Malachi Then and Now - God's Unchanging Love v. Preparing for the Great Day

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Malachi 2:17-3:5


Malachi doesn’t pull his punches.  He tells the people of his day, “You have wearied the Lord with your words”.  Their warped concept of justice sees them accuse God of inconsistency at best, deceit at worst.  Because they doubt the love of God, the Israelites resort to keeping up religious appearances, devoid of reality, simply going through the motions.  They place God in the dock and ironically blame him for their present state of despair and futility.  They refuse to accept responsibility and simply desire to save face, not unlike the role players involved in the explosion at Chernobyl nuclear power station in northern Ukraine in April 1986.  It was the height of the cold war and the Soviets were determined to preserve their perceived scientific superiority over the West.  However, cutting costs and high-handed authority led to the disaster that affected multiple thousands of innocent people.  The recent docu-drama ‘Chernobyl’ depicts a brave Russian nuclear scientist hold the state accountable with his chilling words “Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth.  Sooner or later that debt is paid”. 

Malachi Then and Now - God's Unchanging Love iii. Mouthpiece for God

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Malachi 2:1-9


“The eye is the window of the soul” is a familiar saying.  However, Malachi addressing the priests of his day argues that the mouth is the window of the soul.  Jesus echoes this sentiment, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matt 12:34).  Malachi took the priests to task for failing to fulfil their primary calling, viz. faithful teaching of God’s Word. 

 The novelist John Updike, no friend of the gospel, in his novel Run Rabbit describes a young minister Rev Eccles, “With his white collar he forges God’s name in every sentence he speaks...  He steals belief from the children he is supposed to be teaching.  He commits fraud with every schooled cadence of the liturgy.”  John Updike may well have taken his words straight from Malachi 2400 years ago.  Malachi sounds strident and harsh to our modern ears.  We prefer a kinder, gentler faith.  But extreme times require extreme measures.  The priests looked the part.  They wore the right vestments.  They recited prayers.  But they were lifeless.  Platitudes devoid of passion.  They bent the truth and corrupted their ministry.

Malachi Then and Now - God's Unchanging Love ii. A Call to be Real

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Malachi 1:6-14


Malachi holds the priests responsible for the spiritual malaise of Israel.  Well might he add, in a contemporary context ‘as the pulpit, so the pew’.  Three means of revelation saw the priests responsible for Worship, the prophet for the Word from God, and the sage for Wisdom.  Worship, Word and Wisdom maintained the religious ethos of Israel, and all three areas, particularly worship were in a parlous state with devastating consequences for the nation as a whole.

 Integral to Israel’s worship was the sacrificial system both mandatory (the sin and trespass offering) and voluntary (the grain, drink and peace offering).  The sacrifices in the Old Testament pointed forward to the perfect and final sacrifice of Christ.  As such they had to be unblemished and perfect.  However, the priests colluded with the people in presenting second-rate sacrifices, an insult to God which defiled worship.

Malachi Then and Now - God's Unchanging Love i. A Call to Respond to God's Love

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Malachi 1:1-5

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Cynicism is devastating.  The default mode of despair and disillusioned people, it robs one of enthusiasm, commitment and energy.  This was the situation confronting Malachi.  Circumstances, opposition and adversity had all but destroyed Israel’s assurance of God’s presence and provision.  Their homeland had been devastated by the Babylonian invasion, the temple destroyed and most of the population had been exiled.  And now through Persian intervention, the people were beginning to return.  The temple had been rebuilt under Haggai but the city walls remained a ruin.  Even more galling, their neighbour Edom, descendants of Esau, had escaped unscathed.  They had prospered whilst Israel suffered.  The fact that Esau had cheated Jacob of their father Isaac’s blessing added insult to injury.