Refine My Family (Malachi 2)

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Once there was a man sitting on the bank of a river. The river bank was a beautiful site situated on a bend that the water traveled around with a fairly strong current. Up-river was a local park where people could cross the river by walking across a bridge. The man sat down-river and around the bend. He was having a time of quiet reflection and meditation when he heard screams from someone in the river.

The man was a good swimmer and knew he could help. He dove in and swam to the person and brought him back to the shoreline. Upon reaching the shore he heard a woman’s scream. He dove in and swam to her and brought her back to the shoreline. Upon reaching the shore he heard another cry for help, which he dove in and swam to the person, bringing them safely back to the shore. After only a few minutes he heard multiple more screams for help. He dove in but was wearing down physically. He knew that physically he would be unable to save all who are drowning. So he came back to the shore to pray.

The man looked up into heaven and prayed, “Oh Lord, help me to see what is happening upstream that all these people are drowning.” He traveled upstream and saw there were people walking along the bridge without realizing there were loose planks that people were falling through and landing in the fast-flowing river current. The man posted signs on both ends of the bridge to warn people to watch their step.

Sometimes we try to help people without every finding what’s going on upstream in their life. Many people today are crying for help because of circumstances and consequences that happened years earlier in their lives.

Much help can be provided to individuals if we stop merely addressing the symptoms and confront the original syndrome. Likewise, much trouble can be avoided if we help young people early in their life.

The book of Malachi is God relating the symptoms to the syndromes of Israel’s sin.

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EXAMINE   Malachi 2:10-16       Title: Refining the Family

There is disloyalty in relationships but believers must show reconciliation (2:10-11).

The prophet Malachi questioned, “Have we not all one Father? Has not God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another?”

Malachi was saying that God created the nation of Israel to live in community with one another. They were not just individuals but a collective people – a nation. The nation of Israel was to be different since they had God as their Father. However, community life was frightening. People were faithless. The people had profaned the covenant of previous generations.

In other words, these people lacked care and compassion for one another. Instead of watching their neighbor’s back they stabbed each other in the back. Instead of helping they were hurting each other. It’s likely there was meanness, manipulation, and even murder.

The idea of “faithless” and “profaning the covenant of our fathers” shows their sin against God and each other. To profane something means to speak unholy, or to rob something of its significance or worth.[1] Therefore, profaning the covenant meant disregard for the value of relationships.

Covenant = Agreement.

  • Citizens of a country agree to respect the government, follow the laws, etc. Breaking covenant will earn jail time or perhaps extradite of country if you were an immigrant.
  • Soldiers agree to follow orders and defend against enemies; there’s no turning back or you’ll be punished or discharged.
  • Faith is a covenant agreement with God. If we break covenant we are turning our backs on God and profaning His name.
  • Church membership is a covenant agreement.
    • “so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” Romans 12:5
    • 1) Gather to corporate worship… 2) Grow in Bible Groups… 3) Give in Ministry Service…
    • Some are in fringe – we want you to be family.
    • Unity is of utmost importance… – – – gossip, anonymous letters… Reconciliation is required. Short on forgiveness = short on friendships; long on forgiveness = long on friends

Many people misunderstand their life is a covenant before God. They mistake the fact that their actions against others are also against God, as well as the fact that their attitude against God is also against others. Your vertical and horizontal relationships impact one another.

Matthew 5:21-24 21“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.23  So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

There is devalue to marriage but believers must show its relevance (2:11-12).

The people of Judah also profaned the Lord’s sanctuary by marrying unbelievers – “daughters of a foreign god” (2:11). God had commanded Israel to avoid multi-faith marriages (Ex 34:11-16; Deut 7:1-6; Ezra 9; Neh 13:25-27). God knew that multi-faith marriages are tempting, trying and sometimes turn a person away from God.

Therefore, Malachi called for punishment to those who disobeyed God. “May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts!” (2:12)

  • World calls this “ecumenical”, “inter-faith tolerance”… God calls it faithless, profanity, treachery, abomination.
  • Missionary dating does not equal marriage delight.
    • Men enter marriage thinking she will never change and woman enter marriage thinking she can change him… Neither are correct. She changes – and rightly so. And a woman cannot change a man – maybe for a season but it will not endure.
  • Unequally Yoked: unbelievers can marry unbelievers but a believer should never-ever marry an unbeliever. 2Corinthians 6:14-16 “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols?
  • Parents: help your children to understand the value of choosing a Christian spouse. Save the heartache…
  • You say, “oh, it’s no harm, they’re young and just dating” I say, “you underestimate the devil.”
    • Singles: Don’t settle or surrender values. Don’t sin and profane God’s name.
    • You say, “but I love him/her and we’re happy”… I say “for now.”
    • Choose to sin then choose to suffer
    • My story with Clara. She thanked me for confronting and condemning sin but accepting her.
    • Side Note: Some have used passages like these to say that as Israel should not have intermarried with foreign nations so today there should not be interracial marriage. This is wrong.
  • God’s law was against mixing worship allegiance not ethnic diversity.
  • God made provisions for Gentiles to enter into Israel and live (Ex 12:48-49; Lev 24:22; Nu 15:26; Deut 1:16-17; 20:10-18, 31:9-13; Jos 8:33; 2Sam 15:19-22; 1Ki 8:41-43; Isa 56:3-8; Ez 47:21-23; Rahab; Ruth; Nineveh; Uriah the Hittite married Israelite woman; …
  • Interracial marriage in Scripture:
    • Moses and a Cushite – Ethiopian / “a Black African woman”. In this passage, God gets angry with Aaron and Miriam who criticize the marriage. God turns Miriam’s skin leprous – white as snow. The idea is that light skin can be diseased and cursed moreso than dark-skinned, while (Numbers 12:1-10)
    • John 4 Samaritan Woman; Luke 10 Good Samaritan
    • Acts 15 Gentile mission
    • Since 2000, “Half of all Asians are now intermarrying non-Asians; by the third generation half of all Hispanics are also marrying outside the ethnic group. The black intermarriage rate is slowly but steadily rising. The categories ‘Hispanic,’ ‘Asian,’ and ‘white’ (always questionable) are fast becoming a positive anachronism, and even ‘black is a label that is fraying at the edges.”[2]
  • God made races in His image Acts 17:26 “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth.”
  • Christ reconciles all races

Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 2:19 “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God”

Colossians 3:11 “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.” Revelation 5:9 “every tribe and language and people and nation” will be in heaven

There is destruction in marriage but believers must show resolve (2:13-16)

Another faithless action that Malachi rebukes is the destruction of marriage. Malachi pronounces that the Lord does not accept their worship offerings and the people question. God declined their worship due to the casual nature of divorce.

“She is your companion and your wife by covenant” (Mal 2:14)

“Did God not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union?” (Mal 2:15)

“God seeks godly offspring – generations” (Mal 2:15)

Our society does not value marriage. Marriage is dismissed by younger generations as they delay getting married for immoral and selfish reasons. Marriage is demeaned by culture’s attempts to redefine its meaning. Marriage is destroyed through casual and careless divorce culture. God is disrespected when we have a low view of marriage.

Note: God hates divorce but not divorcees. There is hope for those who turn to Him.

  • Marriage is a reflection of Christ’s sacrificial love for the Church (Eph 5:25-33).
  • Marriage is a protection against immorality (1Cor 7:2)
  • Marriage is an expression of honor and contentment in God’s grace (Heb 13:4)
  • Marriage is an environment for sanctification (Eph 5:25-33; 1Pet 3:1-7)
  • Marriage is a means for multiplication of godly generations (Mal 2:15; Deut 6:4-9, 30:19b; Ps 78:4-7; Prov 17:6 “Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.”; Joel 1:3)

To nurture marriage & family life: L.O.V.E. heart_10

  • Listen to God and Spouse James 1:19 “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger”
  • Other-centered on your spouse, serve as Jesus Mark 10:45 “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom”
  • Vision Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint”
  • Endure through every hardship John 16:33 “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Story of Jack Benny with wife Mary who he sent 1 rose to wife every day from their dating days, through honeymoon and then 48 years of marriage. Even after his death 1 rose came each day until her death, where a bouquet of roses were placed at the cemetery where their bodies were re-united. http://www.snopes.com/glurge/jackbenny.asp

APPLY/THINK

10 years ago a spacecraft left earth and traveled 6.4 billion miles. On Nov 12, 2014 it landed on a comet. It did not take long before Twitter had a new trending hashtag: WeCanLandOnACometButWeCant[3]

– order a McDonald’s breakfast after 10:30am

– stop saying “it’s Hump Day” on Wednesdays

– touch this (in the words of MC Hammer)

– convince Canada to realize their bacon is really ham

– convince the self-checkout machine there is nothing unexpected in the bagging area

– flush the toilet when someone’s in the shower

– get a fire alarm between my wife’s cooking and a blazing inferno

– wait until after Thanksgiving before we hear Christmas music

– find a missing plane on our own planet

– we can persevere to land on a comet but not to keep our commitments

A comet landing is not that significant. Your commitments to God are eternally significant.

We must do all possible within our power to turn from sin and trust God.

Malachi 3:15-16 (spoken 2x)

“So guard yourselves in your spirit”

“So guard yourselves in your spirit”

guard (shāmar): to tend or keep watch, to protect with thorns

  • as in tending to a garden (Gen 2:15)
  • as in keeping watch (Ps 121:4 God keeps Israel)

How will you guard {pro-actively} against

  • disloyalty in relationships: reconciliation with God & others
    • forgiveness
  • devaluing marriage: show relevance with equal yoking
    • faith commitments
  • destruction of marriage: resolve to protect marriage against divorce

[1] E.Y. Clenden, Haggai-Malachi, The New American Commentary, 328.

[2] Stephan & Abigail Thernstrom, America in Black and White: One Nation, Indivisible (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999), 12.

[3] Some taken from: http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/12/living/comet-lander-tweets/

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