Malachi 1:1-15 “The Weariness of Waiting”
As you know by now, this is the advent season. This is the time of year when we are reminded of two things, the expectation of Israel for the Messiah, and our expectation as Christians for the second coming of Christ.
Now, this year in advent, we are going to be looking at the last book of the Old Testament as a preparation for Christmas.
Malachi is the last book of the Bible. It is a book of prophecy, probably written about 450 BC.
It was written by the prophet Malachi, and it is addressed to the people of Israel.
Just a little over view of this book. This brief book of the old testament was written Around the time of Ezra and Nehemiah and parallels some of the themes of those two minor prophets.
It was written to the people of God and addresses not blatant idolatry, but a relative dead orthodoxy. It is speaking to people who were following God’s commandments of the law, but were half hearted in their approach. They were serving God, but had lost their zeal for God’s promise and had stopped looking to His promise. This Book, though written over two thousand years ago speaks very much to our day today. You see while were are living after the coming of Christ that this prophecy speaks of, we are also living in expectation of His promise to return, and just as the people of God in this time had grown weary in their waiting, we too can be tempted to grow complacent and half hearted in our worship as we await His second coming.
In this series, what I hope to do is to kindle the same type of expectation and worship that God was looking for in his people as he spoke through the prophet Malachi. So, just as a heads up, for the next three weeks what I hope to do is to cultivate an atmosphere of longing in our midst. Now the difficulty in that is to take some time and dwell on some of the bad news about our situation before we can begin looking to the hope that is coming in the promise of Christ’s return.
We will start with the good news though, but be forewarned, we may end with some bad news in order to create the sense of looking for the preferred future.
The first thing we need to see is that as God is preparing to chastise His children, he wants to make sure that we are keenly aware that His chastisement is coming from a place of Love.
1. God’s Chastisement of His people comes from a place of the deepest love.
So get this, God is about to call His people’s number on several things that they have been doing that have brought about His anger and rebuke. BUT the first thing he does in this prophecy is to establish that the foundation of His rebuke is the love of a father and not the hatred of an enemy. He says “I Have Loved You” its the first thing He wants to establish with HIs people. He wants His people to know that the hard words He is about to bring to them are coming from the loving hand of a father, and not from an angry place of vengeance.
Now, I have come to find that it is humans nature for us to interpret any rebuke or critique of our lives as a wholesale rejection of who we are. Many times people will hear a critique and think that someone is negating everything that they have ever done. Or they might think that that critique is an indictment against an entire ministry. I know I have been tempted to feel that way when hearing critique.
While, that may sometimes be true in human interactions, when it pertains to critique and criticism, it is never the case with the discipline of God. Hebrews assures us that God’s discipline if us is actually an assurance of His love for us, and His chastisement is a sign of our sonship. In fact, I believe that the temptation to believe that God’s rebuke is a sign of His displeasure with us is rooted in a misunderstanding of the grace of God. I believe that that impulse is rooted in a works based righteousness that says, if we are doing everything right, God will bless us, and if God is not blessing us, we are doing something wrong, and even worse, if God is blessing us, we must have everything right. The truth of the matter is that there are always more things we have wrong than right and that God chooses to use broken clay vessels to show that the all surpassing power for ministry comes from Him and not from us. Why else would Paul choose to boast in the things that make Him look weak? Therefore, God’s loving rebuke to His people is not about making useless people useful, it is about making His children more joyful. The thing about this prophesy that we need to understand, is that God is not after our usefulness, but our JOY!!! DO you hear me? God is not after your usefulness, but your JOY!! He will use you no matter what. He can use a donkey if He wants to, but your usefulness is not His primary concern, it is your Joy. Because God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him! The thing you need to know before you hear His rebuke is that no matter what, His affection for you is secure if you have trusted in Christ, and His rebuke of your heart is not about his ability to use you, or even making you more lovable, but your ability to find your joy in Him.
2. We are prone to weariness.
Weariness is evidenced in half hearted worship.
Notice here that God is not chastising His people for outright rebellion, but half hearted service.
People were bringing sacrifices that they wouldn’t give to their governors.
Weariness in waiting occurs when people believe the false narratives of the world and seek their joy in earthly places.
Matt Chandler says that in our day, people will tend to be discipled by the following 5 false narratives:
Consumerism: seeking your joy in the things you can buy.
Secularism: Seeking your joy in the material world because there is nothing else.
Nationalism: Seeking your joy in the good of the nation you live in.
Progressivism: Seeking your joy in the new and the next. As we progress, things will continue to improve and what is past is lesser than what is now
Cynicism: Seeking your joy in doubt. Finding pleasure in putting down others.
Now what we need to understand is that the longing we feel and the desire to fill that longing is good and right and God given. But there is only one place where that longing can be fulfilled, only one place where we will find true joy, and only one narrative that is the true narrative.
SO, here is my task for this Advent season, and I want to give you this assignment as well. investigate your longings, and see where you are trying to fulfill them. watch your behavior and see if you are seeking your joy in the one place it can be found, or have you grown weary in waiting and have begun to turn to other means of fulfillment?