The Arrogant Will Face God’s Wrath

“For indeed, the day is coming, burning like a furnace, when all the arrogant and everyone who commits wickedness will become stubble. The coming day will consume them,” says the Lord of Hosts, “not leaving them root or branches. But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, and you will go out and playfully jump like calves from the stall.” Malachi 4:1-2 HCSB

There is one professional golfer for whom I do not care due to his arrogant attitude. He seemingly believes that because he is a world renown golfer he can determine the rules and tell the tournament directors what he is and what he is not going to do. He seldom takes the time to sign autographs for fans. Although he is a truly talented golfer, his arrogant attitude is less than appealing and causes people to dislike him.

These verses in Malachi tell us that the arrogant and the wicked will face God’s wrath and will be consumed by fire and become like stubble. But the righteous will enjoy the presence of the Lord like the gentle warmth of the sun. God will bring light into a dark world (see Luke 1:76-79). Believers will rejoice and celebrate their freedom from an evil world.

Challenge: We who have loved and served God will find peace and joy in heaven while the wicked will only face pain and suffering in hell. Accept Jesus as your personal Savior and you can be assured that you will enjoy eternal life with Him in heaven. Pray for those who are arrogant and wicked. Ask God to open up doors for you to share the Good News of Jesus with the evil and wicked people you may contact.

God’s Patience

“Since the days of your fathers, you have turned from My statutes; you have not kept them. Return to Me,” says the Lord of Hosts. Malachi 3:7 HCSB

I have heard the story of the person who prayed to God, “Lord, please give me patience, and please hurry up.” We all could do a better job of being patient. I am not very patient when the traffic light turns green and the car in front of me just sits there. I don’t like to honk so I usually say, “It’s not going to get any greener.” Of course the other person cannot hear me, but it makes me feel better to express my observation.

God is the ultimate example of patience. His patience seems never ending. From the beginning of time people have willfully disobeyed His laws and statutes but He patiently waits for His people to return to Him. He is always willing to forgive and take them back.

Challenge: God is patiently waiting for you to return to Him if you will only admit your sins and ask for forgiveness. Thank God for His patience with you. Strive to be more patient with those you encounter today.

Judgment is Coming

“I will come to you in judgment, and I will be ready to witness against sorcerers and adulterers; against those who swear falsely; against those who oppress the widow and the fatherless, and cheat the wage earner; and against those who deny justice to the foreigner.” Malachi 3:2-3 HCSB

My grandmother was the Justice of Peace in Amarillo, Texas for 25 years and retired when she was 75 years old. She was the judge that presided over many cases in the course of her extended term in office. Many times there were witnesses to crimes that were called to give an account of what they had seen and heard. Depending upon the charge, sometimes she made the judgment of what the punishment was to be for the crime and at other times a jury would determine the punishment.

In this verse, God indicates that He will judge the people of Judah. He will be a witness against those who practice the occult; those who depart form God’s pattern for family life; those who do not tell the truth; those who take advantage of those who cannot help themselves; those employers who cheat their employees; and those who refuse hospitality to a foreigner. God hates sin and someday He will bring His wrath and judgment against all the sin and evil of this world. The Good News is that God has also provided a way to escape His judgment by providing the perfect sacrifice for our sins through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Challenge: If we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, God will forgive us and give us eternal life. If we do not accept God’s free gift of salvation, we will someday face God’s judgment and wrath. He will be a witness against us.

Clean Up Your Act

But who can endure the day of His coming? And who will be able to stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire and like cleansing lye. He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver. He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. They they will present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Malachi 3:2-3 HCSB

I recently got some grease on my jeans. To make sure the grease came out in the wash, I pretreated the spot with a stain remover. I sprayed it on the spot and then worked it into the fabric before placing the jeans in the washer. Today, with modern technology we have ways to get stains out of our clothes. In Malachi’s day a cleansing lye, a strong soap, was used to get clothes clean.

The sin in our lives is like dirty spots on our clothes. Our sins are impurities that separate us from a Holy God and hurt our witness to others. Many times God allows us to go through a purification or cleansing process to refine us and make us more like His Son, Jesus Christ. As we are purified by God, we become a reflection of His holiness. The Levites needed to be cleaned and purified so they could properly serve as the priests and present offerings to the Lord.

Challenge: Are you open to God’s purification process in your life so others might see Jesus in your life? Ask God to clean up your act and make you more like Jesus in everything you say and do.

Becoming Weary

You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you ask, “How have we wearied Him?” When you say, “Everyone who does what is evil is good in the Lord’s sight, and He is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?” Malachi 2:17 HCSB

When my children were young, there were times when they would repeatedly do something just to get attention or to see how far they could go before I disciplined them. I think there were times they repeated a negative behavior because they knew it would bring a reaction from me. During those times I became weary of their repeated disobedience.

In the same way, God became weary of the disobedience of the people of Judah. The people returned again and again to the same sinful behaviors of apathy, questioning God’s laws and instructions, mistreating their wives, and marrying those who worshipped idols instead of the one true God. The people seemed to be stubborn and determined to do what they wanted to do rather than obey.

Challenge: Are you causing God to become weary by your repeated sinful behavior? Just like a loving parent responds to his children with discipline when they repeatedly disobey, God lovingly disciplines His children when they repeatedly disobey. Thank God for His discipline and ask for His help to change your behavior.

Be On Your Guard

“If he hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord God of Israel, “he covers his garment with injustice, says the Lord of Hosts. Therefore, watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously. Malachi 2:16 HCSB

I do not know of any family that has not been touched in some way by the repercussions of divorce. The covenant relationship created between a man and woman to become one flesh is torn apart. Any time flesh is torn, it is painful and it takes time to heal. Divorce also affects children and other family members. As a former youth pastor, I have seen many teenagers who have changed as a result of the divorce of their parents. Some who were friendly and outgoing become shy and withdrawn. Others who were making good grades become poor students. I have even observed teenagers who have become suicidal and have participated in deviant behaviors. Many times teens blame themselves for the divorce of their parents.

God knows the devastating results of divorce and encourages people to avoid divorce except for certain reasons. God does not expect a person to stay in an abusive relationship, but too often people get divorced just because they are not willing to work on restoring the marriage. The world paints the picture that a couple gets married and lives happily ever after, but the reality is that marriage takes work. It is a commitment. There will certainly be hard times, but the commitment is to work through the difficult times with the Lord’s help.

Challenge: God says, “Watch yourselves carefully.” Another way to say that is, “Be on your guard.” Satan roams around like a lion looking for who he can devour (see 1 Peter 5:8). Satan wants to destroy your marriage and will do whatever he can to create problems in your marriage relationship. He knows that if he destroys the family, that many times he can destroy godly offspring. Ask God to help you to keep your marriage strong so you can withstand the attacks of Satan.

Godly Offspring

Didn’t the one God make us with a remnant of His life-breath? And what does the One seek? A godly offspring. So watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously against the wife of your youth. Malachi 2:15 HCSB

My wife and I have been richly blessed with four wonderful children. Each has accepted Christ as Lord and I have had the privilege of baptizing each of them. As with any children there have been challenging times, but our children have been a rich blessing to us.

God’s desire is for godly offspring. The number one job of any parent is to bring his or her children up in the ways of the Lord. My wife and I began praying the day we knew we were going to have children that each of our children would come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. We took them to church and tried to teach them God’s Word and His ways.

Challenge: Too many times parents bring their children to church and expect the church to teach them about God and lead them to Christ, but God’s Word is clear that discipling children is the responsibility of parents. Pray that God would help you to be the parent you should be and raise godly children. If you are not a parent, pray for friends who are parents in this challenging day of rampant immorality in our country. Read Deuteronomy 6:6-7.

Covenant Relationship

Yet you ask, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have acted treacherously against her, though she was your marriage partner and your wife by covenant. Malachi 2:14 HCSB

My wife and I will celebrate 39 years of marriage in September. When we made our vows to each other in front of witnesses and before God, we created a covenant relationship between the two of us and with God. The dictionary defines covenant as an agreement. Some synonyms for covenant would be contract, commitment, guarantee, warrant, pledge, promise, and bond. The wedding ring is a symbol of that covenant. The ring is a circle with no beginning or end. The hole in the center is considered a gateway into a new relationship to be experienced together. The ring is made of pure and precious metal, symbolizing that the marriage relationship should be pure and precious.

Early in Genesis God established the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman (see Genesis 2:18-24). Adultery and divorce had become rampant among the people of Judah. They seemed to be divorcing for no real reason other than they wanted someone different. Malachi reminded the people that they had not followed God’s laws and had not treated their spouses with respect and love as they had committed to do. This was indicative of how the people of Judah had neglected their covenant relationship with God.

Challenge: If married, reflect on your marriage covenant. Evaluate your faithfulness to the marriage partner of your youth. Throughout history we can see the grievous results of divorce. God hates divorce but allows it in certain situations (see Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and Matthew 19:7-8). Recommit to being faithful to you marriage partner. If not married, pray for family members and friends who are married.

Irresponsible Behavior

Judah has acted treacherously, and a detestable thing has been done in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the Lord’s sanctuary, which He loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. Malachi 2:11 HCSB

There have been several reports on the news lately of the shameful behavior of college students on the beaches in Florida during Spring Break. Reports have described gang rapes, excessive drinking and drunkenness, nudity, and the use of drugs. These are all irresponsible behaviors that often result in emotional pain and hurt.

The people of Judah were participating in shameful and irresponsible behavior by marrying women who worshipped pagan gods rather than the one true God (see Deuteronomy 7:1-4). Such action was in direct disobedience to God’s commands and the covenant they had made with Him.

Challenge: How have you been disobedient to God’s commands and direction in your life? God demands our faithfulness to Him and to Him alone (see 2 Corinthians 6:14-18). God must be Lord in every aspect of our lives. Pray that God will show you how you have been disobedient and how you can draw closer to Him.

Honor and Respect the Lord

“For My name will be great among the nations, from the rising of the sun to its setting. Incense and pure offerings will be presented in My name in every place because My name will be great among the nations,” says Yahweh of Hosts. Malachi 1:11 HCSB

In one church where I served I was told a story of how the previous youth minister had served the Lord’s Supper at a camp. There was nothing wrong with serving the Lord’s Supper at the camp, but it was the way he served the Lord’s Supper that was questioned. He used Coca-Cola and saltine crackers for the elements of the Lord’s Supper and served them from an old cardboard box. Some people were furious when they learned of how the Lord’s Supper had been served. They did not think that it showed the proper respect and honor for what it represented – the body and blood of Jesus that was sacrificed on the cross.

This Scripture is very clear, claiming that the Lord is great among the nations and that every nation will bring incense and pure offerings to the Lord. For Christians, incense corresponds to prayers (see Revelation 5:8). Our pure offerings are our worship of the Lord. We are to show honor and respect when we worship the Lord (see Hebrews 13:15-16). The Lord’s Supper is an act of worship.

Challenge: As Christians we are God’s chosen people. We are to worship and praise God, recognizing that He is great among all nations. Does your worship show the proper respect and honor that the Lord deserves? As believers we are to make God the focus of our lives, both now and eternally. What incense or prayers are you lifting up to God to show your true spirit and attitude toward Him?