Friday, December 27, 2019

The Need for the Messiah

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?” says the LORD Almighty" (Malachi 1:6a).

A sad story that recurs over and over in the pages of the Bible is also the first story in the Bible. God gives to His chosen people a kingdom, and as soon as they receive the kingdom they sin and ruin it. It happened with Adam. It happened with Abraham and Hagar, right after God promised him a son. It happened with Israel at Sinai, right after God gave them His law. It happened with Saul as soon as he became king. It happened with David and Bathsheba right after God promised a house for David. In fact, when we read the New Testament, we find from Paul’s letters that it was happening in his day as well, right after the church was established.

The book of Malachi fits into this pattern. Haggai and Zechariah show the glories of the rebuilt temple. God reestablished the nation and gave her a wide open door for Gentile evangelism. When we read Ezra and Nehemiah, however, we find that as soon as God set up the nation, the people fell into the sin of marrying foreigners and lapsing into idolatry. Malachi, prophesying about this time, provides a list of grievous crimes being committed by the priests and the people, crimes that were ruining the new opportunity God had set up for them.

For instance, they were offering defiled food to God (Malachi 1:7–8). They were teaching false doctrines (2:8). They were intermarrying with unconverted Gentiles (2:11). They were abandoning and divorcing their wives (2:14). They were cheating the poor, oppressing widows and orphans, and persecuting strangers (3:5). They were robbing God by not tithing properly (3:9–10).

Malachi calls on them to repent. He tells them that there is another “Day of the Lord” coming (3:2). As always, this will be a day of judgment for the church and world, but also a day of blessing for God’s people and for all nations. The Messiah will come and will purge the people of their sins, and render their worship acceptable once again. The recurring sins of Israel point out the need for one who is a true prophet, a holy priest, and a righteous king—God’s anointed, the Messiah. The light of this coming day will be the fire of the Lord’s presence. It will be like a furnace to the wicked, burning them up; it will be like the warmth of the sun to the righteous. In it, they will confidently assert their faith and prevail even against the wicked (4:1–3).

Take time to read all of Malachi today. Notice how much of the book is directed toward the leadership. Why is this? What does it mean for us in our day? Pray that the leaders in your church might exhibit the kind of qualities that please the Lord and honor His name.