Beauty, Truth and Wisdom- just for me!!!

I have posted quite a few pictures of the Northern lights, but never one like this!!!  When was the last time you saw yellow or orange in a picture like this???  For me, the answer is NEVER!!!!  What causes this?  My guess would be that the sun is about to rise, but that is all it is... a guess!  Its nice to see these "lights of a different color" because something both new and beautiful like this enriches your life.  Knowledge is wonderful, because it changes you into a more complex human being and allows you to live life more fully.  Unfortunately, not everyone thinks this way, and I imagine that there are people out there who will view this amazing picture and say something like: big deal, just another picture!!!  Some people just like to find fault no matter what they see.  For them criticism is a way of life.  This is true today and it was in Jesus' time as well.  Take a moment and read the following passage from the book of Matthew and reflect on these thoughts...

Matthew, Chapter 11
7  As these went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?   8  But what did you go out to see? A man in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in king’s houses.  9  But why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet.  10  For this is he, of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’  11  Most certainly I tell you, among those who are born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptizer; yet he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.   12  From the days of John the Baptizer until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.   13  For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.   14  If you are willing to receive it, this is Elijah, who is to come.   15  He who has ears to hear, let him hear. 

  16  “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces, who call to their companions   17  and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you didn’t dance. We mourned for you, and you didn’t lament.’   18  For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’   19  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.

Today, I posted two studies by Mark Copeland about the book of Malachi.  This is relevant for this post because Jesus is referring to that book when he is discussing John.  The Pharisees would not respond to John's message of repentance and found fault with Jesus' actions as well.  They had their minds made up and were really not willing to experience something new.  But, the last part of verse 19 is crucial here.  True wisdom is revealed by those who understand the truth and become the children of wisdom.  I hope that I never grow too old to appreciate something new (like the unusual Aurora Borealis above) or spiritual insight from the Bible.  My prayer for today: LORD, open my eyes to see both beauty and truth; grant me the wisdom to understand and apply both!!!!

JUST A PEEK by Gary Womack


Children are naturally curious. Even before they begin to crawl, their small limited world opens up its secrets to their little hands. Suddenly they are reaching for the unknown, grasping, turning a curious object in their hands, scrutinizing every detail, putting it in their mouth to discover its taste. Then, before you know it, they are walking and their world grows as discovery becomes a new adventure of search and seizure. What seems uninteresting to adults are marvelous treasures to young children.
Then comes Christmas, and curiosity reaches an all new high. Not after many celebrations of the gift-giving season, children soon learn that presents are forthcoming. And great anticipation seems to become an almost endless wait as days seem like weeks to excited young children.
This all became a reminder of their curiosity this past week as we made our way from the store to our van, carrying a big bag that held a couple of gifts purchased for the children. Kaylea, our four-year-old, was overcome with the excitement of relentless curiosity as she made every effort to get a peek into that bag! Can you relate to that bygone time when you just couldn't wait to know what your present was going to be? Somewhere along the way, we learned the patience of waiting, but not until after we experienced those early years of impatient curiosity.
Maturity is a good thing. And yet, there is a sad loss that often comes along with it. We tend to lose a lot of that curiosity and we fail to look as closely at the minute details of God's creation. The extremely tiny wild flower, a droplet of water on a leaf as it catches the sunlight in a rainbow of colors, the dew-covered spider web that glistens its intricate pattern in the early morning light - these and so many other little treasures are the objects of children's curiosity, but go unnoticed by busier adults. As a result, we miss out on much that is around us until we become indifferent to what the young find fascinating.
The greatest loss in our level of curiosity is that which many suffer - the loss of interest in spiritual matters. How much time do you spend in the bible? Do you anxiously wait for that time in your day that you can sit down and open its pages? Are you drawn into its treasures as a child is drawn to the presents under the tree? Do you read God's word with the curiosity of a young child who examines every detail? Are you passionate about knowing more about God and heaven? If you cannot answer these questions in the affirmative, you have lost something very valuable. In your loss of that childlike curiosity, you may have become indifferent to spiritual matters. Beware! The world has become guilty of this malady of the soul.
We can rekindle that lost passion, but it takes a deliberate effort at first. Daily study of God's word should lead to greater interest and more curiosity to know what He has revealed to us in His word. In time, if our hearts become tuned heavenward, we will be able to echo David's sentiments. "Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day...How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!...Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path...You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word." (Psm. 119:97, 103, 105, 114) Are these words the words of your own heart?
When we can say "I hope in Your word", then we have regained that curiosity that we desperately need. Hope demands a looking ahead at that which is unseen. That's what curiosity is. As Paul said, "...hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees. But if we hope for what we do not see, then we eagerly wait for it with perseverance." (Rom. 8:24-25) Notice that there is no "indifference" in this hope, but that it is a hope whose "waiting" is one of active "perseverance."
Read Rev. 4:1; "After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, 'Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.'" Are you struck with a sense of curious desire to take a peek with John as he looks beyond that open door to see with your own eyes what has eluded mankind from the beginning? Do you find yourself, in the imagination of your mind, standing there beside John, the discovery of a door being left ajar causing your heart to leap with excitement and wonder as you rejoice in the good circumstances of being in the right place at the right time? Do you picture yourself there, with trembling hands, gingerly pushing open that door and looking into the majestic courts of heaven for the first time? But alas, it is your imagination, running wild for but a moment, as your mind longingly rushes ahead to see the unknown.
When you put this article down, do yourself a favor. Pick up your bible and read Rev. 21:9-22:5. Go on a journey with John and fill up your eyes with the wonder and beauty of heaven. Experience some of that childlike curiosity as he walks you through a pearly gate and under a high massive jasper wall that glistens with its opaque green color like glass, past the brilliance of an angel posted at its entrance, down golden streets that shimmer like yellow glass before your feet, along a pure river of water that glistens clear and blue under a bright yet sunless sky, then under the spreading boughs of the tree of life there in the middle of the street, just like the ones that border both banks of the river, their various manners of fruit hanging there for the taking. Then looking down the golden street you see the fountain head of that beautiful stream. It's brilliance is awe-inspiring as you see God on His throne and Jesus there at His side. Then, for the first time, you are looking into the face of your Creator and your Savior. The glory of the moment overwhelms our senses!
Only God's word can satisfy the longing of our curious hearts to peek into that for which we anxiously await. It is His word that must appease our weary hearts until we in reality can pass beyond heavens' walls into our new home, leaving behind the cares and trials of this life - and that childlike curiosity that once captivated us to just take a peek.
- Gary V. Womack - December 2003

We're not short of information by Jim McGuiggan

Spending Time with Jim McGuiggan

We're not short of information

The princess called Curdie to carry out a mission for her but she hadn’t given him a lot of information so he asked, "But where am I to go, ma’am, and what am I to do? You have given me no message to carry, neither have you said what I am wanted for. I go without a notion whether I am to walk this way or that, or what I am to do when I get I don’t know where." But the princess was having none of it and in a tone that clearly implied he needed to listen well she said, "Curdie! Did I not tell you to tell your father and mother that you were to set out for the court? And you know that lies to the north. You must learn to use far less directions than that. You must not be like a dull servant that needs to be told again and again before he will understand. You have orders enough to start with, and you will find, as you go on, and as you need to know, what you have to do...I have one idea of you and your work, and you have another. I do not blame you for that—you cannot help it yet; but you must be ready to let my idea, which sets you working, set your ideas right."
George McDonald’s princess (in Curdie and the Princess) teaches us what the Bible everywhere teaches us—good and sensitive servants don’t need exhaustive blueprints. (It's people that aren't trusted that--for one reason or another--need a galaxy-full of instructions.) Certainly God’s servants haven’t been given an exhaustive blueprint and there are a host of obvious reasons why that would be so. But even if we didn’t know the why and wherefore of God’s keeping from us such a blueprint, the fact of the matter is that he hasn’t given us one. And if he hasn’t given us one then, obviously, we have no need for one.
The way to go is to embrace and live in the light of the truth God has given us. If we side step and quibble about the plain truth, what makes us think that our problem is that we don’t have enough truth? It isn’t for us to quarrel with what God has clearly told us but neither is it for us to whine about not getting sufficient specific information. But that’s part of the problem, isn’t it? A lot of people want to tell us that if God hasn’t exhaustively instructed us in every area of life that he hasn’t been "sufficiently explicit". But God would tell us what the princess told Curdie. We have orders enough to go on with!
I’m one of the millions that believe that God doesn’t need to add another word to Scripture. He has been explicit enough. Some think that "explicit enough" has to mean that he has given exhaustive instructions on this, that and the other. They miss the point! In Romans 12:1-3 Paul insists that as we are transformed by presenting ourselves to God as we say no to the world that we will know what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God. We have enough orders to go on with. Obey without haggling what he has plainly taught us and by his grace live out holy obedience and we will know as much as we need to know.
The real problem isn’t a lack of information—it’s a lack of formation.

Trust the Holy Spirit by Jim McGuiggan

Spending Time with Jim McGuiggan

Trust the Holy Spirit

If I were beginning my life with God all over again I'd trust the Holy Spirit to lead me into deeper awareness of God and personal holiness. I know this is all more complex than it sounds but in some respects it really isn't complex at all. Even for wise theologians it's difficult to know, precisely, how to speak about the person of the Holy Spirit but it's clear, especially from the New Testament, that the Spirit is a "person" in his own right and not just a way of saying "God is at work." (He speaks of himself as "I" and "me" in Acts 13:2.) What's not difficult to see is this: the Holy Spirit brings glory both to the Father and the Son and part of the way he does that is to reveal the Father and Son to us and to enable us to enter into holy communion with them.
We may not be able to say a lot about his "person" but we can certainly tell a lot about him by the things he helps us to see, think, speak and do. The Spirit led one great Christian to insist that the only fruit the Spirit produces is the kind that pleases God and reflects his character. See Galatians 5:22-23 on this. In this way, and others, the Spirit makes God accessible to us. He helps us to enter God's presence not like we enter a room but in a spiritual union and relationship. And having brought us into God's house and presence he continues to teach us how to be more and more at home in that house.
Some people so rarely talk about the Holy Spirit that you'd think they can get along without him very well--they can't! Others want to talk about nothing but the Spirit and you might get the impression there was no Father or Son--they shouldn't! (And a lot of the time it isn't the Spirit they're talking about; they're really talking about themselves.) The great news is that our ignorance of the Spirit's "person" or the fact that we either ignore him or thrust him ahead of the Father and Son--the great news is that none of that stops him from working on our behalf. He still glorifies the Father and the Son; he still opens our eyes, deepens our faith and enriches our lives in holiness. The truth is, he doesn't mind not getting "centre stage". Christ sent him as a "strengthener" and counsellor and said, "He will not speak on his own...He will bring glory to me." (John 16:13-14) That's the Holy Spirit for you; sent from the Father and glad to glorify the Father's Son by instructing, transforming and sanctifying humans.
I don't mean to say that the Spirit doesn't mind us sidelining him. He certainly does, because to sideline him is to shut doors and retard growth in intimacy with God! The Spirit is utterly and ceaselessly opposed to the evil within and around us (Galatians 5:17) so there's a ruthlessness about him. This means he's in earnest about bringing God and us together and that in turn means we can trust him to get us there. In fact, the scriptures will say that the presence of the Spirit in the church is the guarantee and down payment of the completed glorification.
(You might find something useful in the little book: "Where the Spirit of the Lord Is")

Trust the Bible by Jim McGuiggan

Spending Time with Jim McGuiggan

Trust the Bible

Jesus spoke of himself when he said, "A greater than the temple is here." He mentioned king Solomon and Jonah the prophet and said he was greater than them. He could have said the same about the church and the New Testament apostles. He could have said the same thing about the Bible. "A greater than the Bible is here." So when I'd urge someone who's pretty much a beginner to trust the Bible I don't mean she or he should worship the Bible or let it get between her or him and the Christ.
Christ knew very well that there were people who studied the Bible and missed God (and missed the Christ too--John 5:39-40). But that didn't keep him from learning it, using it to shape people, relying on it for truth and personal guidance when he was under trial in the wilderness. He knew the Bible could be misused but when someone asked him how he was to gain eternal life Christ pointed him to what the scriptures said and told him to do it (Luke 10:25-28). Paul knew very well how he and many others had missed the point of scriptures but he still insisted that God's word was able to build people up and give them an inheritance along with God's covenant people (Acts 20:32). And it wasn't for nothing that Peter urged his fellow-Christians to desire the pure word of God when he wanted them to outgrow envy and malice and the like (1 Peter 2:1-2).
People who impatiently dismiss deep and patient study of the scriptures didn't learn to do this from the scriptures themselves. You only have to read Psalm 119 to know that those who were devoted to God found his word to be the source of strength, joy, boldness, patience and intimacy with him. Be wary of anyone who in any way makes light of the Bible, and especially when they quote the Bible to make their point. Be wary of those who speak of Bible knowledge as "simply head knowledge" as opposed to "heart knowledge". It's possible of course to be able to quote verses and be a reprobate but that has nothing to do with the scriptures. That has to do with the person.
A member of the British parliament is quoted as blundering in response to an opponents critique of some policy or other, "What my honourable friend says is quite true but I don't hold with it." Be wary of anyone who admits what the Bible says about a given subject is true but then goes his own way in the matter.
During his trial in the wilderness (see Matthew 4) Christ quotes texts that came from Moses more than a thousand years earlier and still felt bound by them in his service to God. And these were texts that were addressed to people other than himself. I think this says a lot about how we lesser mortals should view scripture. Christ didn't see the Old Testament Bible as merely parchments and ink--he saw them as the living word of the living God. And he trusted them because he trusted the Spirit of God who wrote them.
I confess it irks me a bit to hear TV talk show people forbid some of their audience to quote scripture (and I have seen it happen) and then turn to some psychologist who quotes Freud or Adler or some other (by now) virtually dismissed by their own fraternity. Whatever else we are to say about the Hebrew-Christian Bible it's been around for millennia and nations have nourished themselves, their families and their justice system on it. To dismiss that and allow the doubtful and disputed opinions of sociologists and psychologists is more than a bit of impertinence. It's sheer ignorance. Even if you don't believe the scriptures are inspired of God they're nation shaping and have been doing it generation after generation for half of forever.
I know this is more advice that is more complex than I've made it appear but the central thrust of what I've said is true and no more complex than any other great truths. Finally, when we trust the Bible we are in fact calling on its Author to reveal himself in it rather than simply to give us "a correct understanding of what it says."

Bible Reading, Feb. 2

Feb. 2
Genesis 33

Gen 33:1 Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau was coming, and with him four hundred men. He divided the children between Leah, Rachel, and the two handmaids.
Gen 33:2 He put the handmaids and their children in front, Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph at the rear.
Gen 33:3 He himself passed over in front of them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
Gen 33:4 Esau ran to meet him, embraced him, fell on his neck, kissed him, and they wept.
Gen 33:5 He lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, "Who are these with you?" He said, "The children whom God has graciously given your servant."
Gen 33:6 Then the handmaids came near with their children, and they bowed themselves.
Gen 33:7 Leah also and her children came near, and bowed themselves. After them, Joseph came near with Rachel, and they bowed themselves.
Gen 33:8 Esau said, "What do you mean by all this company which I met?" Jacob said, "To find favor in the sight of my lord."
Gen 33:9 Esau said, "I have enough, my brother; let that which you have be yours."
Gen 33:10 Jacob said, "Please, no, if I have now found favor in your sight, then receive my present at my hand, because I have seen your face, as one sees the face of God, and you were pleased with me.
Gen 33:11 Please take the gift that I brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough." He urged him, and he took it.
Gen 33:12 Esau said, "Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before you."
Gen 33:13 Jacob said to him, "My lord knows that the children are tender, and that the flocks and herds with me have their young, and if they overdrive them one day, all the flocks will die.
Gen 33:14 Please let my lord pass over before his servant, and I will lead on gently, according to the pace of the livestock that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord to Seir."
Gen 33:15 Esau said, "Let me now leave with you some of the folk who are with me." He said, "Why? Let me find favor in the sight of my lord."
Gen 33:16 So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir.
Gen 33:17 Jacob traveled to Succoth, built himself a house, and made shelters for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth.
Gen 33:18 Jacob came in peace to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Paddan Aram; and encamped before the city.
Gen 33:19 He bought the parcel of ground where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for one hundred pieces of money.
Gen 33:20 He erected an altar there, and called it El Elohe Israel.

Malachi - My Messenger (2:17-4:6) by Mark Copeland

                    "STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS"

                   Malachi - My Messenger (2:17-4:6)


1. In our previous lesson we introduced the last of "The Minor
   a. Malachi, whose name means "My Messenger"
   b. A prophet of God during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah (ca. 444 
   c. A prophet who like Ezra the priest...
      1) Attacked the spiritual and moral decay at that time
      2) Especially among the priests
   d. A prophet who used the didactic-dialectic style of teaching
      1) Making a charge, raising potential objections, and then 
         refuting them
      2) Which later became common in Jewish schools and synagogues

2. We have already seen how Malachi addressed three problems affecting
   Israel at that time...
   a. They were doubting God's love - Mal 1:1-5
   b. They were dishonoring God's name - Mal 1:6-2:9
      1) By offering blemished sacrifices
      2) By offering half-hearted worship
   c. They were profaning God's covenant - Mal 2:10-16
      1) By marrying heathen women
      2) By divorcing their Jewish wives

3. In the last section of the book of Malachi, we find...
   a. More indications of their spiritual and moral decay
   b. Promises concerning the coming Messiah!

[We begin with the last verse of the second chapter, noting how...]


      1. They had wearied God with their words
      2. Especially regarding His justice:
         a. For they said that those who do evil is good in God's 
            sight, that He even delights in them
         b. For they asked, "Where is the God of justice?"

      1. First, the "messenger" who will prepare His way for Him - Mal 3:1a
         a. A clear reference to John the Baptist
         b. Compare Isa 40:3; Mt 3:1-3; 11:7-10
      2. Then will appear the "Messenger of the covenant" - Mal 3:1b
         a. Here the reference is to Christ, the Messiah for which they
            had longed
         b. Who certainly came to His temple - Mt 21:12ff
         c. And was a messenger of a new covenant - Mt 26:26-28
      3. His coming will be one to purge His people - Mal 3:2-5
         a. Like a refiner's fire and a fuller's soap
         b. The sons of Levi (i.e., priests) especially, that their
            offerings may be acceptable
         c. He will come near to judge those who do not fear the Lord 
            - cf. Mt 3:11-12

[With the coming of the "Messenger of the covenant", they would have
their answer to the question "Where is the God of justice?"  

As we continue, we see yet another complaint God had against the 
Israelites in Malachi's day...]


      1. Unlike God Himself, whose unchanging nature has kept Him from
         totally consuming Israel! - Mal 3:6
      2. Yet their history showed a practice of apostasy - Mal 3:7a
      3. Even when called to return, they ask "In what way shall we 
         return?" - Mal 3:7b
      4. No answer is given directly
         a. Perhaps because the answer is so obvious it does not 
            deserve a response
         b. Or the answer is given by the example which follows...

      1. They had robbed God by their failure to offer their tithes 
         - Mal 3:8
      2. For this reason the whole nation had been accursed - Mal 3:9
      3. They are challenged to bring the tithes, and to see the 
         blessings that would follow - Mal 3:10-12

[The sixth and final complaint that God had against them is now 


      1. Their words were harsh against God - Mal 3:13
      2. Questioning what profit there was in keeping His ordinances 
         - Mal 3:14
      2. Calling the proud blessed, saying the wicked are raised up,
         and those who tempt God go free - Mal 3:15

      1. Those who feared the Lord, as they spoke to one another - Mal 3:16a
      2. Whom the Lord noticed, and a "book of remembrance" was written
         - Mal 3:16b
      3. Whom the Lord promised to make His "jewels" and spare them 
         - Mal 3:17
         a. It will be easy to discern the righteous - Mal 3:18
         b. For the day was coming when the wicked will be burned liked
            stubble - Mal 4:1
         c. But those who fear His name will be blessed  by "the Sun of
            Righteousness" (i.e., Jesus) - Mal 4:2-3
      4. Until then...
         a. The faithful are exhorted to heed the Law of Moses - Mal 4:4
         b. And await the coming of "Elijah the prophet" (i.e., John
            the Baptist) who will come to prepare people for the coming
            of the Lord - Mal 4:5-6; cf. Lk 1:16-17


1. As with most prophets, Malachi had a message for both the present
   and the future...
   a. Exhorting the people to look at themselves, how they were guilty
      1) Doubting God's love
      2) Dishonoring God's name
      3) Profaning God's covenant
      4) Trying God's patience
      5) Forsaking God's ordinances
      6) Despising God's service
      -- Note:  These points were adapted from Wiersbe's "Be Amazed"
   b. Encouraging the people to look forward to the coming of:
      1) God's Messenger (John), who would come in the spirit of Elijah
         and prepare people for the coming of the Lord
      2) The Messenger of the covenant (Jesus), who come to refine and
         purify those willing to repent, and bring judgment on those
         who do not fear the Lord

2. It is encouraging to note that some evidently took Malachi's message
   to heart - Mal 3:16-18
   a. Whom the Lord would claim as His
   b. Whom the Lord would make His "jewels"
   c. Whom the Lord would spare as a man spares His own son who serves

As we come to the close of this survey of "The Minor Prophets", perhaps
it is appropriate to ask:  Are we willing to take the prophets' messages
to heart?

   * They were written for our learning and admonition - cf. Ro 15:4;
     1Co 10:11

   * They help make us wise for the salvation which by faith in Christ
     - cf. 2Ti 3:14-15

   * They are certainly profitable for instruction in righteousness
     - cf. 2Ti 3:16-17

I pray that in some way this series has helped you to appreciate the
value of studying "The Minor Prophets" and making application of them
to your life.

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

Malachi - My Messenger (1:1-2:16) by Mark Copeland

                    "STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS"

                   Malachi - My Messenger (1:1-2:16)


1. With the aid of the prophetic ministries of Haggai and Zechariah...
   a. The temple was rebuilt - Ezra 5:1-2; 6:14-16
   b. What had begun in 536 B.C. was finally finished in 516 B.C.

2. In 458 B.C., another group of exiles returned to Jerusalem, led by
   a. A priest
   b. His work was to teach the people the word of God - Ezra 7:10

3. About 444 B.C., a third group of exiles returned led by Nehemiah...
   a. Who became governor
   b. Under his leadership, the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt
      (Neh 1-6)
   c. Together with Ezra, he led the people to a great revival (Neh

4. Contemporary with Ezra and Nehemiah was another prophet, Malachi...
   a. His name means "My Messenger"
      1) Certainly Malachi was a messenger of God
      2) But he also spoke of God's messengers to come - Mal 3:1
   b. Like Ezra the priest...
      1) Malachi attacked the spiritual and moral decay that was
      2) Among both priests and people
   c. In so doing, he resorted to a new style of teaching
      1) Known as the didactic-dialectic method of speaking
      2) I.e., making a charge, raising potential objections, and then
         refuting them
      3) Which later became common in Jewish schools and synagogues

[In this study, we shall consider several examples of this style of
teaching as we survey the first two chapters.  In these chapters we
find Malachi addressing several problems...]


      1. After years of captivity, one might understand why they felt
         this way
      2. Their return from Babylonian captivity was not without

      1. Note the didactic-dialectic style - Mal 1:2
         a. "I have loved you"
         b. "In what way have You loved us?"
         c. "Was not Esau Jacob's brother?  Yet Jacob I have loved; but
            Esau I have hated"
      2. God is speaking of Jacob and Esau as the representative of
         their descendant nations; God did not hate Esau personally,
         but did hate what Edom as a nation had become
      3. He goes on to illustrate what He means
         a. Edom (the descendants of Esau) had become desolate; despite
            their claims to the country, it would remain desolate
            - Mal 1:3-4
         b. But Israel would one day see the Lord magnified beyond its
            border - Mal 1:5

[If the people only observed how Israel was being restored while Edom
remained desolate, they would know God still loved them as a nation.

But perhaps their doubting of God's love had led to another problem
that was prevalent at that time...]


      1. Sons honor their fathers, and servants their masters; but they
         were despising God
      2. When asked in what way, they are told of their defiled
      3. They were offering to God what they would be embarrassed to
         offer men
      4. The Lord would even wish that someone shut the doors so they
         could not sacrifice
      5. Despite their dishonor, one day God's name would be great even
         among the Gentiles

      1. They also were profaning God's name by saying His service is
         contemptible and a weariness
      2. Those who continued to bring blemished sacrifices would fall
         under God's curse, for He is "a great King"

      1. Addressing the priests directly, the nature of God's curse is
         graphically depicted
      2. Because they had failed to live up to what was expected of
         God's priests, He will make them base and contemptible

[As Malachi continues, we also learn...]


      1. They were dealing treacherously and profaning the covenant
         made with their fathers by marrying pagan women ("the daughter
         of a foreign God")
      2. This nature of this problem is described in Ezra 9-10; Neh 13:23-24
      3. Malachi prays that the Lord will cut off from Jacob those who
         do this - Mal 2:12; cf. Ezr 10:7-8; Neh 13:23-28

      1. Despite their weeping, God was no longer regarding their
         sacrifices - cf. 1Pe 3:7
      2. For they had dealt treacherously with the wives of the their
         youth (i.e., Jewish wives) by divorcing them
         a. Even though they had entered into a covenant (e.g., "Till
            death do us part")
         b. Even though God had made them one (cf. Gen 2:24)
      3. Therefore God hates divorce - Mal 2:16
         a. For it covers one's garment with violence (e.g., against
            the wife and children)
         b. It is treacherous to so deal with one's spouse in that way!


1. Israel was showing signs of spiritual and moral decay...
   a. Failing to appreciate God's love for them
   b. Dishonoring God by offering second-best and half-hearted worship
   c. Profaning God's covenant by disregarding it and their wives

2. It is easy for Christians to make application with such verses...
   a. As spiritual priests we are to offer spiritual sacrifices (1 Pe 2:9; Ro 12:1-2)
   b. Is our service honoring God?  Or do we:
      1) Dishonor God by offering less than our best and with
         half-hearted service?
      2) Profane God's covenant by disregarding the covenant we made
         with Him and our wives when we married them?
      3) Hinder our worship to God by our treatment of our wives?
   c. Are we any better than the priests of Malachi's day?

Let the book of Malachi be a guide as to when one's religion is showing
signs of spiritual and moral decay!   Certainly God is worthy of our
best, and we should do what we can to make sure these words prove true:

      For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down,
         My name shall be great among the Gentiles;
      In every place incense shall be offered to My name,
         And a pure offering;
      For My name shall be great among the nations,"
         Says the LORD of hosts.
                                - Malachi 1:11

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011