Bible Text: Malachi 2:17-3:5 | Preacher: Ray Galea | Series: Celebration Series 2019 | God's people claimed that He took pleasure in evil and failed to act justly. God's response finds its fulfilment in the coming of John the Baptist and in the 1st and 2nd coming of Christ.
Up until 20 years ago there were holiday sex packages to SE Asia. They were not advertising sex with prostitutes, but sex with 8-9 year old children. Children from slums were sold to pimps. Pure evil!
At a meeting of the State Attorney Generals they decided that they would not only ban the advertisement of such tour packages but they also made it a criminal offence for any Australian who went on one even though it was not on our soil. That is justice. That is a righteous and just decision.
We crave righteous laws and righteous leaders but most of all a righteous and just God.
Abraham himself raised the question "Will not the God of all the earth do right." Yes!
You can live in a world where people are not fully just. But can we live in a world where God himself fails his own standards? In this section of Malachi, God is accused of the following, that He is not Holy and that He takes pleasure in evil. He is not just and that He does not do what is right.
Here is Israel accusing God of not being just! Verse 17
You have wearied the Lord with your words. “How have we wearied him?” you ask. By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?” (NIV)
God has no standards. All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord.
Wrong is right.
Bad is good.
Evil is honourable.
In other words, God is not holy.
The prophet was not joking when he said of God in Habakkuk 1:13
Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. (NIV)
The people were not saying that God has failed his own standards. They were saying that God has no standards, good is evil and evil is good. Theft and rape, lying and adultery, sorcery and exploiting foreigners are as pleasing to him as a saying your prayers and feeding the poor.
So where is the God of justice? God does nothing about evil and sin, He is allowing the guilty to go unpunished - the very thing he said he would never do. All because God doesn't act here and now, is tolerating evil?
We ourselves ask, why did God allow that mongrel dictator Mugabe to rule so long in Zimbabwe and then have him replaced by someone just as bad.
Years ago, when my wife Sandy was in hospital with appendicitis, she got talking to a woman who had rejected God, her reason was that her 3 grandsons had died. Twins were still born and one died soon after birth. That awful tragedy had made her lose her way and she gave up on God - who did not save her grandchildren. God did not do what was right.
It is right to bring questions to God. Such as “How long O lord?” and “My God my God, why have you forsaken me.” These come from those wanting God to punish guilty sinners.
What as wearied the Lord, is not the complaint is made to God but about God. He is fed up in hearing this constant assault of his character back to verse 17
You have wearied the Lord with your words. (NIV)
Who hates gossip? When people talk behind your back but not to your face. Guess what so does God! They were dragging God's name in front of others but never talking directly to God in prayer.
God answers the challenge “You want justice? I am coming to bring justice.” Chapter 3, verse 1
“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. (NIV)
God is coming and he comes with his own MC. Jesus did not turn up unannounced, John the Baptist is that messenger, he is the last prophet who introduced Jesus to the world.
“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
We continue with verse 1
Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking (will come) to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, (will come),” says the Lord Almighty. (NIV)
The people are desperate for God to come and step in. They want justice and they want it now. The Lord does come to his Temple and that Lord is Jesus. Jesus is furious at the corruption of the temple. Jesus zeal for his Father house burns in him like a fire, He overturned tables, He chased out animals and He confronted the money changers for turning the house of prayer into a house of business.
If John the Baptist is the one who prepared the way for the Lord then Jesus is the LORD himself, the messenger of the Covenant. He will come, in fact Jesus will come twice to judge his enemies and save his people.
To the challenge of where is God's justice? We must go to both the 1st and 2nd coming of Christ. Do you want to see how seriously God takes sin? Then go to the cross of Christ. Before Christ ever had to die for your sins he had to die to prove that God is justice when he forgives sins. Romans 3:25-26
God presented him (Jesus) as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, (NIV)
God never forgives a sin without someone having to pay for it. That someone was God's one and only son Jesus. When God forgives, there were no backroom deals, no turning a blind eye and no bribes to let you into heaven. God had his own son publicly executed so that you would know that God is just.
If you have turned and put your trust in Christ then know this: Every one of your sins were already punished in the body of Gods own son - God has to forgive you and He can't punish sins twice.
A minister I knew in Mittagong was fighting a fire and he found himself isolated. He tried to escape but got cornered by flames and then he found a burnt out shack, he went inside the barn and covered himself in the burnt ashes. He completely escaped the fire by going to where the judgment of the fire had already fallen.
Go to the cross of Christ to where the judgment of God has already fallen and you will be safe on judgment day. Once God's anger fell on his Son it can’t fall again on his people. That is why when God forgives he is not just merciful he is just. God does not delight in sin. And the proof of that is His Son comes to die and pay for our sin and His Holy Spirit comes to cleanse and renew us. Look at 3:2c-4
For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years. (NIV)
With the first coming of the Lord we can now for the first time say “No” to sin. With the Spirit real change can take place. The image is one of purifying, and cleansing. When you purify silver in fire your aim is not to destroy it but to remove the impurities. The job of soap is to clean, that is what God has come to do. Not only to forgive us but to change us by his Spirit.
You may have heard about the well know rapper Kanye West, sometimes known as husband to Kim Kardashian. His new album is titled Jesus is King! It’s right to be cautious when a celebrity claims to be a Christian, we went through the same with Bob Dylan. But we do need to celebrate and take up the opportunity to share Christ. Kanye, until a year ago behaved nothing like a Christian, he was openly addicted and pro-porn.
A year ago, Jimmy Kimmel on US TV asked Kanye about how his daughter changed the way he thinks about women. He said it didn’t and then came out with a horrendous pro-porn statement. Then recently, since that conversion, he went back to Jimmy Kimmel and said he was wrong. We are seeing public repentance.
In one of his Song called Selah he writes…
Everybody wanted Yandhi
Then Jesus Christ did the laundry
They say the week start on Monday
But the strong start on Sunday
Wont be in bondage to any man
We the descendants of Abraham
Ye should be made free
To whom the son set free is free indeed
He saved a wretch like me
Everyone wanted a new album from Kanye West, but what we need was for Jesus to do the laundry, to wash away Kanye Wests sins and mine, to wash his soul by the Spirit with new desires.
Malachi looked to when the Lord would come and change hearts, where people would bring offerings in righteousness, acceptable to the Lord. It's why we started our groups for porn users at MBM, next year we will start groups for women who are either victims of porn or users of porn.
Last week, I was talking to a one of the guys who is in the porn accountability group and he talked about the joy of his new found freedom from this dreaded porn. He then quoted another guy in the group who said “I really thought I would go to the grave with this sin.”
Jesus has done the laundry on our souls. Does this sound like the God who thinks that evil is good? Jesus first coming is clear, God is just and he is very serious about sin. He wants us to take sin seriously. He has given us time to turn from our sins and trust Jesus. When he comes a 2nd time there will be no time to say I’m sorry, no time to repent, no second chances.
We will see God's justice in his final judgment, verse 5
“So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty. (NIV)
At Jesus second coming, He will come like a thief in the night. He will bring in the great day of judgment when he will expose the secrets of human hearts. God is saying are you sure you want me to come? When I come who could stand it. Look back at Verse 2
But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? (NIV)
I will tell you who stand, every person who has repented, every person who has put their trust in Christ, every person who hid in the ashes of Christ death. Let's be clear, God is just which means your sins will be punished. The question for you is, do you want God to punish them in your body in hell or in the body of the one hung on the cross.
Let Jesus serve you.
Know this, at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, willingly or unwillingly, from the heights of heaven or the pit of hell, everyone will acknowledge that Jesus is King. Even if Kanye fell away tomorrow these words from the last song on his album would still be true.
Every knee shall bow
Every tongue confess
Jesus is Lord
Jesus is Lord
Every knee shall bow
Every tongue confess
Jesus is Lord
Jesus is Lord