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Sunday 23-11-14 AM – God’s love and greatness despised (Malachi 1:1-14)

posted 26 Nov 2014, 08:01 by Bert Weenink
We weren't able to record this sermon last Sunday. Please find Bert's notes below.
 

INTRO:  The prophet Malachi ministered during a time when there was a lot of religion and a lot of rituals, but very little faith in the country.

It wasn’t that long since the King of Persia allowed the Jews to return from exile to their own land. After initial enthusiasm, they got discouraged and neglected the service of God, but God sent Haggai and Zechariah and spurred on by their prophetic activity the returned exiles finished the temple in 516 BC.

After more discouragement and disobedience to God, the community was strengthened in 458 when God sent the priest Ezra and several thousand more Jews. Temple worship and obedience to God’s laws were reinstituted.

However, it didn’t take long for the people to get discouraged again, until God directed another Persian king to permit his cupbearer Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem and rebuild its wall. As newly appointed governor, Nehemiah also spearheaded reforms to help the poor and he convinced the people to shun mixed marriage, to keep the Sabbath and to bring their tithes and offerings faithfully.

In 433 b.c. Nehemiah returned to the service of the Persian king, and during his absence guess what happened? The Jews fell into sin once more. When Nehemiah came back to Jerusalem 13 years later, he discovered that the tithes were ignored, the Sabbath was broken, the people had intermarried with foreigners, and the priests had become corrupt. Several of these same sins are condemned by Malachi as Malachi and  Nehemiah were contemporaries.

 

Malachi is a challenging, but very necessary book. His ministry was necessary during his time, but is necessary today as well, especially in a country that is described by its leaders as Christian. Malachi’s words are necessary in British churches today, where rituals, religiosity and lukewarmness have often replaced devotion to God and a willingness to trust and obey, to serve and to suffer and to sacrifice. Here at Tyndale we are not exempt from any of these dangers, so all who have ears, let them hear.

 

1. God said: ‘You doubt my love.’

“’I have loved you’, says the Lord”. ‘How have you loved us’, or in more colloquial English, what do you mean you have loved us? The worrying thing in the book of Malachi is this: God presents truths to the people that they had neglected or ignored, but the people responded by being very surprised, they couldn’t see it, they thought they were fine.

As far as God’s love was concerned, they were skeptical. They would say, we can’t see His love. He says He loves us, He says He cares, but here we are just a small province in the backwaters of the Persian empire and in spite of all His promises, there is no sign yet of the Messiah, of His salvation, of glory, of victory, of justice, of power.

We say our prayers and we bring our offerings, but He simply doesn’t pay any attention. So, we ask how has He loved us?

Expound some of what God had done in the previous 80 years - Expound Jacob and Esau.

Look at all He has done for you in the past. For you, His chosen people! How could they have doubted His love?

God says to you here this morning: I have loved you!

It is perhaps difficult to admit, but most of us have asked similar questions at one time or another: How has He loved me? Where is His love? Perhaps you are going through a difficult time right now. You may have been praying for healing, for strength, for a job, for a partner, for a loved one and yet you have seen no change. Perhaps you have been praying for this church, for growth, for more people your age, for more children. Perhaps you have been reading His Word faithfully and giving sacrificially and you wonder, where is He, what is He doing and how can He say ‘I have loved you?’

Just as the Jews were had forgotten what He had one done for them, so we can so easily lose sight of what he has done for us throughout our lives. If you are a believer in Christ Jesus, if you have received Him as your Saviour,  He chose you, He called you, He justified you, He even glorified you.

He may not have answered all your prayers, but He has not left you, He has been faithful and gracious and patient and that is why you are here today. And you will continue and you will persevere and you will be victorious, because in trouble and in hardship and in persecution and in facing any other problem, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God gave His Son and Jesus gave His life to make this happen. It is deeply sad when we stand at the foot of the cross and look up in His face to thank Him for what He did for us and then walk away and complain about His lack of love and his failure to answer our prayers and give us what we want.

See His heart full of love, see His open arms, hear His cry of agony as He pays the price for all our sins and thank Him for His love.


2. God said: ‘Where is the honour and where is the respect due to my name’?

Read 1:6 ‘…’ Again you see they had no idea. For God their sin was obvious, but the human heart is deceitful above all things. What do you mean we have shown contempt for your name?

Read 1:7a ‘…’ What do you mean we have defiled you?

They sacrificed crippled or diseased animals. Explain the way they reasoned….

1:8 - Try offering such sacrifices to your governor (the one appointed by the Persian king to rule over them).

(My godmother’s toy shop – who showed her ‘kindness’ by giving me some of the broken toys she couldn’t sell anymore!)

In all seriousness, see what God thinks about halfhearted worship and lukewarm service and self centred religion and rituals. 1:10 ‘….’

 

There is a challenge for us here this morning. Are we asking for His favour, for His blessing, for His grace while we are giving something to Him that we wouldn’t dream giving to any human being we respect?

Would your spouse be pleased with the amount of attention and love you give to your Saviour?

Would your employer be happy with the devotion you give to God?

Would your best friend be content with the amount of time you give to your heavenly Father?

If I am your Father, God asks, if I am your Master, then where is the honour and respect due to me?

Is there a gap between what we sing and pray and the way we live? Are our priorities all wrong? Do we live first and foremost for our families, for our jobs, for ourselves, rather than honouring Him?

Luke 14:26-27 If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

I may say: Lord, please answer my prayers and I will give you all the honour.

But God may turn to me and ask, so Bert, you will give me all the honour when I answer your prayers and give you what you want, but , Bert, where is my honour today? Do you honour me with your life, are you devoted to me, or are you giving me your leftovers? We all need to answer that question.

 

Two things in closing:

  • Look at 1:11 and again at the end of the chapter: ’ I am a great king….’                                                                           I am a great King says God. My name is to be great among the nations. He says that to His people, because his name should have been great among them in Malachi’s days and His name should be great among us today. We should honour him today, we should fear him today, we should put Him first today. We are His people, He is our God, He is our Father, He is our Lord, He is our Master and that is how we should live!    One day we’ll be in heaven. What do you think heaven will be about? Heaven will be a God-centred place. For a Christian earth should be a God-centred place also. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, including in my life!
  • Finally a word of encouragement: Remember how the passage started: The word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi: I have loved you. He said that to this stubborn and inconsistent people: I have loved you. And He says that to you, not because you deserve it, but because of who He is: I have loved you. That is what He says to us through this table: I have loved you. 
  • It are not those who know they fall short who are rejected

  • It are not those who repent and who seek forgiveness who grieve Him

  • It are not those who know they constantly need God’s grace who break his heart

  • His blood cleanses us from all our sins. Amen.

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