Saturday, December 22, 2012

Malachi 3:7 - 4:6 - Obey and Fear God

LINK: Malachi 3-4

BACKGROUND

Fifth Message - Obey God (3:7-12)

One way the people did not obey ("return to") God was by not giving a 10th of their grain, fruit, animals, or money to the Levites who in turn were to give a 10th to the priests (Leviticus 18:21-32; 27:30-34; Nehemiah 13:5). Every third year a tithe was brought to local leaders to give to the poor (14:28-29). It was an act of worship to the Lord and went back even before the time of the Mosaic Covenant when Abraham tithed to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:20; Hebrews 7). During Malachi's time, the people had neglected giving to the Lord (Nehemiah 10:34-39; 13:10). They had "robbed" God of His due, but they were being robbed because they missed out on the blessings! In addition, they were not a testimony of trust to the surrounding nations (3:12). It was a lose-lose for everyone concerned. 

By the way, the New Testament does not specify a 10th of our income, but I tend to think it teaches that we give EVERYTHING (Acts 4:31-35; 2 Corinthians 9:6-12; Galatians 6:6; Philippians 4:14-19).

Sixth Message - Fear God (3:13-4:6)

This message is parallel in many ways to the fourth message (2:17-3:6) regarding the question of God's justice and prosperity of the wicked. The people were whining that it was futile to serve God because they gained no benefit. Part of this question has already been answered in the fourth message stating that the arrogant and evildoers would be punished in the day of the Lord and the faithful remnant would be blessed.

Now the focus shifts to the faithful remnant who feared God from their heart rather than ritual aimed at gaining something for themselves. A "scroll of remembrance" of their reverent and obedient response was written before God to remember them. They would be spared in the Day of Judgment.

The faithful remnant are given a final promise that is so beautiful and closes our study of the Old Testament prophets with such hope and opens the way for the fulfillment of many promises and prophecies in the New:
But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. (Malachi 4:2)


Because of the tender mercy of our God,

With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:78-79)

AMEN!

REFLECTION

As I type, I am listening to the Christmas Carol "O Come All Ye Faithful," and the connection to this passage is not lost on me; the "word of the Father" that was prophesied from of old has appeared in the flesh. So, come, all you who are faithful, come and adore Him!

What a lovely feeling of satisfaction to come to the end of this Old Testament journey. When I got the idea to do this, I jumped first and then asked, "What was I thinking?" This has taken hours of work, but it has brought me more joy than you can ever imagine. It has brought me to my knees in worship and praise, and it has anchored me to the Ancient of Days like never before. 

God always carved out time for me to study, meditate, write, and pray even when our life was hectic.  But then again, when we are too busy for God, then we are TOO busy! This is my offering of praise to our God. I have given to you with joy, and I hope you have been blessed. 

The hardest work is over. YEAR TWO is the toughest, and you have finished the course. Congratulations! 

So, let's continue to press deep into the heart of God as we press on to the New Testament. Let us be found part of those who "revere His name" with every part of our being!

APPLICATION

Spend time meditating on the final two verses in the background section and press into Him in worship and prayer.

PRAYER

Praise, honor and glory belong to You. We thank You for not leaving us without guidance. You have given us Your Word to guide us into all truth. Thank You for the Old Testament that teaches us about Your character and ways and our need for mercy and forgiveness that comes through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Guide us this day we pray. Amen.
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