18-October-2020

Obey God Because You Love Him
Text: Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us?  Mal. 2:10
Full Text: Malachi 1:2-5
When I was baptized loving God was not a part of my religious life or thinking.
Obeying God was why I was baptized.
I wanted to be accepted by God so I needed to be baptized so I could start becoming a person he could accept.
In my memory of preaching and teaching it was obedience to avoid the punishment of God that motivated people to be His People.
Was it the Hippies and the Free Love movement that brought the Love of God into Christian thinking?
It seemed like it was about that time that Christians began emphasizing the Love of God as much as obedience to God.
The two go together.
Or at least they should go together.
We obey because we love God.
And we love God because he first loved us.
I love God because he gave me my life back and allowed me to live out the life that had started.
And I love God because he loved me enough to send his Son into the world to demonstrate God’s great love for people and to provide a way for me to escape the penalty of my sinful nature.
Today we are looking at the last prophetic voice that came to Israel before the coming of John the Baptizer.
Malachi lived after the golden age of prophecy had ended but his insights equaled, and in some cases, exceeded anything to be found in messages of his predecessors.
He possessed a concept of God’s universal kingdom as great as Isaiah.
He had a high and holy view of marriage and his teaching that divine love is holy love rooted in God’s majesty ranks with Hosea’s.
He is last only in his placement in the Holy Scriptures not in his message.
He stood far above any man of his day and compares favorably with any prophet of any period.
It is normal for human beings to turn to God when life turns against us.
When we ourselves cannot control our own destiny we then look for a force outside of ourselves to control our destiny.
That was the condition in Judah at the time of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.
A need existed for a man of God to declare the divine counsel without compromise and that man was Malachi.
There are three main themes in his writing.
He begins with the fact that dreamers must face reality.
Deep scars were left on Israel because of the postexilic age’s bitter frustration.
The returning captives came to Jerusalem with tremendous enthusiasm, aspiring to reestablish the glorious days of Israel.
They believed that the promises of the prophets who preceded them would come to pass with amazing and literal accuracy in their day.
They looked for the land to produce a miraculous abundance and for all nations to serve them.
How disappointed they were!
Every dreamer must, somewhere down the line, face the cold, hard facts of life.
Dreams may motivate us for the future, but dreams never win the game.
Four strong personalities preceded Malachi.
Haggai and Zechariah were the prophets of that time while Ezra and Nehemiah likewise played an important part in the history of this period.
Ezra led the group from Babylon to Jerusalem and then taught the law to the Israelites.
Nehemiah was a layman who left a place of personal prestige in the king’s service to come to Jerusalem to lead the people in rebuilding a great wall around the city to replace the one that had been destroyed.
Ezra followed him with another great teaching program.
But always the people went back to their careless living and superficial commitment.
Malachi came on the scene at the close of the work of these great people during a period of discouragement and moral retrogression.
He had to remind them again and again that a great nation is not built on dreams but on deeds.
How true this is of life in any generation.
Dreams are important, but they alone are not enough.
It is said that once you have built a great castle in the sky you must then put a foundation under it.
As in everything else, we receive our greatest example in dreaming and doing from our Savior, of whom it was written:
Dear Master in whose life I see, all that I long and fail to be; Let thy clear light forever shine, to shape and guide this life of mine.  Though what I dream and what I do in my poor ways are always two; help me, oppressed by things undone, oh, Thou, whose dream and deed were one.
While dreamers must face reality, God’s presence is purifying.
Precious metal is very rarely found without other substances being present within it.
The refiner’s work is to free it from these lesser things.
He heats ore mixed with lead in a crucible and blows air on it until the lead is oxidized.
The films rise to the surface and are all removed.
The refiner watches the process closely and keeps the heat at the proper degree.
The color becomes clearer as the impurities disappear.
He knows when the process is finished because he sees his own face reflected in the substance.
Malachi used this figure of speech to convey the fact that God is constantly at work in the lives of his loved ones.
Adversity is often the greatest blessing a Christian can encounter.
Suffering drives people to knock at the gate of God in prayer

As a poet once said:  My life is but a field, stretched out beneath God’s sky some harvest rich to yield.  Where grows the golden grain?  Where faith?  Where sympathy? In a furrow cut by pain.  Malthie D. Babcock
God had disciplined Israel because he loved them and saw the possibility of using them in his work.
Likewise, God must refine us in the furnace of disappointment and tears.
But when he sees his image reflected in us, he knows that his work has been successful.
Dreamers must face reality, God’s presence is purifying and the King is coming.
What a great song of hope and praise that was!
Old Testament prophecy concludes with a clear statement that the “Sun of Righteousness” will “arise with healing in his wings”.  
This is a clear reference to the coming of Jesus Christ.
Also, Malachi said that God will send the prophet Elijah to turn the hearts of the parents to their children.
The New Testament says that this was John the Baptist.
Even in the bleakest times for Israel, God never failed to speak through his prophets a message of hope and deliverance.
The great theme of the Old Testament is God’s redemptive work both present and future.
God chose Abraham as his instrument, promising that in his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed.
For us also the promise is sure.
Our King is coming.
We do not know when, but we know he is coming.
Therefore we should wait, watch and work for the kingdom.
All is both law and love!
God commands us, but we do not obey merely through a sense of obligation.
We obey because we have been redeemed.
Any other motive for service than that of love will fall short at the crises time.
We may do certain things because we fear God and his wrath, but maturity will not come until we learn that the love of Christ is the constraining force for all of our Christian service.
Faith and hope are great, but love is the greatest of all.
It is love that motivates good things.
So love like God loves.
In obedience and service.
To him and others.

 

 

 

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