Happy New Year!
The book of Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament and the final book in what we often call the 12 Minor Prophets. They are not called Minor because they are less important, but simply because they are typically shorter in length than the 4 Major Prophets.
Scholars think that Malachi is last in this group because it was one of the latest written. In the Christian Bible, Malachi was probably placed at the end because it contains a clear prophecy of the coming of Christ. (In the Jewish Bible, the 12 Minor Prophets do not come at the end.)
But Malachi provides an important reminder and warning for those of us who follow Christ. In some ways the book of Malachi is a call to and guide for renewal in our life of faith, both as individuals and as a church. For the next few weeks I will share with you some points from the book of Malachi. I encourage you to read through the book as you read through these devotionals. As an aid to this, I will suggest a reading plan for five days each week.
Malachi chapter 1 contains two complaints that God makes against His people. The first is a reminder that God has blessed and loved them and rejected those who are not His people.
God then directs Malachi to complain about the cheap sacrifices that His people are making to Him. “’A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is my honor? If I am a master, where is my fear?,’ says the Lord of hosts…” God complains that the people and the priests are offering inferior offerings on the altar. He asks them if they would give less than their best if they were giving a gift to the governor. He complains that they are giving Him their leftovers and not the best that they have.
Is this the way we treat God? If someone famous and important came to visit us, wouldn’t we make sure that we only offered that person the best that we have? How can we give God less? God does not ask us to sacrifice things that we don’t have. But our sacrifices for God must be the best that we have. God has given us His best when He sent Christ to die on our behalf. As Jesus Himself said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7:11).
When we talk about our sacrifice for God, we are not just talking about money. In fact, in the New Testament, the idea of sacrifice to God takes on a whole new meaning. We are to give all of ourselves to God. As Romans says, “present your bodies as a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:2). In the context of Malachi’s prophecy, this means we should be giving the best of our lives to God. In our work, our school, our neighborhood, God is first priority.
So this is our best New Year’s resolution: in 2015, God will be first priority in every area of my life. He deserves this and no less. And if we truly want the best result for ourselves, this is the best path to take.
Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC
5 days of scripture reading and prayer:
Day 1: Read Malachi 1:1. Who is the source of Malachi’s prophecy? Pray that God will speak directly to your heart and guide you as study His word.
Day 2: Read Malachi 1:2-5. (Edom was a country that bordered Israel and was one of its strong enemies. The Edomites were believed to have descended from Isaac’s son Esau.) Have you seen the Lord’s blessing in your own life that shows God loves you. Pray that God will help you remember all He has done to show you His blessing and love.
Day 3: Read Malachi 1:6-8. (Offering animals for sacrifice that had defects such as blindness was forbidden by God’s law and was considered sacrilegious.) What images does Malachi use to provoke the people’s understanding of their sin? Pray that God will help you understand how you have given Him less than your best.
Day 4: Read Malachi 1:9-10. Why would Malachi say that God wanted someone to close the doors to the altars? Pray that God will help you understand what He wants you to devote to Him.
Day 5: Read Malachi 1:11-14. What is happening that is causing God’s name to be disrespected among the nations, according to Malachi? Pray that God will help you honor His name and testify to His greatness through your devotion to Him.