I've been looking at the book of Malachi because of the similarities of that time period and today. For a bit of background, the Israelites had returned to Jerusalem after their Babylonian captivity. They had completed the rebuilding of the temple and the walls around the city. Times were hard. They were struggling to build up a city of independant people. And to make matters worse, since they were under Persian rule they had to pay taxes.
Time went on and the people murmured. The priests, who were suposed to be the voice of God, who were supposed to warn the people when they disobeyed God, were themselves being disobediant. Worse, they were teaching falsehoods to the people. Sorta like some do now. They were in the business for themselves, to pad their own pockets. The people turned from God's ways, and questioned Him. God, why do you allow this to happen? Why do you not hear our prayers? Why have you abandoned us? A lot like today, I think. Well, in Malachi He answers the people, loud and clear, and that answer holds true for today.
Malachi is actually a love letter from God to an unrepentant nation. It begins with with the Lord answering the unrecorded question of "Why don't you love us?" He begins with "I have loved you." Apparently they balked at that because God went on to explain how it was that He did, in fact, love them. This is the famous "I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated."
The way I interpret this, is that Esau thought little of what God gave him, which was his birthright. He casually threw it away as if it meant nothing and was of less value than a bowl of soup. What exactly is a birthright? Back then it was everything. It meant authority and leadership. It meant your future. For lack of a better word, it meant your destiny. Spiritually speaking, it is all that the Lord Jesus offers us, when we are born again, and this, I think, is why God said that he hated Esau. He was tossing out the spiritual offering for one of flesh.
He goes on to address the priests who apparently have questioned God's treatment of them. God answers with, "A son honors his father and a servant his master. If I am a father where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me? It is you, priests, who show contempt for Me."
wow - powerful words. He goes on to uncover the mess they have made of worship. They offered blemished sacrifices to God and kept the best for themselves, then wondered why God ignored their prayers. But you know, the thing is, God wanted their love. Their sacrifices showed what was in their hearts. They were performing their functions out of duty, not love. He wanted them to want to be with Him. It's what He wants today. How can man turn cold toward the Creator of the universe? How can we let our fires grow dim? We do - and always have. Even 400 years before Christ came men were shaking their fists at God, asking why He was so unfair to them. And all that time, and this, God is waiting, waiting for us to return to Him.
In chapter 2, verse 17 He says, "You have wearied the Lord with your words, by saying all who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord and He is pleased with them." or, "Where is the justice?"
Sounds like today with all those that claim that God is to blame for everything. What a decadent time we live in. All the atrocities that happen on a daily basis, the immorality, the accpetance of filth and smut in our homes via televion and magazines and books and entertainment venues. We sit back and say that it must be ok because Joe down the street does the same thing and he goes to the same church I do, so if it's ok for him, then it's ok for me. We rationalize our sins and lifestyle. All the while, God is wanting us to return to Him.
You know, in this book God says to return to the wife of your youth. Ever wonder what that means? Remember how it was when you first fell in love and that person was the whole world to you? How she/he stared intently into your eyes when you spoke and laughed at all your jokes and held your hand at all the right moments. Remember how they were the center of your universe and all decisions were made with that one person in mind because you didn't want them left out of anything? Of course He is talking here about hating divorce but it is becasue of what divorce means. It is the breaking of a covenant, which is abhorrent to God. But God's word has layered meanings as well. He does not want us to break from Him. He wants us to return to Him, as to the love of our youth, full of passion and fire and loyalty.
The book of Malachi is a prophetic book, announcing the coming Savior, and the second coming. It is a warning of judgement. It is a book of love, proclaiming God's love for us, and His desire for his people.