Faithlife
Faithlife

Confessions: God's Messenger

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 1 view
Notes & Transcripts | Sermon Questions
Opening Story
Where will God’s work begin?
As we have seen, Israel has not truly pursued after God. With one face, they have brought offerings of poor condition and without reverence in heart as means of worship, and with another face they have divorced the wives of their youth and covenant in order to marry daughters of foreign gods. These practices were what led to the fall of both Israel and Judah, to the destruction of Jerusalem, and ultimately the upheaval of the temple King Solomon built. But God, faithful to His promises, provided Israel with yet another opportunity to return to Him. Instead, they returned to their same sinful ways. All the while, they do not understand why it is they are suffering and undergoing various hardships as God’s special people. Notice here what they say in response to God’s claim.
Malachi 2:17 HCSB
You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you ask, “How have we wearied Him?” When you say, “Everyone who does what is evil is good in the Lord’s sight, and He is pleased with them,” or “Where is the God of justice?”
Malachi 2:17–3:5 HCSB
You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you ask, “How have we wearied Him?” When you say, “Everyone who does what is evil is good in the Lord’s sight, and He is pleased with them,” or “Where is the God of justice?” “See, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to His temple, the Messenger of the covenant you desire—see, He is coming,” says the Lord of Hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming? And who will be able to stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire and like cleansing lye. He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. And the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will please the Lord as in days of old and years gone by. “I will come to you in judgment, and I will be ready to witness against sorcerers and adulterers; against those who swear falsely; against those who oppress the widow and the fatherless, and cheat the wage earner; and against those who deny justice to the foreigner. They do not fear Me,” says the Lord of Hosts.
Once again God describes an aspect of His relationship with Israel, and once again Israel believes His claims are unfounded. God tells them that they have wearied Him with their words. But unlike empty arguments, God remembers what was said. They claimed that God took pleasure with the actions of the wicked. Further, they said that the God of justice was absent.
Where will God’s work begin?
The exile was a crash course lesson of the character of God and the nature of His covenant with Israel. They believed that due to their special relationship with Yahweh, they would be untouchable. While this is true of their enemies, it is not true of their God. In , God declared through the weeping prophet that He had given authority to His servant Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. God would defend Israel from her enemies, but there was no one to defend Israel from her God. He had covenant expectations, and the people refused to follow them. So God sent them away into exile, and here they are still under foreign oppression. Such a reality gives the appearance that Israel must watch the wicked nations prosper at their expense. This reality causes them to question another—Is God a just God if He is pleased with the wicked?
Little did they know, that the question they are asking was better directed at themselves than at the nations. God said, “You have wearied Me with your words.”
Here though is the irony, God is not pleased with the wicked, especially the wickedness of His people. And the guilty will not go unpunished, as Israel did not go unpunished. Sadly, they fail to this. So He says to them that they are wearying Him with their words. The background to this word “weary” could possibly be the passage where God states that their sacrificial worship should not be an unpleasant occasion. Here the word seems to convey that God’s patience is wearing out.
You see, Israel would know where
Now here we are in 2017, and we are wondering whether or not justice will ever return to our country. We see corruption, immorality, and injustice all throughout our nation. Evil is quickly accepted as good, and the sweet virtues of old are not tolerated and are quickly rejected as outdated points of view. Within this last year, we have seen and heard so many go to the Lord in prayer, pleading that God would do something to stave off the certain moral future of this country. Still, America, with all her faults, is one of the greatest countries in all the world. I have had a chance to be in other lands where the freedoms we enjoy are not present, especially religious freedom. We expect the leaders of our country to make wholesome decisions, and to honor Christ. But in our earnest prayers for God to do something in our nation, we forget that God did not choose America or her leaders to represent His kingdom on earth, He chose in Christ the church.

If we want to see a change in our nation, we must show our nation the change in ourselves.

But this change does not come about by our doing, but by the saving work of Jesus Christ. I wonder if God’s indictment of Israel could also be cast upon the church. We want our country to function in a Christian way, when we won’t function in a Christian way. There is no freer place in all the world than America, and what do we do with our freedom? I wish I could say that we leverage our American freedom to better practice our Christian freedom, but as Israel looked and lived like the other nations, so we look and live like the rest of the world. God has provided America with what she needs to change, but it seems that church is too busy grieving the Holy Spirit of God. He calls us in and following to live in such a way as to be benefit to those around us, but instead, we carry about in the manner of our former lives. America will change when the church changes.
Where then will God’s work begin?

God’s Work will begin with God’s People.

Malachi 3:1–4 HCSB
“See, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to His temple, the Messenger of the covenant you desire—see, He is coming,” says the Lord of Hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming? And who will be able to stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire and like cleansing lye. He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. And the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will please the Lord as in days of old and years gone by.
What will God do to turn His people around? He will send His messenger to prepare for His arrival. Here is a wordplay that shows up, remember, Malachi means “My Messenger.” But the prophet is not talking of himself, but someone who would come after him. This messenger will “prepare” the way for the Lord’s coming. The idea with prepare is to clear the roadways and remove any obstacles to His coming.
Then, there is another who appears—the Lord, whom they seek, the Messenger of the covenant they desire. Notice what He does. He appears “suddenly” at the temple. The idea is that it is unexpected. But when He gets there, the prophet asks who can withstand Him? He will be like a refiner’s fire removing the impurities among His people; purifying the sons of Levi who have perpetuated the corrupt worship of Israel. Likewise, this messenger will be like the cleansing lye, the soap the washes tainted garments. Who will endure His coming? Not the impurities. and then notice the outcome of this refiners work—right worship. The sons of Levi will will present a new kind of offering, a righteous one. Then Israel will see what truly please God, right worship.
While many have struggled with who these messengers are in the passage, the structure seems to point to a total of three individuals—The Messenger who prepares the way; The Lord and Messenger of the Covenant, and then in verse 5, God comes. The first messenger appears to follow the pattern of what we see in . This person is then identified in the Gospels as John the baptizer, who made preparation for the Lord’s arrival. He called Israel to repentance and identified those who were of the religious cloth as a brood of vipers. He announced the arrival of God’s Messiah, Jesus. Throughout the Gospel of John, over 40 times between two similar words, Jesus said that God the Father “sent” Him. In , Jesus is the image of the invisible God. Jesus came, the people heard His message. He condemned the actions of the cultic leaders in what is commonly regarded as Jesus cleansing the temple, when in reality He was judging it. Malachi spoke of a messenger who would come and bring a refiners fire. John the Baptizer said that he would baptize with water, but that another one was coming who would baptize with fire. This refiner would be responsible for creating genuine worshippers who then present offerings fit for the Lord. Offerings presented to the Lord in righteousness, not a self-righteousness, because they were already doing that, but now with a righteousness that only God could provide. The result is that the gifts they will bring will be pleasing to Him.

God’s Work will begin with God’s People.

The Lord must do the purifying if right worship is to be the outcome.

While many have struggled with who these messengers are in the passage, the structure seems to point to a total of three individuals—The Messenger who prepares the way; The Lord and Messenger of the Covenant, and then in verse 5, God comes. The first mess

God’s Work will begin with God’s People.

What worship is pleasing to God?
Of course that is not the question we tend to ask, usually it sounds like this… “What makes worship pleasing to us?”

Genuine Worshippers are True Messengers

We will see the God’s message go from God’s people to all the world
Malachi 3:5 HCSB
“I will come to you in judgment, and I will be ready to witness against sorcerers and adulterers; against those who swear falsely; against those who oppress the widow and the fatherless, and cheat the wage earner; and against those who deny justice to the foreigner. They do not fear Me,” says the Lord of Hosts.
We will see the God’s message go from God’s people to all the world that...

The God of Justice is Coming

Oh that First Baptist Church would be filled with worshippers and not worship seekers! That we would gather each time together declaring to one another “I want to be a worshipper! I want to be a worshipper! I want to be a worshipper!” And then that our city and those around us would hear the message that we declare by our lives committed to worshipping God—He is worthy of our praise! Our country, our state, our city, our families all are waiting to see if the message we believe can do what we say it can do. So where must God begin, but with His people. If we continue to fail Him in our worship, in our devotion, and in our service to Him, how can we ever expect those who are lost around us to ever respond to the true Gospel? They are waiting to see the genuine difference the Gospel of Jesus Christ can make in their lives, by seeing the difference it makes in ours. By this transformed life, we declare to the world around us that Christ has come, and as messengers of God almighty, we declare to all who will listen that Christ is coming again. You have been given the freedom twofold, the freedom of worship in this land, and the delivered soul to freely worship the One who is able to save you from your sins. Where will God’s work begin? Let it be in me; let it be in you. Are you a worshipper of God? Does your worship of Him declare the message of His goodness?
RELATED MEDIA
See the rest →
RELATED SERMONS
See the rest →