It is very difficult in this day to stand firm in the faith because the very nature of society as it is, places obstacles and challenges in our paths. The people of Malachi’s time had been restored to Jerusalem and the temple and walls were rebuilt. They sought instant gratification and had become neglectful of their duties to God and each other. They had been misled into believing that the Messianic kingdom was theirs immediately upon their return. They became discouraged because things had really not changed. The harshness of life, the unfairness and inequalities that they still saw and that the people endured led them to doubt the value of faith and God’s place in their lives. They, like us today allowed the pressures of life to allow a spirit of worldliness to reduce their commitment to God and their worship had become mere formality. Because of this attitude they had also allowed the sins and vices of their world to enter into the heart of their faith. I have written about Malachi in another post but was drawn back because of a devotional I read in the Our Daily Bread. It was written by Pho Fang Chia and the verses it centered on are the basis of this blog.
There are only fifty-five verses in only four chapters, Malachi is the last book in the Old Testament. Malachi was the last of the Old Testament inspired prophets. When read in the context of a letter in one sitting and allowing the flow of his words to build on each other, it is remarkable he said so much in so few words. He certainly held nothing back. God through the prophet addresses his love for his people, and follows that with accusations against the Priests and the unfaithfulness of the people. He is a God of justice and then accuses them about the giving and use of the tithes. We are all at one time or another discouraged when we see all around us the injustices of life and that many times those responsible are left to prosper. Malachi 3: 13-15 says this better than I…..
13 “You have spoken arrogantly against me,” says the Lord. “Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’
14 “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? 15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.’”
Malachi paints a picture of the righteous and the wicked, it is when we reach chapter 4 in verses 2 – 3 that we are given a reason to stand firm in the faith and in verse 4 a reminder of what God expects of his people.
4 [a]“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. 3 Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty.
4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.
Poh Fang Chia in his devotional speaks to a fear that many Christians share but never really talk about. Being different, fearing we will lose out if we don’t blend in. He asks …. How can we stand firm for God in a culture that tells us we will lose out if we don’t blend in? Malachi answers that question in this way in 3: 16-18
16 Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.
17 “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.
The Lord heard his people (v-16), God notices and cares for all who fear and honor Him. We are not called to fit in but to draw closer to Him each day as we encourage each other. (Poh Fang Chia) Malachi is also unusual in that we read a conversation , if you will, between God and the people. The thing I take away from these verses is that God will recognize those who stand firm in the faith, we are never alone or forgotten.
Standing Firm in the faith means we will be different, we may not fit in with the norms of the day but He has promised that we will be His special possession in the great day of the Lord.
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