The book of Malachi is the last prophetic call before a long period of silence to the nation of Israel. Approximately 100 years before Malachi delivered his message from God to the nation, the Jews returned from Babylon under Zerrubabel who was the governor of Jerusalem at the time of this restoration. They began to rebuild the temple, but soon the work was abandoned. Ezra led a 2nd group back to Jerusalem which included many who were a part of the priesthood. The Jews had fallen into serious sin and Ezra made resounding reforms, all the while Haggai and Zechariah delivered their messages and challenged the people to finish rebuilding the temple. The temple was finished and the people repented. But, by the time Malachi comes on the scene the nation has seriously declined morally and spiritually. Covetousness and idolatry, mixed marriages with the pagan people, brought calloused and hard hearts to the nation. But notice how God opens the book of Malachi.
Malachi 1:1-2 1 The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. 2 I have loved you, saith the LORD.
The tense of this phrase indicates that God is saying: I have loved you, I do love you, I will continue to love you. This is a reaffirmation of God's everlasting love.
Jer 31:3-5 3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. 4 Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry. 5 Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things.
This was a period of time before the captivity when Israel was at one of it's lowest spiritual and moral points. But God says: "AGAIN I WILL BUILD THEE,...."
He loves them, AND because he loves them, he will deal sternly with them to bring them back to a place of repentance. The compassion and sensitivity of God is in striking contrast to the callousness and insensitivity of the people. Listen to the response of the people to the admonition of the Father.
Malachi 1:2 I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us?
Malachi 1:6 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? (KJV)
Malachi 1:7 Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee?
Malachi 2:17 Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him?
Malachi 3:7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? (KJV)
Malachi 3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. (KJV)
Malachi 3:13 Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee? (KJV)
In their mind, they were perfectly satisfying the Divine heart of God. In their mind, they were fulfilling all of God's requirements. Do we say: "I go to church, every time the doors are open." "I serve the Lord faithfully." "I have the right kind of bible." "I go to the right kind of church." "I have the right kind of hair cut and the right kind of clothes." “I read all of the right kind of authors.” "I would be very impressive at any big BAPTIST gathering." Do we have a bad case of religion or is the very life of Jesus Christ alive in our souls?
The prophet Malachi by way of the inspiration of the Spirit of God presents the picture of a people having a form of godliness, but all the while they are void of God's power. They are fulfilling the external requirements of their religion. But their heart is so far from the everlasting love of their God. And because they questioned God, and because they doubted God, and because they justified their sinful lifestyle, and because they would not listen to God, They would hear no other voice for 400 years. What would we think as a nation, or a church if God did not speak for 400 years? Would we not have great doubts about HIS love and faithfulness. But God’s love nor HIS faithfulness changed at all during this period of time.
Is it possible for a Christian to be deceived? For one to think that he or she is serving God, all the while God is saying there is no value in their service. When these people lost their love for God, all of their religious observances became as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals. Can we imagine the callousness of the people, the ungratefulness of the people, when the prophet proclaimed:
Malachi 1:2 I have loved you, saith the LORD. And they responded by saying: "Wherein hast thou loved us?"
Beloved our love and worship for Gods is not optional. We cannot afford to come to church week after week and not pour our hearts out in gratefulness and praise to our God. I fear we easily become calloused and hardened and then all we have is a form of godliness but deny the power thereof. The prophet speaks of a great day of judgment, but he also speaks of one coming with healing in HIS wings.
Malachi 4:1-2 1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. (KJV)
And in chapter 3:16-17, God gives a special promise to those who fear his name. I believe this particularly applies to those who fear HIS name in the midst of such apostasy.
Mal 3:16-17 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. 17 And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. (KJV)
Beloved, we are so blessed. We serve a great and a mighty God. He humbled himself to die for our sins. When we cried out to HIM for mercy, He saved us and declared us to be righteous. He separated us unto himself to be the recipients of his everlasting love. So secure is our position in HIM that we are already seated in the heavenlies. Beloved, let us look and long for HIS appearing. Let us choose to walk in the light as HE is in the light. So that our fellowship with HIM and with one another is unbroken. Cast off the cords of dead religion and enter into the exceeding riches of HIS amazing grace.