Monday, February 27, 2012

Buying Books

Books are expensive! It is getting more difficult for Pastors to buy their tools (i.e. books) Here are three suggestions that have worked for me buying books:

Honoraria can be invested in your library. Since this is extra money that comes in from various sources, why not invest it? When you buy books, it is not money spent—it is money invested. I had an agreement with my wife that such honoraria from weddings and funerals go to books.

Never buy a book you don’t need simply because it is cheap!

Invest wisely. This means invest in books you need in the immediate future, not the distant future. If you are going to preach on Romans this year, but plan to preach on Revelation two years from now. Do not buy books on Revelation when you need books on Romans

Malachi’s Fourth Oracle

Malachi 2:17-3:5

We now come to the fourth oracle of Malachi. It begins with another statement by the prophet on behalf of God: “You have wearied the Lord with your words,” followed by the response “How have we wearied him?” By ignoring sin and allowing injustice. Craigie writes: “They have become, by their attitudes and actions, functional atheists, not bothering to deny the existence of God, but destroying any link between God and justice, or between the Almighty and good and evil(DSB:TWELVE PROPHETS, 2:239). They saw God as either negligent or unjust. It made God weary. The word weary can mean physically tired or spent. It also means to be emotional tired, exhaustion as a result of persistent stress and sorrows. Since God cannot be physically weary, they are causing God figuratively to be weary of their unfaithfulness. In a way, it speaks of God’s passion and faithfulness for His people.

Malachi’s answer is God is not unjust, nor is He unfaithful. He will fulfill what He promises. Malachi declares:

  1. God will fulfill His Word and send His messengers (3:1). The first is John the Baptist; the other will be the Lord Himself. This is clearly a Messianic promise. Interestingly, Malachi’s oracles are the last words of the Old Testament. Four hundred years past. Then at the opening of the New Testament we find the messengers appearing. It is no accident that John in being the forerunner, pictures the coming of Christ as refiner and judge—Matthew 3:10.-12.
  2. The coming Messiah will have two functions: First, He will come as a refiner. He will come to purify His people. He will be the “smelter and purifier” of Israel (3:3). Second, He comes as judge that will destroy the impurities of sin and sinners (3:5).
Justice and judgment go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. The object of justice and judgment is to bring hope to the people of God. They will receive justice when judgment comes to those who oppress the nation of Israel. This will occur at the prophesied second coming of Christ.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Malachi’s Third Oracle

Malachi 2:10-16

This third oracle deals with unfaithfulness. This oracle opens with the people of God being unfaithful in three areas:

  1. Unfaithful to each other/brothers (2:10)
  2. Unfaithful to God (2:11-12)
  3. Unfaithful to Wives (2:15-16)

Unfaithfulness is the agent of destruction socially, spiritually, and personally. Unfaithfulness is a lack of integrity and failure to meet social, personal and spiritual obligations. It is not holding to trust. Unfaithfulness is being untrustworthy.

The key word in this oracle is “treacherously” (v. 10, 11, 14, 15, 16). It is the Hebrew verb bagad, meaning to break faith. It describes violating a covenant (Judges 9:23) and an act of betrayal or treachery in a relationship. It is an act that disrupts the fabric of relationships. It is a source of contention or trouble in a relationship. Notice he describes unfaithfulness in the strongest terms possible: abomination and profanity (v11). Unfaithfulness ruins lives, collapses hope, and is an act of betrayal.

In Malachi’s time trust (faithfulness) had largely eroded away, as it has in ours. One sign of it is the erosion of marriage in society evidenced by the increase of divorce. Divorce rate today is around 50% of all marriages.  Unfaithfulness in marriage has been estimated as high as 80%. The increase is a symptom of a general increase of unfaithfulness in all types of relationships.  Question: Do we take faithfulness too lightly? Israel did and it cost them greatly.

The warning of Malachi is just as applicable to us as it was to Israel: “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously” (v16).

It is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy (faithful)”—1 Corinthians 4:2.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Malachi 1:6-2:9

Malachi’s oracle on love, gives way to an oracle on unfaithfulness, or to put it another way, the lack of integrity.  Integrity is adherence to moral and ethical princples; soundness of moral character; honesty. In ministry it is vital for the servant of God. As I ponder Malachi’s second oracle, I see five actions that hinder and compromise the servant and his ministries integrity.

  1. Offering God less than the best (1:7-8). The servant of God is to have a single heart, mind, and will. Our heart, mind, and will are to be acceptable to God. Forstyhe once said “The first duty of every soul is to find not its freedom but its Master.” We offer God less than the best when we serve with a divided heart, mind, and will. We are offering less than the best and our integrity is compromised.
  2. Giving in to routine and boredom (1:13).  When we minster out of routine, we lose our freshness and wonder of God and His work. This happens when care is replaced with necessity. We need love, but not our love; it is the love of Christ than compels us. God does not ask us to work up our love, but to let His love work in us (Rom. 5:5). Servants are to be channels of His love, but routine and boredom can block that love. When that happens we lose our integrity.
  3. The lack of accountability (2:1). The lack of holding oneself accountable to God is duplicity. Duplicity is lying to oneself and can lead to rebellion. When the Word speaks simply to our head, and not our heart, we can easily rationalize away our accountability. Intellectualism is when the head does not transfer the knowledge to the heart, and we forget the commandment is for us, blinding us to our accountability and integrity.
  4. Losing our reverence for God (2:5). Reverence is a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe. We lose it when God becomes common. We lose awe when we start looking at ourselves, not God. When we take for granted His presence and blessing in our ministry.  How can we maintain our integrity when we make God common?
  5. Showing partiality in ministry (2:9). Partiality compromises integrity and can lead to divisions.
Warren Wiersbe wrote some years ago THE INTEGRITY CRISIS. That crisis has not lessened but rather has grown in the church. Wiersbe in the book notes: “a person with integrity is not divided (that’s duplicity) or merely pretending (that’s hypocrisy)” [page 21]. Duplicity and hypocrisy are exactly what Malachi is dealing with in the second oracle.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Malachi 1:1-5

As we open the book of Malachi we are struck with his immediate declaration. There is no introduction; the prophet gets right to point. He declares: “The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi” (1:1). The phrase, “through Malachi” is literally, “by the hand of Malachi,” and reinforces authorship. As we look at the first oracle, he addresses certain things that the people of God struggle with. My purpose is not to give a detailed study of Malachi, but to point out things in this passage that we all deal with and need to be reminded of:

(1)   God loves us. The subject of the oracle is the love of God. God declares His love for His people: “I have loved you.” It is stated as a matter of fact. It is clearly stated; no elaboration is needed.

(2)   Complacency concerning God’s love can lead to blindness of His love. This is brought out by their reply to God’s statement. “How hast Thou loved us?   While the reply is not spoken, this is the attitude of the heart that God reads from the heart of His people. Love can be taken for granted, complacency sets in, and eventually blindness to that love. It works in every relationship. In every relationship we can take love for granted and eventually forget that it is there. Why? Our hearts are turned away from the object of our love by complacency and blindness.

(3)   God’s love to us is a choice. Love is a choice! In this passage God answers by reminding His people that His love for them was a choice. He chose Jacob, not Esau. While not going into the theological significance and implications, it is clear that Israel’s election is an example of God’s love for them, as it is us (cf. John 15:19; Eph. 1:4). Because of His choice to love, He is faithful to His people (cf. Jer. 31:2-3).

(4)   God reacts to our complacency and even blindness. He warns and disciplines. While Esau, who rejected God’s love, experienced God’s wrath. Israel experienced His discipline. “Whereas Judah’s devastation by the Babylonians had been a temporary situation, Edom would never return to their land” observes Clendenen (NAC: HAGGAI-MALACHI, 253).

This oracle of Malachi should speak to our heart as believers by reminding us of His love. It warns us against complacency and its danger. May it remind us we are chosen and loved. He is faithful!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Malachi is the final book of the Old Testament. The word Malachi means “my messenger” and some have taken it as a title, not a name. They regard the author of this book as anonymous. However, since none of the prophets compositions are not anonymous works in the Old Testament, we can safely understand it as the name of the prophet. Malachi lived up to his name, being a messenger of God. The problem that Malachi faced was that of dull spirits, despondency, and indifference in the worship and life of God’s people. It was a time of doubt and compromise. The priesthood lacked integrity. Intermarriage was common. There was a danger of intermixing faith and paganism, producing neglect of devotion in the people of God. The prophet speaks to his time. The book is made up of six oracles, with a brief introduction (1:1) and a conclusion (4:4-6). The six oracles are:

1:2-5                God’s love

1:6-2:9             Unfaithful priest

2:10-16            Divorce          

2:27-3:5           Divine justice

3:6-12              Tithes

3:13-4:3           Day of judgment

There is no question we can learn from Malachi. He speaks truth that is timeless. There is a great parallel between his time and ours. E. Ray Clendenen observes: “Malachi speaks to the hearts of a troubled people whose circumstances of financial insecurity, religious skepticism, and personal disappointments are similar to those God’s people often experience or encounter today.[NAC: HAGGAI-MALACHI, 238.]  As I look at these oracles, I see six issues we all face.

1:2-5                Complacency

1:6-2:9             Integrity

2:10-16            Unfaithfulness

2:27-3:5           Injustice

3:6-12              Selfishness

3:13-4:3           Accountability

I challenge you to read Malachi. How does he speak to you on these issues?