Kraig Josiah Rice
Devotional Bible Commentary On

written by
Kraig J. Rice


   An Introduction to this Bible book of Malachi
 1) A Look At Chapter One         3) A Look At Chapter Three
 2) A Look At Chapter Two         4) A Look At Chapter Four

An Introduction

Who wrote this book?
The prophet, Malachi, wrote this book that is named after him.

What are some things that we know about Malachi?
Almost nothing is known about the prophet, Malachi. It is assumed that he was a government official of some capacity and it is in question if he were a Levitical priest. He loved the Lord and was zealous about cleaning up the spiritual mess that his people found themselves in at that time. That is why he penned this document.

When and where was this book written?
The date that Malachi wrote this book is not known. It is possible that he ministered along with Ezra and Nehemiah so the date would be close to 450-400 B.C. This book was written from somewhere in the nation of Israel, probably in Jerusalem. It is assumed that he lived nearly 100 years or so after the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah.

Why was this book written?
The folks of Israel had many problems that needed to be dealt with. God dealt with these problems through His prophet, Malachi.

New generations of folks had been born in Israel since the godly remnant returned to the land. This is not the first generation that neglected the Lord
(Judges 2:10). These new folks did not worship idols, however, they had other problems. The temple was neglected, sacrifices were contemptable, the priests had no integrity, tithes were not paid, and many godly folk were marrying idol worshippers
(Ezra chapter 9).

Malachi rebuked his people and then encouraged them to return in repentance to God.

What was the historical setting in those days when this book was written?
The Israelites had returned to Israel after the Babylonian captivity was over with. They rebuilt their nation, the temple to God, and the capital city of Jerusalem.

Here is a brief look at the history of Israel in that time period:
1) The godly remnant returned from Babylonian exile to Israel about 536 B.C.
2) The temple was rebuilt about 520-516 B.C. under the leadership of Haggai and Zachariah.
3) About 457 B.C. (60 years later) Ezra helped to establish Israel as a nation once again.
4) About 444 B.C. (13 years later) Nehemiah came and supervised the building of Jerusalem's wall.

The theme of this book:  repent and return to God.
Jesus Christ is portrayed as "the Brilliance of Righteousness."
This reminds me of the brilliance of God as seen in the Shekinah (Shechinah) glory of God
(Exodus 40:34).

The chapters of this Bible book:

The Bible book of Malachi has 4 chapters:
1) Chapter 1:2-5 God's Expresses His Love for Israel
    Chapter 1:6-14 Corrupt Sacrifices Are Not Acceptable to God
2) Chapter 2:1-9 A Warning to the Priests
    Chapter 2:10-17 A Challenge to Make Things Right
3) Chapter 3:1-5 There is coming a Day of Judgment
    Chapter 3:6-15 All Should Repent
    Chapter 3:16-18 God Will Show Mercy
4) Chapter 4:1-6 The Day of the Lord

Taking A Look At Chapter One

"This is the message that the Lord gave to Israel through the prophet Malachi"
(Malachi 1:1). NLT

The name, Malachi, in Hebrew means "my messenger." However, in the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek, his name is rendered as "my angel" (angelos). The word "angel" is simply another word for "messenger." Is there any significance to that? Yes. It helps us understand other passages of scripture found in the book of Revelation. The Apostle John addresses each of his letters (to the 7 churches) to "the angel" of the church. For example: "...unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write..."
(Revelation 2:1). This is symbolic language that means that the messenger is the pastor of the church. Why did John use symbolic language? Symbolic language is used to designate truth apart from time and specific detail. God the Holy Spirit uses this kind of language in His word so the messengers (pastors) of all churches throughout the church age can share spiritual truths with their congregations from God's word.

"I have loved you deeply, says the Lord. But you retort, "Really? How have you loved us?" And the Lord replies: "I showed my love for you by loving your ancestor Jacob. Yet Esau was Jacob's brother, and I rejected Esau and devastated his hill country. I turned Esau's inheritance into a desert for jackals." And Esau's descendants in Edom may say, "We have been shattered, but we will rebuild the ruins." But this is what the Lord Almighty says: "They may try to rebuild, but I will demolish them again! Their country will be known as "The Land of Wickedness," and their people will be called "The People with Whom the Lord Is Forever Angry." When you see the destruction for yourselves, you will say, "Truly, the Lord's great power reaches far beyond our borders!"
(Malachi 1:2-5). NLT

The story of Esau and Jacob is an interesting story. You can read it for yourself in
Genesis 25:19-34. Paul the Apostle mentions these two brothers in
Romans 9:10-13.

It appears that the nations of Israel and Edom are referred to in these verses, not the individuals, Jacob and Esau- even though they are mentioned by name. Malachi stresses the fact that God loved the folks of Israel and always had. He felt just the opposite about the Edomites- to make a strong contrast.

Why was Jacob preferred over Esau? It appears that Jacob loved God and Esau did not love God. God loved Jacob because He knew what was in Jacob's heart. Jacob was eventually converted (born again) and the Lord changed his name to Israel
(Genesis 32:28). His descendants followed the Lord in a covenant relationship. Many were righteous individuals and God dealt favorably with them.

On the other hand, the Edomites worshipped idols. In my opinion, Edom was owned by the devil and served the devil. God hated the sin(s) of the Edomites, therefore, it was easy for Him to say that He hated Esau, the father of that nation.

Malachi briefly alludes to the history of Edom. For years they shared a hostile border and were neighbors who were in conflict with one another. This is alluded to in the expression "border of Israel." "Laid his mountains...waste" appears to be a reference to the time when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon destroyed Edom. Malachi appears to be stating that though the Edomites are attempting to rebuild Edom like Israel did, God will thwart them due to their wickedness- a wickedness that was not cured by their years of slavery in Babylon. I think God was fed up with them and was slowly phasing them out of existence and that is exactly what happened. In contrast, after their captivity, Israel gave up it's idol worship and turned to the Lord in repentance. But now, in the time of Malachi, it appears that Israel is backsliding towards wickedness and the prophet wants to stop them from heading in the wrong direction spiritually. This is why he writes this prophecy. I believe that God, through the Apostle John, did a similar thing (when he wrote the book of Revelation) when he observed that some of the churches in his area were beginning to drift spiritually.

There may be a case made in these passages of scripture for the doctrine of election but I do not think it is the main focus of this prophecy.

  • Obadiah's Prophecy About Edom

    In verse two they doubted that God loved them. Have you ever had anyone tell you: "God does not love me anymore"? For some reason, they just don't feel loved anymore- by God or anyone else. Sometimes a victim of one thing or another might feel this way. But God has an answer: "For God so loved (insert your name) that He gave His only begotten Son, that (insert your name) who believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life"
    (John 3:16). Getting people to doubt God's love for them is one of Satan's tricks. He tells lies and tries to discredit God at every opportunity. God loves you so much that He died for you. He created you and you are special to Him.

    "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends"
    (John 15:13).

    One of the first rules of discipleship is to know that God is a good God, and Satan is a bad devil. Sometimes the devil will do something to you and blame it on God. That is another one of his tricks. Do not fall for it. Satan is the one who hates you and hurts you. God loves you, has a wonderful plan for your life, and only wants the best for your life. Repent and turn to God- that is the message of Malachi and it is good for us, too.

    A question naturally arises:
    Since the Lord loved them and had done great things to help them, why did they treat God with contempt?

    "A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I AM the Father, where is My honor? And if I AM a Master, where is My reverence? says the Lord of hosts to you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, "In what way have we despised Your name?"
    (Malachi 1:6).

    I think that the natural response would have been that the son would naturally turn to the father and return the father's love as seen in the parable of the prodigal son
    (Luke 15:11-32).

    "You offer defiled food on My altar. But say, "In what way have we defiled You?" By saying, "The table of the Lord is contemptible." And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?" says the Lord of hosts"
    (Malachi 1:7-8).

    Here are some footprints of the devil. What was satan up to in those days? In my opinion, he was getting the priests to offer blind, lame, and sick animals to God. Satan does not respect God and does not want God properly worshipped. Offering those kinds of animals was an insult to Him. If you love and honor someone, you give them good gifts. It was against God's word to give bad animals to God
    (Leviticus 22:17-25). This teaching was so important that God mentions it twice in His word
    (Deuteronomy 15:21).

    Why was God insulted? Because the animal sacrifices they were offering in typology was a type of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world
    (John 1:29). Christ was without sin so a perfect sacrifice represented this fact. A sick or diseased animal inferred that Christ had sin in His body and therefore was NOT a suitable sacrifice for sin. This was an insult to God and His plan for the salvation of all mankind through the shed blood of Christ. These actions were evil as they were considered to be spawned by the devil.

    Malachi 1:11 is a memory verse:
    "For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same My name shall be great...saith the Lord."

    Taking A Look At Chapter Two

    Priests were to be separated from sin and dedicated to God. They were to lead by example and teach the people to be righteous individuals
    (Malachi 2:4-7). However, just the opposite was true as these priests were sinful and were bad examples to follow. In other words, "they were lemons." And, later, there were bad priests in the days of Jesus Christ who opposed Him and turned the society against Him
    (Acts chapter 7). In the days of Malachi, the unsaved religious leaders were accepting sick animals on purpose. They were doing evil. How is that relevant? Not every pastor today, behind every sacred desk, is saved, sanctified, and filled with God the Holy Spirit. Some are phonies. Because they belong to satan they have a hard time speaking about a God they do not personally know and have a hard time correctly teaching God's word.

    "...spread dung on your faces..."
    (Malachi 2:3).

    The Levites did not receive a land inheritance in Canaan like the other tribes of Israel did. In order to be properly supported they were to preach God's word. They were to receive the tithes of crops and other commodities because a tenth was given to the Lord to support the priests. They received wheat, barley, figs, grapes, and animals.

    The dung from the intestines of sacrificed animals was unclean. If God, so to speak, smeared that dung on the faces of the unsaved religious leaders they would be considered by the Mosaic law to be unclean. God already considered them to be spiritually unclean so this is strong language that God is using against those who were serving at God's altar that belonged to the devil. In other words, God was going to rub their noses in that dung.

    The dung of all sacrificial animals was to be carried to an unclean place outside of the city and burned there. This is an interesting expression. I can just imagine that God was telling them that if they did not produce good fruit, then they were going to be burned, the same as dung. Did Jesus ever say anything like that in His preaching? Yes.
    "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned"
    (John 15:6).

    In Malachi 2:4-7 God compliments the tribe of Levi (the the priestly tribe of the Levites) for doing a good job for Him up to that point in time. But in
    Malachi 2:8-10 God tells them that they have been doing a very poor job.

    What is a short history of the Levites?
    The patriarch, Jacob, did not have too much good to say about his son, Levi
    (Genesis 49:5-7). However, centuries later, Moses really liked the sons of Levi
    (Numbers 27:21; Deuteronomy 17:9, 33:8-11). Then things changed again during the time of Malachi. It appears that the tribe of Levi (the Levitical priests) failed to respect and love God. Consequently, they disobeyed Him. They were poor role models and broke His 10 commandments. Is any of that relevant for us today? Yes. It is not good today when any religious leader gets into sin and brings public disgrace on himself and God. Congregational members should never get their eyes on their religious leader (in case he or she should fall into sin) but should always keep their eyes on Jesus.

    In Malachi 2:11-12 God condemns a sin they were committing. What was it? Marriages with idol worshippers was a major problem. Godly persons were being divorced while their "free mates" married idol worshippers. Remember Samson? He married Delilah, an idol worshipper, and his life was ruined
    (Judges 16:20). How about the children of such a union? Would their children grow up to be idol worshippers or grow up to love and serve the Lord? Their society was in a bad state of affairs spiritually.

    Let us look at the cross of Christ:
    In symbolism, mankinds relationship with God forms the vertical part of the cross of Christ. Mankinds relationship with others forms the horizontal part of the cross of Christ.
    The broken cross:
    Because they were not right with God, this broke the vertical part of the cross- this meant that they had a broken cross. This broken cross also meant that they were not right with each other in covenant relationship (the horizontal part of the cross).

    In Malachi 2:13-16 God condemns another sin they were committing. What was it? Some men of Israel were divorcing their Jewish wives who loved the Lord. God hates divorce. Divorce causes a lot of pain. A divorced woman, who might have been divorced against her will, "covered the altar (of God)...with tears...and with crying out." This action was bound to get the attention of the Lord then, as well as now.

    There are other scriptures in God's holy word that deal with this subject:
    Genesis 2:20-25; Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Nehemiah 13:25; Matthew 19:3-12;
    1 Corinthians 7:10-15; Ephesians 5:22-31; 1 Peter 3:3-4

    In other words, God through His prophet, Malachi, wanted to cleanse the nation of Israel from sin
    (Nehemiah 13:23-28). The two sins they were committing had to be repented of:
    1) To divorce their wife who loved the Lord
    2) To marry an unsaved woman
    How is that relevant to you and I today? Let us walk in the fear and admonition of the Lord as true soldiers of the cross of Christ.

    "You have wearied the Lord with your words. "Wearied Him?" you ask. "How have we wearied Him?" You have wearied Him by suggesting that the Lord favors evildoers since He does not punish them. You have wearied Him by asking, "Where is the God of justice?"
    (Malachi 2:17). NLT

    Did the folks of Israel ever treat God like that before? Yes.
    "But, My dear people, you refuse to ask for My help. You have grown tired of Me! You have not brought Me lambs for burnt offerings. You have not honored me with sacrifices, though I have not burdened and wearied you with My requests for grain offerings and incense. You have not brought Me fragrant incense or pleased Me with the fat from sacrifices. Instead, you have burdened Me with your sins and wearied Me with your faults"
    (Isaiah 43:22-24).

    "Destruction is certain for those who say that evil is good and good is evil; that dark is light and light is dark; that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter"
    (Isaiah 5:20).

    In Malachi's time they began to call evil good and good evil. Where did they get that idea? I think the bible may have the answer:
    "When a crime is not punished, people feel it is safe to do wrong"
    (Ecclesiastes 8:11).

    But just because God delays in punishing the wicked does not mean that He will not eventually get around to punishing them. Delay does not mean denial. They have stored up wickedness against themselves and they will reap what they have sowed.

    Taking A Look At Chapter Three

    "Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming," says the Lord of Armies.
    (Malachi 3:1).

    Two messengers are alluded to in this verse:

    1) Elijah will come before Christ's second advent:
    "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful Day of the Lord"
    (Malachi 4:5; see also Isaiah 40:3).

    2) The Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ, is coming to His throne in the temple in Jerusalem. This is known as the Millennial Reign of Christ. This is Christ's Second Advent
    (Zechariah 12:9-12; Revelation 21:6-7).

    But what about the first coming of Christ (His first advent)? Are there any nuggets of truth for us to mine from scripture about that? Yes.

    1) The first messenger is John the Baptist. Is there any scriptural justification for thinking that John the Baptist came in the power and might of the prophet, Elijah? Yes. This is proved in all four gospel accounts of the New Testament:
    Matthew 11:9-10, 17:10-13; Mark 1:1-3; Luke 7:24-28; John 1:23. And Jesus had this to say about it:

    "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John (the Baptist). And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come"
    (Matthew 11:13-14).

    2) The second messenger is the Lord Jesus Christ when He came the first time (His first advent). He came the first time to save. He came to bring grace, not government. He came as the One who is the Savior, not the sovereign.

    In typology, John the Baptist was a type of Elijah. He came before Jesus' first advent to announce His coming. This is what is done for kings and persons of high rank- you do them honor by announcing their presence when they come. This is what John the Baptist did. Why? Because Christ is royalty. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is God and must be worshipped as God
    (1 Timothy 6:15; Matthew 3:16; Revelation 5:5, 17:14, 19:16).

    There were certain sins that were forbidden in the Law of Moses. Some are listed in
    Malachi 3:5:
    1) Sorcery - Exodus 22:18
    2) Adultery - Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22
    3) Bearing false witness against others (perjurers) - Exodus 20:16; Leviticus 19:12
    4) Defrauding another or withholding wages - Leviticus 19:13 Deuteronomy 24:14-15
    5) Oppressing the widows and orphans - Exodus 22:22-24
    6) Treating a stranger with injustice - Deuteronomy 24:17; 27:19

    How did God feel about His priests in those days committing these sins?

    "For I AM the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you," says the Lord of armies..."
    (Malachi 3:6-7).

    "Return to Me" is an admonition for repentance. God wanted them to repent of their evil ways. Judgment must begin at the house of God
    (1 Peter 4:17; Revelation 3:19).
    A congregation can never be more spiritual than its pastor.
    Is there a message here for us today? What do you think?

    "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, "In what way have we robbed You?" In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this," says the Lord of armies, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it"
    (Malachi 3:8-10).

    In Malachi's day the folks of Israel were under the law of Moses to pay their tithes. Where in the law of Moses does it state that tithes must be paid? Take a look:
    (Leviticus 27:30-32; Numbers 18:21 & 24; Nehemiah 13:10 & 12).

    So, what was the problem with the folks of Israel in Malachi's day? The problem was their relationship with God. This problem manifested itself in many ways. What Malachi is dealing with in these passages of scripture is their stewartship problem. A good stewart is one who is faithful with what God gives to him or her. God owns it all
    (John 3:3). The tithe (or tenth or 10%) was a confession of belief on their part that everything belonged to God. He was allowing them to keep 90% of it. Not paying their tithes was robbing God. But the people probably thought that they were wasting their money by blessing corrupt priests with it. Regardless, God reminds them of their commitment to Him and challenges them to test Him on His promise that He will bless those who tithe to Him.

    "Honor the Lord with your substance, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; and your barns shall be filled with plenty, and your presses shall burst with new wine"
    (Proverbs 3:9-10).

    As Christians, living in the age of grace, giving your money to God is an act of worship just like singing songs to God or going to church. We are not under the Mosaic tithing law today. All giving comes from the heart of an individual. If you love God you will give from a heart of love. But even though we are not under the law to give, the principle to give remains the same.

    God would not have started the church unless He had some way to finance it. If you sign a membership card for your local church you are promising to pay God at least 10% of your income to that organization. Once you sign that card then you are duty bound to fulfill it. Pay your tithes because the church needs sufficient financing to keep going. Your church is a light to the community and supports missionaries that help to reach the lost for Christ. Be a good member and pay your dues. If you are not a member of a local church then you can pay your tithes anywhere that you wish- but preferably where you get your spiritual nourishment. I suppose that some folks could call it the paying of dues to the church, but some want the Bible to give it more credibility so they call it the paying of tithes. So, what is the priority in giving? It is simple. Give to God first.

    So, what is the principle of giving?
    We recognize His ownership of us by giving Him back a proper share of the money or the property that He permits us to acquire. Love the Lord first and enjoy His blessings, and once you are blessed, then you can show your gratitude to the Lord in an act of worship by sharing your money (or other commodities) with Him. We should actually share our 3 t's with Him. What are the 3 t's? Time, talent, and treasure. God should receive all 3 from each of us.

    The Widow's Mite (penny):
    God always deals with the intentions of the human heart- the attitude of the heart. He knows if your motive for giving is right or not. If you are giving money to stay out of hell, it simply is not going to work. You cannot manipulate God with money. Keep your motive for giving pure. And He keeps track of how much you give to reward you. Here is a true story from God's word:

    "Jesus went over to the collection box in the Temple and sat and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two pennies. He called His disciples to Him and said:
    "I assure you, this poor widow has given more than all the others have given. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has"
    (Mark 12:41-44). NLT

    Your giving proves your love for Christ. You do not give to get. But what happens if you do give to get? One time my wife and I decided "to give our way out of a financial trial." The spiritual principle is to give to God and He will bless you back with abundance. So, we gave and nothing happened- at least, right away. It was not until a year or so later that God gave that money back to us. When you are in a trial, it is the exception to the rule rather than the rule, and our motive was not right- one should not give in order to get. So, the point of logic here is that God will give it back to you but you may not know when you will get it. God is faithful but He may make you wait. God will never be a debtor to any person- He will always pay it back. A friend of mine told me one time: "God always shovels back with a bigger shovel than the one we use."

    "If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving- large or small- it will be used to measure what is given back to you"
    (Luke 6:38). NLT

    Sometimes a desperate pastor or evangelist may pressure you into giving. Is that wrong? It depends on how he or she does it. It is ok to present a need or pressing obligation. But, if they handle the word of God dishonestly then it is wrong. They cross the line when they make any bible application into an interpretation. In such instances they may twist the truth and make the bible say what it does not mean. That is nothing more than manipulation.

    God does not need your money. God wants you, not your money- you are far more valuable to Him than your money. He wants your love and obedience, not your money. If you are a true Christian, God is not going to send you to hell for not paying your tithes. Your salvation is not based on works but on faith. In other words, if you or I could buy our way into Heaven then getting to Heaven would be by our own works, rather than by the sacrifice of Christ. Sometimes you may not be able to give. In those situations, God understands.

    I encourage you to be faithful and pay your tithes and give offerings to God. Too many ministers and their families are hurting financially because too many church members are not paying their tithes.

    My grandfather, Reverend Jesse James Rice, was a Missionary Baptist preacher in DeWitt County, Texas, during the Great Depression time of the 1930's. He was an itinerant preacher which meant that he would travel to one church on one Sunday and then to another church the next Sunday because these churches were small and could not afford a full time minister. He drove an old Model T ford car and was a full time carpenter. I believe he had about 6 churches that were under his care. Many of the parishoners were poor farmers who had little or no money but they still wanted to pay their tithes to God. So they would bring to church what they had. Some would bring loaves of home made bread and jars of canned fruit and jelly, and some would bring live chickens, and some would bring eggs, etc. My grandfather had a wife and 12 kids to feed. He was always glad to receive those gifts because it meant that his kids would not have to go to bed hungry that night.

    One time there was an American missionary to Korea during the Korean War. There were streams of Korean refugees heading south to escape the ravages of war. Many of these folks were Christians and had stopped at this church in this one town to worship God. God spoke to the missionary and told him to take up an offering from these refugees. The missionary protested, stating to God the fact that many of these folks only had the possessions they carried on their backs. God reminded him that the blessing was on the giver and that He desired to bless each of these folks. The offering was taken and the folks gave generously from what little they had. Then they left the church and continued on their way. God did bless each of them- and the offering they gave went to help others who had absolutely nothing. This offering was true worship given to God, with pure motive, with true love to Him.

    But Satan always wants to counterfeit the truth and pervert righteousness. Lets face it- religion is big business. Sometimes a religious leader may need extra money so he or she may manipulate their audience. They have probably been taught that the money is out there- they just have to figure out some way of getting it out of them. In their efforts, they may commit dishonesty in properly handling God's word. A religious hoax can sometimes succeed in this way. Let us look at a few of these hoaxes:
    1) One can manipulate God by giving him money.
    2) One can buy God's favor, His blessing, or His healing by giving Him money.
    3) One can buy their way into Heaven.
    4) One can get out of purgatory through the selling of indulgences.
    5) And there are many more.

    These phoney kinds of activities tend to distract a true Christian and make him or her lose sight of the real truth behind true giving. It muddies up the spiritual water so to speak.

    Some Christian cults teach their members that they must pay their tithes based upon the Levitical law of God. If they do not pay, they will be damned by God and rejected by the folks in that group. These kinds of actions are dishonest. For one thing, they are not properly interpreting the Word of God, and secondly, they are manipulating their members with fear and peer pressure.

    Some religious leaders in our churches may use sensationalism to help sell their books or movies. They will write on some relevant topic of the time and then spiritualize it with their own interpretation of scripture. Some really seem to be sincere in what they believe and teach. They may deceive themselves into believing that they are helping others but the true motive of their heart is to make money. One time a religious leader came to the church I was attending. He was selling his book on the end of the world coming in 1988. I thought he was a manipulator but a member of that church, who owned a Christian radio station, believed him. This member went out and sold his radio station to a secular group and the light of that Christian radio station went out for good. And, of course, the end of the world did not happen in 1988 but damage was done to the Kingdom of God because of this manipulator's greed.

    "Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled by others and became slaves to many wicked desires and evil pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy. We hated others, and they hated us. But then God our Savior showed us His kindness and love. He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out His Spirit upon us because of what Jesus Christ our Savior did. He declared us not guilty because of His great kindness. And now we know that we will inherit eternal life. These things I have told you are all true. I want you to insist on them so that everyone who trusts in God will be careful to do good deeds all the time. These things are good and beneficial for everyone"
    (Titus 3:3-8).

  • Money Index web page

    "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field, says the Lord of Armies"
    (Malachi 3:11).

    The word devourer in Hebrew is the word akal signifying to eat. However, the word may also include the concepts "to burn up" or "consume."

    God is telling these agriculturally related folks that He will rebuke the worms, the caterpillars, the weevils, the locusts, etc. from destroying their crops if they are obedient to Him. He also promised these blessings to them in the days of Moses
    (Deuteronomy chapter 28). I believe this same principle holds true today when you and I are obedient to Him because God does not change: "He is the same yesterday, today, and forever"
    (Hebrews 13:8).

    I believe this is a double reference verse to include satan and his imps (demons). Why? Because Job lost sheep and shepherds due to fire from satan. They were "burned up."
    (Job 1:16). And the rest of Job's belongings were devoured or "consumed" due to the ravages of the devil. So, what is the application of this principle here? God will rebuke satan and his imps from devouring you and I, our family members, and our possessions, if you and I are obedient to Him and put Him first in our lives.

  • The authority of the believer in order to rebuke Satan and his imps

    Malachi 3:13-16 describes a condition of apostasy and hypocrisy. Most of the folks in Israel in that day were indifferent and skeptical. God was not in their thoughts and they were bored at the thought of serving Him.

    The Godly remnant-
    But God does not glory in quantity but in quality. The godly are always outnumbered by the ungodly. We see Him from time to time in the scriptures dealing with a Godly remnant of folks who love and serve Him for Who He is. For example, one time the prophet, Elijah, was asked by God:

    "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
    "He replied again: I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with You, torn down Your altars, and killed every one of Your prophets. I alone am left, and now they are trying to kill me, too."
    "Yet I have seven thousand others in Israel who have never bowed to Baal or kissed him"
    (1 Kings 19:13-14 & 18).

    God writes down the names and deeds (in a "book of remembrance") of the faithful remnant to be rewarded at a later time
    (Psalm 56:8; Daniel 7:10).

    "They shall be Mine, says the Lord of Armies, on the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him. Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him"
    (Malachi 3:17-18).

    God loves the folks of His Godly remnant- they are special to Him and make up the jewels in His crown, so to speak
    (Exodus 19:5; Psalm 115:15).

    If you and I love the Lord, then you and I are special to God also. We will inherit Heaven and eternal life.

    Taking A Look At Chapter Four

    "For behold, The Day is coming..."
    (Malachi 4:1).

    What day is the Lord referring to? It is "The Day" or "The Day of the Lord." Four times Malachi refers to the Day of the Lord:
    (Malachi 1:11;  3:1-6,  3:16-18;  4:1-6).

    The Day of the Lord is usually seen as a time of judgment from God
    (Hebrews 12:26-29; Revelation 6:17).

    "But for you who fear My name, the Brilliance of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. On the day when I act, you will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet, says the Lord Almighty..."
    (Malachi 4:2-3).

    This verse refers to Christ in His 2nd advent. It includes the Millennial Reign of Christ when He rules the earth from Jerusalem. He will rule in love with power. The word "sun" used in some English translations (Shemesh in Hebrew) can mean brilliant or brilliance. It is possible that this word is in reference to God's shekinah glory in connection with the Tabernacle in the wilderness.
    (Exodus 40:34). One nugget of truth is that Christ's presence is the shekinah glory. Is that idea seen anywhere else in scripture? Yes.

    "The sun will no more be your light by day; nor the brightness of the moon give light to you; but the Lord will be to you for everlasting light, and your God your glory"
    (Isaiah 60:19).

    "The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light"
    (Revelation 21:23).

    Malachi announces that the Messiah (Jesus Christ) will help them win over their enemies when His wrath is poured out upon the earth
    (Psalm 58:10-11).

    "Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments"
    (Malachi 4:4).

    Malachi inspires his people. How? He calls them back to the word of God: "remember the law of Moses." The law of God is a standard of God's holiness. Any good revival today will require the evangelist to compare the sins of the people with the holiness of God. If the people respond in repentance then the revival will have been a success.

    Conclusion and A Recapping of Events

    God had to take drastic measures to bring the folks of Israel back to Him. God had always loved the folks of Israel but time and again, throughout their history, they had spurned His love. Was it really that hard to please God? What did God want from them? He simply wanted their love and obedience. And what does He want from you and I today? The same thing. Is that too much to ask?

    Here are some of the sins of Israel at that time:
    1) They neglected the house of God (sin of omission).
    2) They insulted God by bringing Him contemptable sacrifices.
    3) They had robbed God by not paying their tithes.
    4) They were selfish.
    5) They were covetous.
    There was cold, dead, legalism in their services to God. There was little love.

    "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful Day of the Lord...."
    (Malachi 4:6).

    This scripture is repeated in the New Testament:
    "And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord"
    (Luke 1:16-17).

    "And He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers..."
    (Malachi 4:6).

    Why did not the folks of Israel change their own hearts? Why does God have to do all of the work? The folks of Israel did not feel loved by God or feel special. We do not walk by feelings but by faith.

    The people did not seem to care about God or His word. There was a lot of indifference in regards to spiritual matters. They did not want to change themselves- they wanted God to do it for them
    (Malachi 3:13-14). How many times have you or I wanted God to do something for us- something that you or I could do ourselves? There is a spiritual rule here: God will not do something for you that you can do for yourself.

    So, what was the cure for the folks of Israel?

    In the end, love will win out in the form of a Father's love. Malachi encourages them by assuring them of God's wonderful love. Love is the key. Ritualism, formalism, and legalism will not soften one's hard heart towards God.

    The folks of Israel had to work towards these goals:
    1) They had to repent and confess their sins.
    2) They had to forgive themselves and accept God's forgiveness.
    3) They had to learn to accept God's love and blessings.
    4) They had to work on building healthy relationships with one another.
    5) They had to work on their relationship with God.
       a. They had to get into God's word, respect God, love Him, and obey Him.
       b. They had to start giving Him good sacrifices.
       c. They had to start paying their tithes.

    Can you and I do any less?

    So, how did this situation turn out? The priests and the people turned back to God in repentance, loved Him, and began to worship Him with honorable sacrifices. This took time.

    And when they did this, God restored to them:
    1) Their uprightness of character before God.
    2) Their usefulness in God's service.
    3) Their proper knowledge and authority of God.

    About 400 years in time would elapse between the Old and New Testaments. This is called the intertestamental period of time.

    Malachi on tithing

    Celebrate Christ's Resurrection

    37. Haggai Commentary

    Bible Commentary Index

    Click here to go to the master index page

    The Christian Counter
    As of January 9, 2012