Malachi thought of Christ as the Sun of Righteousness and Messenger of the Covenant

Malachi pictures Christ as, “The Sun of Righteousness” and “The Messenger of the Covenant.” A messenger would be sent from the Lord that shall prepare the way for the Lord to come, as we see in Malachi 3:1, to which, He shall suddenly come to His Temple. He was pictured as coming once the messenger comes before Him to present the way before Him!

We see Ezra come from Babylon and bringing new recruits, but little info is given of the people. Not much is known between the dedication of the Temple to the coming of Nehemiah. During these years, the Persians fought with the Greeks for supremacy of the world – to which, the Greek made their memorable stand at Thermopylae and the mighty Persian fleet was destroyed at Salamis. We saw the beginning of the golden age of Greek culture, when Socrates was born, the Roman Republic founded, and Europe was ready to succeed Asia as an arbiter in world affairs.

In Jerusalem, the situation was grim, and then Nehemiah became a valued member of the court of Artaxerxes and was sent to rebuild the walls in Jerusalem. The walls were completed in the midst of such opposition, and Nehemiah welded the people into a strong bonded group. Crops were poor nonetheless, parasites ruining plants, and fruit was disappointing. The priests were corrupt and immoral, and a spirit of skepticism encompassed the entire population. People complained about God, complaining about their predicament, refusing to pay tithes & offerings, and were guilty of social injustice; mixing themselves with the heathens of the land. Divorce became common and God’s Covenant had been forgotten. Worship was degenerated into empty and formalism. God called, then, the Prophet Malachi – His fearless servant.

Synopsis

In this first chapter, we see that Malachi is complaining at Israel’s unkindness, and this was his burden/call from the Lord. People pride themselves that they’re God’s People, but yet, they displease Him through their own pleasures. Malachi learns through experience that when such described people are rebuked, they’re usually offended. Malachi just quotes their complaints, and instructs them that they should not blame God, but rather, blame themselves. The main complaint that people post is that God doesn’t love them. If He does, they argue, and want proof through comfort and prosperity – instead of hardship or poverty. Malachi would show them the reasons of their troubles, but he wants to first let them know that they have clear proof of His Love.

One of the examples was the God chose Jacob, instead of Esau, though there as nothing in Jacob that made him more loving than Esau. Jacob’s descendants, Israel, have been punished, however, they are now back in their homeland. Esau’s descendants, however, who were known as Edom, have suffered a judgment from which their nation will not ever recover. The destruction throughout Edom’s homeland will be a reminder to the people of future generations that Edom has incurable wickedness. Israel should honor Him as their father and reverence Him as master, but rather, they just insult them. It would be better for them to close the Temple and have no sacrifices at all than to worship Him with foul things.

In the second chapter, the priests are to blame, as we see, for the poor spiritual condition of Israel. If they don’t quickly reform their ways, God will punish them; reducing income from the people’s offerings, and bring disgrace upon them. He then speaks about what priests have done wrong, what they have done right, what they haven’t done, and what they should be doing for God – to bring more glory to Him, especially in their everyday affairs (for the Temple). Many have failed to uphold God’s standards, and therefore, punishment could be looming for them. People are having divorces and mixed marriages; breaking marriage covenants and the covenant that God made with Israel at Sinai. God designed the covenant to promote family and unity to all people. His idea of the family was to bring people closer, not break people up. Anyway, he changes gears to talk about when the Jews would see surrounding nations prosper while they suffered hardship, they would complain to God that it wasn’t just. Other nations didn’t keep His Law, and yet, Israel was His People – so why couldn’t they be most blessed? That was their questioning.

As the third chapter opens, it recaps slightly on the second chapter and continues on with the questioning of why God doesn’t bless His People most. God would intervene then, in human affairs, and bless His People as they wish, however, He would have to first cleanse them of all uncleanness, rebellion, and social injustice. Those who resist the cleansing and continue in sin would be punished. If people want to be out of the hardship they are under, they should be asking for mercy, not justice. Because of all of the hardship, they have poor crops – and they blame God for sending all of such disasters. In their selfishness, they didn’t bring their offerings to Him, and therefore, they must change their ways and be honest unto Him! After that, God would bless them with good rains and good crops. The result of their generosity would bring great, prosperous things for the people. However, many people just continued in their murmurings and complaints against God, to which, they complain that it’s useless trying to please Him, because hardships will still come. Nevertheless, they continue to encourage each other to be faithful to Him, believing that He would never forsake them.

The fourth chapter comes, and this is a short one, which we see that God would take action in destroying the wicked in the day of judgment. Malachi pictures the way things will compare to in this day – a farm scene. However, in view of their coming salvation, the righteous should remain faithful to God’s Law and look expecting the coming of the Messiah’s forerunner, which was symbolized as “Elijah.” If the people would respond to the preaching of this “Elijah” that was coming, they would be united in one spirit with their believing forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. However, if they had refused to repent, they would meet divine judgment. We know the symbolic Elijah to be was John the Baptist.

Malachi’s exhortations

  • Come back to God… 3:7, “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?” This is very similar to the exhortation that Zechariah makes in his book (1:3), to which, the Lord tells them to return to Him and He would return to them – He would accept them, establish them, bless them, transform them, and help them overall. Forget such evil that drove you away from Him and repent, and then come back to Him!
  • Quit Robbing God… 3:8, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” People have failed to bring their tithes and offerings, and Malachi speaks that they are robbing God and then instructs them to bring their tithes and offerings to the storehouse – and in doing so, He would pour out a huge blessing; innumerable for their sake.

Scriptures of tremendous value

  • 1:2, “I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob.”
  • 1:5, “And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel.”
  • 1:6, “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?”
  • 1:11, “For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.”
  • 2:5, “My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name.”
  • 2:16, “For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.”
  • 3:1, “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”
  • 3:7, “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?”
  • 3:8-10, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
  • 4:2, “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.”
  • 4:3, “And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.”
  • 4:5-6, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”

Lessons of value from Malachi

  • God loves a pure, clean, and happy home.
  • The low ideals of God’s Priests affect the people in the pew.
  • Beware of robbing God.
  • Impatience leads to false accusations of God.
  • One who lives in willful sin cannot hope to please God by costly sacrifices.
  • Insincerity in worship is an insult to God!

What is Israel’s hope and future? Exploring the prophet named Ezekiel

OVERALL:

  • Ezekiel was called The Exile Prophet of Hope, for he wrote to The Jewish Exiles in Babylon concerning hope for the future of the Israelite Nation.
  • He was one where he wrote in a cause-effect pattern, where he talked about the judgment and sins of Jerusalem for the first half for the book of Ezekiel, and then talked about returning to the land and the new age for the other half.
  • His pattern of writing had to do with showing what the problem is, and what the Lord will do to bring hope to the people!

The background of Ezekiel

He had quite an impressive status, which was an aristocrat of Jerusalem, a descendant from Zadok’s line. He was a proud and confident person as he looked to the future of the Priesthood, involving God’s chosen people. He was called one of the most influential men, and was greatly influence by the preaching of Jeremiah and the reform of Josiah.

As far as personal abilities were concerned, he was an utterly helpless one before the might God who controlled him, for his whole philosophy and utterances were colored because of the Hand of God upon him and vision of “God’s Glory.” He was also a “Mediator” and in deep thought usually. Sometimes harsh, bold, or blunt – he was also uncompromising. He was a man of deep convictions, with a fearless determination, and housed a heart deeply sympathetic with abiding love for his people who needed a pastor – someone to shepherd them back to the Lord (and hope). His education comes through as a careful planning scenario and an orderly dating of all his writings. He outlined things well, and helped many people through his writings.

He was a married man, but his wife died the year of when the final siege of Jerusalem began.  His wife was apparently a symbol of the Temple, as he began a very picturesque, but powerful ministry at 35 – after his captivity in Babylon. At this time, Jeremiah was approaching the end of his valiant, but tragic career.

Now, for the call of God on his life, God laid his hand upon Ezekiel just as he did Jeremiah, and he felt it. He was called to the lonely exiles on the riverbanks of Chebar. In a dramatic way, he describes for us his vision and call to service, which was a vision of God’s glory. In this vision, he beheld the “Glory of God,” and “felt” the Hand of the Lord. He even saw the likeness of God’s being and fell upon his face. A voice spoke to him commissioning him. He received several commissions overall, which had much to do with returning unto God and beholding His Glory.

Historical background of Jerusalem

In Jerusalem, we see the people in constant turmoil. Jehoiakim is succeed by his son, who reigned only three months before going to captivity in Babylon along with many others in Judah. Ezekiel was taken in this group along with 10,000 other captives. Zedekiah was left on the throne in Jerusalem as the agent of the Babylonian government, and Jeremiah was the preacher still in the Holy City of Jerusalem to carry God’s message to the people.

Around 587 BC, Nebuchadnezzar returned to put down the rebellion of Zedekiah and take the rest of the people to join the exiles by the river Chebar. Many things were destroyed in Jerusalem, and others were taken away to captivity, to which, Jeremiah’s prophecy had happened. In Babylon, conditions were just as horrible. We see Daniel and a few other Jewish boys come in 605 BC, and Ezekiel and the upper class brought in 598 BC. For several years, ten thousand exiles lived in a concentration camp in Babylon, while Ezekiel and the upper class of people carried on in Jerusalem.

For five years, the captives had no preacher of priest to help them. In this dark hour, Ezekiel hears the call of God and began to serve. For six years, he wanted to break down false hopes of an early return to Palestine, and wanted to prepare the captives of the bad news of the destruction of the Holy City. The Jewish people were in a darkened state with their Temple gone, and very little opportunity for business – false prophets were abundant. Complaints and murmurs, among wails filled the air. Ezekiel dealt with many different kinds of people, particularly negative people.

Ezekiel’s ordeal (his mission)

His mission was clearly revealed by God as the Spirit entered into him and cleansed him of bitterness. He had a revelation of the “Glory of God” to which he was to destroy false hopes of an early return to Jerusalem, interpret the meaning and purpose of the exile to gather up and preserve the teachings of Historians, Psalmists, and Prophets, to organize new forms for worship and life in the restored community, to preserve Israel’s soul in Babylon, and to stimulate new hope for the future Israel. He was to be an effective watchman also in the dark days of captivity. His message was that before they could even hope to return to Jerusalem, they had to return to the Lord.

New Testament fulfillment

  • Israel’s restoration as a nation as they await their Messiah (34:11-31; 36:1-15, 23-38; 37:1-28)
  • The Battle of Armageddon at the return of Christ (38:1-39:20)
  • Rebuilding of the Temple by the Messiah for Millennial and eternal worship (40:5-43:12)
  • The Millennial (1000 years) and eternal river from the Temple spoke about in The Book of Revelation (47:1-12)

Practical things Ezekiel communicated to help all people

  • The heart of God wants His People back, and He longs for their return unto Him.
  • Each person is responsible for their own sins, and therefore, are subject to consequences individually.
  • Each minister that is called is subject to their own troubles, but they cannot let that stop them from continuing the work of the Lord.
  • Love must be expressed in everything we do.
  • Repentance is important and makes alive the reality of the atonement of Jesus Christ. Good godly conduct and behavior should emanate through us on a normal basis.

Do you see the similarities in what the New Testament authors, apostles, disciples, etc. tried to communicate compared to Ezekiel? Yeah, almost every one of these match.

Your temptation does not come from God | James 1:13-16

“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.”

When a person is tempted, that person should not just blame God for the reason of that temptation. Before this, James notes in 1:2 that brethren should count it all joy to be tempted. Now here, he notes that it is important not to blame God when being tempted. Man is supposed to patiently endure when tempted; therefore, once the man has successfully endured, he will learn he has become a victor over the temptation.

As the Scripture says, God is not convinced by evil things, in which He should tempt man to do any evil or try to ridicule man for one thing or another. There is no reason for God to act out, and therefore, God stays holy and just without any iniquity.

Men are tempted by their own lusts (their self-desires), and entice themselves with it (they tease themselves). For example, if chocolate makes someone sick and they know they should not eat it, they may be tempted to indulge into it anyway and ignore the fact that it makes them sick. Therefore, if you resist the temptation and endure successfully, you will not be sick; however, if you give in, you may cause sickness in your body again and then regret giving into the temptation.

The desires you dive into cause sin to occur, which means when you give in to a temptation, it means that you sin if that means it disobeys or goes against God. There are some things that are not considered sin, in which people can be tempted with. Keep in mind this type of temptation that causes sin would be negative. Positive things man is tempted with, such as doing good for another person is not included in this admonition. For example, it would not be sinful to be tempted to help someone up when they have fallen, for doing so, you will receive a reward – if not from man, even so from God. However, if someone is tempted to steal something from another person, and they go through with it, then this is considered sin – which would be consequential especially on Earth.

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23). When someone sins, they are deserving of punishment even death (Romans 3:23). It is best to remain out of sin, especially if a Christian, because setting a good example is the best choice and makes one glorify God (Titus 2:7). It is best, as a Christian, to avoid sin so you do not lead non-christians to their death – for showing a good example might draw them to eternal life. What a benefit!

James tells God’s People not to be erring into sin, because it sets a bad example. As just explained in the paragraph above, it is best to lead a good example to help lead others to Christ and leave their sinful lifestyles. Jesus also says those who err are ones who do not know the Scriptures (so read up on your material folks!), and people err by not knowing God’s Power (Matthew 22:29). In addition, those who think God governs the dead… Well He does not (Mark 12:27). Do not let others mislead you either, hold fast to the Word of God, not man’s philosophy (Colossians 2:4, 8). Do as James says in a few verses (1:19), swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to great anger.