Ministry of Love

The intention of this blog is to share Biblical messages at least on a weekly basis. Any response is appreciated. I do not expect everyone to agree with my interpretation of Biblical passages. I will try to respond with love and thoughtfulness.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Malachi, "My Messenger by John

"MY MESSENGER"
Malachi 1:ff

1. The title of this message is actually the name of this Book of Prophecy.
(1) Malachi is a Hebrew word brought over into English.
(2) The root meaning of Malak is, "Messenger."
(3) The ending can mean "My" or "of the Lord." Either way it means "The Lord's messenger."
2. Let's dive right into the authorship of the Book.

I. WE KNOW SEVERAL POSSIBILITIES ABOUT THE AUTHOR.

1. Scholars have known the meaning of the name "Malachi" for many years, but it occurs nowhere else in the O.T. In fact, the name is not used anywhere in the N.T. although the Book is quoted!
(1) The Targum of Johnathan records the author as being Ezra.
(2) Jerome, who translated the Scriptures into Latin, was aware of the meaning and suggested the prophet was actually Ezra, and that Malachi was just a name descriptive of his position.
(3) John Calvin supported this point of view at a much later date.
(4) The Jewish Talmud had a different idea. They said the men of the synagogue composed the Book.
a. I don't think their view has much validity.
b. It seems unlikely those men would have preached against themselves!
c. And much of the Book prophesies against the sins of the priests. I don't think the men of the synagogue had that much courage.
2. It has also been suggested that Malachi was originally the third section of Zechariah, and separated from it to make the minor prophets number 12.
3. The ancient source, the Targum of Jonathan, adds a note by the title that says, "who is called Ezra the Scribe."
4. The Greek translation of the O.T., the Septuagint, translates the opening words, "The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel by the hand of his angel."
5. We don't really know who the author was.
(1) It could have been Ezra, or a man named Malachi. Either is possible.
(2) Unless this was originally a section of Zechariah, it seems unlikely "Malachi" is the name of the author. Every other Minor Prophet is named in the opening words of his prophecy.
6. It both thrills and amazes me that God would leave us so many mysteries about His Word to keep our minds active and our spirits searching for His Truth!

II. NOW LET'S THINK ABOUT THE TIME IT WAS WRITTEN.

1. We do know the author lived in Jerusalem and probably did most of his preaching in Jerusalem.
2. We also know many Jews returned to Jerusalem about 538 BC and more about 498.
3. The exact time of writing loses its importance in light of the eternal truths it expresses.
4. We can be sure the people at the time of writing were in critical circumstances.
(1) Remember, the Children of Israel were in Egypt almost 400 years before God spoke to them!
(2) The handwriting on the wall appeared before King Darius II in Daniel when he lost all compassion for God's people!
(3) God speaks to us when we really want to hear Him! And we want to hear Him when we are in trouble!
5. In troubled times, we need a Malachi! (1) When people are affluent and things are going well, we don't seem to feel any need for God!
(2) On the other side of life's coin, there are so many people who are deliberately leading their neighbors into destruction through drugs, sex, and even religion!
6. We need people who will speak out fearlessly the Word God has given them for this day and age! We need a Malachi right now!
(1) Some years ago on the program West 57th Street, they interviewed two "ministers."
(2) Both have made fortunes by bilking elderly people out of their savings!
(3) I can imagine what Malachi would have said to them!
7. I don't believe any period of history shows much more degradation in the ministry than this one!

III. NOW LET'S CONSIDER THE REASON IT WAS WRITTEN.

1. Of course, we've already landed on one reason. Who can believe God wants His people to suffer because of a corrupt priesthood?
2. God wanted these Hebrews who returned to Jerusalem to become aware of the sins they were committing and of His position in their lives.
3. We already know the Hebrews liked the numbers 7 and 12. God used 7 questions and answers to make indelibly clear where they were going wrong.
4. Malachi's first question in years past always threw me.
(1) I couldn't believe God could be so harsh just because the sacrifices were not made according to His directions.
(2) Without considering just how important these sacrifices were, look at what they were doing!
a. They offered lame animals as sacrifices. b. They offered sick animals as sacrifices. c. The offal from sacrificial animals was supposed to be carried outside the camp, but they offered their sacrifices with the offal.
5. The original intent of these sacrifices was to be a sweet-smelling savor to God (and His people)!
(1) Cooking meat smells good, right?
(2) But what about cooking barnyard fertilizer?
6. These sacrifices represented the atonement of Jesus on the cross! And they were messing up the picture.

IV. WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS BOOK TO US?

1. It tells us God has a standard for us which we have not reached in our living.
2. It rebukes a priesthood which treats the worship of God carelessly.
3. It gives us God's view of divorce almost 500 years before Jesus told us practically the same thing.
4. It indicates the home is intended to be a place where husband and wife find good companionship, and children can be born and raised in a godly atmosphere.
5. It also gives us the concept that God is the God of the Gentiles as well as God of the Jews.
6. Other values will come out as we study the Book.

Conclusion:

1. Let's wrap this up for now.
2. We don't know who the author was if it wasn't a man named Malachi, but we know it was traditional for the man's name to be included in the opening passage.
3. He decries an ungodly priesthood.
4. Malachi strongly supports the institutions of marriage and home.
5. He also supports the ten commandments pointing out the spiritual principles behind them.
6. This is a good time to begin examining our lives to discover how well we are living with the Lord, and where we can improve our lives.

Ecc 4/30/2006

1 Comments:

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