2015-07-26
Doug Randlett

What happens when we lose the “awe factor” of our faith?

In Malachi, the Jews were just going through the motions. Outwardly, everything seemed fine. Inside, the cancer of apathy was growing.

Context:
1. The Jews had been freed from Babylonia captivity.
2. Nehemiah had rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem.
3. Malachi wrote about 70-80 years after the wall were rebuilt.
4. Over time they lost their attitude of gratitude.
5. Malachi most likely wrote this when Nehemiah returned to Babylon for a short time. When he returned he found God’s people in a state of spiritual deterioration.

The AWE factor was lost!

What happens when we lose the “awe factor” of our faith?

I. God’s love shown. vs 1:1-5

A. God declares:  “I have always loved you.” vs 1:2

  • “I have always loved you,” says the Lord. But you retort, “Really? How have you loved us?”

B. The people “arrogantly” questioned God’s love.

C. In spite of reassuring them of His love, the people did not repent.

II. God’s love Scorned. vs 1:6-3:18

  • We may get apathetic and arrogant, but God will send a wake-up call.

A. The pulpit was unfaithful.

1. The priests presented less than their best.
“You have shown contempt by offering defiled sacrifices on the altar.” vs 1:7a

2. They showed disrespect for God.
“You defiled them by saying the altar of the Lord deserves no respect.” vs 1:7b

3. They misrepresented the Word, causing others to stumble.
“But the priests have left God’s paths. Your instructions have caused many to stumble into sin.” vs 2:8a

  • Our example can cause others to stumble.

B. The people were unfaithful. They worshiped with unrepentant sin.

1. They married unbelievers.
“The men of Judah have defiled the Lord’s beloved sanctuary by marrying women who worship idols.” vs 2:11

2. Adultery and divorce were practiced. vs 2:14-16.
“But you have been unfaithful to her.” vs 2:14b

“For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” vs 2:16a

3. They called good what God called evil.
“You have wearied him by saying that all who do evil are good in the Lord’s sight,” vs 2:17b

4. They questioned whether God was just.
“You have wearied him by asking, ‘Where is the God of justice?’” vs 2:17c

They sided with a godless, arrogant world.

5. They robbed/cheated God.
“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed
me! But you say, “In what way have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings.” vs 3:8 (NKJV)

C. God is faithful.
The prophet made his case:  accusing them of dishonoring a holy God.

God offers a succinct answer to the list of charges.

Mal.3:7 “Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,”

“I will pour out blessings so great you won’t have enough room to take it in.” vs 3:10c

D. The people remain blind to their faithlessness.
“How can we return when we have never gone away.” vs 3:7c

Their apathy and arrogance produced spiritual blindness.

“The SCOTUS may redefine marriage and ESPN may redefine courage. But God is surely disappointed in His church redefining holiness.”

III. God’s love Shown, again. vs 4:1-6

A. vs 4:2 “But for you who fear (stand in awe of) my name, the Son of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.”

B. I’m sending a redeemer. 400 years later, John the Baptist would prepare the way.

Lessons:
1. Jesus loves me, this I know.
2. He deserves my best; a living sacrifice.
3. God never quits on me.
4. He wants to rekindle the AWE factor:  Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.

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