This Sunday we will be starting a sermon series through the book of Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament. Unlike many of the prophets who ministered during times of social and political upheaval, Malachi’s prophecy came during a relatively uneventful period in the history of Israel. The exiles had returned from Babylon; the walls of Jerusalem had been repaired, and the temple had been rebuilt. It seems that since all this had occurred, the Jews expected that God would immediately drive out their enemies and fill the temple with his glory. Yet nothing seemed to be happening. As a result, the residents of Jerusalem began to ask themselves, “Has God forgotten us?”
Because the Israelites perceived God to be apathetic to their situation, they soon slipped into a pattern of dead religion. Sure, they still went to the temple and performed their religious duties, but their hearts were not in it. They offered God their leftovers, perverted the Scripture and were unfaithful to their promises. They claimed to love Jehovah, but their attitude and actions demonstrated that they believed true devotion to God was in the end, pointless.
It is into this context that God sends his messenger, Malachi. As was often the case with the Old Testament prophets, Malachi seems to be the lone voice that not only rebukes the faithlessness of God’s people but graciously calls them back to repentance. The entire book of Malachi reads like a heartfelt plea, urging its audience to forsake religious formality and return to a vibrant relationship with the God of covenant love.
Malachi’s message remains exceptionally relevant for us today. His teaching strikes a blow to the heart of easy-going, formulaic Christianity. Malachi reminds us that being a follower of Christ means more than simply turning up for church once in a while or occasionally throwing a few dollars in the offering plate. No, a true Christian is a person whose heart has been captivated by the living God and whose life has been radically transformed as a result.
It is my prayer that the Lord will use this study to lead us all to a renewed passion for our Great God. If that is your desire, let me offer just two suggestions to help you benefit most from the preaching of God’s word.
- Read – let me encourage you to read through Malachi at least one time a week as we are studying it together. Malachi is just four short chapters so an average reader can get through the entire thing in about 20 minutes. Familiarizing yourself with the message of Malachi will help you be far more engaged during the sermons.
- Pray – ask God to specifically use the book of Malachi in your life. Take time on a weekly basis to ask the Lord to give you a heart that is receptive to his word. Not only is it important for our pastors to prepare to preach the word, it is also important for our congregation to be ready to listen to the word.
I hope many of you will commit to faithfully gather with us as we hear God speak freshly through this ancient prophet.
Grace & Peace,