I get a little leery when people are advocating for a government that is friendly to Christianity. In biblical history and world history, Christians tend to backslide when things are going smoothly for them.
Difficulties and even persecution cause us to evaluate if what we’re standing on is really a sure foundation (2 Corinthians 1:9; Philippians 4:10-13).
As the Jews returned from their exile in Babylon, things were going fairly easily for them. And as they had done so many times before, they began to backslide. The Archeological Study Bible noted, “This generation was not guilty of the gross idolatry of its forefathers. Rather, these Israelites embraced a kind of dead orthodoxy, in which they tried to get by with the minimum that their faith required.”
Onto this scene comes a prophet named Malachi. Malachi means “My messenger,” and we don’t know if this was actually the prophet’s name or not, but he took it on as his nature, delivering the heavy words of God. In fact, he held the words of God with such respect that when he says this is “an oracle,” he literally is saying, “This is a heavy burden to bear!”
- Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, and Jonah use this phrase zero times
- Micah and Habakkuk each use it once
- Nahum and Zephaniah each use it twice
- Haggai uses it 12 times (or 32 percent of the total verses in his book)
- Zechariah uses the phrase 46 times (which 22 percent of his total verses)
But Malachi’s 24 times is 44 percent of his total verses! In other words, he wanted his audience to be crystal clear that it wasn’t him who was speaking, but the King of kings was speaking to us through Malachi!
God is still speaking through Malachi to us today! Just like Israel in Malachi’s day, I think Christians today run the very real risk of backsliding. Just like Israel, when we forget the weightiness of the glory of the LORD ALMIGHTY we can begin to slip into an it’s-no-big-deal attitude.
By contrast, when we’re honoring the LORD of Hosts, and reverencing Him, and desirous of His glory being seen, it’s a very big deal that we listen to His voice and closely follow His commands.
So Malachi’s six warnings to the Israelites of his day should still be heeded by Christians today. We should examine ourselves very closely to see if we have the same it’s-no-big-deal attitude. We should ask ourselves, “Are we…
(1) …offering less-than-our-best sacrifices? Are we just giving God the leftovers?”
(2) …listening to church leaders that don’t reverence God’s name?”
(3) …honoring the sanctity of marriage?”
(4) …self-seeking instead of neighbor-loving?”
(5) …withholding the full tithe from our local church?”
(6) …following God only for personal gain?”
(Check out all of the verses for these questions by clicking here.)
If this study of the minor prophets—especially these last three—has told us anything, it’s that God keeps His word. When He says He is coming back as the righteous Judge, that will happen. In fact, it could happen at any moment!
We must be ready! We must guard our hearts against the it’s-no-big-deal attitude. We must reverence our awesome God. The things of God are a very big deal indeed (see Hebrews 10:37-39; Revelation 22:12-16).
To guard ourselves against this backsliding attitude, we must live every day reverencing the awesome, weighty, majestic name of Jesus!
If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series exploring the powerful lessons in the the twelve minor prophets, please click here to get the list of all of those messages.