Malachi begins chapter 3 with a prophecy regarding John the Baptist who would come in the spirit and power of Elijah (Matthew 11:10; 17:12-13; Luke 1:17; Isaiah 40:3). He would be the forerunner to the main Messenger of the New Covenant, Jesus Christ
Malachi then fast-forwards thousands of years to the Second Coming of Christ. He asks the question, “Who can endure the day of His coming?” (Malachi 3:2). God will judge the world and deal with Israel. The Levitical priests will finally be right in His sight and offer up pleasant sacrifices to God during the Millennial Kingdom.
Malachi then returns to the people of his day and shares with them God’s invitation:
Malachi 3:7 (NKJV) “…’return to Me, and I will return to you,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘But you said, ‘In what way shall we return?’”
In tithes and offerings. It was here, they needed to return.
They were not giving to God what belonged to God and in that sin they had robbed Him and even brought a curse upon themselves.
I’m of the personal conviction that tithes are still expected of us today (as a minimum, a good place to start in our giving). Regarding tithing Jesus said in Luke 11:42, “…these you ought to have done.” If 10% was the expectation of the Old Testament, under a covenant of the blood of animals, how can it be any less under the covenant of the blood of Jesus? Granted, there are some widows and others who have no luxuries whatsoever, living on a fixed income who cannot tithe. God knows, and this is why He doesn’t mandate it under the New Covenant, but for the rest of us with the latest phones, cars, clothes, fast food, fine dining, cable TV and all the other wants our hearts desire – to say that we can’t give God tithes and offerings – is closely related to robbing God.
Now, some may say that I’m only of this conviction because I’m a pastor who depends on the giving of the church, but that’s not the case. I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is my provider and the sustainer of the church.
No, I take Malachi’s warning to heart. I do believe that some will suffer allowing the devourer to devour due to their disobedience in this area.
I believe we should give to God tithes and offerings. If we’re not financially there at this point, we should work our way towards this goal passionately. We should budget our finances in such a way that the first 10% goes to the church we attend (our home church where we’re fed) and the extras (offerings) go to other ministries and needs that God will show you.
Whatever you do, don’t worry. God will provide my friends, and He challenges us to test Him in this area (Malachi 3:10). Try it and watch how He opens the windows of heaven and blesses you in such a way that your cups overflow. That doesn’t mean we will be rich financially, but we will be rich spiritually…and God will meet our every need (Philippians 4:19).
One of my all-time favorite books that covers this topic is “The Treasure Principle,” by Randy Alcorn. You can check it out on Amazon by clicking HERE.
Let’s do all that we can to return to God.
May we never say it’s useless to serve God and to walk in His ways (Malachi 3:14). Tragically that’s what some were saying in Malachi’s day. I’m reminded of that passage in:
1 Corinthians 15:58 (NKJV) “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
Malachi not only warns the people NOT to complain, he encourages them to speak words of praise, and fellowship…words that reverence God. Malachi reveals something found only here, that God has a “Book of Remembrance,” He listens to our conversations and records them in His book. I’m assuming that one day this book will come into play for future rewards.
And then in chapter 4 Malachi closes the book (and the Old Testament) with warning and wooing. For the wicked, the day of the LORD is a fiery furnace. For the righteous His Second Coming brings healing forever. Are we ready? Are we righteous? If not, may Malachi’s words penetrate our hearts to be always be ready, through faith in Christ.
He closes the book with a prophecy of Elijah as one of the two witnesses in Revelation 11, during the Tribulation Period. He will come before that dreadful day of the LORD.
It’s fascinating to me that the Old Testament closes with a curse, while the New Testament closes with grace.
It’s pretty clear that the difference between the two (blessing or cursing) is dependent upon whether or not we will take God’s Word to heart as spoken through His messengers – messengers like Malachi…and ultimately Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-2).
God helps us to take His Word to heart!
Love you guys! What an incredible journey it’s been going through the Old Testament like this! Thanks for joining me.
More visuals of heaven. We once again see the throne of God (which includes the Lamb). From that throne proceeds a pure river, this water of life. I do believe we’ll drink from it, I also believe it symbolizes the wonderful life God grants us in His sovereign grace.
Then there’s the Tree of Life (something we saw back in Genesis 2:9; 3:22, 24) that’s rooted and rises in the middle of the street, and on both sides…yielding different fruits each month (does that mean there’s still this yearly type of calendar we have, with orbits of the earth and moon?). Somehow the consumption of the water, fruit, and leaves contribute to the preparation of our bodies to inhabit eternity. It’s for that reason God did not allow Adam and Eve to partake of the Tree of Life while in a fallen state.
How beautiful are those words, “no more curse.” The immediate contrast to the curse is the crown, God’s crown. His righteous rule over all. There we will see the Lord, we will serve the Lord, and reign with Him forever and ever. There there will be no need for artificial lights, the darkness will flee forever from the presence and glory of God, His Light illuminates every nook and cranny of heaven.
1 John 1:5 (NKJV) “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”
Again, John is instructed to write all this down, for the words are faithful and true – and blessed are those who read and heed this book of Revelation, who preserve its pages and share it with others, “…who keep the words of the prophecy of this book.” (see also Revelation 3:10; 12:17; 14:12). Some people steer clear of the book of Revelation, they avoid it thinking it’s too tough to interpret, but the angel commands John NOT to seal the words of this prophecy, for the time is at hand.
Revelation 21:11 is not a passage teaching us that God doesn’t want people to repent, it’s simply a literary tool urging us to act NOW – don’t wait ‘till later or tomorrow – it may be too late. And if you’re one of those who love the Lord and are set apart to Him – stay there…may you never be moved.
I believe Jesus mentions His reward to motivate us, so let’s do what John tells us in:
2 John 1:8 (NKJV) “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.”
The revelation continues with the wooing and warning. If we do His commandments it shows we know God and love God (John 14:21, 23) – we will be blessed to partake of that Tree of Life – God is wooing us. But God also warns, that outside are dogs (metaphorically speaking of a man with an impure and impudent mind), sorcerers (drug addicts), sexually immoral, murderers, and idolaters. You don’t want to end up “outside,” my friend.
Jesus Himself sent His angel to communicate this message to all of us – if anyone thirsts, let that person come to Christ. This is an invitation from Jesus, the Spirit, and the Bride (the church) (see also Isaiah 55:1; John 7:37-38; Matthew 11:28-30) – come to the King of kings (the root and offspring of David), the bright and morning star (announcing the arrival of a new dawn, a new dynasty) come to Him all you who labor and are heavy laden.
How can we possibly be ready for His return? I’m forever grateful that the Bible ends with that word – GRACE!
In this final Psalm in the Jewish hymnal we touch on some different facets of praise.
Of course we can praise God anywhere, but two wonderful places to praise God corporately are in His sanctuary on earth (where the congregation is gathered) and in His sanctuary in heaven (some translations say “Mighty heaven”). I love our times of worship in church, but I must admit, I do look forward to praising God in heaven.
We praise God for what He’s done and who He is. His mighty acts include creation, the new creation, and of course redemption (the cross and resurrection). His mighty acts are the wonderful things God has done for us all our lives, and the things He continues to do for us each and every day! How great Thou art!
We praise God with all the instruments God has given us. It’s wonderful to travel the world to see and hear the different forms of praise and worship. Drums and dance galore, percussion, piano, keyboards, saxophones, trumpets, orchestras, guitars (acoustic and electric) even the clashing of cymbals can be celebrations of praise. Although there are a plethora of instruments that vary in worship, the one instrument to be “played” and offered to God by all of us is that of the heart (Ephesians 5:19).
Who should praise God?
Everyone who has breath…let everything that has breath praise the LORD. With that breath we sing, we speak, and we live for God.
Proverbs 31:25–31 (NKJV) “Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. 27 She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.
This fashion of this virtuous woman is godly strength and honor, and she has much to look forward to.
Not only are her tasks amazing, but her tongue is as well. This virtuous woman has a heart for good works as well as a heart of good words. She’s a woman of wisdom, she knows the Word…and she knows how to apply it.
This virtuous woman knows the Truth and speaks the Truth in love. Notice again the description there in v. 26b, “And on her tongue is the law of kindness.” She’s not a Bible thumper. The Hebrew word translated kindness speaks primarily of mercy. She’s a merciful woman. Not lashing out with her lips, but she’s kind in conversation…she’s wise, knowing what to say, and when to say, and how to say (Proverbs 25:11). We read something similar in Ephesians 4:15 “…speaking the truth in love…”
Perhaps you’ve heard that maxim, something listed in the Dictionary of American Proverbs that, “Behind every great man, is a great woman.” And here we see, it has some Biblical merit. We would even say, not just behind, but “Beside every great man…”
The city gates back then, were similar to city hall nowadays. There the elders would meet, there the judgments would take place, there the wise men would gather, to be used by God for the good of His people. These guys were counselors, mentors, judges, and in that sense successful. Here we see it’s largely because of their amazing wives.
As a wife fulfills her role…her husband is then freed up to fulfill his – and I believe it works both ways.
We see this virtuous wife doing so much from a practical perspective…for her family and for her husband. The NLT says, “she carefully watches all that goes on in her household…” In other words…she knows what’s up. She knows what’s going on with all of her children…even her teenagers. You can’t pull the wool over her eyes.
In the end, everyone is appreciative. Notice the children rise up and call her blessed…and that’s probably speaking of the fact that many children don’t realize what a blessing their mothers are, until they’re a little older. It’s okay moms…keep doing what’s right in God’s sight. Don’t seek the approval ratings of immature children. Raise them up in the training and admonition of the Lord…one day they’ll stand up and publicly thank you.
The word charm in this context (Proverbs 31:30) might be described as elegance…the nice clothes, expensive jewelry, or even the correct mannerisms as a lady. Charm can be good, but ultimately that’s not what it’s about.
Neither is beauty all that big.
The Hebrew word translated “passing,” also means vain. Don’t misunderstand what God is saying, it’s ok for a man or woman to do his or her best to make themselves presentable and even attractive to their husband or wife, but that is not anywhere nearly as important as the inner man – the inner woman.
You can see the beauty of a woman, and be passionately drawn to her, but it’s just eros, it’s erotic, it’s lust not love. The good looks, the beautiful body, that won’t make a marriage, neither will it make a husband happy, or a man successful.
What is it that they really want?
The inner beauty; eyes might want the outer beauty, but the heart wants the inner beauty.
We read that clearly articulated in 1 Peter 3:1-4.
When God was looking for a man to bless His people, remember what He said to Samuel?
1 Samuel 16:7 (NKJV) “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.””
…but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. The fear of the LORD is a phrase we found 17 times in the Proverbs.
The fear of the LORD includes awe and reverence…but it’s more than that. It’s a fear of discipline as well – that my disobedience will bring the chastening of God, into my life. It’s also a fear that I will disappoint my DADDY.
If God has blessed you with a virtuous wife and/or mom, be sure to “give” her the reward she has earned privately, and even publicly.
Share with others the things she has done, her works, there at the “gates.” May we be grateful and express our gratitude openly.
But ladies, if for some strange reason you are not rewarded on this side of time for your virtue and inner beauty, don’t worry…God will reward you one day. Remember Jesus’ words in:
Revelation 22:12 (NKJV) “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.”
“Let everyone,” says Bishop Patrick, “extol her virtue. Let her not lack the just commendation of her labors. But while some are magnified for the nobleness of the stock from whence they sprung, others for their fortune, others for their beauty, others for other things, let the good deeds that she herself has done be publicly praised in the greatest assemblies, where, if all men should be silent, her own works will declare her excellent worth.”
Ruth 3:11 (NKJV) “And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.”
To the wise guys…and the wise gals. May this book, the Bible…and especially the Proverbs be at home in your heart, and lived out loud in your life. Remember, “Wisdom is to the soul, what health is to the body.” God is willing and wanting to make us whole and healthy Christians.
May we even follow in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus Christ…as He matured, we read in:
Luke 2:40 (NKJV) “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.”
O Lord, I’m Your child too. Please help me to grow, help me to be strong by Your Spirit, filled with wisdom from above. And Lord, I’m so sorry…for me it’s different than Jesus, I know I will fail You. I’ll try not to, but I know in advance, I will miss the mark. I pray, I plead for Your grace to be upon my life…in Jesus’ name. Amen.