13 Dec 2014 by Tony Dibble-
The main theme of Malachi, the final book in the Old Testament, is honouring GOD. Malachi was written 100 years after GOD’s people had returned from Babylon to Jerusalem. Haggai and Zechariah had warned the people that they had failed to build the temple. The temple had since been rebuilt. Now, Malachi was to warn them that they had failed to be committed in their worship. It appeared that their priests were also responsible (to an extent) for this poor level of worship (2:1 & 2).
GOD’s people were then ruled by a Governor (1:8) from Persia. They remained somewhat demoralised because of this. They could not see the glory of Israel’s past whilst living through their present circumstances. They had not put on their spiritual spectacles. They lived in the flesh and saw only the things around them. They failed to see GOD (Matt 5:8) through it all.
2. Honouring GOD
Honouring GOD is not mere legal obedience. It is total commitment to GOD with no compromise. It is to be rooted in the deliberate love shown by GOD (1:2).GOD is committed to His people. A distinction will always remain between us and our spiritual enemies. GOD has chosen us. He will stick by us (1:3-5). GOD does not change, though we may be slack in our obedience to Him (3:6). It is therefore to be expected that we always remain in Him (John 15: 5-10).
Honouring GOD involves two relationships. Firstly, our relationship with GOD must be one of Father and son (1:6). Obedience by man is required as a result of GOD’s love. Secondly, GOD is our Master and we are His servants. Therefore, we serve GOD according to His standards of duty (3:7). Our relationship with GOD must never be second-class. We are to avoid defiling GOD (1:7) in our thoughts, words and actions. Our offering and sacrifice to GOD (Rom 12:1) must never be compromised. GOD’s law is the standard of our behaviour. We are reminded to follow His commandments (4:4). Reverence to GOD is expected from us (3:5). We must be careful not to cheat GOD of the honour due to Him (1:14).
We must never disappoint GOD to the extent where He regrets receiving our offering (1:10). Neither must we provoke His anger to the point that He feels like retaliating in total contempt of us (2:3).We must never play dumb by dishonouring GOD(1: 6 & 7, 12 & 13; 2:13 &14, 17 ; 3:13-15). In doing so, we make it appear that GOD is a fool. We simply cannot afford to disrespect GOD and pretend not to have offended Him. The words “GOD Almighty” are recorded 20 times in the book (NIV) to emphasize His stature. We need to honour that stature and not play ‘half-games’ in our worship of Him.
In our obedience to GOD, we must never be faithless. We should not be ‘contaminated’ with anything other than Christ (2:11). Our worldly interests must never overtake our spiritual priority. We should avoid having an attachment to anything before GOD. We must never reject His laws just to meet our lusts. This is breaking His covenant (2:14-16) thereby dishonouring Him.
Tithing (giving GOD one tenth of our income) is another area for obedience to GOD. It is incorrect to conclude that GOD requires tithes because His kingdom on earth will fail without them. Everything in the world belongs to GOD (Psalm 24:1).Tithing is really a test of obedience to GOD. GOD is observing our giving (Luke 21:1-4). The failure to tithe is considered the equivalent of robbing GOD (3:8)—robbing GOD of His honour.
Murmuring against GOD is also robbing Him of His honour. GOD views this as being stubborn towards Him. This murmuring is considered the equivalent of unbelief when we say that the wicked have escaped GOD’s tests (3:13-15).
8. Priesthood of Believers
We are a royal priesthood (1 Pet 2:9) to proclaim the praises of GOD. The glory of GOD is the aim of all honour and worship (2:2). When we carry out the command of GOD, we must never cheapen it with favouritism (2:9).Worldly standards are inapplicable when honouring GOD. The priesthood was given to Levi who walked with GOD (2:6).We must never step out of the presence of GOD and must ensure that we do not cause others to stumble (2:8).
On judgement day, GOD would use His standards to assess how much we have honoured Him (3:2-5).Nevertheless, GOD is a forgiving and loving GOD who always permits us to return to Him (3: 7).Judgement day would be a day for remembering both the obedient as well as those who have dishonoured GOD. Hence, it would be a great as well as a terrible day (4:5).The aim of judgement day would be to show that GOD is to be respected with the honour due to Him: wickedness would be avenged and obedience blessed.
10. The Coming of Christ
The first and second coming of Christ to earth are prophesised at the start of Chapter 3 (in verses 1 to 5) and in the closing Chapter 4, verses 1 to 3. The prophecy of John the Baptist preparing the way for the coming of Christ is also recorded here (3:1 & 4:5; Matt 3:1&2; 11:7-14). These two comings and the heralding of Christ’s emergence by John, all give glory and honour to the work and name of GOD. We would be closer to His eternal kingdom (Matt 4:17), planned before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:3-10), with the first coming of Christ (Heb 1:2).The second coming would be the crowning glory of GOD when all honour would be paid to Him (Matt 25:31-34).
GOD’s honour must always be acknowledged. Our worship, commitment and lifestyle must be faithful to Him as our priority. His commandments are to be followed thoroughly, with no half-hearted commitment. We cannot afford to permit any depressed circumstances to give rise to a light view of Him. Malachi’s message was a wake up call from a loving GOD who had been near-abused by His people. GOD was totally infuriated but His love prevailed. As Christians, we must be spiritually alert. We do not exercise half-measures when honouring GOD. We must be able to ‘see’ GOD. The time would come when GOD will truly be honoured by the final events He ordains. This was the burden of GOD’s word placed on Malachi (1:1).
Note: Tony Dibble worships at Endeavour Christian Gathering, in Perth, Western Australia. Prior to this, he was attending the Church of Our Holy Saviour, Labuan, East Malaysia. When in Kuala Lumpur, he worships at Faith Oasis Fellowship (FOF) Subang Jaya, Selangor.
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