“My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin.” (Malachi 2:5-6)
Tell me when this starts to sound familiar:
The people of God had become lukewarm and complacent. They felt like worship and duty to God were a burden; a task to be performed without love or joy. They gave to Him out of obligation, but only the dregs and the leftovers. They complained that God did not reward them for their “faithfulness” and only prospered the wicked. They longed for God to come with fire and judgment to destroy the “sinners.” They no longer respected God’s servants, but despised the priesthood. They turned to pagan peoples and culture for happiness and fulfillment rather than abiding steadfastly in the One True God. They quarreled and broke faith even with their spouses, endangering the Godly upbringing of their youth.
Many churches today are stressing the importance of “relevance” in their ministries. That’s fine and good, but if you cannot see the relevance in the plain and simple Word of God, then something is seriously wrong. I’m afraid that there are those who turn to other more worldly sources because they feel that Scripture is “dated” and “out-of-touch” with people today. And yet, is there a single item in the above paragraph with which our society cannot perfectly relate?
Malachi made it quite “relevant” to the Israelites, as well as to us today: When we regard worship as a “burden” and offer to God only the leftovers, we dishonor His name and show a lack of love, trust, and devotion to Him. When we despise God’s Word and those who proclaim it, we can’t complain when the world despises and humiliates us. When we break faith with God and abandon His ways, how can we expect to reap the fruits of abundant life that He promises as a result of following Him in faith? And God certainly will come to judge the sinners; so beware! Our hypocrisy itself accuses us, for we have fallen far short of the Law’s requirements: “Now implore God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?” (Malachi 1:9)
The question for our churches today is, how can we make “the rest of the story” relevant as well? Will we, like the faithful remnant in Jerusalem, turn to God in repentance and place our lives at the mercy of His promise? “Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. ‘They will be mine,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him” (Malachi 3:16-17).
Thankfully, our Heavenly Father has a Son who has served Him perfectly, living a life that fulfilled the fullness of the Law and dying on our behalf. In compassion for Jesus Christ’s sake, God will spare us even though we have flouted His commands, neglected His worship, broken faith with each other, doubted His justice, and wished for vengeance upon the “ungodly.” We revere His name by trusting in His mercy and placing our faith in the promise of salvation through forgiveness by His grace!
“But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.” (Malachi 4:2)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me for the many ways in which I fall short of honoring You. Help me to put You first in my life by glorifying You in all that I do and by serving my neighbor. Bring me at last to be with You forever for the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.