Malachi 3:15

Malachi 3:15…”Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.” On the surface, it often appears as though God is not just. Why does it seem like the worst people in this life prosper? Our experiences have shown us that the guilty seem to go unpunished, and are sometimes better off than those who seek to do good. We need to view things through God’s lens though. He is perfectly just, and all accounts will be brought into proper balance one day. Be thankful that he hasn’t given you all the vain earthly things you desire, because they are fool’s gold. Remember that ‘it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24).’

For the Christian, we have much to celebrate everyday because we are not getting what we deserve (eternal punishment). With this eternal perspective, we can be freed to serve the Lord with joyful hearts, knowing that he’s blessed us in the heavenly realms, regardless of our earthly circumstances. Getting our minds and hearts lined up properly in a vertical manner (repentance and faith in Christ) will inevitably allow us to have healthy relationships horizontally (with other people) because we’ll see ourselves rightly; we are sinners saved by grace, and God has blessed us graciously despite our unbelief, pride and selfishness.

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Malachi 3:3

Malachi 3:3…”He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” He is Jesus, and this is what he is doing right now. For those who belong to him, this is absolutely true, and will be our experience. We are very valuable to Him, like a precious metal. He is patiently sitting, at the right hand of the Father, using just the right amount of heat and pressure, to conform us to His character. Slowly and sometimes painfully, we are being refined and purified. There is not a part of us untouched by this refinement and purification from sin, and the One doing the work knows us better than we know ourselves. He will bring us to glory, and the process will be complete.

Malachi 2:17

Malachi 2:17…”You have wearied the Lord with your words.‘How have we wearied him?’ you ask. By saying, ‘All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them’ or ‘Where is the God of justice?’” In our impatience and selfishness, we think God’s timeline is the same as ours. But, we know that He is abundantly patient:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. ~ 2 Peter 3:9

He is perfectly just, and will not let one sin go unpunished. We need to leave room for His justice to play out, and not be quick to exercise our own. Our pride is deceptive, and when we act like God, attempting to sit on His throne, we miss the eternal perspective laid out in Malachi. We need to submit to Him, and trust His perfect sovereignty.

Malachi 2:10

Malachi 2:10…”Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another?” God’s plan of salvation has always included a people living together, displaying His glory. The mark of His people, which should differentiate them from the world, is holiness. This was true of Israel, and is the point of this verse. When God’s people struggle with unity, it comes from unbelief, pride, and selfishness. We need to remind ourselves of the gospel, and actively pursue faith, humility, and selflessness. A right understanding of our deep need for Jesus because of our sin and God’s holiness will inevitably breed unity and peace in our church. Where there is a right view of sin, there will be unity. Where Jesus is highly esteemed, there will be love flowing out of humility. Where there is humility, there will be holiness, as we run to Jesus in repentance and faith increasingly.

Malachi 2:8

Malachi 2:8…”But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble.” We must not only consult the written word, but desire instruction and advice from our pastors/elders, as God has given them authority in the affairs of our souls (Hebrews 13:17). Seeking churches whose pastors/elders preach the gospel with clarity and consistency is imperative. In this verse, while the term ‘false teacher’ isn’t used explicitly, the idea is implied. The confusion over what’s true is especially prevalent today because contemporary Christians have not been well-trained in understanding how to study/interpret/understand the Bible.

Pastors/elders should teach the scriptures carefully, not taking individual verses out of the context. A text taken out of context becomes a pretext. The word “context” as it is used here simply means to understand what the Bible is saying in comparison to the surrounding passage. One sentence or one phrase outside of a paragraph can have a completely different meaning unless it is read in context of the surrounding ideas. To develop a biblical pretext means to give a pre-conceived notion of what the phrase means. Most of the bad pretexts about the Bible come from reading a verse out of context of the surrounding passages.

Here are 5 examples of commonly misinterpreted verses:

“Touch not my anointed ones…” (1 Chronicles 16:22) (Used by false prophets and charlatans to shield themselves from criticism).

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) (Used by modern prosperity teachers for promising vain temporal blessings to potential converts. Works well in America, but not so well in Sudan.)

“Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.” (1 Chronicles 4:10) (See above. Also popular in the prosperity movement.)

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20) (Used to ignore church government or as justification by many to start their own church.)

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1) (A favorite of non-believers and casual church goers to justify their own wickedness.)

Malachi 1:8

Malachi 1:8…”‘When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?’ says the Lord Almighty.” God’s people have always been saved by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone, so the sacrifices were not for that purpose. As it is today, God wants our heart, and He wants all of it. The Old Testament sacrifices were God’s plan for a particular people to be set apart from the world in the way they lived. His church today is to be that way, growing in holiness. The Lord’s problem with Israel in this verse, is that they were holding back their best for themselves. We are no different, and it is mainly our time that we keep as “our own” today. Our time does not belong to us though, and when we make an idol of it, we rob God of what rightfully belongs to Him as our Creator and Lord. Our priorities are exposed when we treat our work time, or TV time, or hobby time as if they were more important than time with God and His people. The way you spent your time in this life will be scrutinized by the Lord when you die, and those who are in Christ will have a harvest to show the Lord. They will be rewarded with eternal life. For those who do not produce fruit, there will be eternal punishment:

The axe has been laid to the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. ~ Matthew 3:10

Malachi 1:4-5

Malachi 1:4-5…”But this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord. You will see it with your own eyes and say, Great is the Lord – even beyond the borders of Israel!'” Why is the Lord great if He destroys and demolishes those whom He made in His own image? Because He is both holy and just. If God were only holy, and not just, He would not punish sin; but, because his justice is every bit as perfect and consistent as His holiness, no sin goes unpunished. His greatness also includes His grace and mercy though, and in Christ this is how He can punish every sin and yet save some. Jesus is the answer to the riddle of the Old Testament, found in Exodus 34:6-7:

The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.How can God both punish every sin and maintain love to thousands? One word, Jesus.

Malachi 1:2

Malachi 1:2…”I have loved you,’ says the Lord. ‘But you ask, “How have you loved us?” The minor prophet, Malachi, is a book outlining the ingratitude of God’s people. This is directly applicable to us, because we are no different today as believers. We do not trust or love God nearly enough, particularly in light of how much we’ve been given in Christ, as well as the peril from which we’ve been saved. If we are His, then His love never fails, it never gives up, and it never runs out on us. And yet, our view of His love for us is distorted. We often think that His love goes up and down based on our performance. This is false. If we are authentically His, then His affection was fully and powerfully fixed on us in eternity past, and will never cease.

Acts 28:24

Acts 28:24…”Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe.” This verse should encourage us in our evangelism. Even Paul, arguably the greatest evangelist in the history of the world, did not convert everyone to whom he preached the gospel. Of course this is because it is God who saves. We certainly want to be persuasive, but there is great freedom in knowing that our duty in evangelism is to present and live out the gospel. God will use us according to His will, and so our responsibility is to be faithful in evangelism, trusting that we are living and working where He has placed us, in part, for that purpose. Our finite humans minds struggle to grasp this truth: God’s elect were chosen before creation, but we are still used by Him to share the gospel with all, since the elect are not apparently obvious to us until after they are saved.

Acts 27:1

Acts 27:1…”When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment.” It was determined by the counsel of God, before it was determined by the counsel of Festus, that Paul should go to Rome, because God had work for him to do there. A helpful exercise to build our trust in the Lord, is to trace all of the twists and turns in our life, and look at how the Lord has used them to grow us. Similarly, if we consider the circumstances surrounding our salvation in particular, it should give us reason to never complain. We were lost and in a very desperate place, and if the Lord had not revealed our absolute need for Him, we would still be there (Colossians 2:13). God’s history for each of His children is particular, and was planned before He even spoke creation into existence.

Ephesians 1:4
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.