Monday, March 2, 2020

READ IT! - Introduction to Malachi

Readings for this week

Monday: Malachi 1
Tuesday: Malachi 2
Wednesday: Malachi 3
Thursday: Malachi 4
Friday: James 1
Saturday: James 2
Sunday: James 3

Introduction to The Book of Malachi 

Malachi’s name means “my messenger.” He disputed with God’s people in post-exilic Jerusalem because they had grown lax in their faith. This book appears to be presented as a lovers’ quarrel between God and His people. 

Chapter 1 

First, there is a dispute over God’s love…

God: I love you.
People: Oh, really? Prove it!
God: I rebuilt you, didn’t I? Take a look at your neighbor. I didn’t rebuild Edom. Remember Jacob and Esau? Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.

Next, there is a dispute over poor spiritual leadership. The first issue address is over breaking the Covenant through blemished sacrifices…

God: Why don’t you respect me?
People: When have we ever not shown you proper respect?
God: Is it respectful to offer me blind, lame, and diseased sheep for sacrifices? Your own governor wouldn’t accept such cheap gifts, so why should I? I deserve an apology. 

Chapter 2 

An additional warning is given to the priests…

God: If you don’t start listening to me, I am going to curse your blessings. I’ll wipe the filth from the sacrifices you gave me all over your faces! You children of Levi ought to know better than to lead my people astray! My covenant was about life, but you’re killing it!

Next, there is a dispute over breaking the Covenant. The first issue addressed is the breaking of the Covenant through divorce.

Malachi accuses the people:

Isn’t God the father of us all? Why do we break his covenant? You men have broken your covenant with God by marrying women who worship other gods!

People: Why doesn’t God listen to us anymore?
Malachi: Because you cheated on the wife of your youth!
God: You hated your wife, and you divorced her. You were supposed to protect her, but instead you were violent with her! So watch out!

The next issue addressed is the breaking of the Covenant through injustice.

Malachi: God is worn out from listening to you.
People: What did we say?
Malachi: You said that God loves it when people do evil deeds, and you acted like he doesn’t care about justice!
God: I will send my messenger ahead of me to prepare for my coming. I will come suddenly; my messenger will come – the one you supposedly look forward to. My messenger will burn the evil right out of you, and I will come and put you on trial! 

Chapter 3 

The next issue addressed is the breaking of the Covenant by withholding tithes.

God: Return to me and I will return to you.
People: How can we return?
God: Stop robbing me! Do you really think a mortal can rob God?
People: How are we robbing you?
God: In tithes and offerings!

The next dispute is over futile worship. The first issue addressed is that Israel speaks arrogantly against God.

God: You spoke arrogantly to me.
People: What did we say?
God: You said that it’s pointless to serve me, and you said that I have no understanding of justice.

After this, Malachi discusses the faithful remnant, saying, “Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.” 

Chapter 4 

The book ends with a discussion of judgment and Covenant renewal.

God says:

“‘Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,’ says the Lord Almighty.”

“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.”

“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”

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