This book takes place 100 years or more after the Jews had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon. Malachi is the last of the OT prophets. The enthusiasm that was started by Haggai and Zechariah was gone. The people were again cold and backslidden. Therefore, God raised up Malachi to be His messenger. Malachi's efforts were directed at the moral and religious decline of this period. He also foretold the coming of the Messiah in judgment and the dawning of the new age. At this time the priests did not value the privileges that God had given them. The priesthood was God's gracious gift through His covenant with Levi. Because of the ingratitude of the priests, God announced that they would be made contemptible in the eyes of the people (2:1-4,9). During Malachi's day the men were divorcing their Jewish wives and marrying idolatrous women. Also, the people were failing to do something that God had commanded them to do. They were not tithing. (3:8-10) Tithing is not making a bargain with God or paying Him off. It is an expression of love and good stewardship.
I. God's relationship with His people.
A. God is motivated by love. 1:2-5
1. God chose to love Jacob.
a. Jacob didn't deserve it.
b. None of us deserve the love of God.
c. God's love is expressed to us by His grace.
2. God chose to "hate" Esau. 1:3
a. Initially this sounds harsh to us.
b. But we must understand that this exaggerated Jewish language.
c. Drastic difference in relationships in view.
d. Esau first hated God before God rejected him.
1) Esau belittled his inheritance as of little worth.
2) The nation of Jordan (=Edom, descendants of Esau) confirmed this attitude by way they hated Israel.
3) This has been re-confirmed in our lifetime as well in the wars between Iraq and Israel; Jordan sided with Iraq.
B. God is father and implies Israel is his son. 1:6 (2:10, 3:17)
1. God wants intimacy with us.
2. He wants to bless His son with good things. 3:10-12
3. But God as our father must be treated with respect.
C. God must also be Master and King. 1:6
1. Realize we have an obligation to worship and serve Him.
2. Our relationship with God must be taken seriously.
D. Covenant is main expression of relationship in Malachi and the Bible.
1. Relationship of peace and love. 2:5
a. Requires peaceful living and repentance. 2:6
b. Sinful living is condemned. 3:5
2. The greatest sin we commit is in jeopardizing our relationship with God.
a. Twice this sin is specified as covenant-breaking. 2:8, 2:10-11
b. There are consequences: c. He will one day judge all people on earth.
II. Consider How the Jews Despised God.
A. Bored worship reflected the breakdown in relationship with God.
1. Sacrifices were wounded, diseased animals. 1:8
a. They wouldn't offer it to a politician, but they would to God.
b. They may not have actually said, "God is contemptible," but their actions showed it. 1:12-13
c. Note: "…ye have snuffed at it…"
2. Bad worship is worse than no worship at all. 1:9-10
a. Their attitude didn't honor God. cf 2:2
b. Are we giving God second-best?
B. They ripped off God with short tithes. cf 3:8
1. They had perverse view of giving:
a. They gave in order to get… cf 3:14
b. They looked at the way those who rejected God lived and chose to withhold their offerings from God.
c. The idea was like this…if God won't bless me when I give, why should I give Him what He requires.
d. That is wrong thinking!
e. We give not in order to get, but we give as an expression of our love to God.
2. God saw the short tithes as robbery. 3:8
a. Giving should be done cheerfully, but is also an act of obedience.
1) Tithing taught by Jesus as well as in OT.
2) Tithe is 10%, offerings are more.
b. Tithes should come to the storehouse.
1) The tithe should come to the local church, and then let God's people use it wisely.
2) Offerings are over and above the tithe.
3) Missions, LIFT, Youth, Building, Projects, etc. these are all offerings that should be given, but not with the tithe.
4) To do so, is to rob God!
c. Many try to get around it.
1) They convince themselves that is not for today.
2) They convince themselves that somehow, God will understand.
3) They even become creative with alternative plans.
3. Tithing isn't always easy, but it is always right!
a. Tithing identifies those who are serious in commitment.
1) Is it impossible in our day?
2) No! We have much more compared to those in Malachi's day.
C. Rich blessing results from heart-felt giving to God. 3:10
1. Blessings on individuals.
2. Blessings on society.
a. Not just the overflowing of generous spirits.
b. God will physically bless those who trust in him.
III. Getting right with God.
A. It is possible to return to God.
1. Experience His material blessing.
2. Experience healing in families. 4:6
B. Book of remembrance is kept by God. 3:16-17
1. What is written there?
2. The names of those who honor God and worship Him.
3. The names of those who are committed to obedience to His commands.
4. Are we to be found there?