Saturday, April 30, 2022

Return to Me!

Bobersvations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Malachi’s prophecy comes during the Restoration Period, the years after the Jews returned to the land from their Babylonian captivity. Almost two generations had passed; no Temple, no Temple sacrifices. And now, back in their own land, the daunting task of rebuilding the Temple, rebuilding the City of Jerusalem, and the homes of the people lay on the shoulders of leadership. Ezra and Nehemiah were God’s chosen to help direct the project, and they were eventually successful. But lacking a Temple all those years in Babylon, the traditions of the Law had slipped substantially. The people still saw themselves as Jews, and God had promised their return to the land.

And while they were absent from the land, God was not. Nothing had changed about the Lord’s attitude toward sin and disobedience, that being the reason for God allowing them to be taken off to Babylon in the first place.

There are a multitude of reasons and distractions that might keep us from obedience to God. Maybe you are “between churches,” or new to an area. If we love the Lord, we will not want to stay away from worshipping alongside of other Christians for more than a week, or two.

When one ignores the thing that can anchor us, and center our lives, it’s easy to begin to just stumble through life as best we can on our own, and wander away. But if the Believer stays faithful there won’t be any stumbling, or losing their way. God will direct and bless our lives through His beloved Son, and His Holy Spirit, AND He will bless our families.

Maybe you are just coming to Christ. Maybe you’re coming back to Jesus, always loving Him, but loving the world too. No matter how long you have been counted among the missing, God’s arms are open wide to welcome you home, and the angels will rejoice!

The Prodigal Son -
“And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him...” “(and) the father said, ‘Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him. And put a ring on his finger, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat and be merry: For my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.’ “
~ Luke 15:20-24 ~

Today's Audio Message:
Malachi 2:1-17 - "Return To Me"


This week’s study begins in Malachi chapter 2.

The book of Malachi was written to the people of Israel, and is dealing with the same sinful issues they had before their exile to Babylon. Falling back into sin is so easy when we operate in the flesh.

Malachi also had to deal with the sins of the priests, these are the leaders of the people who are supposed to lead the people into the presence of the Lord. These priests are supposed to know God’s law, walking in holiness reverencing the Lord, and teaching the people to do the same.

In this chapter the priests are being called out for dishonoring God. They are disobedient to God’s law, arrogant, lax in their spiritual duties, as well as in their homes, and in so doing they were insulting the name of God. They are warned that if they continued to do so, that God would humiliate them in the eyes of the people, remove them from their positions and allow them to be completely defiled by their own attitudes.

God also confronts the Israelite men who were divorcing their Jewish wives to marry pagan women. They were marrying women from cities of Ashdod and Ammon and the Moabites, those who worship false gods. Marriage is an institution of God, and so God sets Himself against divorce. He hates it. God was also seeking to preserve a godly seed for the nation Israel, in order that they might bring forth His Son into the world. That's why He commanded them not to marry outside of the race. There is a clear warning to those who are in a marriage, they must understand God’s purpose if they are going to preserve it.

While the people are accountable for their own sin, the priests are responsible for leading them astray. They were unfaithful to the Lord, and the teaching of His Word. They had deliberately changed course from what God had called them to. They did not study, and they did not tell the people the truth They did not live out the faith as an example to the people. They had corrupted the ministry and caused many to stumble.

God warns the people of His judgment and He explains what that judgment will be. Malachi reminds the priests of the calling they received, and what that ministry is supposed to be. God’s ministers must teach and live the truth. The essence of God’s Covenant is a ministry of life and peace. God’s blessings are upon those who walk holy and obedient to His Word. The instruction of God’s Holy Word is the law of truth or true instruction. These priests had turned away deliberately, and were corrupting the plan of God.

Blind and numb to their own sin, the people of Israel are blaming God for the consequences of their own actions. First they break God’s law, then complain when God isn’t blessing them, and even more outrageous ask, “Where is the God of justice?”.

Delayed judgment doesn’t mean no judgment. God is slow to anger and longsuffering. He is gracious and merciful calling sinners to repentance. His plan of redemption would come, the Messiah, Jesus Christ would pay for the sins of the world.

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