Image above in public domain; Tower of Babel by Dutch painter (17th century) from Wikipedia commons. It is the epitome of man’s futile effort to displace God by building upward to His dwelling and displacing Him.
As I have pointed out in the previous posts, the theme of verses 13-15 is—
Believers need to remain faithful to God and the teachings of His Word in order to avoid contributing toward building a godless civilization.
This week we finish the conversation of the ungodly—the conversation of those who have rejected the Lord and His Word so they can better get along in society (Malachi 3:13-15).
The prophet Malachi is the one giving us the dialogue. He is functioning as a covenant prosecutor. (For more on this aspect of a prophet’s ministry see R. C. Sproul’s Covenant Prosecutors.)
We are faced with a decision as to which group we will join today. Will we be faithful to our Lord? Or, will we reject Him and His Word? In our world the majority have opted for rejecting the Lord and His Word. So, believers are always swimming upstream against the ungodly current of life.
Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, used to say that the three most important things in his life were God, his family, and McDonald’s and that when he got to the office, the order was reversed.
As Christians we must never reverse that order. We are an ambassador of Christ wherever we go. Our behavior and words must represent the one who we serve. (See Sheane, below.)
III. We cannot numb our consciences so we can become “covert” Christians within our society. vs. 15
vs.15 ‘And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’”
Note the people who are acting opposite to God’s Word and ways have their priorities wrong. It is not healthy spiritually to numb our consciences so we can go in a direction that the rest of society is following.
The Bible speaks of an inner voice or awareness that can guide us toward what is good and righteous. There is no one word for it in the Hebrew Old Testament, but in the New Testament a word does emerge—syneidesis. …Conscience is an inner awareness about the rightness or wrongness of our thoughts, words, and deeds. The Greek word literally means the self that knows itself.
So the best case scenario is when God the Holy Spirit enlivens and shapes conscience [through the Word of God], making it a reliable voice as we make one decision after another throughout the day. The conscience is where the commands of God and love and faith converge… . (see Lawrenz, below)
One point in Malachi 3:13-15 is the play on God’s own words in Malachi 3:12. God said—Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts. Compare this with 3:15 “…we call the arrogant blessed.” (see Perowne, below.) I can only conclude that the Israelites who proclaimed the arrogant blessed had dulled their consciences and thus were led to act against God Himself.
When we act against the Word of God, our consciences become unreliable referees in deciding between what is good and what is evil.
Matthew Henry Simplifies Things for us
The remembrance of the works of God, will be a powerful remedy against distrust of his promise and goodness; for he is God, and changes not. God’s way is in the sanctuary. We are sure that God is holy in all his works. God’s ways are like the deep waters, which cannot be fathomed; like the way of a ship, which cannot be tracked.
We need today a heightened vision to see things as they are. Prosperity is not a sign of success from the eternal prospective. Psalm 73 gives us God’s perspective on “success.”
1 Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped.
3 For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
The great sin of democracy is envy. “If you have a dime, it is because you stole a nickle from me,” as one pundit has put it.
The puritans had a proverb about a person who suddenly comes into wealth. “God is perhaps blessing that person; or He may be testing him; or He might given him what he wanted and is and by it cursing him” (e.g. “the Midas touch” pictured right he hugged his daughter and she turns to gold). Riches without God’s direction is a curse because riches affect one’s children.
How do we get God’s perspective? consider Psalm 73—
16 But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task,
17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.
18 Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin.
19 How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors!
God’s ways are discerned in the sanctuary (the Holy place—either (1) in one’s Church, or (2) in a meeting with fellow believers, or (3) in one’s own private prayer closet). We need to take specific problems we struggle with and lay them before the Lord. (Picture left is from picryl.com)
11 I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.
12 I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.
13 [Your] way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?
Compare another way for trying to discerning God’s ways—
19 [Your] way is in the sea, and [your] path in the great waters, and [your] footsteps are not known.
20 [You] led [your] people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
You can see the wake of a boat, but as it disappears so also does its wake after a very short while. (Public domain image right from pixabay.com)
I always rely on Romans 11, when I do not understand a matter—
33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his [counselor]? [KJV]
35 “Or who has first given to Him, and it shall be repaid to him?” [NKJV]
36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. [KJV]
Next week we will move to the conversation among the godly.
Lawrenz, M. (2018). “How to Live The Bible — Voice of Conscience,” sermon series. Accessed 24 October 2021 from https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2018/01/how-to-live-the-bible-voice-of-conscience/
Perowne, T. T. (1890). Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi with Notes and Introduction in the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Accessed 24 October 2021 from https://biblehub.com/commentaries/malachi/3-15.htm
Sheane, S. (2010). “Employers and Employees.” Sermon. Accessed 25 October 2021 from https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon-illustrations/76399/are-your-life-s-priorities-by-sermon-central