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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!

  1. Excellence in Worship

    1. Read Malachi 1:1-2. What do the people think about God's love toward them? (They doubt it.)

    2. Read Malachi 1:2-5. How does God explain His love to His people? (People who God does not love are having a terrible time.)

      1. 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.)

    3. 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?)

    4. Read Malachi 1:7-11. How is God being disrespected? (In the animal offerings brought to Him in the temple. The animals are defective.)

    5. 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 sins.)

      1. 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.)

      2. 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 price.)

    6. This is all about the temple service which is completely irrelevant to us today, right?

      1. 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?

      2. 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?

      3. 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?

      4. 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.)

    7. 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.)

      1. 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.)

  2. Excellence in Family

    1. Read Malachi 2:13. If you cry out to God with tears and wailing, does that mean you are sincere?

    2. 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.)

    3. 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!)

      1. How can a person "guard yourself in your spirit?" (Ask the Holy Spirit to help you have a pure mind.)

      2. Why is "one" a continuing goal? (God is "seeking godly offspring.")

        1. Explain that? (Divorce harms children.)

        2. 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 pleasure.)

        3. 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.)

    4. 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 her.)

    5. Review Malachi 2:15-16. Notice that God twice says, "Guard yourself in your spirit." Why?

    6. 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.)

    7. 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.)

  3. The God of Action

    1. 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 judgment.)

    2. Read Malachi 3:6-8. How are humans robbing God?

    3. 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.)

      1. 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.)

      2. Is there a reason to deny the literal application of this promise? If we are generous toward God, will He be generous to us?

    4. 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!)

      1. Why does verse 18 say, "and you will again see the distinction?" (Blessings may not always be immediate and obvious. But, they are sure.)

    5. Read Malachi 4:1-3. Compare the fate of those who care about God and those who do not?

    6. 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 of God.)

    7. 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?

  4. Next week we begin a new series of studies on Revival and Reformation.
* 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.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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