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Sabbath School Lessons on Major Lessons From Minor Prophets
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 13: Lest We Forget (Malachi) *
Introduction: As we close our series of lessons on the "Minor
Prophets" of the Old Testament, we study Malachi. Malachi sounds a
familiar tone among the minor prophets: pay attention to your
relationship with God. Perhaps because of the wonderful message that
we should look at God as our father, some treat God as they do their
earthly father - with disrespect and indifference. Let's jump into
our study of Malachi and find what God has to say about that!
- Excellence in Worship
- Read Malachi 1:1-2. What do the people think about God's
love toward them? (They doubt it.)
- Read Malachi 1:2-5. How does God explain His love to His
people? (People who God does not love are having a
- Is this how you would go about proving your love?
Your child says, "You don't love me," and you
respond, "Look what happens to those I don't like."
Does God's response make any sense? (It is always
dangerous for a small human mind to try to explain
the infinite mind of God, but the topic that follows
is disobedience. A reminder of God's judgment side is
a good way to introduce the topic of disobedience.)
- Read Malachi 1:6. Why is God due our respect and honor?
(This is a horrible understatement about why we should
respect and honor our Creator and Savior, but on a very
basic level God says that if you show respect to humans in
positions of authority, why am I not due respect?)
- Read Malachi 1:7-11. How is God being disrespected? (In
the animal offerings brought to Him in the temple. The
animals are defective.)
- Read Malachi 1:12-14. In numerous places (e.g., Exodus
12:5)in the Old Testament God instructs the people that
animals offered as a sacrifice in the temple must be
"without defect." What is the reason for that? (It
foreshadowed Jesus, God incarnate, the sinless One, giving
up His life so that we would not have to die for our
- The people of Malachi's time say this is a "burden."
What kind of an attitude do these people show? (An
attitude of unbelief, ingratitude and selfishness.)
- Look again at Malachi 1:14. What would motivate this
kind of conduct? (Selfishness. You want to look good
to others (the vow), but you don't want to pay the
- This is all about the temple service which is completely
irrelevant to us today, right?
- What if you agree (vow) to be the Sabbath School
teacher and then you only give a few minutes to
prepare to teach because you decide to spend your
time on other things?
- What if you agree (vow) to preach, so people will see
you up front, but then you prepare at the last
minute, or fail to practice, because you want to
spend time on your own needs?
- What if you stand before the church to play some role
in the service, and you do a lousy (or average) job
because you have not spent adequate time preparing?
- What does it mean today to bring an offering before
the Lord that is "without defect?" (It means that we
must make excellence our goal.)
- Read Malachi 2:1-3. Is there a penalty for being satisfied
with something less than excellence? (This helps us
understand why God starts out this message with an unusual
way to describe His love.)
- Should we say, "Well, if God is going to be like
that, I just won't volunteer to help!" (If you are
not going to make excellence your goal, if you are
willing to bring a defective offering to worship,
then, yes, you should quit. The goal, however, is
not to quit, but to repent and pursue excellence.)
- Excellence in Family
- Read Malachi 2:13. If you cry out to God with tears and
wailing, does that mean you are sincere?
- Read Malachi 2:14. What does it mean that God is a witness
between you and your wife? (God is testifying that you
have violated His law and made Him unhappy because of the
way you have treated your spouse.)
- Read Malachi 2:15. We see that thousands of years ago men
were doing what they do today: leaving the wife of their
youth for a younger woman. What attitude will help men
resist this temptation?(God says that He made us "one" in
flesh and spirit. You and your spouse are a "team." I
understand the "spirit" statement because the wife of my
youth knows what I'm thinking!)
- How can a person "guard yourself in your spirit?"
(Ask the Holy Spirit to help you have a pure mind.)
- Why is "one" a continuing goal? (God is "seeking
- Explain that? (Divorce harms children.)
- What causes a man to leave the wife of his
youth? (Selfishness. He prefers himself to his
wife and his children. He is willing to harm
those closest to him to advance his own
- If you are a young woman considering running
off with an older married man, what should you
consider? (That the person you are running off
with will always put himself first.)
- Read Malachi 2:16 and Ezekiel 16:8. How is divorcing your
wife like covering yourself with violence? (The Biblical
picture of marriage is like a man covering his wife with a
garment. He protects her. When, instead, he divorces her
and leaves her to fend for herself, it does violence to
- Review Malachi 2:15-16. Notice that God twice says, "Guard
yourself in your spirit." Why?
- Read Deuteronomy 24:1 and Matthew 19:3-9. How can the
Bible have such radically different rules? (I see God's
grace in this. We are all terribly selfish and sinful. God
sometimes bends His rules, even though He hates to do it.)
- Read Malachi 2:17. Some Christians claim that those who do
evil are good, while others beg for justice to fall on the
wicked. We just read that God tolerates some things that
He hates. How do we draw the correct line in our
statements? (In both cases humans are asserting that God
should do something: tolerate evil or punish the evil. God
wants us to let Him decide. He doesn't need our
encouragement one way or the other.)
- The God of Action
- Read Malachi 3:1-5. Chapter two ended with people
asserting that God should do something. Will He? (Yes, God
is coming. Jesus is coming to His temple. We can have
confidence that God will do what is right. He will execute
- Read Malachi 3:6-8. How are humans robbing God?
- Read Malachi 3:9-12. We noted earlier that animal
sacrifices no longer exist - Jesus, the Lamb of God,
became the sacrifice for our sins. Is tithing another
directive that has been overtaken by time and
circumstance? (Notice that this is a theme of the entire
book. God's people are not taking seriously their
responsibilities to Him. They give Him defective
sacrifices, they fail to pay their tithe. The specifics
may have changed for us today, but the concern is the
same. Do we strive for excellence in worship? Are we
generous towards God? (Ten percent does not seem
particularly generous!) We need to consider our attitude.)
- What is at stake here? (Look at what God promises!
If we take His interests seriously, then He will
bless us. We will live in a delightful land.)
- Is there a reason to deny the literal application of
this promise? If we are generous toward God, will He
be generous to us?
- Read Malachi 3:13-18. How does this answer the prior
question? (To deny that God will bless His faithful people
is to say "harsh things against" God!)
- Why does verse 18 say, "and you will again see the
distinction?" (Blessings may not always be immediate
and obvious. But, they are sure.)
- Read Malachi 4:1-3. Compare the fate of those who care
about God and those who do not?
- Read Malachi 4:4-5. How certain can we be of this promise?
(Read Luke 1:13-17. John the Baptist came! Jesus came!
And, so did the Romans in 70 A.D. and destroyed the temple
- Friend, if you are not pursuing excellence in advancing
the Kingdom of God, why not resolve to do that right now?
Why not take God seriously and give Him your best? Why not
open your door to blessings?
- Next week we begin a new series of studies on Revival and
* Copr. 2013, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.