for you this second...right now? No matter what's going on, if you're in a situation as...as horrible as what slavery was, where people are speaking down to you and wrong to you and unkind to you, and not giving you the normal decency of human life. Or if you're lifted up, and God has blessed everything you're doing, and, and maybe everything just seems to succeed around you. You see, we need to have a right view of God at all times in our lives, not just when times are good. And we need to not just give God credit for the times that are good in our lives. You see, it was God who sent Joseph into slavery, so that he could be a blessing to many nations; and fulfill God's covenant love and faithfulness and kindness to him...and to many. See when I asked if we're ready to see Jesus, and are we ready to stand before Him and thank Him for everything in our lives? And some of you are going through incredible hardships right now. Some of you are in incredible times of blessing. And we need to remember that it is all of these times that God gives and brings to shape us out of His faithfulness and love for us. You see, in Malachi, they needed to remember who God was...that he is first and foremost a God of love. In fact, everything around them would point to his love. Let me remind you of the setting of Malachi. This the final book of the Old Testament. There are no more books that are inspired between here and Matthew. The last time God would speak to them directly for 400 years was this book. The Israelites have now made three migrations home from Babylon. They have now come under Zerubbabel and building the temple; under Ezra and instituting the sacrifices; under Nehemiah and building the wall and the third wave of Jewish exiles. That's who we're writing...that's who he's writing to, and it's around 430 BCE, something like that. Pretty close to that timeframe. They are in a land because their enemies got a word from God and said, go home and build. Remember that? King Cyrus, and then those after him still funneling money and permission to go home. Everything about their lives should have reminded them about who God was. But were they ready to see the King, the King of kings and the Lord of lords?
How would they know if they were ready to see the King? How will you know how would you know right now...if Jesus appeared that you will be ready to see him? Well, God reminds them of that. And it's the same way for them as it is for us. He looks at the truth of their lives, and of their heart and compares it to who he is in his loving Word. Let me say that again. He looks at their lives and their heart and compares it to the truth of his loving word. And that is exactly what he does in Malachi.
Look in verse, Malachi 1:1, "The Oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi, I have loved you, says the Lord." The first thing they needed to know. "But you say, how have you loved us?" They're arguing with him in their daily lives and their thoughts and their actions. "Is not Esau Jacob's brother, declares the Lord? Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated." You see, we need to love God for who he is...a perfect, righteous, and holy God. But He is loving, first and foremost. How is this love demonstrated to them? How could he declare this to them? It is through his faithfulness. Friends, God is faithful. He is long-suffering with us. He is faithful, knowing who we are exactly. What you're thinking now. And what your life is like. He knows you and he is still faithful; and their heritage was through Jacob, Joseph's father. The story I just recounted for you, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Their heritage is from Jacob. Jacob who became Israel...that heritage. Do you remember that? Malachi saying, do you? Do you remember my covenant faithfulness? Do you remember that I promised back 400 plus years before, around 1000 B.C. when I told David I will set a man on the throne and through the prophet Samuel. I said that would happen. Do you remember that? Do you remember the covenant blessings through Abraham? Do you remember the promise that will be fulfilled through his sons? You see all throughout the Old Testament, we have seen a disobedient and a stubborn nation, but a loving God. And that gives me comfort. Because I fall more into the disobedient and stubborn category often, and not the loving category. And God is loving. From Genesis to Malachi. God has bound up their wounds. He has gathered them together. He has led them to quiet waters. He has promised a return of the King, one who would always sit on the throne. He has shown himself to them in a cloud by night, pillar or a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He has led them; he has provided them with food out of nowhere. He would do that in the future as well through His Son. He has provided them and given them land and houses that they did not build and vineyards that they did not plant and food and rain and seasons and times for them to have harvest. He has given them not just a temple or a building but designs on how to put it together and how to use it. He has given them a grand plan and shown them how he is the God who redeems and the God who leads and the God who was gracious and the God who is merciful. That is this God that we will once in the future stand before and will we be ready to worship Him fully. We must be ready. He has given them priests in the Levitical laws and shown them what is worship. What does the worship of a holy God look like...with an unholy people? How does that happen? And he's demonstrated to them the sacrificial system that you need to make atonement through these things in the New Testament. It's that...that big word, the propitiation it's...it's that he has set aside the wrath of God through the mercy seat in the Old Testament, and that that was the Ark of the Covenant, the seat of the chair of them and their wings and they're sprinkling blood on it, and they have a right sacrifice. And that says that atones for sin for a time. And all along these books we have seen that these things do not enable people to follow God. The law reveals sin. God reveals how we are to follow him and reveals how our hearts are supposed to be changed and made new. And he says in the future, I will give you a new heart. I will remove the callousness from your heart, and you will be my people. All throughout the Old Testament we've seen there must be something more. There must be something in addition to all these sacrifices in the blood of bulls and goats, that only set aside sin for a time. There must be something that can do this permanently. God continued his covenant faithfulness to them, even though they were not faithful. Even now, living under his protection and sovereign decree, they rejected him in the Promised Land. They weren't sacrificing correctly. And as you'll see, part of God's love, which is so set aside today, is to call us to repentance. Because you will wish you had repented more when you stand before God, and you face plant, and you realize how holy he is and how unholy we are, we will, we will have wished we would have heard more messages and sermons like what Malachi brings. Because it prepares us to see God. First and foremost, it is quite dangerous to think we are living as God desires for us when we are not. To think that we are living as we should when we are not is a treacherous place to be. And that's, that's where the people were, you could see that by the first retort. How have you loved us? It's astonishing to say something like that to God. But He gives them, out of love, five rebukes, and though I would love to preach every single one of these as its own sermon, we'll just get a mini-sermon on the rebukes today. You're welcome. Malachi 1:6 is the first rebuke. It is a priest and a people who make sinful sacrifices. Think of the irony. The sacrifices were supposed to help them worship God in their sinning and what's supposed to help them worship. Verse 6, "A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear, says the LORD of hosts, to you, oh, priests who despise my name? But you say, how have we despised your name?" I mean, this is audacious. It is bold and arrogant. The priests, "How have we despised you, God?" Well, let me tell you, he says, verse 7, "by offering polluted food on my altar. But you say, how have we polluted you? By saying that the Lord's table may be despised." And in verses 8 through 14, he gives them the details, offering blind animals and lame animals as though they had forgotten Levitical law. I mean, it's been a while. Right? But we wrote it down so that we wouldn't forget. Leviticus 22 and following all those laws that you don't like to read about. They're still in place. Think about this, if the behavior of the priests and those bringing the lame animals despise God, what did that teach everyone else in that society? That it was okay to despise God. They were raising up generations of children who were taught it was okay to despise God based on how mom and dad are acting, based on how the priests are acting. They lacked any real true heart of worship. And God could see. As we go through this series of rebukes, we must ask God, "Dear Lord God, please show us where we fall short." Because we don't want to be like the people here, God's chosen people. Who basically smarted off to God time and time again. We want to be those who have a change of heart. The second rebuke is found in chapter 2, verse 1 through 9. And he lays into the priests directly there, if you look at Malachi 2:8, "But you have turned aside from the way, and you have caused many to stumble by your instruction." I think we're going to hear that a lot. As pastors, go to see our Lord. "You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts. And so, I make you despised and a base before all the people, in as much as you do not keep my ways, but show partiality in your instruction."
Now, when I, I've told you before my father, who was a pastor for 46 years, he's now in glory, and he doesn't have any of the questions you and I still have. He would say to me often, that you want to do these two things, son as you go into the ministry. You want to be an encourager and a man of prayer; and you do not want to show partiality. He would specifically say, "You do not want to fear man. It is crippling?" What are the priests doing? They're showing partiality in their instruction. I would assume they are kind of just going through the Scriptures and, and they are instructing but what they're giving is just kind of the easy stuff to hear not the whole counsel of God. Right? What did Paul tell Timothy? Preach the Word, the whole counsel of God. What did Jesus tell us as He ascended? Right, make disciples and do what? Teach them everything...everything. You don't want leaders, friends, who will only tell you the sweet things to try to tickle your ears. That is how we find ourselves falling short. You want to pray for your leaders; not just me, but anyone who is a leader and instructing you in God's Word here that we will give you the whole truth; all of it, so that you can stand before God with a clear conscience and say, "Yes, God, I followed your word, because your people shared it fully with me." So, he lays into the priests. You're not giving them the whole, the whole picture.
The third rebuke goes into the people, chapter 2, verse 10 and following. You can focus on verse 11. This third rebuke is about marriage. It's about marriage. He says this, "Judah has been faithless. Judah is a nation of people. And an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem." Notice he's speaking to all of them. "For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god." Marriage did not just start falling apart. When quote, The Greatest Generation got old. It's been falling apart since the beginning. Forty to 50% of first marriages end in divorce within eight years. Any marriage. Sixty percent of second marriages end in divorce. Seventy-three percent of third marriages end in divorce, and after that you can just...it just goes down. That equates to one divorce every 43 seconds in the United States. That's astounding! Christian’s date non-believers and write it off all the time. And marry them saying, "Well, I will save them," as though they have more power than God Almighty. They ignore the godless beliefs of those whom they date just because they think they're pretty, or they make them laugh, or they have a nice job. Being pretty and making them laugh and having a nice job won't save you when you stand before a holy God. And he says, have you profane the covenant of marriage? Infidelity is the biggest reason for divorce in our country. But there are many others. "I don't like them anymore." "We argue too much." "We've grown apart." Notice in chapter 2, verse 10, he sets the stage on the standard not of all of these difficulties, because anyone who's been married for more than five minutes, knows it's difficult at times. He sets the standard on God Himself. Who is what? He's the Creator. We have one Creator: one Father. And if he is so faithful, can we not be faithful to each other? This is difficult for me to preach. Some of you have had horrible experiences in your first marriage. And now on your second. Some of you are still suffering from decisions you've made, and I want to point you to Christ, who forgives. Do not live in the past. Do not think that is all there is. God loves you. We've made just as many big mistakes as anyone who's gotten divorced. But you need to hear the words of God, and if you're not married yet, you need to know he takes it seriously. Just as serious as the priests who are only preaching part of the Word of God. I will stand before God and give an account for every word and, and they're all recorded now. And you tell me that when I say something wrong, I'm thankful for that because then we can correct it. Listen, take marriage as an opportunity to reflect the faithfulness of God to someone else. That's where you start. And if it hasn't gone the way you have liked, and if you haven't made the decisions that you think were best, or if you got the wrong end of a raw deal. Seek the God who forgives and restores, who renews. Be light today, right now. And if your marriage isn't all you want it to be, then you yourself, don't work so much on your spouse; work on yourself. Work on who you are before God. Whether you're married to a believer or an unbeliever; whether you're now single and used to be married, whether you're on a second marriage or a third, live for God today. We don't look down on people who sin. We look down on people who say they have no sin. And those are the ones we give the gospel to. Why? Because we know we ourselves are great sinners. We're gonna be teaching more about marriage this year and the Grace Equip classes. We have men who are preparing and pouring over their lessons to be a blessing to you, and I hope they will be a blessing, indeed.
The fourth thing, the fourth rebuke, chapter 2, verse 17, and following, has probably affected us more in the last three years than any other issue, as a nation. And I don't know that I have the time to describe all of these issues, but I think you'll understand it if I just read to you one verse. This is the fourth rebuke. Chapter 2, verse 17, "You have wearied the Lord with your words, but you say, how have we wearied him?" Notice they still have that edge on them by saying, quote, "Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them. Or by asking," and here it is, "Where is the God of justice?" Listen, this is important. We must get this issue, correct. This, "we call evil good, and God delights in this thing," we're calling good as a society, but God calls evil. That is rampant today. People are saying and they have been for 20, 30 years, that doctrine does what? Divides...that's evil. Don't ever let that come out of your mouth, unless you say doctrine divides the sheep from the goats? Because it does. What we need to put forth our words and put forth our lives before God. Social justice is described specifically in the Word of God. It is not a new construct. It is not some kind of epidemic that is new. It is not just some term that people came up with. Does God like the sin of partiality? No, he just rebuked the priests for it. Right? You're, you're partial in your instruction. You're only saying what you know, the audience wants to hear. Is that not exactly what intersectionality is? The more marginalized in society you are, the less popular part of culture, the lesser abundant races, those are the voices we need to hear. That's what society is saying no need to hear God's voice. And it doesn't matter if it comes from anyone of any particular ethnicity. There's just one race, the human race, and we need to get this issue, right. It's destroying schools. And when you got a lot of people fleeing schools, and it's okay if you want to go to a Christian school, but I'm not done with the fight. In our neighborhoods, it's destroying neighborhoods and towns. The just read about the town councils and what they talk about. It's awful. They don't know their right hand from their left. And so, we can't just go hide. We have to say, "This is the truth." You have to say it; I have to say it. We have to do so in love. And when they say, where's the God of justice? Say, right here in Malachi. That's a book in the Bible. Where God's truth is. Well, what does it mean to care for the poor? Well, let me show you come with me. Let's go take care of the poor. What does it mean to take care of the poor? It's not just the feed them because they're gonna get hungry later. It's the feed them the Word of Truth. Take care of their needs, if you can take care of everything for them if you can, but don't just prop up their, their situation and say, because you've made their situation better, you've cared for the poor. No, you're just enabling them. We need to think through this rebuke, and has it ever come out of our mouths, that we call evil, good and say the Lord delights in it. There are many movements that are doing that today. And as, as this section, this fourth review goes all the way through chapter 3, verse 5, in this short little book, and notice, where he turns them in chapter 3, verse 1. Notice where he takes the discussion of, of justice. Chapter three, verses 1 through 5. This is beautiful. "Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come into his temple and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts." Verse 2, "But who can endure the day of his coming and who can stand when he appears. He is like a refiner’s fire and a fuller soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver. And He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings and righteousness to the Lord. Then, the offering of Judah, and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old, as in the former years. Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner," that is a traveler, "and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts." He sees what's going on. But notice, he says, He's coming to be a refiner of his people, and a judge of those who are not His people. And what you and I need to figure out is, are we his people, because he wants to refine us. He wants to purify us...to turn up the heat and get rid of the dross. He wants to make you like pure gold and pure silver, not this mixed-up stuff. And when he appears after he has refined you, then you will be able to stand before God because of the righteousness of his Son that is upon you.
This first verse 3:1, "I will send my messenger," I think that speaking about John the Baptist. He will come and prepare the way spoken of in Isaiah over and over again. Who will prepare the way before me and then the next messenger there. In the middle of chapter 3, verse 1, is the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. I think that is speaking about the Messiah. Messenger. Do you know what the Hebrew word for messenger is? Malach, Malach. You put a little eye on the end of that, and it turns into a name and that's the author of this book, his name means messenger. The whole book is about there's a there's a coming messenger. John the Baptist is he who came upon the scene to prepare the way for the Messiah. Jesus Christ is the Messiah. He is the way. John prepared for the one; prepared the way. Jesus is, "the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father except through Him," John 14:6. God is pointing them forward, and at the end of the book here, chapter 4, verse 5, it says, and "I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes." Right, that judgment that's coming for the unbelievers to separate the sheep from the go; before that day comes, I'm going to send you Elijah, and I believe the New Testament teaches that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of this. I've got a plan. My plan is good. My plan is for your benefit. My plan is to cleanse you from sin once and for all through Jesus, no matter what you've done. Think of the things he's mentioned so far. The things he's laid at their feet. I'm gonna purify you, and this messenger is how I'm going to do it. That's just part and parcel for loving God. Well, there's more rebukes, one more. I know you're rooting for a couple more. There's one more.
And this is your favorite. This is rebuke number five on tithes and offerings. Chapter 3, verses 6 through 15 or so. And I just want to read this to you. So, you know I'm not making this up. Chapter 3, verse 6, "For I, the Lord, do not change. Therefore, you oh, children of Jacob, are not consumed." In other words, I see all your sin, including this one, I'm still faithful. That's why you're still breathing. Okay? That's the introduction. Verse 7, "From the days of your father's you have turned aside from my statutes, and if not kept them. Return to me and I will return to you." He wants a closeness with his people, "says the Lord of hosts." "But you say, how shall we return?" They have totally lost their way. So, he's going to send them the way. When God says, how shall we return? Be ready to listen. And verse 8, "Will man rob God, yet you are robbing me. But you say, how have we robbed you?" I can just picture them with their fingers crossed behind their back or something. "In your tithes, and contributions." Notice we've already talked about how they're bringing the blind animals, the ones they don't want to anyway, right, and the lame animals; you know, they limp them up to the sacrifice to the altar. They're supposed to be bringing the best, right, the unspotted ones. See Leviticus for that. "You've robbed me in your tithes and contributions." Verse 9, you are a curse, "You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you." The whole nation was okay with the sins. Verse 10, every charismatic’s favorite verse, "Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and thereby put me to the test says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you, and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need." That is an amazing verse in context. Verse 13, "Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord. But you say how have we spoken against you? Verse 13, sorry, "Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord. But you say how have we spoken against you?" Verse 14, "You have said, it is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge, or of walking, as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? You're robbing me of tithes. And then he brings it in and says, you say it's vain to serve God...with your tithes and your offerings.
This is unequivocally one of the major acceptable sins of our day. I've had conversations with people from other churches, literally this time, who brag that they have not tithe and 20 years. They have hundreds of thousands in savings. Not talking about people who are, you know, counting the dollars in the pennies every month, who are living according to biblical principles and who aren't doing the debt spending. They're just happy that they're not giving money to the church. Because look how wretched the church is. You know, when we prepare ourselves to come before God, he's going to bring up every issue. You will give an account of every word and deed. Prepare yourselves to become generous, joyful givers. One church in the DC area that you read their books all the time if you read conservative Christian literature tells every member in their classes. We don't, but they do, start with 10% and then work to be generous. Start with 10%. Now, I was just telling the class earlier today in the next steps class, like this is so much easier, early...not late. Twenty years in, it's really hard to wrangle that gigantic, you know, pool of time and money and resources and saving and kids and cars that break down and all kinds of stuff. Start young, young people and have a heart that gives to God generously. The later you wait, not only the more painful, but the harder it is to get your finances in order. I've lived in LA on one salary with a growing family while working a full-time job. It's possible. I've also lived with no job and for three years in LA. You don't have to compromise your principles. The giving with no job is way less than the giving with the job. But it's still giving, right? You and the widow throw in your two mites, and you know you go on your merry way. But the principle is, I am going to give out of my love for you, God. I think tithing and giving are assumed in the New Testament like God is assumed in the Old Testament. In the beginning, God...the Scripture doesn't start out with an apologetic about how God came to be. He just is. "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also," is always true, in Luke 12:34; but in the following verse, it says, "Stay dressed for action" in Luke 12:35. In other words, always be prepared. Always be prepared to live your life out of the treasure of what you've put in your heart. A few verses later, it says you must also be ready. Be, be ready for what? "For the Son of Man is coming and an hour you do not expect," Luke 12:40. Are we ready right now to see God after talking about those rebukes? Hopefully, we have the same answer as when the sermon started. Yes, enthusiastically. I am ready to see Jesus. But if not guess what, he still wants you to be his own. He still wants to purify you. He still wants to live through you. Like Paul said, it's not I who live but Christ who lives in me. I can't do this on my own. Well, welcome to the club, no one can that's the exact place you need to be to start living the way God wants you to live.
We can see clearly why the Lord put all these stories in here, right? They're written down for our instruction, so that we might not lose hope. So, we didn't might not make the same mistakes that they did. That's how the New Testament summarizes the Old Testament. We can understand that the sacrificial system it wasn't enough. We can understand that there must be something outside of me that purifies and saves and cleanses me. We come to understand that there, there has to be some kind of full grace that inspires us to live for God because left on our own we stray; the priests stray; the leaders stray and, and they had everything they needed to follow God but yet they strayed. They ignored God's Word. Prophet after prophet, they rejected. Leader after leader, they rejected. Over and over, they even rejected God himself. But guess what? God was not done with them yet. And praise God. They had a change of heart. They didn't stay alive like this. Look in Malachi 3:16. There's no more rebukes. This is now their change of heart and what God is going to do for them. This is wonderful Malachi 3:16, "Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another." Notice earlier in Malachi, they didn't fear God. They rejected and they argued with him over and over and over again, and now there is a group of people who are fearing the Lord Yahweh. They fear his name. Going on, the Lord paid attention and heard them. And a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. Listen to what he says, of these people who fear God and esteem his name, verse 17, "they shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more, you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God, and one who does not." One of you men need to teach this passage, it is full, but notice here that the people began to fear God and esteem his name. And notice at the end of verse 18, how he describes the difference between the righteous and the wicked as one who serves God and one who does not. And we just had a whole book of people serving God wrongly. So, it's not just going through the motions. Sincerity is nice, but you can be sincerely wrong. It is serving God according to his Word, and God says you're going to be my treasured possession. You, in all of your failings, in all of your weakness, in all of your shortcomings, you will be treasured in God's eyes. How is this possible? My messenger is coming. This is the case, friends for all who serve God. I don't know all of the things you're dealing with or thinking about in life. Maybe it's a small thing. Maybe it's a life altering thing, but God sees, and he wants you to be his treasured possession.
The Old Testament closes with a magnificent expectation of the Messiah. Look in Malachi chapter 4. Let me read to you the final words of the Old Testament. "For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven. When all the arrogant and all evil, evil doers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts. So that will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall and you shall tread down the wicked for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet. On the Day when I act, says the Lord of hosts. Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes, and the rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with the decree of utter destruction" (Malachi 4:1-6). Behold, he is coming, and we need to be ready.
Let's pray. Father God, we praise you for giving us your Word. We praise you for setting the expectation in Malachi of refinement. And though you see our sins, you want to purify us to set our hope on one who was to come. Well, as the New Testament begins in a couple of weeks as we begin to, to preach that forward, and we see the magnificent grace that comes through Jesus Christ, we pray that you would set our hearts and minds on the forgiveness that we have in Jesus. That You would help our feet not to be slow, nor our mouths closed, but that we would declare from the rooftops your glory, in our homes, to our friends and family, to our neighbors, or to the city I pray that you would make this church a strong lighthouse for the gospel. That we would declare the whole counsel of God and that you would help us not to be faint when persecution comes. Lord God, I pray that you would revive us and help us not to shrink back, not to be ashamed, but to proclaim the truth of your holy Word, every single word. Lord, help us to walk and fellowship and love with one another. That we may bring a balm to the souls of those who are struggling. That you may use us Lord to bring healing to others. The you may use us Lord God, for your glory. For the little ones to hear the gospel, may we fill their ears Lord with the gospel continually; for our fellow believers who need a subtle rebuke Lord, may we turn from sin? Lord, for those who are working on their lives, crying out sanctify me, Lord. May you help us to sanctify each other in the truth. Your Word is truth. May you invigorate our lives to the power of the Holy Spirit that we might live righteously, that we might live rightly, before you. Lord God, may you protect us and protect our hearts and minds as we strive to, to live before a holy God. We know we fall short. Lord God, we beg that you would cleanse us and change us and renew our hearts. Today, even now, Lord God, we pray for those who do not know you. That they would turn from their sin, that they would repent from their sin and be saved and forgiven by your grace. Lord, I beg you to convict them deeply of sin that they may be saved. Father, I thank you for this precious church. I thank you for these precious people. And friends, let's just take a moment and ask God to get us ready to see him. Lord God, we love you. We praise your holy name, and we pray you'd make us ready as a people to see you and your precious name. Amen.
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