A GOD OF JUSTICE
Lord, I am before you now. Let me experience the stirrings of your Spirit, drawing me to pursue your righteousness and to know your deliverance.
Read MALACHI 2:17 – 3:5
Breaking Covenant Through Injustice
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?”
3 “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.
2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.
5 “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘… the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will … show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!’1
Malachi began by confronting those who questioned God’s love. Now he confronts those who questioned God’s justice. Jeremiah, among others, asked God, ‘why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?’2 There is nothing wrong in such questions. Malachi, however, exposes an attitude of cynicism about God’s justice. His audience was probably looking enviously at some of the foreigners the Babylonians had settled in Judah, who had grown wealthy and oppressed the Judaeans. They had grown cynical as they waited for God to judge these people in the way they wanted. This led them to flout the covenant laws, as listed in 3:5. For Christians, the antidote to cynicism is the assurance that Jesus’ resurrection gives of his return as judge.3
God declares that he will come to execute justice. When a dignitary visited a city in the ancient world, a herald went ahead to prepare the way, in part by removing obstacles from the road. God’s messenger will remove spiritual and moral roadblocks. The phrase ‘my messenger’ (3:1) plays on Malachi’s name but refers to someone yet to come. Mark 1:2 sees this promise fulfilled in John the Baptist. We don’t know whether Malachi’s hearers would have understood ‘the Lord’ and ‘the messenger of the covenant’ as the same person, but both designations fit Jesus. Malachi warns the Judaeans that in their desire for God’s judgment they should remember that God will deal with them first. However, God’s intention is not to destroy but to refine, first the Levites and then the whole community. Their worship will only be acceptable to God when there is a return to moral behavior and social justice for all. Paul warns Christians to avoid a similar refining judgment.4
Ask God to begin refining you now with the help of the Holy Spirit’s power, using the prayer in Psalm 139:23 and 24.
Mighty God, I am not sufficient for these things. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me as only you can do.
1 Isa 30:18 2 Jer 12:1; Hab 1:2–4; Ps 73 3 Acts 17:30,31 4 1 Cor 3:10–15
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