Lord, keep us in Your covenant love.
Read MALACHI 1:1–5; 2:10–16
1 A prophecy: The word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi.[a]
Israel Doubts God’s Love
2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord.
“But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’
“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob, 3 but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”
4 Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.”
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. 5 You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is the Lord—even beyond the borders of Israel!’
a Malachi 1:1 Malachi means my messenger.
Breaking Covenant Through Divorce
10 Do we not all have one Father[a]? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another?
11 Judah has been unfaithful. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the Lord loves by marrying women who worship a foreign god. 12 As for the man who does this, whoever he may be, may the Lord remove him from the tents of Jacob[b]—even though he brings an offering to the Lord Almighty.
13 Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.
15 Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring.[c] So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.
16 “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,”[d] says the Lord Almighty.
So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.
a Malachi 2:10 Or father
b Malachi 2:12 Or 12 May the Lord remove from the tents of Jacob anyone who gives testimony in behalf of the man who does this
c Malachi 2:15 The meaning of the Hebrew for the first part of this verse is uncertain.
d Malachi 2:16 Or “I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “because the man who divorces his wife covers his garment with violence,”
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.
Malachi shows us how easy it is to drift spiritually: pray for an open heart and an obedient will as we turn to hear a challenging word from the Lord.
In a compelling book about discipleship, David Watson wrote: “The vast majority of western Christians are church members, pew fillers, hymn singers, sermon tasters, Bible readers, even born-again believers or Spirit-filled charismatics – but not true disciples of Jesus.” Many Christians have drifted into a nominal, easy-going Christianity. Listening to God’s messenger, Malachi, is a disturbing experience for such Christians, for we discover that God’s people during the 400s B.C. were characterized by apathy, unfaithfulness, and even cynicism.
Back home in Jerusalem after the humiliating experience of exile, God’s people have been restored, but now, a generation later, they have become spiritually lethargic and morally lax. “I have loved you very deeply,” says the Lord, but you retort, “Really? When was this?” (1:2, The Living Bible). They callously question everything which the Lord proclaims (Malachi 1:6,7; 2:13,14,17; 3:7,8,13), so the Lord Almighty (A title which appears 24 times) replies by reminding them that, despite their infuriating waywardness, they are God’s chosen people who have been rescued and restored. Unlike Edom, which has reaped judgment for its sinful attitude and behavior (4), Israel has incontrovertible evidence of his loving commitment towards them. Yet they have betrayed that covenant relationship and have spurned God’s love by turning towards those who served other gods (2:11).
What a slap in the face for the Lord Almighty – not just spurning his love but mocking his holiness. We might be amazed that it should have come to this, were we not aware of our own potentially wayward hearts. We too can lose sight of God’s love and holiness. “So be on your guard,” says Malachi (16) – and Jesus gives us the same warning (Luke 12:1,15). Since we so easily drift spiritually, we urgently need to take note.
What might be the signs of spiritual stagnation in the Christian life? Reflect on what features of personal and corporate faith might be early signs of indifference or decay.
We are painfully aware, oh Lord, of our tendency to forget You and slowly stray from Your set path. Keep us on the straight and narrow.
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