Return from Exile: Malachi 1 (1)
Pray Psalm 13.1, 2.
How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Sing Psalm 13.1, 2.
(Melita: Eternal Father, Strong to Save)
How long, O LORD, O LORD, how long
will You forget me and my song?
How long will You conceal Your face
and keep from me Your precious grace?
How long must I my soul consult?
When shall my weary heart exult?
Read and meditate on Malachi 1.1.
1. How did Malachi describe the Word of the LORD?
2. What does the name “Malachi” mean?
Malachi began his ministry toward the end of Nehemiah’s life, so the two overlapped a bit. This will be obvious from what we read in the four chapters of his book. Malachi means “My messenger” or even “messenger of Yahveh”). One became a prophet—a messenger of the LORD —by appointment. God called those He had chosen and prepared for this work. Being a prophet was not a popular calling. Most of God’s prophets were ignored, challenged, vilified, abused, and worse.
So no wonder Malachi received his calling and the Word of the LORD as a “burden”. The word comes from a verb that means “to lift” or “to carry”, and it is in a form that suggests an ongoing, unremitting activity. Being a messenger of the LORD was full-time work. Hard work. Many people would not understand and few would respond favorably to their words. Some people—even influential people—would become angry and threatening. Others might toss you down a well or saw you in two (Heb. 11.37).
The messenger of the LORD is given hard words to carry. He must bear that burden for himself, so that he does not fail to “carry” what God requires. And he must bear it for others, regardless of their response, that there may be no doubt in their minds about what the LORD promises and requires.
Like Malachi, we have been appointed as messengers of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 1.8). It’s hard work. It won’t make you popular. And like Malachi, we are sent not only to a world filled with wrong beliefs but a people who profess to be free in Jesus but are captive to self, sin, and the ways of the world.
So put on your big-boy pants, take up your burden, and let’s get busy.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
Nehemiah’s burden, as it turns out, was a lot bigger, and worse, than he let on.
In the introduction to the book of Malachi, the writer tells us: “Malachi, a prophet in the days of Nehemiah, directs his message of judgment to a people plagued with corrupt priests, wicked practices, and a false sense of security in their privileged relationship with God. Using the question-and-answer method, Malachi probes deeply into their problems of hypocrisy, infidelity, mixed marriages, divorce, false worship, and arrogance. So sinful had the nation become that God’s words to the people no longer have any impact. For four hundred years after Malachi’s ringing condemnations, God remains silent.” (NKJV, book introductions, 2006).
We can appreciate the predicament of Malachi. And his courage. He proclaimed the oracle God gave him, as burdensome as it was; and he did not head for another destination like Jonah (Jon. 1.1-3). He stood his ground and preached the hard words that God gave him to say. “Well done, Malachi.”
In the New Testament, we are given the same mandate to preach the burdensome words of confrontation to a “world filled with wrong beliefs” and to people “captive to self, sin, and the ways of the world”.
The only difference being, we are encouraged to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6.2).
As we face this challenge together, we have Paul’s words of encouragement: “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 15.4-6).
When we, as Christ’s Body, carry the burden of the Word to others, we too, will hear “Well done”.
1. In what sense is the Word of God a “burden” we must bear?
2. How does the Lord equip and help us in bearing this “burden”?
3. To whom will you bear the burden of God’s Word today?
[Malachi] reminds them instead of the divine favors and accuses the priests and the others separately, focusing on the lawless acts committed by them. He announces beforehand the coming of Christ the Lord in the flesh and the salvation the human race enjoyed as a result of it. Theodoret of Cyr (393-466), Commentary on Malachi, Introduction
Pray Psalm 13.3-6.
Pray that God will give you strength to bear the burden of His Word into your Personal Mission Field today.
Sing Psalm 13.3-6.
(Melita: Eternal Father, Strong to Save)
Exalt not, LORD, my enemy;
LORD, hear my prayer and answer me!
Give light unto my weary eyes;
let not death claim me for its prize.
Let not my foe rejoice to say
that I have fallen in the way.
Yet I have trusted, LORD, in You;
Your lovingkindness sees me through.
My heart breaks forth in happy voice;
in Your salvation I rejoice!
Thus I will sing triumphantly:
“My God has dealt full well with me!”
T. M. and Susie Moore
Two books can help us understand our own captivity and lead us to seek revival and renewal in the Lord. The Church Captive asks us to consider the ways the Church today has become captive to the world. And Revived! can help us find the way to renewal. Learn more and order your free copies by clicking here and here.
Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.
And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.
Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter, available free by clicking here.