It’s disheartening to hear and read the indignant remarks of Christians regarding our perception of sin and the lawlessness that pervades the world today. On social media, we shake our heads at and share our disgust for the sinful lifestyles and wickedness of others. We implore God to hasten and deal with corrupt government and rebellious citizens, and punish radical terrorists who are spreading evil and persecuting God’s people. We question why God would allow bad things to happen to good people, and why he won’t come now and do something about all of this injustice. But God’s Word says that no one is righteous, not even one (Rom. 3:9-11; Ecc. 7:20).
- If God were to come and deliver his judgment today, which sins and injustices would he find you guilty of?
READ THE WORD: MALACHI 2:17-3:5 (ESV)
17 You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”
3:1 “Behold, I send my messenger, and 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. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.
5 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.
- According to Malachi, how had Israel wearied God (vs. 2:17)? What were they accusing God of?
- What point did God make by the questions asked in Malachi 3:2? Why do you think he is delaying his judgment?
- Much like how God used Malachi, the Lord used John the Baptist in the New Testament to prepare people for the coming of Christ (vs. 1). What are some of the offenses that the Lord will judge/purify his people from (vs. 5)?
- What will be the purpose of this refining or sanctification process (vss. 3-4)?
- Reread the last sentence of verse 3:2. If soap cleanses and fire purifies, in what ways do you need God to perform these actions in your life?
RESPOND TO GOD
Malachi rebuked Israel for presuming that God was deliberately awarding the bad behavior of others, when they were just as guilty of immorality. Even today, we cry out to God about how unfair it is that the evil and wicked prosper, forgetting that we are sinners saved and sanctified by God’s grace through faith in Jesus. We are Christians who cheat, lie, ignore injustices, oppress those we feel are inferior to and less powerful than us, and disobey God. If it weren’t for God’s long-suffering nature and the redemption of Jesus, all of us would be immediately consumed by his fiery judgment.
- Ask God to forgive your sinful heart and self-righteousness. Thank him for sacrificing Jesus and for patiently delaying justice so that all might repent.
- Trust that Jesus is coming again soon to right every wrong, and to present those who trust in him as purified and perfected before a holy God.