Starting a new verse by verse sermon series into the book of Malachi.  This sermon is for Sunday, January 2nd, 2011.

Malachi part 1

God’s Word to His people.

Malachi 1:1 NIV – A prophecy: The word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi.

Introduction: This morning we are beginning our verse by verse sermon series into the book of Malachi.  This book has often been avoided by many a lay person and preacher as well.  In fact, I dare say that the most avoided books by people to study and read are both this book – Malachi – and the Revelation.  People often cringe when someone preaches from a passage in Malachi: Why?  Well, because of Chapter 3 primarily.  That is the chapter that deals with the subject of tithes and offerings.  Many a preacher wretches those verses out of the context of the book.

I think that it is important to allow the entirety of the book speak to us.  That is the purpose of this series.  So let’s look into this great book from the Bible for the next several weeks, and take some notes and see what God has spoken through its pages.

Introductory comments.

  • Before we begin unpacking this book verse by verse, we need to first try to understand why it was written.

Malachi is the author.

  • Malachi in Hebrew means, “my messenger.”  Some scholars believe that the name “Malachi” is actually a title, not the given name of the author.  I believe that Malachi is the authors real, given name.

Date of its writing.

  • Probably mid fifth century BC.
  • The Jews had returned from exile and rebuilt Jerusalem and its Temple; plus they reinstituted Temple worship of YAHWEH.

Theme of the book.

  • Basically dead religion.
  • Israel was going through the motions of Temple worship, but not truly worshipping the Lord with all their heart.
  • They also allowed corruption and sin to grow within their worship and lives.

Sins covered in the book.

  • Corruption of the priesthood.
  • Marriage to idolaters.
  • Abuse of the disadvantaged.
  • Failure to pay tithes to support the ministry of the Temple.

Malachi’s six-fold wake up call.

Malachi asks six questions with themes for the purpose of exposing Israel’s sin and for opportunity for repentance.

  • Both Jesus and Paul in the New Testament used this method as well.
  • Question 1:  Concerning God’s love for Israel (1:2-5).
  • Question 2:  Concerning exposing offenses of the priests (1:6-2:9).
  • Question 3:  Concerning marriage to idolaters and Israel’s infidelity to the Lord (2:10-16).
  • Question 4:  Concerning the Lord’s judgment on unrepentant sin (2:17-3:5).
  • Question 5:  Concerning the neglect of the tithe and offering (3:6-12).
  • Question 6:  Concerning judgment of evildoers and deliverance to those who fear the Lord (3:13-4:3).
  • Summary (4:4-6).

  • Now let’s begin looking quickly into our text.

The burden of God:  calling His people back to Him.

Malachi 1:1 NIV – A prophecy: The word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi.

  • The word “prophecy” in Hebrew is מַשָּׂ֥א (mas-saw’). It means, “a burden.”
  • This prophetic burden was for those in covenant with God; not for those outside of the covenant.
  • So Malachi isn’t dealing with pagan, gentile nations, but the returned children of God – Israel.
  • Israel’s heart had become cold toward God and their worship had become dead ritual.
  • So God is burdened with them.  He longs to restore them.  He wants their heart; not their performance.
  • So much can be said here.  I’m reminded of something that Jesus said in the Revelation.

Revelation 2:1-7 – 1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

  • It is easy to go through the motions of religion and at the same time our love for the One who bought us grows cold.

Conclusion: As we conclude – the purpose of this series is to call us back to Christ!  This call goes out to individuals, families, and our corporate church body.  So during the series let’s open our hearts and receive from the Lord.  Let’s repent where repentance is needed and be renewed by His Spirit.