December 30

Malachi 1:1–2:17

Malachi’s name means “messenger,” and that he was! He wrote with courage and clarity in calling out the wicked complacency of the people during the years of Nehemiah’s absence.

Chuck Swindoll, “Malachi certainly wrote to the people of Judah (Malachi 1:1; 2:11), but the historical setting becomes clearer in Malachi 1:8. Here the prophet used the Persian word for governor, indicating a time period between 538–333 BC, when the Persian Empire ruled the Promised Land. Malachi also wrote about the corruption of the temple sacrifices, meaning that he likely delivered his message many years after the Israelites rebuilt the temple in 515 BC. The prophet’s concerns mirror those of Nehemiah’s, suggesting that Malachi prophesied to the people while Nehemiah left the city for several years, beginning in 432 BC (Nehemiah 13:6).”

The book begins with an expression of God’s love for Israel. It’s clearly a corrective writing and warning motivated by love. Have you learned that hard truth that the Lord will correct us…because He loves us?

Some people struggle with the concept of God loving Jacob and hating Esau (Malachi 1:2-3), but this “hate” was an idiom of the day pointing out the chasm of difference between believers and non-believers. Jesus used the same expression teaching us that we are to “hate” everyone, even those closest to us.

Luke 14:26 (NKJV) “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

Of course this doesn’t mean we are to literally hate people…as a matter of fact we are commanded to love everyone, and by this all will know we’re Jesus’ disciples and are saved (John 13:35; 1 John 4:7-8).  So what is Jesus saying? That there is to be no rival throne in our hearts, we are to love the Lord more than anyone else. Malachi’s statement means there is no comparison between the grace a believer has, and the judgment a non-believer will experience. This is the difference (generally speaking) between Israel and Edom.

Having established the fact that Israel is God’s covenant people, Malachi goes on to severely rebuke them, especially the priests. They were viewing ministry as a burden – in despising the offerings of the LORD, they were despising the LORD Himself. The sacrifices the people were giving were the leftovers. The lame, the blind, the sick, the stolen would not be accepted by the Governor, how could they have have the audacity to offer them to God?

The responsibility of the priests was to honor the LORD among all people, but they doing the exact opposite, they were profaning His name. Not only in their sacrifices but in their vows as well.

Malachi 1:14 (NKJV) “But cursed be the deceiver who has in his flock a male, and takes a vow, but sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished— for I am a great King,” says the LORD of hosts, “And My name is to be feared among the nations.”

It makes me examine my life. Am I giving to God the best of the best? The tithe from the top? Or am I giving God the leftovers? Is ministry wearisome to me, am I tired of it, or am I still in awe that I have been given this gracious opportunity to serve the Lord and his people?

In Malachi 2 he continues his heavy rebuke of the priests for various reasons all rooted in the fact that their heart was not right. They were not open to correction and would therefore forfeit their blessings and curse themselves. Tragically this would affect their children as well – the whole household was falling apart.

The priests had drifted from the law of the LORD and had no fear of God. They weren’t loving or living the truth so the people were not learning the truth from their lips.

Malachi 2:7–8 (NKJV) “For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. 8 But you have departed from the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says the LORD of hosts.”

Rather than helping the people spiritually, these priests were hindering and harming them, even the ones we husbands are called to love the most – our wives. Malachi opens up this section with the fact that we are all made in the image of God and are therefore equal as men and women (Malachi 2:10), this includes husbands and wives – we should not deal treacherously with one another.

It’s heartbreaking to read the way the priests were either marrying non-believers or flippantly divorcing their wives. They were the epitome of hypocrisy weeping on the altar, asking God to receive their offerings and answer their prayers, when behind the scenes they were dealing treacherously with their wives. Make no mistake about it, God sees what’s going on behind the scenes and not just up there on the “stage.”

They had forgotten, or didn’t seem to care about the LORD’s holy institution of marriage (Malachi 2:11), how God loves marriage and hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). What damage it does to everyone involved – it’s spiritual violence!

May husbands and wives meditate on this section of Malachi. May we remember how it all started, how God saw it was not good to be alone so He gave us a companion for life; we entered into a covenant to love and to cherish one another and fulfill our roles and responsibilities of husband and wife. Yes, we know that marriage is hard, it’s a perpetual test of character, but we were made ONE…on that day. Jesus said;

Matthew 19:6 (NKJV) “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Our Father wants to bless families, He wants to bless husbands and wives, as well as their children. It’s a fundamental part of His plan to carry the gospel from generation to generation. We need to be warned and informed that our children may pay the ultimate price of eternity in hell, all because of a parent’s selfishness. Let’s heed the warning and work things out.

Malachi 2:15 (NLT) “Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.”

Revelation 21:1-27

God gives us a glimpse of the glory of heaven, which can ultimately be defined as the sphere of God’s unveiled existence. In “heaven” (which Paul refers to as the “third heaven” – 2 Corinthians 12:2) there will be a new first and second heaven and a new earth (the first and second heaven refer to this planet’s atmosphere and outer space). Some Christians believe that the current heaven and earth will be obliterated and replaced – but I tend to lean more towards God redeeming all creation as Paul wrote in Romans 8:20-22.

Just as our bodies will be resurrected so too will “heaven and earth.”

In Revelation 21:3 the voice is loud because God wants everyone to hear! 

In heaven, God will be with us, we will be with Him, we will see Him (Job 19:26; Matthew 5:8) and there will be no more painful tears, suffering or sorrow, no more death or decay, all that is sinful will pass away, God makes ALL things new. God Himself told John (and us) “Write for these words are true and faithful.” This is not just wishful thinking or a fleeting fantasy, this is reality, there is life after death.

All this is written not just as information, but as an invitation, Jesus Himself invites the weary worn out world, “If you’re thirsty, come to Me, I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to all who thirst.”

Have you responded to Jesus’ invitation?

It’s also clear that this book is written as a bold and blunt warning to those who resist God and insist on their sin, rooted in unbelief. All those who choose to refuse, “…shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

We then get this visual of the New Jerusalem. This is where God’s people live, in a space approximately 1,500 miles in length, in depth, and in height. If every level was a ½ a mile high, the total surface would be larger than the entire land mass of planet earth. We get a glimpse of some of the details, the jewels, the pearly gates, the names of the 12 tribes of Israel on each gate, the names of the 12 Apostles on the foundations of those gates, the walls of jasper, the city and streets are made of pure gold. There is no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. Imagine not needing the light of the sun or any other lamp because the glory of God illuminates everything, the Lamb is its light! As I read, I sense God’s full and unveiled presence everywhere in heaven.

We read that the nations of those who are saved shall walk in this light, they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it, which means that there is still this beautiful diversity in heaven. The different foods, cultural practices, skin colors and the like will be there in heaven. There are still many mysteries and things we don’t know or understand, there are many questions we have as Christians, but the most important part of it all is that we will be with God, and that’s the most important thing. Jesus said in: 

John 14:2-3 (NKJV) “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

“That’s all I want Lord, that where You are, there I may be also…and as we’re on our way, please Lord, help us to bring as many people with us as we can.”

Psalm 149:1-9

I wonder if we realize how powerful praise is? I wonder if we praise God the way we should?

We sing the oldies (they never get old) but we must always be looking for new songs as well, for God is always doing new things.

I love the enthusiasm of this Psalm. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker, the children of Zion (a picture of heaven) be joyful in their King. Dance, and sing praise with timbrel and harp, even the guitar!

We humble ourselves in acknowledging our constant need for God. What a “beautiful” passage:

Psalm 149:4 (NKJV) “For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.”

I thought it was interesting to read how the Psalmist even encourages Israel to sing aloud on their beds! Some say it points to praising God even when it’s “nighttime” (Job 35:10; Psalm 42:8). NET Notes said this, “Perhaps the point is that they should rejoice at all times, even when falling asleep or awaking.”

The Psalm closes with sounding victory over Israel’s enemies. For us, it’s not necessarily victory over nations, but it is victory over the fallen flesh, over the world system under Satan’s sway, and victory over the devil and his demons. Let’s be sure to swing our two-edged sword, the Word of God (Psalm 149:6; Hebrews 4:12).

Proverbs 31:10-24

Proverbs 31:10–24 (NKJV) “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. 13 She seeks wool and flax, And willingly works with her hands. 14 She is like the merchant ships, She brings her food from afar. 15 She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household, And a portion for her maidservants. 16 She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants a vineyard. 17 She girds herself with strength, And strengthens her arms. 18 She perceives that her merchandise is good, And her lamp does not go out by night. 19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hand holds the spindle. 20 She extends her hand to the poor, Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, For all her household is clothed with scarlet. 22 She makes tapestry for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies sashes for the merchants.”

It’s fascinating how this final section of Proverbs is an acrostic poem portraying a virtuous wife. 

Each of the 22 verses begins with a consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

The Hebrew word translated “virtuous,” speaks of strength, might, and efficiency.  I found it fascinating that the word is most often translated “army” in the Bible.  When you find a woman like this, it’s as if you have an army on your side!

The same Hebrew word is translated “excellent” in Proverbs 12:4, where we read that, “an excellent wife is the crown of her husband.”

But…such women are very, very rare.  Hence the question, “who can find a virtuous wife?” If you do find such a wife, you will find that her worth is far above rubies.

V. 11-12

A virtuous wife is trustworthy, committed to her husband, he knows, he can count on her; he has confidence in her; not just that she won’t go out on him, but that she will fulfill her role as wife and mom, helper and homemaker (she builds her house) (I Timothy 5:14; Titus 2:5).

So, he will have no lack of gain…(she will greatly enrich his life – NLT). She does him good…all the days of her life. Keep in mind that “all the days of her life” is not just to the last day…but every day.

Here are some specifics/practical things about her (13-22, 24)

Key Words:

Clothing (13, 17, 19, 21-22)
For her family – she goes out looking for, gathering the material she needs, like wool and flax; she brings it home and makes clothes for her family.  Not just to cover them, but to keep them warm (blankets). Nowadays, it may not be making clothes (for some it’s that way) but it might be more along the lines of shopping, buying, washing, ironing, etc.

Clothing for others

Proverbs 31:19–20 (NLT) “Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. 20 She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.”

When I read of this heart she has, as well as the skill she’s cultivated, it brings to mind a woman in the NT by the name of Dorcas.  

Acts 9:36-39 (NKJV) “At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.”

Clothing for herself (17, 25a, 22)

She has strength and style, and that’s okay.

She’s definitely not wimpy: “She girds herself with strength.”  No doubt she strengthens herself in the Lord. (1 Samuel 30:6)

All women, wives and moms definitely need that strength.  Having to take care of us husbands in so many ways can be a full-time job in and of itself…but then when you add the kids in, from carrying the baby in your womb, to giving birth, the nursing, the nurturing, the lack of sleep at night, the lack of rest by the day, it just never ends.  Some of you moms who’ve raised, or are raising multiple children…our hats off to you, we’re so grateful to you!

Consumer (14)

Cook (14, 15)
(A great love language)

Capitalist (16, 18, 24)
She makes some money through her line of clothing, or on a property deal…which then is used to plant a vineyard…an awesome blessing for every family in those days.
This woman is able to contribute financially. She makes good material, and does so working late into the evening. She even sells to sellers!

Caring (15b, 20)
…there she is willingly working with her hands, stretching out her hands…even beyond her family…considerate of the needy and the poor.

The Bible dictionary defines wisdom as the “ability to discern and make right choices.” It’s more than knowledge…it includes knowledge, but it’s really the ability to take the knowledge of God, and His Word – and in this world, apply that knowledge…on the decisions we make, the words we speak, the thoughts we think, the passions we pursue.

It’s interesting…over the process of time within the dental world, they began to call those third molars that make their way into our mouths…wisdom teeth.  Their reasoning was the teeth begin to grow in the latter part of the teenage years…and the assumption of the day was…that’s when you become an adult, and with age comes wisdom.

But that’s not always the case. huh? Wisdom doesn’t come from within, or without…wisdom actually comes from above (James 3:17).  We can pray for wisdom (James 1:5) and more often than not, God will give us trials along with teachings, to make us wise guys and gals.

Praise God for this Virtuous Wife!

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