Return from Exile: Malachi 2 (1)
Pray Psalm 52.1-4.
Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man?
The goodness of God endures continually.
Your tongue devises destruction,
Like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.
You love evil more than good,
Lying rather than speaking righteousness.
You love all devouring words,
You deceitful tongue.
Sing Psalm 52.1-4.
(Manoah: Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
Why do the mighty boast in sin? God’s love endures, it knows no end!
They with their tongues vain boasts repeat, and like a razor, work deceit.
Men more than good in evil delight, and lies prefer to what is right.
They utter words both harsh and strong with their devouring, deceitful tongue.
Read and meditate on Malachi 2.1-4.
1. What was God seeking from His people?
2. What did He threaten?
God is a single-minded King. It’s His way or the highway. Give glory to God or be thrust from His Presence. Take His Word to heart or don’t bother listening at all. Delight in God or delight in evil.
God spoke to the priests in the book of Malachi, but in speaking to them He spoke also to the people who were complicit by going along with whatever the priests suggested: “Oh, you don’t need to offer that pure, pristine lamb. It will be good for future breeding. Just give us something, you know, lame or blind.” “OK, sounds good to me.”
The Word of God was clear, and all the people had heard it read aloud by Ezra and the Levites. They knew what the Word said, but they did not find it necessary to do what they knew. That’s because they did not take the Word “to heart” (vv. 1, 2). That is, they did not cherish the Word, did not delight in God’s Law, did not embrace the Word of God as their life and hope and joy (Jer. 15.16). They assented to it, of course, but they did not perform what it required.
And yet they kept coming to “church” with their heartless worship and offerings, believing that outward conformity was what God would receive because, after all, it was what their pastors and neighbors were doing as well.
The consequences of such heartless religion would not be pretty (v. 3). But if God had to drag them through such discipline to bring them back to His covenant, He would certainly do so (Heb. 12.3-11). Happily, He took the shame upon Himself so that we could enter His covenant by grace through faith (2 Cor. 5.21; cf. Gen. 15.9-17).
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
The prophet Jeremiah spoke words from God that penetrate to the heart of this matter: “The anger of the LORD will not turn back until He has executed and performed the thoughts of His heart. In the latter days you will understand it perfectly” (Jer. 23.20).
And a word about other prophets: “If they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings” (Jer. 23.22).
And a word to the prophets: “‘The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; and he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat?’, says the LORD. ‘Is not My word like a fire?’ says the LORD, ‘and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?’” (Jer. 23.28, 29).
All people who love the Lord and accept His gift of salvation, must cherish and obey His Word.
We are culpable, and the prophets, priests, Levites, and pastors of today, are doubly so, if found guilty of “not taking to heart” His commandments (Mal. 2.1, 2).
During Joshua’s leadership, the people and the priests found a way to, mostly, honor God. Of course, there were the usual suspects, but for the most part things went well. “So the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD which He had done for Israel” (Judg. 2.7).
But then… “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel” (Judg. 2.10).
If you know the LORD, and you do what He commands, all is well.
When you know of the LORD, and do not do what He commands, it all falls apart.
Do we want the blessings of God?
Or do we want God to curse our blessings? (Mal. 2.2).
God always keeps His covenant with His people—if things change, it is because we have wandered off.
“I will give them a heart to know Me, that I AM the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart” (Jer. 24.7).
Jesus said: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22.37-40).
Do we want His blessing? Or His curse?
Do we long to obediently follow Him? Or not take His Word to heart?
Those captive to Him always choose well.
1. What does it mean for you to “take to heart” God’s Word? How can you know when you have managed to do so?
2. Everything you do today can glorify God (1 Cor. 10.21). Think ahead prayerfully: How will you glorify God today?
3. Why would anyone want to “cut corners” with God and thus set themselves up for His discipline (Heb. 12.3-11)? What can you do to avoid doing this?
What indeed is less tolerable than not to hear God speaking? But as many thought it enough to stretch the ear, and then immediately to forget what had been spoken, it is added, If ye lay it not to heart, that is, If ye attend not and seriously apply your hearts to what is said. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Malachi 2.1, 2
Pray Psalm 52.5-9.
Pray that God will keep you in His righteous path, where He can reach you with His covenant blessings in Jesus.
Sing Psalm 52.5-9.
(Manoah: Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
God will forever break them down, uproot, and cast them to the ground!
He from their safety tears them away, no more to know the light of day.
The righteous see and laugh and fear, and say, “Behold, what have we here?
Such are all who at God conspire, and wealth and evil ways desire.”
But as for me may I be seen in God an olive ever green!
Ever in God, most kind and just, shall I with joy and gladness trust!
Thanks evermore to our Savior be raised! His faithfulness be ever praised!
Here with Your people, loving God, I wait upon Your Name, so good!
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.
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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.