By Brent Moore
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Clarksville
Focal Passage: Malachi 1:1-11
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone who knows exactly what you are thinking? The intimacy is so close they ask questions even when they already know the answers. This friend uses questions to extract the truth of your peril so that you may see the point. When your soul is laid bare, these “wounds of a friend” have a greater purpose. The intent is to be a friend pointing to the true hope.
God is like a true friend in the book of Malachi. He asks rhetorical questions for the purpose of rebuke or instruction, ultimately revealing the hope found in the Lord of Hosts.
God is faithful to His covenants. The Lord of Hosts opens the book of Malachi reminding the hearers of His love relationship with Israel. He chose Jacob and He did not choose Esau. God brings this to remembrance to show He has a specific purpose for Israel; and it cannot be thwarted.
The opposite is true as well; no matter how hard Edom tries they cannot be a part of the covenant community. In verse four God declares, “They may build, but I will demolish.” The purpose of God in destruction is that others will see and say, “The Lord is great, even beyond the borders of Israel (v. 5).”
Malachi, like the other prophets, point to a day when the nations will worship the Lord. Verse 11 states, “For my name [Yahweh] will be great among the nations.” God is pointing to the day of the global church.
The hymn, “The Church’s One Foundation,” captures the essence well with the line, “elect from every nation.” Faithful love and true hope will indeed extend beyond the borders of Israel. The apostle Paul picks up this theme in the book of Romans. He uses the opening verses of Malachi as a foundation for, “all who call upon the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13).” Universal worship pictured in the book of Malachi is not only for this earth. The Church will worship in the New Jerusalem with people purchased from every tribe, tongue, or nation (Revelation 5:9).
Even though God has blessed Israel to be a blessing to the nations, their poor choices in worship have consequences. God through Malachi is rebuking Israel for defiled food presented on the altar. The Lord of Hosts does not want their “useless fire.” God is not pleased with their conduct and is calling Israel to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Until Israel gets their heart right before the Lord they might as well go ahead and “shut the temple doors.” It is fruitless to offer sacrifices without obedience (I Samuel 15:22).
God is the faithful friend. “Even if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself (II Timothy 2:13).” God is angry when we sin. But, “His anger lasts only a moment, His favor, a lifetime (Psalm 30:5).”
When we stray, like the people of Israel, we would do well to repent and claim the blood of Jesus Christ. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is not only for initial salvation, but for gospel powered living. Christians cling and boast in a cross where their only true hope is found. However, this is done from a position of assurance. That is why Baptists place such a high value on eternal security. We are the people like the apostle Paul who states, “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).”
— Moore is pastor to adults at First Baptist Church, Clarksville.