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Malachi - Seven Stupid Questions

Malachi - Seven Stupid Questions

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Published by Ron Lair
A study in the Minor Prophets
A study in the Minor Prophets

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Published by: Ron Lair on Oct 13, 2010
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11/09/2010

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Malachi
 
Seven Stupid Questions
"...
 Return to me, and I will return to you," says the LORD Almighty..."
 
from Malachi 3:7
You always hear it said that there's no such thing as a stupid question. Or The only stupid question is the onenot asked. I guess that's right, for the most part. Asking a question to get a better understanding is always better than keeping your mouth shut and not learning what you want to know - no matter how elemental the questionmay be.There's also another variation of the saying: There is no such thing as a stupid question - only stupid people. Bethat as it may, I think there is one category of stupid question and that's when we ask a question but really don'twant to listen for the answer. Sometimes we ask a question in order to advert an answer. We ask it in a way to justify ourselves and belittle the one were talking to. For instance, have you ever heard a conversation thatcontained the question: "What in the world are you talking about?" ever go well?That's the kind of question that the Jews were asking God. They weren't looking for answers, they weren'ttrying to find out what He wanted from them. They were only trying to parry God's accusations and justifythemselves. God, through Malachi, tried to get them to repent and return to Him. They wanted no part of it.They would rather continue in their moral darkness and hide from the light.Every one of these questions could be replaced with "What in the world are you talking about, God?"
Q #1: How Have You Loved Us?
Dismissing God's Love (1:1-5)
The Lord opens with a very simple but yet profound message: "I have loved you" How would you feel if God,out of the blue, verbally said to you "I Love You"? Wouldn't that make your day? Could anything wipe thesmile off your face the rest of the day? i would be ecstatic! That's a great message. Now, I may also startthinking about how I've failed Him and how unworthy I am of His great love. How about you?That's the message that these people heard... but how did they respond? They weren't impressed at all. It didn'tmake them happy. It didn't even make them regret how they've lived. They had a stupid question "How haveYou loved us?" In other words, 'We sure don't see any evidence of that."
Jacob vs. Esau
 
.God's answer is to look back at Jacob and Esau. Two brothers - twins and before they were even born, beforeeither did anything good or bad, before either could respond to God, God said "Jacob I have loved but Esau Ihave hated."How do we understand that? Well, first thing, let's be careful how we define God's love. We usually think of love as being some warm fuzzy feeling. Emotions aren't completely removed, But, that's not a very complete picture of love, especially God's love. Love starts with a decision - a choice. Maybe it just hits you, maybe ittook several years to come to that point but you made a choice. but, it doesn't end there hopefully. After youmake your choice, you make a commitment. You make the commitment that this is going to be the One and
 
 
you're in it for the long haul.That's the way to understand God's love for jacob over Esau. He made a decision - a choice to love Jacob. Oncethe choice was made, He was committed to it. No matter what would happen afterwards, nothing was going tochange that. That's good news for Israel.There wasn't much to admire in Jacob. He was a bit of a "mamma's boy" He was a cheater, a manipulator. Whenhe saw something that he wanted, like Esau's birthright, he would do anything it took to get it. Yet, God chosehim. And his descendents - they run off and worship idols at the drop of a hat. Unfaithful, hypocrites, lovers of self more than lovers of God. and yet, even in this time of apostasy where it seems they've sunk to new lows,God still says "I Love You."God's love for Jacob, God's love for Israel, God's love for ME has nothing to do with character or actions. It'sall about His sovereign choice. And when He's made His choice, He's committed to it. even though His peoplemay spit in His face.
#2. How Have We Shown Contempt For Your Name?
Corrupting Worship (1:6-2:9)
The Lord lays out His first accusation and it lies squarely at the feet of the priests, the one's who's purpose it isto represent God to His people. If the entire nation held the Lord in contempt, surely these men would bedifferent. In fact, they were the 'ring leaders' It was their view of God, their contempt for Him that filtered downto the nation as a whole.
Defiled Worship
 God says that a son shows honor to his father and a servant to his master, but where is the honor due me? All Iget from you is contempt. These were supposed to be servants of God. From a distance, they no doubt appearedto be righteous and loving men who lived their lives for God. But, God sees them as anything but. He says "Youshow nothing but contempt for my name."How so? By offering blemished sacrifices. he should have been getting the first and best of the crop and flock.But, they were offering the worst... animals that probably wouldn't even sell in the marketplace. God wasgetting the leftovers. If a celebrity came for dinner, would you pull a cold, leftover grilled cheese sandwich outof the fridge for him? Would you give a broken toaster as a wedding gift? But, that's the sort of offering thatGod gets from these priests. And I dare say, when it comes to time or money, sometimes that's all He gets fromus. If we're going to call it a sacrifice, it has to cost us something, not just whatever we can do without.Again, the priest ought to have known better. But, they went through their duties and performed their emptyrituals, thinking that they were doing God a favor. Their act was enough to impress themselves - they wipe their  brow and say "whew, what a burden!' But God isn't impressed one bit. He says He'd rather that they just shutthe temple doors. No worship at all is better than insincere, contemptible worship.Well, at least we're in the clear... we don't offer animal sacrifices anymore. Well, are there other ways that wecan show contempt for God in our worship? No doubt. When we come to worship in a haphazard way. Whenwe come into worship with our minds fixed elsewhere. When we value worship as what we get out of it.
 
 
Somewhere down the line, worship has gotten turned inside out. We approach it as the preacher or the songleader is an actor on a stage, God is the prompter in the wings, feeding the performer his lines, and thecongregation is the audience taking in the show. But that's completely backwards. It's the people who are the"performers", the pastor or worship leader is the prompter, and it's God that is the audience. He's the recipient of our worship. Absolutely, we should walk away from worship uplifted and changed, but the goal of worship isn'tabout blessing me - it's about blessing God.Offering leftovers...That's no way to treat God. And when it happens, He's not pleased. He is The LordAlmighty and deserves infinitely more.
 Warning to the Priests
 
The charges have been leveled and now it's time for the priests to respond. He calls them to listen to what Hehas to say and repent, it's time for them to set their hearts on honoring Him. If they don't, there will be a cursecoming.Blemished offerings wasn't the priests only offense. They also failed to instruct the people in serving andrelating to God. Rather than leading the people into righteousness, they were causing them to stumble. Better if they would have kept their mouths shut than to teach as they did.
The Marks of A Faithful Shepherd
 It's interesting that in the middle of this scolding of the priests, we get a good picture of what a faithful minister should be. The Lord looks back to Levi as the prototype shepherd.1. Reverence. - the first mark of a good shepherd is his relationship to God All those passages that talk aboutthe fear of the Lord aren't referring to terror - it's a reverence for God. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" Ps 111:10 Reverence for God is the beginning of all things spiritual.2. Commitment to the truth of God's Word. Truth is desperately needed in this world and it's important that our  pastors aren't giving us their own thoughts and opinions. It's too easy to be in error even for the most sincere pastor. He needs to be committed to relaying God's Word. That's a heavy responsibility.3. A Godly character. "
 He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin
." His walk withGod is crucial. That's true of everyone, but especially spiritual leaders. He needs to be a Godly person so that heis in tune with God in order to be used effectively. He also needs to be a good example of Godliness for the people to follow. It's not just his soul that's in the balance. The leader's character has a direct effect on that of the people.

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