January 5, 2003 Malachi - Topical
If you truly wanted to honor someone, how would you do it?
The most prominent biblical example that comes to mind is in the book of Esther.
Remember King Xerxes' choice of Esther for a new queen to replace Vashti who had fallen out of favor?
It was God's intervention in a 'bad blood' situation between Esther's cousin Mordecai the Jew and Haman the Amalekite that brings the issue of honor to the front.
The Jews and the Amalekites were historical enemies.
Haman had risen to a position of unmerited honor in the king's court whereas Mordecai, who had discovered and reported information that saved the king's life from assassination, went unrewarded and overlooked.
Haman was incensed that Mordecai refused to honor him, since he was highest in the king's court, and even more so since he found out that Mordecai was a Jew.
Haman influenced the king to issue an edict that all the Jews were to be assassinated.
But God caused the king not to sleep one night and the king asked for the chronicles of his kingdom reign to be brought and read to him.
Now that should have been a real 'sleeper,' but when the part was read about Mordecai saving the king's life, and it was discovered he had not received any reward, the king sent for Haman to ask, "What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?"
Haman, thinking, "Who is there that the king would rather honor that me?" answered the king about how such a man should be honored.
He said, "For the man the king delights to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king's most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, 'This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!'"
Of course, Haman was mortified to discover that the one who was to be honored was not himself, but Mordecai, the Jew. And, of course, the imminent disaster was averted and the Jews were saved.
Now this is an example from the Bible about how we can honor one another. There are many examples we can look at in our own culture about how we show honor to others ---.
Sometimes, like Haman, we are rather reticent about honoring others.
Perhaps, in a sense, that is because we are all equal in the sanctity of the human spirit before God, and we resist honoring others above ourselves, although the Bible says we should do that as an object lesson in humility; as an example of true spirituality.
“ Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10 NIVUS)
But there is One who is worthy of all the honor we can possibly give – without reservation. And he delights to tell us how we can honor him.
The real question before us as we begin this new year is, "How will we honor God?"
God desires and demands our worship, respect and obedience. Will we honor God above all else this year?
If we do that effectively, we will have a good year. In fact, if we appropriately honor God, we ourselves will receive honor and we will be able to honor others.
We have seen how we can honor others, but how will we honor God first of all?
The last book of the OT tells us how. God tells the people through his prophet Malachi, in effect, "This is what must be done for God if anyone delights to honor him."
Malachi is the last book in the OT, the last of the Minor Prophets.
Theologically, its place in the OT parallels the place of Revelation as the last book in the NT.
Malachi was the last book written before the first coming of Jesus. Revelation is the last book written before the imminent Second Coming of Jesus.
The message of Malachi was to prepare the people for the first coming just like the message of Revelation is to prepare us for the Second Coming.
And the people of Malachi's time struggled with spiritual lethargy, laxity, and leniency just like we are prone to do today.
The name "Malachi" may not be the name of an actual person. It is not certain who he was, not being mentioned elsewhere and having no other connection even in his own book.
The name may refer more to the function he performed, meaning "my [the Lord's] messenger."
Ultimately, it referred to John the Baptist as the forerunner of Christ and even Christ himself as The Messenger.
“ "See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty.” (Malachi 3:1 NIVUS)
Malachi was probably written during the time between Nehemiah's first and second term as governor when the lack of leadership allowed certain abuses to develop in the moral and spiritual life of the nation.
Nehemiah had gone back to Persia for an unknown period of time after the temple had been rebuilt and the sacrificial system of Jewish religion reestablished.
The abuses that developed were the same ones that preceded Nehemiah; mixed marriages, corrupt priesthood, and financial abuses.
After the Jews had achieved their goal of semi-independence and their hope of religious liberty had been realized, the battle for truth and righteousness had waned because their obvious enemies were gone.
Yet the enemies of smugness, pride and compromise rose up to defeat them, just like they do to us.
The timeless truth of Malachi is his plea for sincerity and holiness which is as relevant today as it ever was.
The origin of the book is in the mind of God, and those addressed are the people of God.
And God, through Malachi, asked some tough questions about how well we honor him and gave evidence that demanded a verdict which we can apply to our own times as well.
How well will we honor God this year?
I. Cycle One
A. Narrative (1:2-5)
Will we dishonor God by discounting his love?
"I will secure your love by destroying your enemies."
We must honor God by believing the evidence of his love.
II. Cycle Two
A. Narrative (1:6-2:9)
Will we dishonor God by disrespecting his worship?
"I will not bless your worship, your descendants, or your teaching.
We must honor God by revering his worship.
III. Cycle Three
A. Narrative (2:10-3:5)
Will we dishonor God by dismissing his commandments?
"I will send my messenger to refine and purify."
We must honor God by obeying his commandments.
IV. Cycle Four
A. Narrative (3:6-12)
Will we dishonor God by denying his right to our tithes and offerings?
"I will bless the lives, and the efforts, and the land of those who bless me."
We must honor God by giving him our best.
V. Cycle Five
A. Narrative (3:13-4:3)
Will we dishonor God by disclaiming his justice?
"I will save those who fear my justice, and bring joy to those who trust my deliverance, but destroy those who dishonor me."
We must honor God by persevering in faith.
So how well do you think most of the people of Malachi's time honored God after they heard his message?
Did they take his message to heart and get serious? Probably not.
This might be why there were 400 years of silence between the time of his message and the coming of Jesus. With Malachi, God had said all he needed to say before his messenger came.
And the fact that the people didn't get serious about honoring God may have a lot to do with the fact that the nation as a whole did not receive Jesus when he did come.
This has direct application to our own time. See Luke 17:26-18:8.
“ I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"” (Luke 18:8 NIVUS)
Our standing at the Second Coming of Christ may well depend on how well we honor God now – after we have heard the message of Jesus.
Are you ready to get serious about honoring him this year?
Will you persist and even grow in your faith?
How well are you honoring God?
Will you dishonor God by discounting his love?
Will you dishonor God by disrespecting his worship?
Will you dishonor God by dismissing his commandments?
Will you dishonor God by denying his right to your tithes and offerings?
Will you dishonor God by disclaiming his justice?
You must honor God by believing the evidence of his love.
You must honor God by revering his worship.
You must honor God by obeying his commandments.
You must honor God by giving him your best.
You must honor God by persevering in faith.
1Sam. 2:30 "Those who honor me I will honor."
Like Mordecai who honored God with his faith, we too will receive honor in due time.
“ These have come so that your faith— of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire— may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:7 NIVUS)