International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday August 30, 2015
Purpose: To make the connection between acting justly and living abundantly
Bible Lesson: Malachi 3:1-10
Background Scripture: Matthew 7:12
Malachi 3:1-10 (CEB)
(1) Look, I am sending my messenger who will clear the path before me; suddenly the Lord whom you are seeking will come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you take delight is coming, says the Lord of heavenly forces. (2) Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can withstand his appearance? He is like the refiner’s fire or the cleaner’s soap. (3) He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver. He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. They will belong to the Lord, presenting a righteous offering. (4) The offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in ancient days and in former years. (5) I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against the sorcerers, the adulterers, those swearing falsely, against those who cheat the day laborers out of their wages as well as oppress the widow and the orphan, and against those who brush aside the foreigner and do not revere me, says the Lord of heavenly forces. (6) I am the Lord, and I do not change; and you, children of Jacob, have not perished. (7) Ever since the time of your ancestors, you have deviated from my laws and have not kept them. Return to me and I will return to you, says the Lord of heavenly forces. But you say, “How should we return?” (8) Should a person deceive God? Yet you deceive me. But you say, “How have we deceived you?” With your tenth-part gifts and offerings. (9) You are being cursed with a curse, and you, the entire nation, are robbing me. (10) Bring the whole tenth-part to the storage house so there might be food in my house. Please test me in this, says the Lord of heavenly forces. See whether I do not open all the windows of the heavens for you and empty out a blessing until there is enough.
Key Verse: Therefore, you should treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you; this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
The Book of Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament. Because things like a functioning temple, intermarriage, and a governor are mentioned we can assume it was written sometime after Haggai and Zechariah. All of this to say that it really was the last word we heard from God prior to the birth of Christ.
The lesson text starts by answering the prior verse in 2:17 “You have made the Lord tired with your words. You say, "How have we made him tired?" When you say: "Anyone doing evil is good in the Lord’s eyes," or "He delights in those doing evil," or "Where is the God of justice?"
The Lord answers the grumbling and complaining with a promise of hope. Most of the time this is the verse used to proclaim John the Baptist as the forerunner to Christ.
The promise comes with a warning, and seemingly accuses the Levites or those professionals that were responsible for directing worship. If you read the entire book you will find that those priests and temple workers were guilty of accepting rotten or spoiled fruit, and sick animals as legitimate offerings. They had lost the respect of the congregation, and the congregation was blaming God.
It is common to hear this complaint today, “God has left our church or denomination.” When in fact God has not moved. Verse 6 makes it plain, “I am the Lord, and I do not change.” We love to blame God for our problems, if you find yourself further from God, remember He did not move.
Malachi continues to point out that they cannot blame God because they have been unfaithful. He also reminds them that they need to be careful what they wish for. The closer we get to the Lord the hotter the fire and the more that is expected of us. He will remove those things that do not edify and we will think He is picking on us. Our view almost always is short sighted. While God is looking at things through a longer telescope. He sees the end, we only see the present.
Giving our all to God does not go unrewarded, but it is hard for us to see beyond today. God’s blessing is a response to our obedience, unfortunately our professional teachers like to tell us there is nothing we can do to earn God’s favor. I think God’s love and His blessing have been confused by some. It is true, God cannot love us more. But it is also true, God responds to those that do his will. I love what Hebrews 11:6 says, “It’s impossible to please God without faith because the one who draws near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards people who try to find him.”
There is a hymn “Abide With Me” which uses the words from our lesson in stanza 2 :( “O Thou who changest not , abide with me.”)