Religion
It would be a good idea if you took a little time to read the little book of Malachi which is only three chapters. We will be focusing on a few verses in chapter one in our main lesson, but first, a little background study.
We only have his name, Malachi, and no record of his country or parentage. Malachi signifies my angel. Prophets were God’s messengers. Today preachers and teachers are the messengers of God. The Lord wrote His seven letters to the angels (pastors or bishops) of the churches, Revelation 2-3.
God’s prophets were his witnesses to his people, each in his day, and for several centuries they were witnesses for him and his authority, witnesses against sin and sinners, testifying and verifying the true intents of God in his dealings with his people then and the kind intents of his sovereign grace concerning his elect in the days of the Messiah, to whom all the prophets bore witness.
And now we have only one witness more to call who is Malachi. And though he be the last, and in him prophecy ceased, yet God speaks through him as clearly, as in any of his predecessors, and his message challenges faithfulness as much as any other.
Let us look at the scope of the prophecy: Haggai and Zechariah were sent to reprove the people for delaying to build the temple; Malachi was sent to reprove them for the neglect of it once it was built, and for their profaning of the temple-service.
And now that prophecy was to cease for the next 400 years, he speaks more clearly of the Messiah as nigh at hand, more than any other of the prophets had done. He concludes with an admonition to the people of God not to forget the law of Moses while they hoped for the coming of the Christ.
The last chapter of the book of Malachi , along with the first six verses of chapter three, are Messianic in nature. However, the first three chapters deal mainly with Israel as a nation of people who had a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. They were a people who had become ungodly in their living and unfaithful in their stewardship. They had profaned the name of God by their spiritual adultery. Malachi 2:11 “Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the Lord which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god.” The religion of the Hebrew people had become a shame and a mockery unto God and God had appointed Malachi to issue a rebuke and a warning to them. Malachi 3:14 Ye have said, It [is] vain to serve God: and what profit [is it] that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? They walked mournfully, but they were not mournful. They were simply going through the motions like many religious people today.
When you read this account and others, how that the people of God lived and acted, you wonder how they could even be called God’s people. The only thing that restrained God’s hand of judgment to utterly destroy them was that covenant of grace made with their father Abraham. Malachi 3:6 For I [am] the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
There did remain a few that loved Him and were faithful to serve according to the Word. Malachi 3:16 “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard [it], and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.” Thank God for the faithful few!
The majority of the people had forgotten that the ceremony and offerings were by God’s design and the means of personal contact with Him. Jesus said of the religious crowd in His day, Matthew 23:28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Isa 29:13 “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:” Ezekiel 33:31 “And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee [as] my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, [but] their heart goeth after their covetousness.” Continued next issue. E-mail, johnpruitt@frontiernet.net

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