God's people were unfaithful, turning to counterfeit gods, themselves, any anything but God, so God sent them into an exile. The exile, just as it was for the people in the book of Exodus, was a time to wander in the wilderness and contemplate the who God is and who they are. But when the people of Israel returned from their 'time out' in Babylon, they still harbored attitudes toward God that were sickly, dying, and were grossly under reaching the beauty God intended for them.
God's people grow careless in their attitude toward God. If the starting place is a bad attitude, things are only going to get worse.
The book of Malachi contains a series of six disputations outlining God's truth followed by man's rebuttal. These are six questions they asks that expose the condition of their sinful hearts. And within these six discussions, more questions and statements prove man is far from God.
We will find that apart from Jesus changing the heart of man, this will remain true of humanity. It was true then, and it's true now.
I hope that opening Malachi this Sunday will serve to expose our true nature. We drift away from our relationship with Jesus if we harbor an apathetic attitude toward our relationship with Jesus. But in his wonderful love, Jesus comes after us, drawing us back.
Malachi 3:7 records God's call to his people. It reads, "Return to me, and I will return to you says the Lord of Hosts." But if nothing else, the six disputations demonstrate the reality of humanity returning to God apart from God's intervention. Therefore, the people should have celebrated the words of Malachi 3:1: "Behold, I send my messenger, and will he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of Hosts." This is good news for them and it's good news for us.
The people were charged to look for this messenger. The messenger was coming to prepare the way for who? Look at what it says. The messenger is preparing the way for "me." God himself was coming because it is God alone who can change a wicked person's heart. And with a changed heart, we can indeed return to the Lord!
Spoiler alert: John the Baptist was that messenger, and he pointed his finger right at Jesus and proclaimed, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). God came, and his name is Jesus.
I hope you will read the four chapters of Malachi and join us on Sunday as we discuss the wonder and revelation of the minor prophet. We gather at 11 for corporate worship. See you there.
For the Kingdom!
Pastor Bryan Catherman
P.S> Here's an introduction to the book in video form.