malachi

2 Chronicles 33, Malachi 1

Today, read 2 Chronicles 33 and Malachi 1.

This devotional is about Malachi 1.

The final book of the Old Testament has a pattern of writing that is distinct from any other book in the Bible. Malachi’s pattern of prophecy is: • God makes a statement (v. 2a, 6a-d) • God’s people question the statement (v. 2b, 6e) • God gives more explanation or support for the statement (vv. 3-5, 7-14).

Two topics are addressed here in Malachi 1 using that pattern. They are; • God’s love for Israel (vv. 2-5). • Israel’s dishonoring of God through blemished sacrifices (vv. 6-14).

The first topic, God’s love for Israel, is one that Israel may have questioned throughout the Old Testament era. God’s people experienced many setbacks and even captivity, so they may have questioned God’s love literally, not just through the literary conventions of verse 2b. How could God love a nation that faced so much military defeat for so long?

God’s answer is not to point many specific instances of his love but to contrast the outcome of Esau’s descendants , the Edomites, with the Israelites (vv. 3-5). Israel suffered defeats; no doubt about it. But Edom was about to be destroyed completely in God’s wrath while Israel had returned to their land after the exile. God’s love, then, was demonstrated by being faithful to his covenant with Israel even when they were faithless at hime).

LIfe’s problems and negative circumstances can make us struggle to believe that God loves us. Malachi’s answer to that struggle is not to minimize the problems Israel had but to point them back to their own existence. God saved them and preserved them in ways he has not done for any other nation. This is the most powerful proof of God’s love that could exist.

When you and I wonder if God loves us, we need to take our eyes off our circumstances and remember how Christ saved us from our sins. He not only died for our sins but, before that, he chose you to receive that forgiveness through election. Then, on the day of his choosing, you heard the gospel message and the light of spiritual life turned on in your heart. It caused you to turn to Christ and gratefully receive salvation. All of this happened because God loves you.

In this life you will have problems, setbacks, struggles, and heartaches. God’s love does not spare us from these things. God’s love saves us from eternal destruction which is much more loving than making sure your car always starts or that you always have more money in your bank account than you will ever need.

So, when you question God’s love for you, return again to the doctrines of salvation. Your salvation is the greatest evidence you’ll ever get of God’s love for you. Don’t forget it; remember it and thank God for it.

2 Chronicles 36, Revelation 22, Malachi 4, John 21

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 36, Revelation 22, Malachi 4, John 21. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Malachi 4.

Our final Old Testament reading for 2016 sums up the entire message of the Bible pretty well in 6 short verses. First, God promised his day of judgment would come and destroy everyone who does evil (v. 1). But, in verse 2, he promised those who worship him (aka, “those who revere my name”) would not only escape God’s wrath, but they would also experience God’s presence dawning in their lives like the sun rising on a clear morning. His righteousness would bring healing, not destruction, for those who worship him and they would prosper (v. 2c) and participate in God’s defeat of his enemies (v. 3).

Until that happens, however, those who revere God’s name were to remember his word in obedience (v. 4). Finally, God would work to save many who are evil doers by sending his servant Elijah to turn hearts toward him and toward one another in reconciliation (vv. 5-6). This is a great passage on which to end 2016. Jesus is coming to fulfill these words; until he does, let’s hope in his promise, worship our Father, and live in obedience to his word.

My devotionals for 2017 start tomorrow but you have to subscribe to them. You will not automatically receive them if you’re subscribed to the 66in16 mailing list but, instead, you have to re-subscribe to the new list which you can find here.

If this is the end of the line for you, thank you for reading the Bible with me this year and for subscribing to and reading my devotionals. I hope they’ve been helpful to your spiritual life. If you choose not to re-subscribe to NT17, please keep the Bible reading habit going! Find or develop some kind of devotional reading plan for yourself. BibleGateway, the site that supplied the NIV text for us to read together this year, has a huge list of devotionals you can see here that you can subscribe to and read each day.

Or, if you want to do the same reading plan we did this year, Dr. D.A. Carson has a devotional blog that does what I did with 66in16--post the reading each day and include a daily devotional from one of the readings. You can see it here and subscribe to it here.

Happy new year and thanks again for reading with me this year!

2 Chronicles 35, Revelation 21, Malachi 3, John 20

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 35, Revelation 21, Malachi 3, John 20. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Malachi 3.

Malachi 3 began with the promise of the coming of Messiah (v. 1), then described the day of his coming in terms of cleansing (vv. 2-4) and judgment (v. 5). Many Old Testament prophecies predict in the same paragraph events that are fulfilled many years apart. Scholars compare this to looking at mountains through a telescope. From a distance, through a telescope, the mountain peaks appear to be very close together, but in reality there are miles between them. Here’s a YouTube video that explains it pretty well. So Malachi here in verse 1 predicted the coming of Messiah which was fulfilled in Jesus’ first coming, then in verses 2-5 he prophesied about what Messiah would do which will be fulfilled in Christ’s second coming.

Verse 6 reminded Israel of God’s covenant with her and that it remains valid because of God’s unchanging nature. Then, in verse 7, God called his people to repent and return to him in obedience. Specifically, he wanted them to return by tithing (v. 8). To paraphrase Jesus, “Your heart is where your money goes,” so by depriving the Lord’s work of the tithe, God’s people were showing their distance from him through financial disobedience. Verse 9 informed the people that the whole nation was under a curse for their refusal to tithe. Verse 10 commands them to bring “the whole tithe” to the temple so that his work would be provided for: “that there may be food in my house.” Then, amazingly, God commanded his people to test him (v. 10b), promising to bless them financially (v. 10c) and protect them financially, too, if they do what he has commanded.

New Testament believers question whether or not tithing is for today or whether it is part of the Old Testament civil & ceremonial law that was fulfilled in Christ. It is true that there are no New Testament commands to tithe. But the New Testament calls us to generous giving (2 Cor 9:6-15), promises eternal abundant rewards to those who give generously (Lu 6:38), and some degree of prosperity in this life so that we can continue to give (see 2 Cor 9:10-11). I believe that tithing is an excellent financial discipline for a Christian and I have seen God bless in my life and others who give generously to his work. So while there is no legalistic demand to tithe in the New Testament, the Christian who does not tithe should consider where his heart is (see Matt 6:19-21) and review the blessings God promises in the Old and New Testaments to those who worship him through financial support. It is truly a blessing to support God’s work financially. Don’t miss out on it!

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

2 Chronicles 34, Revelation 20, Malachi 2, John 19

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 34, Revelation 20, Malachi 2, John 19. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Malachi 2.

Malachi was the last prophet before the New Testament era whose prophecies were written down and included in the scriptures. This means, of course, that he lived and served the Lord after Israel and Judah had returned to the promised land after they were defeated and dislocated from the land by Assyria and Babylon. God’s people, who had struggled with idolatry all the way back to Moses, were finally cured of it after they returned to the land. Although they did not serve idols any more, they still struggled with genuine worship and service to God. Malachi wrote to God’s people to remind them of God’s love (1:1-5) and call them to genuine worship. He started with the priests who were offering damaged animals as sacrifices (1:6-14) and were not teaching the Law faithfully (2:1-9).

Starting in verse 10 Malachi broadened his audience from the priests to the Jewish people generally. He accuses them of breaking faith with God by marrying foreign women who did not worship the Lord (vv. 10-12). Although these Jewish men continued to worship the Lord (v. 13) their godless wives would eventually have turned their hearts back to idols; we’ve seen this numerous times in the Old Testament with Solomon being the highest profile example. So the Lord’s concern here was preserving the exclusive worship that the Assyrian and Babylonian defeats achieved.

The issue of foreign wives is deeper, however, than the idol worship of those foreign women. In order to marry these foreign wives, these Jewish men had divorced their Jewish wives (v. 14). Malachi reminded them that God was witness to the vows they made to their Jewish wives (v. 14) and that the spiritual problems they now faced were his judgment on their unfaithfulness (v. 13). Verse 15 reminded these Jewish men that they belonged to God who made them (v. 15a) and that what he wanted from them more than anything else was a family that worshipped him just as they did (v. 15b). Unfaithfulness and divorce destroyed God’s plan for godly families and it harmed women (v. 16) who would have to provide for themselves in a society where that was very difficult for a woman to do.

Times have changed. In the Bible only men had the legal authority to divorce; now husbands and wives both can terminate a marriage. Now, women can work to earn a living for themselves if they get divorced but in the Bible, men kept their ancestral property after a divorce so they could continue to earn a living. All a woman got when she was divorced was the bride-price her husband paid to her father when they were betrothed (engaged) and even that was sometimes spent. So a woman had only a few options when her husband divorced her--become a beggar, become a prostitute, or get remarried. Moses allowed for divorce so that women could remarry; it was designed to protect them from poverty or prostitution by forcing a man to clarify that he was completely releasing (repudiating, really) his wife. It gave her the ability to show another man that she was no longer legally bound to her first husband, so it was legally acceptable for the second man to marry her.

Although times have changed, God’s will regarding marriage has not. Those of us who worship God because of Christ made a covenant to our spouse before God. God is witness to that covenant and wants you to work together with your spouse to raise godly children. Unfaithfulness to your spouse puts God on his or her side against you (vv. 13-14) so it damages your spiritual life and jeopardizes God’s plan for your family. Divorce does the same thing which is why Jesus equated divorce with adultery and only allowed it if adultery had already occurred (Matt 5:32; 19:9).

So, protect your marriage! Guard it against outsiders who may be attracted to you and may seem attractive to you. Keep the covenant you made with your spouse and work with him or her as a team to raise a godly family and to have the loving relationship you both want from somebody.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.