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Healing in His Wings – Part 2
As we look to Malachi, who knows what treasures we will find! That is the joy of learning, praying and listening to God’s instructions, as well as learning from experts and commentators. I am not a student. I am a lover of God and his word. The things I share come from my heart, and I hope you share them from your heart as well.
Now, as I wrote in my last article, Part 1 of this series, this study is a random inspiration because my Bible opened, revealing to me a verse that I have been wondering about, “healing in His wings.” (Mal. 4:2) But, when I started to study, maybe the time is what the Lord ordered. We will see.
My study Bible helps us to know more. This writer, Malachi, is only mentioned in this book of the Bible. It is thought that he may actually be the prophet Ezra, writing with a pen. Mal’aki means ‘My Servant’. Whoever wrote it, it is clear that he loved the people of Judah and the temple rituals that the covenant people were required to perform. Prophet Nehemiah also comes from this period, around 450 BC. (Read his amazing leadership story in the book that bears his name)
Now, Malachi is the last of the line of 12 minor prophets, inspired men of God, who gave God’s messages to his chosen people for 1,000 years. Oh. That’s a lot of emails! (Think about the analogy: wireless communications! Ha ha.)
Malachi is ‘burdened’ by this message that he says in the first verse. Throughout the history of the Israelites, these people of the covenant have been listening to God’s vessels, prophets and kings, to assure them of his love……. and justice. Again and again, like you and me, they fell away from their covenant promises to honor and worship Jehovah, obey His commandments and serve Him alone.
The biblical fathers of Israel’s history, judges, prophets, good kings and bad kings give us a picture of the rise and fall of people, just like today. It was during the Babylonian captivity, around 587 BC when Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the people were taken for about 50 years, but only a few remained to cultivate the land.
Malachi takes advice from the children of Israel after the Babylonian captivity. The people of Israel were living in a restored village in the land of Palestine. Regardless of their bad experiences in the past, they returned to a state of immorality and carelessness. Instead of “learning their lesson,” so to speak, repenting and worshiping the God of their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, spiritual weakness is at hand again.
Have you ever found yourself giving up? Can’t stop a habit or behavior? Or have you ever seen someone you love make bad decisions over and over again, and then wonder why life is so difficult that they can’t find happiness or peace or success?
I think Malachi was in the same place: “Burdened because of his people.” Knowing how much grace, forgiveness and love was available to them, if they would turn away from their sins and obey their God, must have disappointed and even angered Malachi. Now, he had a message to deliver: an invitation to enter into a restored relationship, (once again) or face the coming judgment, for God is a just king, full of love and mercy, justice and peace.
I often get in my own way, suffering, feeling hopeless and even angry when I can’t do what I planned. I know one reason is that I have left God out of the equation. I hear the words of Jesus ringing in my ears: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” 2 12:9 or in the Sermon on the Mount “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” (Matt. 5) All these verses, and many others, call us to surrender and submit to God’s plan and allow him to lead. and doing things for our own good.
But, we can be stubborn! I know from experience, the path of life is false and unstable when I fail to integrate my Savior. Why is it that my first instinct is always to control, rush forward, and be sure to figure it out, fix it, clean it, fix it, clean it and repeat? I think you can call it human nature, or pride, or as Solomon the wise King said that “There is a way that seems to be right for a man, but the end is death”. (Proverbs 14:12) Solomon was so insistent that he wrote the same verse three times! Proverbs 16:25 and 12:15 are the perversion of fools who ignore instruction.
As soon as I repent, invite Him to take His way, the difference! My burden seems light, the path is clear, and no matter the outcome, I know that God’s hand is on me and He will lead me in safety and “make all things new!” No matter my mistakes or wrong intentions, God will bring good out of evil. It is one of His many promises that I treasure. (Gen 50:20) Next time I will tell you how he changed our IRS dream for good.
Chapters 1 – 8 are written as questions and answers. I like that. God speaks to His people through His prophet. We are always welcome to approach God with our questions. Apart from this, he does not know everything, and he does not already know what is in our hearts. So, run, ask and bless, thank and praise, because God wants a relationship with his people. This fact is repeated throughout Jewish history. It is also our Christian heritage.
I noticed that people are asking for evidence (!) of the love that God has for them. I’m sure they are feeling the pain of the destruction of their city and the 50 years of exile in a foreign land.
The Israelites had a bad record of being fully settled in this covenant relationship. They testified again and again by worshiping other gods, marrying other people’s groups, and, as shown here in verses 7 and 8, they have even brought defiled sacrifices to God’s altar. How could they bring less than the best, the choice lamb, or bull, or what have you for sacrifice? Did they think that God would not have noticed that the animal was blind, or that it was deformed in some way? Could smoke and flames block the vision of the Holy, Almighty God, Jehovah, I Am Who Is?
What about you and me? Do we bring less than our best to Jehovah in what we do with our time, talents and money? What about our mental life, the entertainment we choose, our words, our actions? Do we spend time with Him, dedicatedly, focused on worship and conversation? Do we always go to fellowship with other believers and grow in our knowledge and understanding of God’s word?
For those who may be reading this now and thinking, “Here we go with a list of dos and don’ts that I hate the most about religion,” I can offer, of course, the Old Testament was about instructions in the covenant agreement. The fact that it was difficult, even impossible, to look at every part of it, laid the foundation for the lack of a Redeemer, a Savior, Who can stand between us and God’s judgment as a mediator, as One. The Last Sacrifice Who would take the appropriate punishment. No one could pay that debt. Only Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, could fulfill this great punishment for failing to keep the covenant. That is why he is called “Lamb of God”.
The good news, the “good news” is this: Because of Jesus, faith is now in a relationship with God, not a list of rules. It is about recognizing the great gift of His sacrifice on the cross at Calvary to pay the price for our sins. Now, with deep gratitude, we respond with the desire to love Him as He loved us and to be like people who always want to please Him, because we are His….He bought our freedom and forgiveness with Him. very life! This is what makes our choices, love, not rules.
“Now for those of Christ there is no opposition.” (Romans 8:1) What a great love.
I take seriously Paul’s instructions in the New Testament: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and “offer yourselves a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God.” – Romans 12:1.
But, without daily effort, the distractions of my life can destroy my good intentions. We are weak, and busy, busy, busy. It’s all the more reason to have a time of rest and silence before the King every day. It is a great reason to rejoice in what Jesus Christ has done for us. What do you think?
Malachi reminded the remnant of the returning Jews that God still loved them, but they had to pay some consequences for ignoring the covenant. This is an important rule of life: there are consequences! They paid many times over the years. Here, Malachi admonishes them to ‘go about’ in the feasts of the temple, without true hearts, or the best sacrifices. Remember now, this is God speaking through Malachi. God is offended by such shame! He asks, do you also shame your mother and father?
For today, let’s end with verse 9. No matter what, God always, always reaches out and gives his approval to the worst sinner. (That would be me and you, my friend.) His desire is to show grace, it says. Let us ask for God’s favor to show us mercy, compassion, forgiveness, generosity and kindness.
No one can fail our loving God. I pray you stay in his grip.
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