Our loving God longs to "open for you the windows of heaven... and pour out for you an overflowing blessing." He grieves when His beloved people -- as in the days of Malachi --ignore the covenant relationship, refuse to return His love, and therefore cannot receive His goodness. Yet, there is hope, for the Refiner will come and " purify the sons of Levi."
Thank You, dearest Father, for Your "tough love" which always disciplines, cleanses and draws us back into the joy of Your presence. Thank You, mighty Refiner, for so faithfully preparing us for a glorious eternity with You.
1. Read Malachi 1.
A. God declared His love for His people, but they would not listen and could not understand. Living according the "the form or religion rather than the power of it" (2 Timothy 3:5), they were blind to evidence of His lovingkindness. As you consider the history of the nation Israel, what, to you, are the most outstanding and meaningful expressions of His love?
B. (Personal) List some of the ways God's love is realized in your own life and give Him thanks. (Remember His corrective "tough love" as well as His great lovingkindness. They fit together.)
C. God is worthy of honor and respect. Yet, how did His people "despise" His holy name?
D. (Personal) By what choices do you show God that He is first in your life? How might you or I "present defiled food" on His altar?
2. Read Malachi 2.
A. Which two words in verse 5 describe the "covenant of Levi"? Explain why they also describe your covenant-relationship with God. (See John 11:25-26 and Romans 5:1-2)
B. Many of the characteristics of the priest or Levite are listed in verses 5-7.
1. What is his identity?
2. Describe his function.
C. What is your identity and purpose? (Challenge: In addition to the above verses, what New Testament verses do you know which clarify this to you?)
D. A contrast is indicated by the word "but" in verse 8. What are the contrasting factors?
E. What sins are listed in verses 10-16?
F. How are you applying this to your life this week?
3. Read Malachi 3:1-7.
A. Describe the coming messenger.
B. What will He accomplish?
C. 1. What is always God's call to His own who have sinned ? (See James 4:8-10)
2. How do you "return to God"? Describe His provision for sin.
4. Read Malachi 3:8-18.
A. How were the people "robbing God"?
B. (Personal) With the awareness that "you are bought with a price" and are "God's own possession," explain how you might be robbing God. (Ask Him to search your heart and life, then consider how you use the resources He gives you -- time, friends, material things, family, etc. But also remember that God delights in giving you "all things richly to enjoy." 1 Timothy 6:17)
C. What does God promise you in verse 10? Apply His message to yourself in the context of the New Testament -- the eternal covenant by which you may live each day in fellowship with Jesus Christ.
D. (Personal) God's richest blessings may not always seem obvious, desirable or comfortable at the moment. (Remember Isaiah 45:3) Take time to consider what His very best gifts to you are, then give Him thanks.
5. Read Malachi 3:16 - 4:5. At God's appointed time, we will all face His judgment. That day will bring a glorious end to those whose lives have been cleansed in the "blood of the Lamb." But it will bring terror and fear to those who refuse to "serve Him." What do you learn about that great day of the Lord as it pertains to...
A. The righteous -- those "who fear the Lord"?
B. The arrogant and wicked?
6. Read Jeremiah 33:14-16.
A. How will God fulfill His promise to the house of Israel and Judah?
B. "The Lord is our righteousness." Relate this statement in verse 16 to Malachi 4:2. What does it meant to you? How does this truth answer the problems seen in Malachi.
7. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24. From the time of Malachi, four hundred years pass before the coming of the Lord of Righteousness. During this time, the events prophesied in Daniel 2:36-42 continue to be fulfilled. The Medo-Persian empire is overthrown by the Greek empire which, in turn, is crushed by the Romans. Thus the stage is set for the humble birth of the King of Kings. Not many are found watchfully waiting at His arrival, but "to all who received Him... He gave the power to become the children of God." (John 1:12)
A. One day -- perhaps very soon -- He will come again to receive His faithful followers -- His precious Bride -- to Himself. How are you preparing your heart and life for that great day?
B. How does verse 24 encourage you? Give your answer in form of a prayer of faith and thanksgiving.
SUGGESTED HYMN: Jesus, Thy boundless love to me