This is the sermon for Sunday, February 20th, 2011.

Malachi part 8

Words matter.

Malachi 3:13-18 NIV – 13 “You have spoken arrogantly against me,” says the LORD. “Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’ 14 “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? 15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.’” 16 Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name. 17 “On the day when I act,” says the LORD Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.

Malachi 4:1-3 – 1 “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. 3 Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the LORD Almighty.

Introduction: This is the 8th sermon in our verse by verse series into the book of Malachi.  Last time we looked at the Lord’s call to Revival that is found within the pages of Malachi.  We saw that the call to revival begins with repentance; and that the evidence that we have been revived by the Lord is our deeds; and the reason we need revival is because of the curse.

Today, we are going to look at the 6th and final question that the Lord asked Israel.  In this sermon we are going to see that words really do matter.  Let’s begin.

Arrogant words.

Malachi 3:13-15 – 13 “You have spoken arrogantly against me,” says the LORD. “Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’ 14 “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? 15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.’”

The first thing I want us to notice is that questioning God’s character is an act of arrogance on our part.

  • This is exactly what Israel is doing when they say, “What have we said against you?”,  and “What do we gain by carrying out His requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty?”
  • What was the purpose for their mourning?  It was an act of contrition and repentance.  Displaying the fact that they were truly sorry for their sins against a holy and righteous and just God.
  • A God who has continued to love them, even though they had turned their back on Him time and time again.
  • How dare Israel, who as a nation has no character, question a holy God, whose character trait is the fact that He hasn’t ever sinned!
  • Notice they say, “It is futile to serve God.”
  • The word “futile” here is Hebrew is שָׁ֖וְא (shawv). It means, “desolating; evil (as destructive), literally (ruin) or morally (especially guile); figuratively idolatry (as false, subjective), uselessness (as deceptive, objective; also adverbially, in vain):–false, lie, lying, vain, vanity.”
  • Israel was basically saying that it was a waste of time to follow after there Lord.  This is strong; they are denying the one who called them out of other nations as His people.
  • Church, it is a very dangerous thing for Christians and churches to question God’s character.  That is really the first temptation that the serpent did with Eve when He said, “Did God really say.”
  • We must be very aware of our words when talking about God, and not arrogantly question His character.

Wise counsel.

Malachi 3:16 – Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.

Wise Counsel doesn’t question God’s character, but respects God as their Lord.

  • “Those who feared” is the Hebrew word יִרְאֵ֥י (yaw-ray).  It means, “to fear; morally, to revere; (be had in) reverence.”
  • I like what Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary says concerning this: “This is loving fear, not slavish terror. When the fire of religion burns low, true believers should draw the nearer together, to keep the holy flame alive. Coals separated soon go out.”
  • It is so easy when things get difficult to slide away from church fellowship and become cold.
  • We don’t realize how arrogant a thing that is.  Instead of drifting away from church and the fellowship of believers during difficult times, that is when we need them the most.
  • That is when God is brought into the picture, and the honor and respect for His name is evidence by our holding one another up in prayer and support.
  • We are there for each other: to forgive, to love, and to restore.  Don’t close yourself off from God or the church.

Results of heeding wise counsel.

Malachi 3:17-18 – 17 “On the day when I act,” says the LORD Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.

God treasures those who do not question His character and holds tightly to the church.

  • God will reveal who of Israel was truly righteous and who was truly wicked.  It would be evident by how they spoke and dealt with God Himself.  If they question His character, that showed their evil; but if they honored Him no matter the difficulty, that showed that they were righteous.
  • “Treasured possession” in Hebrew is סְגֻלָּ֑ה (seg-ool-law’).  It means, “wealth, jewel, peculiar (treasure), proper, good, special.”
  • I like what Peter says.

1 Peter 2:9-10 – 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

  • This of it this way: because we are in Christ and been redeemed by His blood; we belong to God.  We are His special possession.
  • Not because we are perfect in our obedience, but that Christ Jesus perfectly saves.
  • Therefore God has compassion on us, and will spare us from the eternal destruction to come.

Results of arrogant words.

Malachi 4:1-3 – 1 “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. 3 Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the LORD Almighty.

When Jesus Christ comes, He will separate the righteous from the unrighteous, the unrighteous to destruction, the righteous to eternal life.

  • Jesus describes this in the parable of the weeds.

Matthew 13:24-30 – 24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.  27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’  28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’  29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

Conclusion: Hopefully you see how words matter, particularly when it comes to God and His character.  Questioning His character is a very arrogant thing to do.  It is wise during difficult times to hold onto the church and the fellowship it brings, not to draw back.  Within the local church fellowship you can find wise counsel and God will be honored.

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