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Sunday School Lesson

August 30

A Plea to Return to God

 

Devotional Reading: Psalm 25:4-11

Background Scripture: Malachi 3:1-12; Matthew 7:12

 

Focal Verses

Malachi 3:1-10

 

1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.

 

2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:

 

3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

 

4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.

 

5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.

 

6 For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

 

7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?

 

8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

 

9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.

 

10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

 

Key Verse

 

All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. —Matthew 7:12

 

Lesson Aims

 

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

 

1. List some indicators that the people of Mal-achi’s day had broken God’s covenant.

 

2. Explain Malachi’s rebuke of the people’s breach of the covenant in the context of the coming day of the Lord.

 

3. Examine his or her fidelity to the new covenant and commit to greater faithfulness.

 

 

Introduction

 

A. Tithing Today

 

While visiting Ely Cathedral in England, I also saw a former home of Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), who became the Lord Protector of the commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland. This structure, dating to the thirteenth century, had been the cathedral’s “tithing house.” Cromwell lived there for about a decade as he served as the agent to collect tithes from local farmers and store them in the nearby “tithing barn.”

 

This tithe was a levy of 10 percent on farmers’ produce, the most practical way to receive tithes in a largely cashless society. Not only was tithing obligatory in those days, it was enforced by a quasi-governmental system. This seems very foreign to us today, yet the issue of tithing has been a source of controversy in several churches I have served. Should the church expect all members to tithe (give 10 percent)? Should the church require this? If so, how should it be enforced? Should the tithe be on gross or net income? Should all the tithe go to the local church, or does money given to other charitable organizations count as part of the tithe? So many questions!

 

Despite the system of Cromwell’s England and traditions of many churches today, there is no direct New Testament teaching that requires tithing. Paul taught the Corinthians to give willingly, generously, and cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:5-7) in proportion to what one has (1 Corinthians 16:2), but he did not specify a percentage.

 

Any biblical doctrine of tithing is therefore based on Old Testament passages, and many Christians do not see these as binding in the church. However, Old Testament teachings about tithing are important for they reveal how God views the purposes of giving. Perhaps the most famous passage about tithing is found in the book of Malachi, the source of this week’s lesson.

 

B. Lesson Background

 

The name Malachi means “my messenger.” It may be that this is a title rather than a personal name, for essentially the same Hebrew word occurs both in Malachi 1:1 (translated “Malachi”) and 3:1 (translated “my messenger”). We have little definitive knowledge about this man or his prophetic ministry. The issues he addressed seem to parallel those of Ezra and Nehemiah, which would place Malachi in the mid-fifth century BC. For context, this dating means that the rebuilt temple had been in operation for over half a century and that most of Malachi’s audience had grown up with this institution being fully functional.

 

Malachi addressed a variety of issues, but his core complaint was that the people no longer honored or respected the Lord (see Malachi 1:6a). The worst offenders seem to have been the temple priests themselves, who were guilty of using defective animals as sacrifices (1:6b-8). Malachi told them that it would be better to shut down the temple than to operate in such a shameful manner (1:10). He prophesied terrible judgment for the priests, a curse to span generations (2:2, 3).

 

But the future was not entirely bleak for Malachi, and he promised a renewed presence of the Lord. It is the fulfillment of that promise that is especially important for us today.

 

I. What to Expect

 

                                                                  (Malachi 3:1-5)

 

A. My Messenger and the Lord (v. 1)

 

1. Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.

 

This can be a confusing verse, because at first glance it may seem to refer to four individuals: (1) my messenger, (2) the Lord, whom ye seek, (3) the messenger of the covenant, and (4) the Lord of hosts. The first refers to a specially designated future messenger of the Lord. The last three are different ways to refer to the God of Israel.

 

Let’s break this down a bit further. The given purpose of the first individual is to prepare the way before the Lord. The nature of this preparation is not explained. But presuming that the preparation is not conducted in secret, we can safely assume that it includes at least an announcement of the Lord’s coming, whose arrival at and appearance in his temple will be sudden.

 

The word suddenly may include the idea of “unexpectedly” (as in Numbers 6:9; Isaiah 47:11) for those who don’t pay attention to the preparations to be made by the messenger. Malachi’s audience is in for an unwanted surprise if they don’t repent (see the Lesson Background).

 

On the other hand, the Lord’s arrival will be a welcome time for those who anticipate His coming. Malachi pictures the Lord as a messenger concerned with His covenant with Israel; thus the second and third individuals are one and the same. Since this prophecy originates directly from the Lord of hosts, its fulfillment is guaranteed. The Lord of hosts is the Lord God Almighty (see Revelation 4:8), the author of Israel’s covenant, the one whose glory has filled the temple in the past (1 Kings 8:11).

 

The facts of history establish Malachi’s words to be predictive of John the Baptist as the messenger of the Lord, and Jesus Christ as the Lord who comes to His people. Jesus quotes Malachi 3:1 in identifying the role of John the Baptist as Jesus’ forerunner (Matthew 11:10; Luke 7:27).

 

What Do You Think?

 

How did others help “prepare the way” for you to receive Christ? How can you do so for others?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

Regarding lifestyle modeled

Regarding conversational patterns

Regarding informal teaching opportunities

Other

 

The Lord Is Returning!

 

With the Lord’s first coming now a fact of history, focus rightfully shifts to His promised return (Acts 1:11; etc.). Even so, most Christians know all too well the pitfalls of being obsessive about signs and calculations in this regard.

 

But some never seem to learn! Some prognosticators saw proof of the end approaching when a giant meteor exploded in the sky over eastern Russia on February 15, 2013, the same day asteroid 2012 DA14 passed very close to Earth. End-time significance was also seen in the names of the constellations through which comet C/2012 S1 passed in the fall of 2013.

 

Unlike modern false prophets, Malachi left the timing up to God. Far more important than ascertaining the time of the Lord’s coming—whether of the first instance in Malachi’s prophecy or the second in our day—is letting the world know that it will happen! Do we need to spend our time more wisely in that regard?—C. R. B.

 

B. Fire and Soap (vv. 2, 3a)

 

2. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap.

 

Malachi prophesies the coming of the Lord in terms of judgment. The implied answer to his two rhetorical questions is “no one,” meaning that all are subject to judgment. The effect of the judgment to come will be like a refiner’s fire, which burns away the impurities in the ore of a precious metal (see more on this in v. 3, below).

 

What Do You Think?

 

How have life experiences served as “a refiner’s fire” regarding your commitment to Christ?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

Health problems (illnesses, accidents, etc.)

Financial setbacks

Loss of loved ones

Other

 

Malachi also compares this judgment with fullers’ soap. The Hebrew phrasing behind this occurs only here and in Jeremiah 2:22. A fuller is a launderer or one who dresses cloth. The soap used in such a trade is not the gentle soap for washing clothes as we use today, but is strong lye soap. It can turn linen or wool from brownish to intensely white (see Mark 9:3). Jeremiah 2:22 notes the impossibility of sinful Israel’s using such soap to cleanse itself from sin. But here in Malachi, such cleansing is possible from the Lord.

 

3a. And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver.

 

Refining fire purifies gold and silver in a brutal process that separates the metal from contaminants. As applied to people, this happens in terms of three distinctives. First, the Lord shall sit as He refines, intending perhaps a double image of a judge seated on a judgment throne as well as a metallurgist at work in a forge. Second, the special objects of refining judgment are the sons of Levi, the priestly class that is corrupting the temple (Malachi 1:6; 2:1-9). Third, the intent of this judgment is not annihilation but purity (see the next verse).

 

C. Good and Bad (vv. 3b-5)

 

3b. That they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

 

The result of the purification is that these sons of Levi will be able to give an offering in righteousness. The correction in the temple’s sacrificial practices will be a sign that the covenant is restored, but we must not understand this apart from the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. His crucifixion in close proximity to the temple was the perfect, righteous sacrifice for all time, making an eternal covenant (see Hebrews 13:11, 12, 20).

 

4. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.

 

Having looked to the future, Malachi takes a glance at the past. Proper sacrifice will not be a new development but a return to the days of old. The priestly system of sacrifices has been part of Israel’s history for perhaps a thousand years by Malachi’s day. That system has been defiled often over the centuries, but the future renewal will be pleasant unto the Lord. This indicates reconciliation between God and His people.

 

What Do You Think?

 

How has your understanding of giving grown over the years? What or who influenced that growth?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

During various stages of childhood

During various stages of adulthood

 

5. And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.

 

Now we learn that the judgment of God is not just against the corrupt and cynical Levites. It is also against a long list of those whose sins are being tolerated in Malachi’s day, perhaps as such people are favored by the priestly class (“the sons of Levi,” v. 3). Malachi’s list of evildoers, one of the most comprehensive in the prophets, identifies sorcerers (those engaging in occult practices), who are condemned in Isaiah 47:9, 12; adulterers (those breaking the Seventh Commandment), who are condemned in Malachi 2:14; false swearers (those violating the Ninth Commandment), who are condemned in Leviticus 6:1-6; and those who oppress the most vulnerable, oppressors condemned in Zechariah 7:10 (last week’s lesson).

 

The blanket description of all these folks is that they do not fear the Lord. They view the requirements of God as irrelevant. The Lord will be a swift witness against these wrongdoers! The perversion of justice in Malachi’s society is abhorrent and intolerable to the Lord. Such injustice is a frequent target of His prophets (see Isaiah 59:15, lesson 9; Jeremiah 7:5-11, lesson 10; Amos 5:7, 24, lesson 2; Micah 3:9, lesson 6; etc.). If humans do not enact God’s justice, then God himself will act to do so.

 

What Do You Think?

 

How can Malachi’s words help form a Christian viewpoint on various social issues today?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

Regarding aid from the government vs. aid by the church vs. seeing giving of aid as “enabling”

Regarding governmental economic policies

Regarding immigration policy

Other

 

II. How to Prepare

 

                                                                 (Malachi 3:6-10)

 

A. Problem (vv. 6-9)

 

6. For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

 

With injustice and evil rampant, where is the justice of the Lord? Malachi answers this implied question with a brief but profound assertion from God: I am the Lord, I change not. In other words, God is not subject to human expectations. That was God’s reply to Job when that man demanded answers of the Lord for his suffering (Job 38:4). God is not answerable to us or to our questions about His plans. It is His decision that for the present the sons of Jacob are not consumed.

 

7a. Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts.

 

To stray from the covenant is not a new thing for Israel, the covenant people. They have sinned willfully from the earliest days (example: the notorious golden-calf incident of Exodus 32).

 

The invitation return unto me means repenting—rededicating hearts to the Lord while renouncing a sinful path. Return is a directional word, recognizing that a course must be reversed. A picture found often in the Bible is that of the heavenly Father waiting and longing for people to return to Him (compare Luke 15:20). The act and response Return unto me, and I will return unto you reminds us of James 4:8: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.”

 

7b. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?

 

The question Malachi anticipates from his audience may imply a rebellious state of mind as the people respond, “We don’t need to turn to God. We are just fine. Go away and leave us alone.” On the other hand, the question Malachi anticipates may imply sincere bewilderment as in, “We’re already with God. How can we return to Him when we’re already there?” Either way, Malachi is about to describe something specific that the people must do to begin their return to the Lord.

 

8. Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

 

The chosen issue has to do with one of the covenant obligations of the people, the matter of tithes and offerings. The Law of Moses features extensive regulations concerning tithes. Studying these yields an important principle: the tithe belongs to the Lord. In a flock of sheep, for example, every tenth animal is God’s (Leviticus 27:32). This is not a matter of the flock’s owner being generous by giving valuable sheep to the temple. Rather, it is yielding to the Lord an asset under one’s oversight as one realizes that the asset is already the Lord’s by right.

 

When we give an offering at church today, we may be tempted to view it like a parent giving a child an allowance, or like a taxpayer dutifully writing a check to the government. Malachi’s understanding flows in the opposite direction: all the sheep are God’s to begin with, yet He claims only one-tenth. For an ancient Israelite to tithe was God’s permission for them to keep the other nine-tenths. Therefore, to withhold the tithe was not a lack of generosity but outright thievery—a taking of that which belonged to another.

 

What Do You Think?

 

What can one’s giving practices say about the condition of his or her relationship with God?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

Regarding consistency in giving

Regarding preparations to give

Regarding reasons for giving

Other

 

Robbing God Today

 

By one estimate, the average churchgoer puts only about 3 percent of his or her income in the offering plate. Another study claims that if this would rise to 10 percent, then American Christians “could evangelize the world, stop the daily deaths of 29,000 children younger than 5 worldwide, provide elementary education across the globe and tackle domestic poverty—and have $150 billion left over annually.”

 

How those figures were calculated is not clear, but the claimed outcomes would indeed be impressive! More conservatively, however, think what would happen if that 3 percent level of giving increased only to 4 percent: funding for ministry would go up by a whopping one-third!

 

But all this talk of percentages may be missing a key element of the bigger picture: God is interested in much more than a formulaic relationship with His people. His call for purity of life indicates there is more to being godly than giving a specified percentage of one’s income.

 

Are there ways we rob God other than by being stingy when the offering plate is passed? Perhaps the time and effort I pour into furthering my career is robbing God of my service for His kingdom. Perhaps my leisure activities are robbing God of the attention He wants me to give to my family on His behalf. What other areas of potential robbery come to mind?—C. R. B.

 

9. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.

 

Stealing from God? Bad. Very bad. It is so bad that Malachi portrays it as a curse, something that affects the prosperity of the whole nation. The miserly, thieving heart misses out on the blessings of God. If the love of money and possessions is so consuming that a person chooses not to release even a small percentage of them, there will be strong motivation for the social injustices already condemned (Malachi 3:5). The result will be a society where wages are withheld without cause, where widows and orphans will be destitute, and where foreigners will be denied basic human rights. Such is the bitter yield of selfishness!

 

B. Solution (v. 10)

 

10. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

 

God promises to bless those who give freely and in full measure. This verse, used in countless offering meditations for decades, does not have the mechanical, legalistic application for Christians and churches that it is sometimes given. But it does establish at least two wonderful and important principles.

 

First, God promises that when the community is a giving community, there is meat in mine house. Under the old covenant, tithes and offerings go to Levites as their livelihood for their work in ministry (Numbers 18; Nehemiah 10:36-39). Failure to provide for Levites in this way results in decreased functioning of the temple (Nehemiah 13:10-13). The needs of the family of God are being met by the generosity of its members.

 

Giving in free and full measure today means that the necessary budget of the church is met by the church membership. Our contributions provide for and maintain church facilities as well as salary for church staff members who devote themselves to ministry as a vocation. In the context of Malachi, generosity also includes assistance for the needy, and this obligation is ours today as well (2 Corinthians 8:1-15; etc.).

 

Second, the giver will be blessed. In a beloved word-picture, Malachi promises that the windows of heaven will be opened for generous people. Normally, we are not to tempt or test God (Deuteronomy 6:16; Matthew 4:7). But here God invites His people to test Him: prove me now herewith. The blessings of God will far exceed the sacrificial giving of the generous person.

 

We should not necessarily anticipate these blessings in tangible ways, although that may be part of it. Generosity is its own reward as our hearts are warmed when we know our gifts make a difference in the lives of others. Whether those gifts mean providing for our minister, supporting a homeless shelter, or helping purchase a cow for subsistence farmers in Africa, there is satisfaction in having done as God desires.

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

A. Leaving a Legacy

 

Not long ago, I spoke with an elderly friend who had a vexing problem. He had spent most of his life becoming rich. He had done this by sacrificial saving, careful investing, frugal living, and hard work. At the end of his life, he had far more money than he would ever use. What should he do with all his money? He was reluctant to leave it to his children, because they were all doing well themselves.

 

I had suggestions for him, but the situation also made me ponder what plans we Christians should make for our assets. We are motivated to save for the future and often warned that we can never save too much. But it seems to me that we are missing a blessing if we do not begin to release our assets before we die. Wouldn’t I enjoy increasing my support for my favorite Christian ministry now rather than designate a substantial gift in my will?

 

The answer to this sort of question will depend on one’s financial position, needs for retirement, etc. Perhaps, though, the teachings of Malachi may spur us to giving generously so that the windows of Heaven will open for blessings long before we are actually in Heaven!

 

B. Prayer

 

Father, help us to be more like You as we seek to live lives of generosity. We thank You for the blessings we have received from Your bounty and for those You have planned for our future. We pray this in the name of Your generous Son, Jesus; amen.

 

C. Thought to Remember

 

God still blesses generosity.

 

 

How to Say It

Ezra Ez-ruh.

Isaiah Eye-zay-uh.

Jeremiah Jair-uh-my-uh.

Malachi Mal-uh-kye.

Moses Mo-zes or Mo-zez.

Nehemiah Nee-huh-my-uh.

Zechariah Zek-uh-rye-uh.

 

 

 

Kid’s Corner

Sunday, August 30,  2015

Return to a Just God

                                            

Lesson:Malachi 3:1-10

Time of Action:About 430 B.C.

Place of the action:Jerusalem

                                                                                                

Golden Text:“For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6).

 

 

New International Version (NIV)

 

 

I.  THE JUST GOD COMES (Malachi 3:1-5)                

 

1. “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

 

2. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.

 

3. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness,

 

4. and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.

 

5. “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.

 

 

 

II. THE JUST GOD RESPONDS (Malachi 3:6-10)

 

6. “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.

 

7. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’

 

8. “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings.

 

9. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me.

 

10. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

 

 

 

PRACTICAL POINTS:

 

 

1.  God’s judgments always come unexpectedly to those asleep in their sins (Malachi 3:1; I Thessalonians 5:1-5).

 

2.  Only those prepared for the purging of God will endure the judgment associated with the return of the Lord (Malachi 3:2).

 

3.  Christians can be thankful that the Lord Jesus took our judgment, but must still prepare for their works to be judged (Malachi 3:3; I Corinthians 3:13-15; John 3:24).

 

4.  Only the worship of those made righteous by the sacrifice of Christ is pleasing to God (Malachi 3:4).

 

5.  Because the Lord does not change, He always hates and judges sin, but He also faithfully keeps His promises (Malachi 3:5-6).

 

6.  There is still hope for the wicked as long as repentance is available to them (Malachi 3:7).

 

7. We should recognize that everything we have comes from God, and we should willingly surrender all to Him (Malachi 3:8; I Corinthians 4:7).

 

8. God has given His people the privilege of providing for His work, and He desires that we prove Him to be an abundant Provider by our faithful giving (Malachi 3:9-10). 

 

 

I.  INTRODUCTION  

After the Babylonian Captivity ended, a remnant of Jews returned to the Holy Land (see Ezra 1:1-5; 2:1) to rebuild the temple and the city of Jerusalem.  At the time Malachi ministered, some one hundred years after the first exiles returned to Judah, the temple had been rebuilt and the city was restored, but the people’s hearts were not right with God.  They had not been living up to the covenant they had with the Lord and they were losing enthusiasm for worship.  Many were skeptical of God’s promises.  Malachi called God’s drifting people to repentance, reminding them of God’s reward for faithfulness.    

 

 

 

II. BACKGROUND FOR THE LESSON 

Nehemiah led a third major return of exiles back to Jerusalem in 445 B.C. with the goal of rebuilding the walls around the city.  He led the completion of this task and remained in Jerusalem as governor for 12 years (see Nehemiah 5:14) before returning to Persia.  He and Ezra also led the nation of Judah in spiritual revival (see Nehemiah chapters 7, 8).  However, after he returned to Persia, the people went back to their old wicked ways.  Nehemiah then returned some years later around 430 B.C. and found that the tithes were not given, the Sabbath Day was disregarded, intermarriage with foreigners was widespread and the priest became corrupt (see Nehemiah 13:10-31).   At this time, Malachi had begun his ministry in Jerusalem.  Unfortunately, most of Malachi’s prophecy consisted of rebuke for sin.  The priesthood was being defiled (see Malachi 1:6-14; 2:1-9), marriage was being taken lightly (see Malachi 2:16) and temple worship was lacking financial support (see Nehemiah 13:10-11).  It was in this context of moral corruption that Malachi ministered.  

 

 

  

III. THE JUST GOD COMES (Malachi 3:1-5)

 

A. The messenger preparing the way is coming (Malachi 3:1).

1. (vs 1).  Our first verse says “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.”  This announcement that the Lord would send His messenger is His response to the questions the prophet said the people asked in Malachi 2:17.  The two basic questions asked in Malachi 2:17 were “Wherein have we wearied him (God)?” and “Where is the God of judgment?”  Even though the people were back in the land and their temple was rebuilt, they were out of fellowship with their God.  The fact is, they were wearying or tiring God.  They believed that all of God’s threats of judgment were just empty words.  By asking those two questions, the people were accusing God of favoring those who were doing evil, even calling upon Him to show His judgment or justice as if He couldn’t.  In reality, Malachi 2:17 which is the last verse in chapter 2, belongs with chapter 3.  We must remember that the chapter divisions in our English Bibles were placed there by man and are not inspired.  The answer to those two questions is introduced with the word “Behold” which is used twice in this verse in order to get the people’s full attention.  The Lord went on to say “I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me.”  God’s answer through Malachi pointed toward the future.  The “messenger” here refers to the forerunner of the Messiah, John the Baptist.  We know this to be true because Jesus quoted Malachi 3:1when describing John the Baptist (see Matthew 11:10-11; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:27).  John the Baptist would be the “messenger” who God said would “prepare the way before me.”  In other words, God would send someone to prepare the way for Him to reveal Himself to mankind.  This prediction is also made in Isaiah 40:3, and both of them were based on the practice of kings sending men ahead of them to remove all obstacles in their paths.  The first part of this verse “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me” refers to Jesus’ first advent or coming.  Malachi, like other Old Testament prophets saw both comings of Christ as one event, but they didn’t see the church age which separates the two advents (see Ephesians 3:3-6; Colossians 1:25-27).  Note:  John the Baptist would be sent to remove the spiritual barriers so the Lord could be received and also prepare men to meet Him (see Matthew 3:1-11).  Malachi’s mention of a forerunner implied that the nation was not yet ready to receive their Messiah.  The Jews had complained about God’s apparent lack of interest in judging evil.  The prophet reminded them that they needed to deal with their own sins before they could meet their God.  It’s interesting that since Malachi also referred to the sending of Elijah the prophet in Malachi 4:5, the Jews interpret the messenger in Malachi 3:1 as Elijah.  Jews stoutly maintain that Elijah must come and anoint the Messiah.  Each year when the Jews celebrate the Passover Seder, it’s customary to send a young child to the door to look outside to see if Elijah had come to announce the kingdom.  After looking both ways carefully, the child sadly returns and says “Elijah has not come, maybe next year.”  But the Christian interpretation of John the Baptist as the messenger or forerunner of the Messiah is scriptural.  First of all, the angel said to John’s father, Zacharias “And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias (Elijah), to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (see Luke 1:16-17).  John also described himself as the “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (see John 1:21-23; Isaiah 40:3).  God, through the prophet also said that “the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple.”  This phrase refers to Christ’s Second Advent or coming.  The word “suddenly” implies that His coming will be unexpected, especially to those who allow themselves to be put to sleep by the long wait, or other concerns (see I Thessalonians 5:1-4; I Peter 3:10).  It’s possible that the phrase “shall suddenly come to his temple” refers to Jesus’ appearance in the temple at His first coming when He ran the buyers and sellers out of the temple courtyard.  However, in the context of the remaining verses, it’s more likely that it refers to the Messiah’s second coming as Judge to cleanse His people the Jews, which will result in many repenting.  It’s true that Jesus, Israel’s true Messiah did cleanse the temple at His first advent, but Israel didn’t repent at that time.  When the Lord returns, the temple will have been rebuilt.  Malachi also described the Messiah as “the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in.”  The word “messenger” can be translated “angel” and here it’s most likely a reference to the Angel of the Lord, who accompanied the covenant people during their journeys (see Exodus 23:20; 32:34).  As the Angel of the Lord, He is also “the messenger of the covenant” that God made with His people (see Judges 2:1).  Malachi also described the coming Messiah as “whom ye delight in” which was a reference to all those in Israel who sincerely longed for His coming (see Luke 2:25) and would rejoice at seeing Him.  However, in light of the people’s questions in Malachi 2:17, it maybe that the phrase “whom ye delight in” might have been spoken in irony, reminding the people of how little they really did delight in their God.  Finally in this verse, Malachi once again said “behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.”  The prophet made it clear that the Messiah was certainly going to appear, because God had placed His words behind it: “the Lord of hosts” said it.  If Israel wanted justice as they asked in Malachi 2:17, the Lord would give it to them, but His appearance and justice would not be as pleasant as they hoped it would be.

 

 

B. The Messenger will judge (Malachi 3:2-3).

1. (vs. 2).  Malachi goes on to say in this verse “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap.”  The second coming of Christ is primarily in view here.  The word “But” indicates that the Messiah’s coming to judge might be more than Malachi’s listeners had bargained for.  God through Malachi asked the questions “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth?”  To ask the questions was to answer them, for the answers to both questions is no one.  God’s judgment, judgment that the people thought would never come, will come in severity.  No one will be able to escape it or withstand it.  Malachi uses two analogies to explain why no one will be able to “abide” the day of Christ’s coming, or “stand when he appeareth.”   It’s because “he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap.”  First, like a refiner who burns the dross off of metals to reveal the pure metal, Christ will purge the dross or sin from Israel and make His people pure.  A “fuller” is a launderer or one who cleans clothes.  Like a launderer, Jesus would apply the strongest cleaning agent to remove the dirt from the fabric, or heart of the nation.  Both the “refiner's fire, and fullers' soap” are used as symbols of God’s purifying or cleansing process.  Those who contaminate the spiritual life of Israel will not be spared from judgment.  What soap and fire does in separating dirt from clothes and dross from metal, the cleansing word of God will do the same for His people (see John 15:3;17:17).

2. (vs. 3).  This verse says “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.”  Continuing his analogy from the previous verse, Malachi said that the Messiah “shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”  Like the refiner who purifies silver by fire to remove the dross, Christ will “purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver.”  Christ will start His judgment with “the sons of Levi” or the priests, the religious leaders who were the foremost offenders of God’s law.  In fact, God addressed them in Malachi 1:6 as, “O priests that despise my name.”  They were treating God’s name with contempt, and they led the people astray (Malachi 1:6-11).  The corrupt priests carried on their work as mere professionals, not like ministers of God.  They even offered blemished animals as sacrifices (see Malachi 1:6-2:9).  But the bad example set by the priests didn’t excuse the people of their sins.  They, too, were sinning grievously (see Malachi 2:10-17).  Messiah will “purge them (the priests) as gold and silver” purifying them of all corruption.  Christ’s cleansing and purifying of the priests is required so that “they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.”  When the religious leaders have been judged and purified or cleansed, they will offer sacrifices of “righteousness” meaning acceptable sacrifices.  When the lives of the Levites are set in proper order, they will make sure that the lives of the congregation are in order.  Christ’s appearance, then, will purify all the people, from the top of the leadership to the common working person.  Through this cleansing and refining process there will emerge a group of people who will sincerely serve the Lord.

 

 

C. The Messenger will protect (Malachi 3:4-5).

1. (vs. 4).  Malachi continues to say in this verse “Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.”  The word “Then” refers to what will happen after the divine judgment when Messiah cleanses His people and they offer righteous offerings.  At that time “Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord.”  Israel’s sacrifices were intended to be “a sweet savour (smell) unto the Lord” (see Leviticus 1:17), pleasing Him because they expressed the genuine devotion of the worshippers.  This future genuine worship that will please God will be done by Israel just like it had been “in the days of old, and as in former years.”  This phrase probably refers to the first years that Israel wandered in the wilderness under Moses before the priesthood became corrupt.  Note:  This passage teaches us the practical lesson that God desires worthy gifts from righteous people (see Psalms 4:5).  Believers today don’t need a special priesthood because we come to God through one High Priest, Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 3:1-2; 4:14-15; 5:5, 10; 6:20).  But we need to look closely at ourselves to determine whether our prayers, service, and offerings come from clean hearts and worthy motives (see Psalms 24:4-5; 51:10; 73:1).  Even the most valuable gift is worthless when it comes from an unclean giver.  We cannot offer unto the Lord any right performances in religion, i.e., attending church, giving financially, praise and worship unless we have been justified and sanctified.  Until we ourselves are refined and purified by the grace of God, we cannot do anything that will result in the glory of God.  Remember, God had respect to Abel first, and then to his offering.  Therefore, God purges his people, that we may offer our offerings to him in righteousness, as we worship Him in spirit and truth (see John 4:23-24).

2. (vs. 5).   In this verse, God goes on to say through the prophet “And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.”  Suddenly the judgment of God will come upon the transgressors.  The Lord said “And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness.”  This would be God’s answer to the people’s question in Malachi regarding God’s “judgment” or justice.  They asked “Where is the God of judgment (justice)?” (see Malachi 2:17).  As a swift witness” God Himself will bring His unbelieving people to justice, and He will be an expert witness and testify about the evil things they have done.  Then the Lord listed some of the sins and the sinners against whom His judgment will fall.

a. “Sorcerers:”The sin of sorcery involves divination, using the aid of evil spirits through such things as witchcraft, magic, and enchantments.  Contrary to God’s instructions in the Law, some Jews had married Gentile or foreign wives.  Through this sin Jews fell into the sin of sorcery (see Deuteronomy 7:1-6; 18: 9-14).  Note:  Not only did Jews sin by intermarrying with Gentiles, but they also violated God’s law regarding marriage by putting away their wives by divorce (see Malachi 2:15-16; Matthew 19:9).   

b. “Adulterers:”The sin of adultery was intercourse between two married people who were not married to each other.  This was a violation of the sixth commandment (see Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18; Proverbs 6:32).  The Law instructed Israel to put adulterers and adulteresses to death (see Leviticus 20:10).   Many Jews were guilty of both physical and spiritual adultery (see Matthew 5:28, 32; James 4:4) as are many people today.

c. “False swearers:” These were people who lie yet swear that something is true.  In particular, it referred to those who lied, then swore in God’s name so that the lie would be accepted (see Leviticus 19:12; James 5:12).

d. Those “that oppress the hireling in his wages” were guilty of the sin of cheating hired workers out of their full wages (see Leviticus 19:13; James 5:1-4).

e. Those “that oppress the widow, and the fatherless” were guilty of the sin of taking advantage of the disadvantaged: the widows and orphans.  This also violated God’s law (see Exodus 22:22-24).  Human nature is the same in every age for we see this type of attitude today.

f. Those “that turn aside the stranger from his right.”  This sin involved depriving strangers of justice.  There were those who defrauded, or took advantage of strangers that lived among God’s people.  The Law of Moses was very plain concerning the treatment of strangers.  They were to be accepted in love as one would accept another Israelite (see Leviticus 19:33-35).

g. The last group mentioned God described as those that “fear not me.”  This sin is simply failing to fear or reverence God.  This does not mean being afraid of God, but failing to reverence or respect Him.  Therefore, this sin provides the basis for all sin.  Sin originates from a disregard for God and His commandments (see I John 2:3-5).  Note:  All of these sins including many that are not mentioned here, were crimes prohibited in the Mosaic Law.  When Messiah returns, God will separate these sinners from a restored, cleansed Israel.  This will be God’s answer to the nation’s question about where is His justice (see Malachi 2:17).

 

 

IV. THE JUST GOD RESPONDS (Malachi 3:6-10)

    

A. The God who is unchanging (Malachi 3:6-7).

1. (vs. 6).  After all God had endured with this rebellious people, He surely had good reason to destroy them.  But He didn’t.  In this verse, the Lord declared “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”  The first phrase literally reads “For I, Yahweh, do not change.”  God used His name “Yahweh” or “Lord” to stress His unchangeableness.  It was also God’s covenant name that He used to emphasize His covenant relationship with Israel.  This name means the “One who exists eternally.”  Even though God is gracious and compassionate, He cannot change His moral standards to accommodate sinners.  That would violate His essential nature.  Because God does not change, He said “therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”  The Lord had made an unconditional covenant with Abraham and his descendents (see Genesis chapter 15) and confirmed it with Isaac (see Genesis 26:3-4, 24) and Jacob (see Genesis 28:13-14).  The Jews, as the “sons” or descendents of “Jacob,” God had not destroyed them, because by His very nature He does not change.  He does not go back on His promises (see Psalms 119:89; James 1:17).  After God established a covenant relationship with Israel He promised that He would not destroy them (see Deuteronomy 4:30-31).  The fact that there were still Jews in Malachi’s time was due totally to God’s faithfulness.  Israel had deserved destruction, but God was absolutely faithful and changeless.  He will never break His word.  Note:  The unchangeableness of God does not mean that He has not changed His way of dealing with man.  His standard remains perfect, but the demonstration of faith in order to be reconciled to God has changed.  Believers in Israel offered sacrifices and kept the Mosaic Law by faith.  Believers today accept Christ for forgiveness and then show faith through godly actions and godly speech.  God’s dealing with man may change, but neither He nor His standards never change. 

2. (vs. 7).  God continued to say in this verse “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?”  While God was faithful, Israel had been wayward.  He indicted them saying “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them.”  The rebelliousness of previous generations had resulted in exile from their land.  Now their spiritually rebellious descendents were reverting to the same old ways, not keeping His “ordinances” or commandments.  Violating God’s ordinances had become the norm for Israel, and obedience was the exception.  Unfaithfulness characterized the people of Israel all through their history and God reminded them of that.  Both they and their ancestors had rebelled against God and repeatedly disobeyed His commands.  But in spite of their stubbornness and persistence in sin, God extended the opportunity for them to restore fellowship with Him.  Therefore He said “Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts.”  Their repeated unfaithfulness had not changed His love for them.  He would forgive them yet again, but they had to take the first step.  Repentance or a change in behavior was the response God required.  The word “Return” implies a genuine conversion in which they both confessed their sins and changed their ways.  If they returned to Him in repentance and obedience, He would return to them in blessing.  Instead of responding to their gracious God in repentance, the people asked “Wherein shall we return?”  In other words they were asking “How do we return?”  This question implies that this complacent generation had not only wandered from God, they had also lost all sense of guilt over what they had done.  They were so satisfied with themselves that they were not even aware that they had gone astray.  Note:  We don’t have to wonder why many sinners today are not bothered when they are faced with their blatant violations of God’s standards.  They have simply set aside the Bible, considering it to be irrelevant, and they have formed their own standards.  Trust me; this is a dangerous attitude to have!

 

 

B. The God who is robbed (Malachi 3:8-9).

1. (vs. 8).  In response to the people’s question regarding how can they return to Him, God asked “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.”  The word “rob” means “to defraud” or “cheat” (see Proverbs 22:22).  The question “Will a man rob God?” implies how unthinkable it is for a mere human to try to defraud God.  Yet that’s exactly what they were doing, for the Lord went on to answer His own question saying “Yet ye have robbed me.”  This Jewish remnant that had returned to Jerusalem was stealing from the Lord.  Instead of agreeing with God, they seemed not to believe or understand the charge, so they challenged God’s statement by asking “Wherein have we robbed thee?”  They wanted to know how they had robbed Him.  God was quick to reply saying “In tithes and offerings.”  The people had not obeyed the laws regarding tithes and offerings.  The “tithes” of the Israelites consisted of several things.  First, they were to give a tenth of all their produce and livestock for the support of the Levites (see Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers 18:24).  Another tithe was to be given every third year for Levites and the destitute people of the land (see Deuteronomy 14:28-29).  In addition there were various “offerings” that were set aside for the support of the priests (see Numbers 5:9-10; Deuteronomy 18:1-5).  Note:  God’s method for providing for His temple and the priests and Levites was through the tithes and offerings of the people.  When the land was divided among the twelve tribes, the Levites were not allotted any land, so they were completely dependent on what was brought to the temple by those who owned land and animals.  When people failed to give what was commanded of them by God, His servants, the priests and Levites suffered.  In this way they robbed God of what was rightfully His.  When the people failed to give their tithes and offerings, the priest and Levites had no income, and were forced to abandon serving in the temple to find other means of support (see Nehemiah 13:10).  The laws regarding the tithe and offerings were binding under the Mosaic Law.  Does that mean that since we are no longer under that rule of life (see II Corinthians 3:7-11; Galatians 3:24-25) that we have no obligation toward God regarding giving?  No, it does not.  Today, God still expects believers to give to support the ministry.  The New Testament gives direct teaching on the matter of the believer’s responsibility in giving (see II Corinthians 8:1-15; 9:6-15).  However, the tithe, or ten percent, is an excellent place to start our giving.

2. (vs. 9).  In this verse God said “Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.”  In robbing God, the Jews were really robbing themselves of God’s blessings.  If the people had “robbed” God in order to increase their own possessions, they had not succeeded.  He declared “Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me.”  God had earlier stated that He would send a “curse” upon their blessings if they would not obey (see Malachi 2:2).  They had not obeyed so the “curse” had fallen upon them.  God said that it was because “ye have robbed me.”  Malachi 3:11 tells us what this “curse” included.  The crops were attacked by insects, and the grapes fell from the vines prematurely.  The people had decided not to give the firstfruits or the tithes in order to have more for themselves, but in the end they had nothing at all (see Haggai 1:4-6, 9-11).  The Lord also said “even this whole nation” was guilty of robbing Him.  Therefore, the “curse” had fallen upon the entire land.  Surely this does not mean that every single individual in the nation was at odds with God.  There must have been some who remained faithful, because God always has a remnant who will honor Him (see Ezra 3:8; Isaiah 1:9; 10:22; 46:3-4; Jeremiah 31:7; 42:2-4; Joel 2:32; Micah 7:18-19; Zephaniah 3:13; Haggai 1:12; Romans 9:27; 11:5).  However, the sin was so widespread, especially among the leaders, that the “whole nation” was implicated.

 

 

 

C. The God who blesses (Malachi 3:10).  In our final verse, God told the people to “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”  The cursed situation that the Jews found themselves in didn’t have to continue.  God indicated that circumstances could change if the people would “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house.”   The words “all the tithes” implies that some had stopped tithing and they needed to resume giving the tithe.  It can also imply that many people had been giving but were holding back a part of what the law required.  We all know what happened to Ananias and Sapphira who kept back part of what belonged to God (see Acts 5:1-5).  The “storehouse” refers to chambers in the temple set aside for the people’s gifts (see II Chronicles 31:11-12; Nehemiah 10:34-39).  Things had gotten so bad that Nehemiah found that some of the temple storage rooms had been converted into a private apartment for Tobiah, the Ammonite (see Nehemiah 13:7) who led the opposition against the rebuilding of Jerusalem (see Nehemiah 2:10, 19; 4:3, 7-8).  The word “meat” means food and here it refers to meeting the needs of the Levites and priests according to the Mosaic Law.  The food was necessary to sustain the priests and Levites so that they could spend all their time serving God, which was also serving His people.  Note:  The Levites had been granted some land next to their cities, where they could keep cattle and possibly raise crops (see Numbers 35:1-5).  However, during their terms of service at the temple, they had to be supported completely by others.  Our churches today also need God’s people to give faithfully.  Our pastors are supported through our giving, as were the Levites and priests (see I Corinthians 9:7-14).  God blesses churches who care for His servants (see Luke 6:38).  The Lord then challenged His people by saying “and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing.”  The words “prove me” means to “put someone to the test.”  God invited His people to test Him by bringing all their tithes and He would respond by giving to them.  He likened His giving to them to opening windows of heaven and pouring out upon them much blessing.  In that dry land, abundant rain was a great blessing.  Here it symbolizes God’s favor and blessing in all areas of life.  If the people gave as God had directed, His blessing would be so great that He said “that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”  Note:  God’s promised blessing included both rain and the elimination of the pests that had devoured their crops (see Malachi 3:11).  If His people would begin to honor Him with their gifts, God would call off these devastating attacks.  He also would guarantee undamaged, healthy vines to bear fruit at the proper time.  Christians cannot apply the literal details of this passage to ourselves because we were not given the same arrangements for the upkeep of our church properties that Israel had for the temple.  However, the New Testament does encourage generosity not as a legal requirement, but as a thankful response to God’s grace (see I Corinthians 9:7-14).  Christians are to give to the needy (see Acts 4:34-37; 11:29; Romans 12:13; 15:25-26) and provide generous support to those who minister spiritually (see Galatians 6:6; I Timothy 6:17-18; III John 1:5-8).  While believers are not commanded to tithe, we are encouraged to give systematically and in proportion to what we have, not what we don’t have (see I Corinthians 16:1-2; II Corinthians 8:12; 9:7).  We are also promised God’s bounty as a response to our generosity (see II Corinthians 9:6, 8; Philippians 4:10-19).

 

 

                                    

V. Conclusion. 

Our passage this week discusses the results of serving a God who demands that His people demonstrate justice to everyone.  First, we can rest assured that one day God will come to judge all the injustice in the world.  Second, God’s justice will show up in our present world in the form of an unchangeable God who rewards those who don’t neglect bringing their resources to Him.

 

 

 

 

 

Good News! God Does Not Change!

Malachi 3:1-10

Sunday, August 30, 2015

 

 “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6—KJV).

 

“I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed” (Malachi 3:6—NIV).

 

The Bible reveals good news about God. God is loving and true, holy and gracious. Though we may not always understand our observations or situations, God always loves and does what is true, holy, and gracious, because God does not change. Before Malachi revealed that the LORD does not change, the LORD listed a series of sins that He condemned and would judge. These sins involved misleading others spiritually and mistreating others mentally and physically. God said He would put people on trial who did not fear him but did evil things. If they truly feared God, they would not mistreat others contrary to the laws of God. Because God does not change, His moral standards do not change. Moral choices and practices the Bible declared wrong long ago remain wrong in the sight of God. Because God does not change while upholding His standards of right and wrong, God did not destroy His people even though they behaved hatefully, dishonestly, unholy, and uncivil. Because God does not change, God graciously forgives those who return to him in faith and repentance. One reason God has not destroyed us is because the

LORD does not change. What the LORD said in the Old Testament

He says to everyone today: “‘Return to me, and I will return to

you,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Malachi 3:7). Another reason He

has not destroyed is: “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign

LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather

that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil

ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11).

 

Good News! God Does Not Change!

Malachi 3:1-10

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Thinking Further

Name_________________________

 

1. In Malachi 3:1, who do you think the LORD referred to?

 

 

2. What did the Lord do when He suddenly came to the temple and what happened to Him?

 

 

3. Compare Malachi 3:2-3 and Matthew 3:1-12.

 

 

4. In general, what types of sins does Malachi describe in Malachi 3:1-10?

 

 

5. What might be the danger of believing in and acting on Malachi 3:10 while disregarding the teachings in Malachi 3:1-9?

 

 

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

 

1. In Malachi 3:1, who do you think the LORD

referred to?

The messenger was John the Baptist and the Lord was Jesus the Messiah.

 

2. What did the Lord do when He suddenly came to the temple and what happened to Him?

Jesus taught and cleansed the temple, and then the religious leaders plotted with the Romans and crucified Him. He died on the cross for our sins.

 

3. Compare Malachi 3:2-3 and Matthew 3:1-12.

Malachi said He would come with a refiner’s fire to purify

people and He would also draw near for judgment. John the Baptist said the Messiah would come and baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (to cleanse and purify people), and He would also burn the chaff with unquenchable fire.

 

4. In general, what types of sins does Malachi describe in Malachi 3:1-10?

Malachi reported sins against people and the sin of disobedience to God by robbing God through the withholding of tithes. Sins against people were spiritual, mental, and physical.

 

5. What might be the danger of believing in and acting on Malachi 3:10 while disregarding the teachings in Malachi 3:1-9?

Someone might think they can disregard God’s laws, practice sin, and guarantee their prosperity by giving money to religious leaders.

 

 

Word Search

Malachi 3:1-10

August 30, 2015

Return to a Just God

Name ______________________

 

 

S D A B E N D U R E N I F E R

R Q C D I A Q K B D W Y A T N

A E P U T C I P X I B S E I O

C Y I D R Y J O W F H M P F K

C E A F T S T U I G P K F Z C

E O S N I Y E R D L T E D O D

P R K U K R E M E G R Y V G E

T D E P O A U S D I M E J K F

A Y H G T H C P N E N E C M R

B M Z E N P E G U A S T N Q A

L Y L S A E S R N E P I V T U

E O J U V T S T O B W T R H D

M A L A C H I S D T A H U E C

G Y I O J N C Q E R S E M J H

L S J U X E F L K M B S R B R

 

Messenger

Covenant

Malachi

Desire

Endure

Refiner

Fire

Purifier

Offerings

Tithes

Storehouse

Temple

Defraud

Curse

Judgment

Acceptable

 

 

 

True and False Test

Malachi 3:1-10

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Return to a Just God

Name ______________________

 

 

Circle the true or false answers. Correct the false statements by restating them.

 

1. God told Malachi that He would send a messenger before the Lord went to the temple. True or False

 

2. From studying the New Testament, we know the name of the messenger. True or False

 

3. When the messenger and the Lord went to Judah, some could not endure their preaching against sin to refine and purify their hearers. True or False

 

4. God praised the ancestors of those Malachi preached to because they were good examples of those who brought righteous offerings to the Lord. True or False

 

5. God said that He would soon return to them because they were robbing Him. True or False

 

6. God had Malachi tell the religious leaders and people how they were robbing Him. True or False

 

7. Today, it is impossible for anyone to rob God because He is almighty. True or False

 

8. It does not matter how we behave today as long as we give offerings to God through His appointed religious leaders. True or False

 

9. Some entire nations are under a curse. True or False

 

10. God said He does not change and that is why some have not perished. True or False

 

 

Answers to the True and False Test

Malachi 3:1-10

Sunday, August 30, 2015

 

1.  True

2.  True

3.  True

4.  False

5.  False

6.  True

7.  False

8.  False

9.  True

10. True

 

 

Closing Prayer

Father, help us to be more like You as we seek to live lives of generosity. We thank You for the blessings we have received from Your bounty and for those You have planned for our future. We pray this in the name of Your generous Son, Jesus; amen.