Friday, October 11, 2019

Taking a break until 2020!

We have spent nearly 4 years in our journey through the Old Testament.  Now that we have finished that portion of the Bible, it's a great juncture for us to stop and invite others to join us on this expedition.  So, the New Testament has 260 chapters in it.  At a rate of 5 chapters a week, we can do the whole New Testament in 1 year.  Spend the next few months reading Proverbs or your favorite Psalms and let's begin again together in 2020 with Matthew chapter 1.  But don't do it alone!  Invite others to take this junket with you.  We have plenty of time to build up a full load for this spiritual bus trip.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Thursday - Malachi 4 - Waiting for the Sun to Rise

T is often repeated that the same sun that melts wax, hardens clay. Similarly, the same Son who saves repentant sinners, destroys the impenitent. As we read in Luke 20:18, "Whosoever shall fall upon that Stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever It shall fall, It will grind him to powder." As we conclude our journey through the Old Testament of the Bible, it is appropriate to remind ourselves that all 39 books have pointed, in one way or another, to the coming of the Messiah. He will be the one who knows the difference between the wheat and the tares; between the sheep and the goats; between those on the Stone and those under it; between believers and unbelievers.  We end the Old Testament waiting for the Sun to rise on a new day; a day upon which the Messiah will come, when the proud will be damned, and the humble will be blessed (Malachi 4:1-2).

Malachi's contemporary audience had a long time to wait before the Sunrise. In fact, they were destined to die in the night. It would be centuries before the day would dawn and the Son would arrive. Appropriately, both Advents of Christ are forecasted here in Malachi 4. This prophet speaks of His incarnation and of His exaltation - with mercy at His first coming and justice at His second.

Malachi 4 has a very distinct "closing remarks" feel to it as you read it. In addition to the allusion to the spiritual Sunrise (which we have already noted), in verse 4 there is also a fitting reminder of the importance of keeping the commandments of God, and in verse 5 he points to the  fact  that the  next major event on God's prophetic calendar will be the coming of Elijah (consider Matthew 11:13-15 & Revelation 11:3-4). And, he points to the eventual climax of human history, the day when Christ will establish His kingdom on this earth. Let us pray with zeal and sincerity: “Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is our hope and our future.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Wednesday - Malachi 3 - The Immutability of God

ALACHI 3:1 informs us that God intended to send John the Baptist ahead of Jesus in order to get everyone ready for His coming. Of course, God intended to send His Son as Savior and King too. But wait, these were not just God's intentions. These were promises from God. And, God doesn't lie (Hebrews 6:18 & Titus 1:2). But why doesn't God lie? In this chapter, we find the answer to that question. Malachi 3:6, "I am the LORD, I change not; therefore, you sons of Jacob are not consumed." God is immutable; unchanging. His character is always the same. His eternal purposes and the things that He does because of His nature, they are always the same. His infinity causes much diversity, yet even His infinite creativity is always consistent with His unchanging attributes. Yet, what does that mean for us?

Because God does not change, therefore His gracious promises to Jacob are still being kept to this very day. Here we are, many centuries beyond Jacob's life, yet God's promises are still in effect. Ten million centuries into eternity, God will still be keeping His promises to Israel. Despite the multitude of reasons that the Jews have given Him to turn His back on them, He hasn't forsaken them yet. And He won't ever. At His first coming, He made provision for the salvation of Israel. When He comes again, He will fully complete that which He started some 2000 years ago: the total redemption of Israel. In the meantime, they are adrift.

In the days of Malachi, Israel was away from God. They were disobedient to His commandments. God invited them to repent, but they didn't feel like they had anything for which to apologize (vs. 7). They stole from God by holding back that which belonged rightfully to Him (vs. 8).  But again, they were in denial. And, their lack of faith was detrimental to them.  Consider what they missed out on because of their unbelief and lack of devotion (vs. 10). God has the power to intervene and help those who are willing (vs. 11).

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Tuesday - Malachi 2 - Redefining Goodness

E live in a world that is a long way down the road of redefining what it means to be good and righteous. The Bible warns us that these tactics will be used by the devil! In Isaiah 5:20 we find it written, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"  Malachi dealt with the same issue in his day (Malachi 2:17). The Jews were excusing their own evil & condemning all who questioned them.

Today, Christians proclaim the old gospel; that Christ is the only way to heaven. And we are scorned by the world.  We are viewed as narrow minded, ignorant, unkind and unenlightened. We declare the obvious order of monogamous heterosexuality, as God designed and demands, and we are quickly dismissed as bigoted, self-righteous and dangerous instigators. With broken hearts, we cry out for the cessation of abortion in America; calling it what it is, murder. And the labels begin to fly chauvinists; haters; liars. We stand against drunkenness, tobacco abuse, divorce, psychobabble, laziness, pride, gossip or lust and even many who claim to know Christ begin to fold their arms in rejection of our message. Friends, in Malachi 2:8-9 we find that Israel had corrupted God's laws and had become partial in their obedience. Are we similarly guilty?

Do we fail to take God's edicts seriously (vs. 2)? Do we lift ourselves up in pride, considering ourselves to be of more value than others (based upon ethnicity, education, socioeconomic position or surname – see vs. 10)? Do our children marry unbelievers (vs. 11)? Do we exhibit great religiosity in public while exercising ourselves maliciously against our own family members (vs. 13-14)? Are Christians as guilty of dissolving marriages as are the unregenerate heathen all around us (vs. 15-16)? If we redefine God's laws so we can feel better about ourselves, we are no better than ancient Israel was (vs. 17).

Monday, October 7, 2019

Monday - Malachi 1 - Give of Your Best to the Master

OD loved Israel, and still loves them. From an emotional standpoint, it can be said that God loves the Jews. Jesus showed this care of, affinity for and attachment to them when He stood over Jerusalem weeping because of their rebellion and rejection of Him (Luke 13:34). But the wonderful thing is that God loved Israel in a practical way too. Love is a verb. Love includes actions, not just an attitude.  And, in that way, God loved Israel especially. How amazing that is! But, how did they respond to Him?  They did not reciprocate.

Malachi was another post-exilic prophet. God had blessed the Jews and brought them back home from Babylon. Yet, they drifted away from Him again. By the time Jesus came to earth, the Jews had fully rejected God. They still bore His name. They still carried His book. They still gave lip service to His prophets. But truly, they worshipped themselves. Centuries before Jesus preached against these vices, Malachi did so too. Obviously, there was no lasting effect though, because the nation was still wayward when John and Jesus commenced to preaching.

Take note of the evidence of Israel's spiritual callousness as it is presented in this chapter. The people had a saying, "You don't love us!" What a ridiculous accusation (vs. 2). The Jews didn't honor or fear God. They despised & denied His name (vs. 6). When they worshipped God, they gave Him the leftovers. As gifts, they gave Him that which was old & worn out; that which cost them nothing (vs. 7). They would have been better off giving nothing at all. They considered God's program to be insignificant & optional. They treated Him worse than they treated their human authority figures (vs. 8). They were bored with God's truth (vs. 12-13). They imagined that they could lie to Him & get away with it (vs. 14).  What would God do in response to their backslidden condition? God's response to Israel is prophesied here in Malachi 1.  He decided to turn His attention to the ignorant Gentiles.