Saturday, July 8, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Malachi- Chapter 3

Malachi 3

-The LORD is going to send His messenger who will clear the way before Himself. It is at this point that the Lord, whom the people seek, will suddenly (immediately) come to His Temple and fulfill the message of the covenant, which is the delight of the people of God (or the true Israel). He (the Messiah, the anointed, the Lord, Jesus) is coming (Malachi 3:1)! The day of His coming though will be difficult, next to impossible, to endure. He will come (which I take as the second coming of Christ) like a refiner’s fire and fuller’s soap (cleansing, refining, washing, purifying). The priests of God will be purified and refined like gold and silver in that day for the purpose of glorifying the LORD with offerings in righteousness as a pleasing gift as in the days of old in former years (Malachi 3:2-4). It is at this point that the LORD will draw near to His people for judgment, which they will escape. But, the LORD will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, the adulterers, the liars, the cheaters, the oppressors, and those who have no fear of Him (Malachi 3:5). This is all because the LORD is immutable, He does not change. Because of His covenant promises, the people of Jacob are not consumed. His promises are always kept, safe and secure, and His love never fails His people of faith. Even when there is faithlessness on the part of His people, and they have turned aside. The LORD gives them a chance to return to Him so that He can return to them. The great question at the end of this purifying and restoration section is “How?” “How shall we return?” is the question they are asking, and now God will point out their sins for the purpose of returning and restoring to make for Himself a Spirit-filled people in total love with Him (Malachi 3:6-7).

-*Application* God is patient, but His patience as we see here has limits. When it is time for judgment, He will be swift and effective in it. Until that time, He gives us every opportunity to return to Him for forgiveness, peace, and wholeness. Take advantage of the time God gives to get right with Him through repentance, humility, and heart sacrifice. We’ll be glad we did.

-The rhetorical questions continue as this book continues in Malachi 3:8. The people want to know how they are robbing God, and the prophet is forthright in explaining to them that their meager tithes and offerings are an offence to the Almighty. God says that they are cursed because of their taking from the LORD what was rightly His. He tells them plainly, “Bring the whole tithe (tenth of your first fruits) into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My House, and test Me now in this, if I will not open for you the windows of Heaven and pour out for you blessing until it overflows (Malachi 3:10).” When this is done, He will rebuke the devourer for them so that their crops will flourish and all will call them blessed as a delightful land (Malachi 3:11-12).

-*Application* How are we doing in bringing God’s church the commanded tithe into His storehouse? We are quick to blame the government for all its expensive programs that tax us to the max, but they are simply having to pick up the slack for where the church of Jesus Christ has failed in its woeful amounts of tithes received to help the hurting and the needy of our society. Obey God and give Him His tenth from our first fruits instead of hording for ourselves in robbery and mockery of His Kingdom. We have to quit making excuses and give God top priority in our wallets.

-Next, the charge of arrogance is levied. The people say, “What have we spoken against You (Malachi 3:13)?” The LORD answers with the fact that they are concluded in their hearts that it is vain and not profitable to serve God and keep His charge. They have had to go through hard times of mourning and have given up on His promises way too soon (Malachi 3:14). They figure that the arrogant are blessed by God because of their expedient wealth and unjust gain. They falsely think that the doers of wickedness are built up and can test God and escape (Malachi 3:15). This, God concludes, is unfaithfulness and giving up on His strength to do things their own way. This arrogance does not produce deliverance from the Almighty because they are relying on their own rationale to make assumptions about how God works in human matters. Instead, they needed to trust and be patient during the difficult questions of life and wait on the LORD to rescue.

-*Application* We too will have a tendency to out run God when we see the crooked and perverse seemingly being blessed in all they do. Our ethics tend to be situational in our world, and we will do anything to get ahead of the materialistic ballgame to “keep up with the Jones’.” This is what God calls arrogance against Him. He is our provider and will care for us to give us what we need. Rely on His justice and don’t worry about those who seem to have great gain because of their unrighteousness.

-Now the chapter takes a turn to the faithful few that were the remnant of the LORD in the fear and esteem of His Name. The LORD gave them attention, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those (Malachi 3:16). These will be His on the day He prepares His own possession and they will be spared as heirs to the Kingdom. This will be the distinction that the LORD makes between the righteous and wicked, between the one who serves God and the one who does not serve Him (Malachi 3:17-18, Romans 12:1-2).

-*Application* The LORD is looking longingly for those who will give Him His rightful place of honor and distinction. He promises all of His good destiny and eternal life to those who fear and esteem Him and take on His righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ serving Him with a whole heart (1 Chronicles 28:9, Matthew 22:36-37). This is God’s desire for all His people.

Verses to Memorize: Malachi 3:1, 8, 18

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