Sad bunch, those People of God. Every time we turn around they are in trouble again. Here they go in Malachi, the last Minor Prophet in our Major Stuff blog and sermon series.
God laid out pretty clear rules for His people repeatedly over a thousand plus years: I’m your God; you are my people; you obey my rules; you don’t serve other gods; you stay holy; you worship me as I desire; I’ll bless you. Period.
The problem: Simple is not always easy.
The reality: Sin is tempting to humans.
Sin is when we act like God, when we do things our way, which is invariably contrary to God's way.
So, once again, in this concluding book of the Old Testament—not only the last in book order, but written last too (430 BC)—we have Judah, God’s Chosen People, falling back into sin over simple stuff.
God asked faithfulness. God asked worship. God even prescribed how to worship.
Yet Israel was cheating the prescription. They “placed defiled food” on God’s altar and then acted like they didn’t know (1:7). They brought blemished offerings they wouldn’t give a governor, but tried to pass off on God (1:8). They called God’s table a “burden” and would “sniff at it contemptuously” (1:13).
“You might as well turn out the lights and shut the doors of the Temple,” it’s as if God says in Malachi 1:10. Ouch. Problem. Big problem.
God requested worship via the Temple sacrifice system. They had taken it so much for granted that God basically says, “Shut it down. Your worship is an insult. And you are in trouble.”
If ever, did God’s people need righteousness restored? In Malachi’s day, once upon their roller coaster history again, they needed God's imputed righteousness. But how, as 3:4 asks, could their offerings become “acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years?”
The Holy Refinery. The Divine Laundry. God purified them (3:2-3). Only He could restore His people to righteousness. “Then,” and note well what Malachi 3:3b says here, “the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness.”
Did you catch that? In chapter one God’s people were called out for impure offerings, but here in chapter three it is not the offering that it called righteous or unrighteous, but the person offering it. Righteous people offer righteous offerings. Righteous people do righteous things.
Righteousness comes from from God within the heart of a person. Righteousness is a gift of God, manifest in right action, but rooted in a right heart.
The righteous heart gives birth to righteous actions.
Our righteous God makes us righteous.
Ask yourself today:
- How is my personal righteousness with God?
- What secret sins or unforgiveness am I harboring?
- What must I confess to God without delay?
- How should I express thanks to God for His forgiveness?
Restoring Righteousness is the twelve and final entry in our Major Stuff from the Minor Prophets series of posts and sermons. You can read all those posts in the previous weeks herein. You can hear any of those sermons via iTunes or our church podcast page. Please share this post and leave comments as you wish.