In Malachi chapter three, we find these words:
Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me.
And Yahweh whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Yahweh of angel armies.
2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?
For he is like a refiner’s fire
and like fullers’ soap.
3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi
and refine them like gold and silver,
and they will bring offerings in righteousness to Yahweh.
4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to Yahweh as in the days of old and as in former years.
This is the Word of Yahweh.
If you didn’t have a chance to read Malachi this last week in preparation for this morning, you may be wondering why Yahweh (remember, this is the personal and intimate name for God, ‘who I am is who I will be’) is speaking this way to his people. So let me provide some context.
We are in the time after the exile of Israel from successive kingdoms who had oppressed them; first, the Babylonians, and then, the Persians. We’re not sure exactly when Malachi (his name literally means, “my messenger”) was sent to God’s people, but it is likely around 100 years after the work and ministry of Ezra and Nehemiah, Haggai and Zechariah has occurred.
As we have observed as we made our way through those stories rooted in history, something deeply tragic and devastating had happened among this people of God known as the Israelites. Their desires had become wrongly ordered. How?
We need to understand something about the relationship between God and our desires. You see, God is supposed to be at the center of our affections and attention. That is how we were created to function in relationship to our Creator. In this way, he acts as a center of gravity. He holds all things within us, including our desires, together so they can function rightly. And when he is taken out of the center, things get out of whack. They start spinning out of control. They can’t be rightly ordered.
And that is what had happened to the Israelites. They had wrongly ordered desires. There were all these longings for joy, and happiness, and peace, and fulfillment, and pleasure that were placed inside of them—are placed inside of us—and when God was pushed from that central place, everything spun out of control. They went after wrong things, and even some right things in the wrong way, because of that. The desire gyroscope was off. And so they began to make all kinds of bad choices. And at the root of them all was they were no longer choosing God. They were clinging to themselves and trying to be God. They were setting up on their own, and trying to replace him.
How will Yahweh, the Creator, respond when his creatures live and worship this way?
I invite you now to watch or listen to the sermon on Malachi, where we find a Divine Creator who loves us just as we are, and yet loves us too much to leave us the way we are. And if you’d like to study the book further, I commend the Malachi page over at the Bible Project.
Finally, this Sunday is going to be a bit of a special Sunday. For,
- we will be studying the book of Chronicles;
- which means we will complete our study of the entire Hebrew Scriptures;
- and we will begin the season of Advent, a time of focusing our minds on the anticipation of the coming (again) of the Messiah;
- and we will celebrate the sacrament of communion, the meal Jesus gave us to increase our expectation of his return.
I look forward to worshiping the King with you then.
See you Sunday.
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