This week, Pastor Chris began a new sermon series through the book of Malachi. This final book of the Old Testament was a word for the church as it awaited the Messiah’s first coming. The church had returned from exile, but remained distant from God and spiritually apathetic. The writer of Malachi wrote to those prone to lukewarm living and called them back into a dynamic knowledge and love of God. We can also be prone to forget that God is loving and tender toward us, and that he calls us out of idolatry and worldliness and back into love and passion for him. The good news of Malachi is that God’s love and affection over us does not change, but we must choose to turn our hearts fully back to him.
- The Ways of God: We cannot remain in the presence of God when we disobey the commandments of God.
- During the time of Malachi, Israel had returned from exile, but was still distant from God.
- The book is comprised of God’s declarations, Israel’s objections, and God’s explanations.
- Beware of the dangerous slide into spiritual apathy.
Malachi 1:1 (ESV)
1 The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.
- Delivering God’s unfiltered Word to another often feels like a necessary burden.
Malachi 1:2 (ESV)
2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?”
- When life fails to meet our expectations, we are often prone to doubt God’s love for us.
Malachi 1:2-3 (ESV)
2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob 3 but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.”
- The Bible often utilizes love and hatred to show the contrast in priorities rather than passions.
Law of Priority
Luke 14:26 (ESV)
26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
Luke 16:13 (ESV)
13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Why does God pick some but not others?
Romans 9:10–18 (ESV)
10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
Malachi 1:3-4 (ESV)
3 but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” 4 If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the Lord of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry forever.’ ”
What is essential for a Christian to believe regarding election?
- If anyone has a relationship with God, it is because God was the initiator.
- We should not be shocked that God allows rebellious people to go to hell but that He permits rebellious people to go to heaven.
- God’s sovereignty never negates our responsibility.
- God’s love for you is not contingent upon your performance for Him.
- The most surprising part of election is that God would choose any of us in the first place.
2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)
9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Malachi 1:5 (ESV)
5 Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel!”
Deuteronomy 29:29 (ESV)
29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
1. How would you describe a believer who is spiritually apathetic? Have you ever been spiritually lukewarm?
2. Malachi starts out with God telling His people that He has loved them, and they respond by questioning his love. Have you ever doubted God’s love over you? What were your reasons for believing so?
3. Have you ever allowed your circumstances to dictate your belief that God loves you?
3. In Malachi 1:2, God quotes the story of Jacob and Esau and how He ‘loved’ Jacob and ‘hated’ Esau. Pastor Chris shared how this “love-hate” dynamic was not one of passion, but of priority. What did Pastor Chris mean by this?
4. Pastor Chris spoke on the human-divine cooperative by stating that “God’s sovereignty never negates our responsibility”. What does this mean when it comes to our Christian walk?
5. Are you struggling to believe that God does not change his love over you? Share this with a friend or mentor this week and get prayer in this area.
6. Are you currently trading God’s promises over our life for a temporary relief or pleasure (think of how Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of soup). Repent of this and ask the Holy Spirit to bring your heart back into alignment with the truth of your identity in Christ.
7. Are you feeling spiritually lukewarm or apathetic right now? Get prayer this week with a mature and trusted friend or mentor and ask the Holy Spirit to ignite your heart afresh to the things of God.