I don’t know how many of you have ever read Malachi before. I’m sure some of you will be familiar with some of the verses out of this book, even if you were unaware that Malachi was where those verses lived in the Bible. In all my years in church, I don’t think that I have ever heard a sermon out of Malachi, and I can honestly say that I have never preached one. That will change this weekend, as Malachi is the text I will be using for my sermon on October 5.
Malachi is a pretty simple book to understand really: it all boils down to honouring God in your heart. The context of Malachi’s words on this topic is the way the people of Israel were dishonouring God with their offerings at the temple. The people were bringing sick or lame animals for sacrifice instead of the perfect ones expected of them. Malachi also points out to the people that they were not honouring God by bringing in their 10% tithe to the temple at harvest time.
I know church people do not like to talk about money, and to be honest pastor’s don’t usually like talking about it either. For too long people have been convinced that the church is after their money, which should be the furthest thing from our minds. We should be concerned that people are going to hell.
At the heart of the matter, those two topics (money and hell) are all about the same things: honouring God. The way we give (joyously or grudgingly) and how much we give (from our excess or from our gain) really comes down to how much we honour God in our hearts. Malachi is God’s way of reminding his people, that’s us too by the way, that God deserves all glory, honour and praise. The way we give and how much we give should reflect that.
There is also a second topic mixed into the conversation about honouring God. There is a prophetic element mixed in as well. Specifically chapter 2:17-3:6 and chapter 4 both talk about the future coming of God’s kingdom and the judgement that will come with that day. It may seem odd that these two sections crop up in Malachi’s otherwise very pointed message, but if you think about it, these two messages go very well together. If we don’t honour God, then we will face the consequences, either in this life or at the moment when God judges everyone. Malachi is not talking about salvation earned through works here. He is talking about faith that shows itself in how we live our lives. Our faith in God, our desire to call him King of kings, should show up in how we make decisions and the kind of life we live; a life that honours God.
The hard part is, it sometimes does not seem very worth it to follow God. Sometimes it actually feels like the hard road instead of the easy road. Some of Malachi’s audience must have felt this way. Chapter 3:13-4:3 addresses this very issue, and in those verses God confirms his commitment to reward the righteous and punish the wicked.
This is a challenging little book and I hope you take the time to let the Holy Spirit lead you in a search of your own heart to determine just how much you are honouring God.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Luke 1; John 1:1-14