The Israelites had returned to their homes following their years in captivity and exile to find a country in ruins. They were filled with despair and felt that they had little reason to change. They looked around and wondered why they should bother to live holy lives. People who did not follow God commandments, the Babylonians, were living lavish lives. The wicked seem to prosper better than the godly. As a result, the Israelites chose to break their laws and traditions, especially in issues of divorce, marriage, and in the manner the priests conducted sacrifices. Malachi, a name meaning Messenger, announces a message of hope and a warning of judgment.
Key Verses: (NIV)
1: “Look! I’m sending my messenger on ahead to clear the way for me.” – This verse refers to John the Baptist as the one who laid the groundwork for Jesus’ arrival.
1b: “Suddenly, out of the blue, the Leader you’ve been looking for will enter His Temple – yes, the Messenger of the Covenant, the one you've been waiting for.” – This second messenger is the Messiah.
2: “But who will be able to stand up to that coming? Who can survive His appearance?” – Malachi points an accusing finger at the Israelites and their choice to live lives unsuitable for God’s glory.
3: “He'll take his place as a refiner of silver, as a cleanser of dirty clothes. He'll scrub the Levite priests clean, refine them like gold and silver, until they're fit for GOD, fit to present offerings of righteousness.” – The Messenger of the Covenant will do the purifying. He will clean the priests so that they are worthy to be before God.
4: “Then, and only then, will Judah and Jerusalem be fit and pleasing to GOD, as they used to be in the years long ago.” – As in the process of purifying silver and gold, there is only one way to eliminate the impurities of our lives so that we can be made holy.
Points to Contemplate:
Do bad people seem to get all the glory?
Do you sometimes wonder why you should bother living a holy life? Does it seem that those who cheat and connive are always getting the upper-hand? That living a life focused on God doesn’t seem to pay off? Do you suffer through financial hardships? Have you experienced more than your fair share of heartache, pain, and suffering? Is there anything wrong in focusing on your own needs – maybe taking a few shortcuts? Shouldn’t you be able to bring yourself a little joy, a little happiness, even if it means sinning and turning away from living a Ten-Commandment-type of lifestyle?
Can you change society? Are you frustrated by the events of our world and wonder if anything can be done? Do you look at the evening news and wonder where we are headed? Do you shake your head and give up in frustration? Does Malachi’s message of hope provide you with any assurance? Can you see that “fixing” society, just like correcting our own sinful tendencies, is a job that only God can achieve? If you accept the role of Christ as Purifier and that the slag and impurities in our life can only be removed by His love, does it provide you with a greater sense of joy? In this season of Advent, can you celebrate that the Messenger of the Covenant has arrived and His righteousness will prevail?
Are you being purified by the fires of God’s love? Is this process of purification easy? Have you wondered why God would take such drastic action, sending His Son as a sacrifice for your sins? Do you consider His pain as you struggle with your sins and imperfections? Does the power of forgiveness through repentance inspire you to live a more holy life? Are you willing to give your life over to the fires of the Refiner in order that He can make you “fit and pleasing to GOD?” Promises of the Gospel:
The prophets following the Exile were focused on changing a society that had deteriorated and succumbed to the evils of the world. In Malachi, a message is provided that not only gives us hope but should be a source of joy. We are not responsible for our own purification. The sins and shortcomings we struggle with are beyond our control. Only when we turn and allow the purifying love of Jesus Christ into our hearts will our struggle become manageable. He will purify us. He will make us holy. He is the pathway to righteousness. He is our hope. Through this awareness and as a result that the Messenger has arrived, we can count it all joy.
For this second week in Advent, we light the Candle of Purification.