Saturday, May 14, 2022

I WILL RETURN TO YOU















Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Today we open the third chapter of Malachi, and it begins with words from Jesus, the Word of God. As always, it’s the personal pronouns in verses like this that reveal the identity of the speaker, and of, or to whom he is speaking. These may have not been realized by readers of the Old Testament, but as New Testament believers, we can acknowledge God’s fulfilled prophecies, and His imparting of the Holy Spirit, and come to the knowledge of the truth.

This should not surprise us here in Malachi. The Jews had moved so far from God and His Word that their minds had been seared, and their ears shut up. Malachi’s prophetic Book is followed by 400 years of silence from God, as though He were shunning them for their disobedience, and violations against His Law. But even in their disobedience, God’s grace and mercy shines through as a light in the darkness. His silence to His people will come to an abrupt end with the advent of God’s Messenger, John the Baptist. He will prepare the way before the Lord, the promised Redeemer, and He will come suddenly!

Deuteronomy 8:5 is affirmed by Hebrews 12:6; God chastens those that He loves, as a father chastens his son. The modern church still proclaims the Glory and power of the Son, but many churches have gone astray in their teachings, abandoning the simplicity and beauty of God’s word and teach human dogma for God’s Word. Just as Mary and Joseph left Jerusalem in last week’s teaching, it took a day’s travel before they realized He was not with them. And returning to Jerusalem, it took them three days to find Jesus.
2 Peter 3:8 – “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one days is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
Chronologically, we are 22 years into the third thousand-year period after our Redeemer shed His blood for us, and revealed Himself alive on the third day. Mary and Joseph were separated from Jesus for three days before they found Him again in the Temple. “The Church” has been divided, quartered, and divided many times over since Jesus told Peter “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Mt. 16:18)
Mark 7:7 – “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
Today's Audio Message:
Malachi 3:1-4:6 - "I Will Return To You"

Summary/Notes:

Though the words of Malachi were delivered to the Jews, there are so many lessons for us learn in this text.

It is a rebuke to those who have turned away from the Lord, those who have forgotten His ways, and to those who are unfaithful to His Word. It is a call to repentance, to turn away from sin; it is a call to return to Him and righteous living. It is a warning of a coming judgment to sinners, contrasted by the blessedness of the saints. It is a call to righteous living, looking to Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of our Faith. It is a call to faithfully and actively pursue the Lord, to be committed to His Word, and to live out our faith in righteous living.

In Malachi 2:17, the people are scoffing at the Lord. People who scoff at God, with accusations that He doesn't care, doesn't see, doesn't exist, doesn't reward those who obey him, and doesn't punish evil, have been around since the beginning.

The Lord's answer to these scoffers is in Malachi 3:1-6 is a prophecy concerning John the Baptist. He was the Messenger of the Lord sent to prepare the way (Matthew 11:10) for the Messiah, Jesus Christ. John preached repentance and baptized in the name of the Lord, thus preparing the way for Jesus’ first advent. But the Messenger who comes “suddenly to the Temple” is Christ Himself in His second advent when He comes in power and might (Matthew 24). At that time, He will “purify the sons of Levi” (v. 3), meaning that those who exemplified the Mosaic Law would themselves need purification from sin through the blood of the Savior. Only then will they be able to offer “an offering in righteousness” because it will be the righteousness of Christ imputed to them through faith (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Sin is mankind's problem, Jesus is the answer to that problem. He calls us to repent, to turn from our sins and turn back to Him. Those who harden their hearts towards the Lord, those who deny His Word and continue in sin will be judged on the Day of Judgment.

God's character doesn't change - ever! He is immutable, and because He doesn't change, He keeps His promises. Psalm 89:34 - "My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips."

The final message delivered to Israel by Malachi is in verse 7. Here, God accuses the people of "robbing" Him by withholding His required tithes and offerings (Malachi 3:8). God's covenant with Israel included both blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. Israel fails to understand. They have strayed so far from His Word, that they don't remember that this is exactly what God promised them in return for unfaithfulness.

Abraham gave a tenth of all he had to the priest of Salem in Genesis 14:20. Later, the Mosaic Law included commands to give a tenth for tabernacle worship. Tithing is mentioned 18 times in the Law, as the people were to share their produce and livestock to support the Levites, the caretakers of the tabernacle. This same system of tithing would later be applied to the temple (2 Chronicles 31:5).

Does this teaching apply to Christians today? Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day, saying, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." (Matthew 23:23). These Pharisees obeyed the Law of Moses in that they tithed scrupulously, yet did not truly love God. They were challenged to do both.

The Law was fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:17). The principle in the New Testament is to give voluntarily to support the needs of others (Acts 2:45Romans 15:25-27), support Christian workers (1 Corinthians 9:11-121 Timothy 5:18), and expand Christian outreach (Philippians 4:15-16). 

Can you outgive God? We have been so abundantly blessed haven't we? But still, at times we hold back from God. Our giving should be a joyful act, with hearts full of thanksgiving, and love and desire to bless the Lord. Our giving reflects our love for God.

God is not pleased when we do not obey His commands. He will repay those who disregard Him. God sees our hearts, so He knows what our intentions are; nothing can be hidden from Him. He will return and He will be the judge. But if we return to Him, He will return to us (Malachi 3:6).

God keeps track of those who fear and love him in a "scroll of remembrance." They are his special personal possession that he treasures greatly (Malachi 3:16-17).
On Judgment Day the distinction between the righteous and wicked will be clear (Malachi 3:18).

Judgment Day, "the Day of the Lord," will bring fiery punishment for those who don't love God, but blessing and peace to those who trust him (Malachi 4:1-2).

Jesus Christ will be either a stepping stone into heaven or a stumbling stone into hell. No one can be neutral about Jesus Christ. Either you rise on Him, or you fall on Him. You cannot walk around Him. Either you’re saved by Him or you’re judged by Him.

You will encounter Jesus Christ. He is inevitable. He is unavoidable. He is inescapable. What you do with Jesus Christ determines what Jesus Christ will do with you. What are you doing with Jesus Christ today?





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