Have you ever asked God to show you something new or to breathe new life into a story you thought you knew? I am back in the saddle of teaching my all women's small group on Sunday morning after having sat and soaked up others as they taught while I was in seminary.
But here we are at Christmas. We have done our "Mary Christmas in a Martha Month Tea," and I'm blogging a devotional on that once a week through December about "Taking Jesus Out of the Manger." So I had worked that material over rather finely, and now I was asking for something else from him. Another Word.
Did you know that between Malachi and the Gospels was when Cleopatra and Marc Antony lived? I had no idea! What got me digging was thinking about the Dark Period between Malachi and Matthew and what was God's last words to Israel before going silent for 400 plus years. People tend to remember last words, don't you know.
Have you ever read Malachi? I hadn't until last week. Anytime we have been directed to look at Malachi it's been because someone was preaching on tithing and quoted Malachi 3:10, but the rest of the book gives a good picture of God's mental state and level of tolerance with the children of Israel before silence. Another interesting thing about Malachi is that it is full of questions and answers. Those people were foolish enough to ask God questions, and then had to deal with his answers. Every good attorney knows you don't ask a question in trial unless you already know what the answer is going to be. These people were SOOO dense!
Malachi is the "Come to God" meeting the Israelites had comin', and by doing so, God walked all over my toes last week. Here is what he led me to:
- God points out how we honor our earthly fathers and respect our employers, and then asks where is the honor and respect due him? We get up and go to work daily being sure to be prompt and reliable, but are we that way with our relationship with God?
- His children were bringing blind and lame sacrifices. God asks what would happen if they gave that to their earthly leader. What would happen if you decided to only show up at work three days of the week to work and then took a two-hour lunch, what would your boss do? Will your boss accept it?
- Then God proceeds to tell them just who he is. If you're a momma, have you ever been pushed to the limit by your child to the point where you lose your ever-lovin' mind and say, "I am your mother. I brought you into this world, and I can take you out!" That is where I see God coming from. He had reached his maximum level of tolerance. He had had all he was going to take.
God went so far as to say that if you don't bring me your best and what is due me then don't bring anything because it's an abomination. He'd rather close the doors of the temple than desecrate it with our less than whole sacrifices. Do I give him 100% of what is due him? Do I give him my best sacrifice?
It's only in obedience that we are to test him. We aren't to test God when we give part of our tithe, part of our sacrifice.
But we serve a good God, a gracious God. Not everyone at that time was neglecting their relationship with him. In 3:16, he lets them know everything is being written down for those who honor his name. He sees you working faithfully behind the scene. He sees you serving him by serving others. He sees you and will claim you as his treasured possession.
He also gives hope. There is prophecy about a messenger (John) and about Jesus. He keeps his promise to the house of David. He just chooses to step away from them.
But can you imagine not hearing from God, not feeling him in your life? I have, and I hated it. I misinterpreted his lack of movement in my life as being a neglectful Father. I became angry and depressed until I was directed back to him in quiet time. There are different reasons we may go through a Dark Period in our lives, but He always gives hope, and He is always good.
If you are in a dark place right now, ask God to search you, try you, and purify you. If you are where you are supposed to be, then dig in the Word. During the Dark Ages there were believers digging through prophecies trying to determine when the Messiah would come. They were looking for God to show up. They were looking for Messiah. Are you expecting God to show up? Are you looking for the Messiah in your situation?
Ladies, Hope was born on Christmas night. Hope in the form of a baby. A baby that was born to be sacrificed for us. Out of the Dark Ages came a great light, a star that wise men sought out. There is a Light in the darkness whatever darkness you are in, and his name is Jesus.