Today we look at the final heart issue of the people:
Heart issue #6 = How have we spoken against you? (. . . it is vain to serve the Lord)
They’ve just been rebuked for challenging God’s justice, and yet their hearts still believe that God is being tested by the wicked in their midst, unable to succeed against them. First they were questioning God’s justice and now they are testing His strength against mere men!
How often do we do this? He conquers in one area of our fears and so we fixate on the next!
But then we see another group arise out of the population: those who feared the Lord.
We see here that there were those amongst the population who feared God and responded to the message of the Lord through Malachi. What a joy for Malachi to see fruit from his ministry (because not all the prophets did!).
We see in these verses that a distinction is being made between the righteous and the wicked. The parallelism in 3:18 shows us who falls into which camp:
- Righteous = the one who serves God
- Wicked = the one who does not serve Him
And this comparison between the wicked and the righteous continues into chapter 4 when we look at the Day that is coming. Looking at the language we see that this is final judgement: All arrogant and evil doers will be stubble, none will be left; neither root nor branch will remain.
There will be a time of judgement on the unrighteous. God will judge between the righteous and the wicked, but in His timing, and not under the pressure of man. He is a God of Justice, and He will prevail. Until this time, the righteous are to continue in faith, trusting in God’s holiness and uprightness.
Finally, the book ends with a charge to remember the Law because God is sending Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day. What is the fulfilment of this prophesy according to the New Testament? Have a look at Matthew 17:12-13 and Luke 1:16-17.
Elijah’s return = John the Baptist.
This book told people: John the Baptist is coming, and then Jesus is coming. After all He’s been through with His people through the Old Testament, God ends (the Old Testament) with this final promise of Jesus coming – so get excited! John the Baptist will come, then Christ is coming to be with them.
So what is the application for today?
We have seen the coming of John the Baptist and the first coming of Christ. We know we are His treasured possession and we can have confidence for the Day of the Lord, at His second coming. In the meantime, we are also called to continue in faithfulness with a right heart. We who know God should be motivated to serve Him.
Healthy Heart Habit #6 = Serve the Lord
I want you to really listen to Paul’s final charge to Timothy. Listen to it as if Paul is writing it to you:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:1-6)
*Image by Lucky Gumbo, curtsey of The Inductive Bible Study Companion; Unlock the Word ©2015