Image above is from the Basilica of Saint Lawrence in Austria—Gothic stained glass window (AD 1330). Latin quotation is from Malachi 3:1—”The Lord shall come to his temple.” Wikipedia public domain.
Listening in on Another Person’s Conversation
When I was in Junior High School, I went to summer camp in upper Greenville County, SC. Since I was in the younger group, we were allowed to phone home once a week. There would be a long line of fellow campers, so the calls had to kept brief. To complicate matters, the telephone line we used was a 15-party line. (I realize party-line telephone lines are foreign to those born after 1960ish.) Each of the 15 customers had a separate ringtone to identify a call that was for them.
On a party line, when you wanted to make a call, you would pick up the receiver to be certain no one was using the line already. Then, you would enter the number you wished to call (on a dial telephone). Frequently, you would hear someone else pick up and remain listening while you talked to Mom. This was the neighborhood gossip seeking information to pass along to others.
As telephone upgrades made party lines more popular in the 1940s, local telephone companies ran frequent ads to instill community spirit and personal courtesy in party-line subscribers. Image from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party_line_(telephony)
This telephone party-line story is not far off from the experience we have when reading the Bible. We read a text intended for an ancient original audience. Yet, it was written down for us, as well.
Paul writes of the experiences of the Old Testament saints in I Corinthians 10—
6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.
11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. (ESV; Emphasis mine.)
We should immerse ourselves in the Scriptures regularly to avoid the sins of those written about in the Old and New Testaments.
In Malachi we are listening-in on two conversations from the past—
- The conversation of those who have rejected the Lord and His Word 3:13-15;
- The conversation of those who have remained faithful to the Lord and His Word 3:16-4:3.
God is the one giving us the dialogue. 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.
European Culture without Christianity
Oskar Halecki (pictured right) said, “The attempt to create a culture which would be European without being Christian…is now recognized as the main cause of the present crisis in European civilization.” That churchmen in great numbers are a part of this revolution, this de-Christianization of the West, is an amazing as well as an ugly fact. (see Selbrede below, p. 296.)
The theme of verses 13-15 is—
Believers need to remain faithful to God and the teachings of His Word in order to avoid participating in the building a godless civilization.
I. We must separate ourselves from those who are hard-hearted towards God. vs. 13
vs. 13 “Your words have been hard against me,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have we spoken against you?”
The word for “hard” in Hebrew is hazaq, meaning to grow stout, rigid, hard—with the idea of perversity. (see hazaq, below.) Compare Exodus 7:13 Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
Those who depart from God and the teachings of His Word harden their hearts against the Lord and His Word. Soon perverse, hard words come out of their mouths.
Such hard-hearted folks do not recognize their sin against God. “What have we spoken [among ourselves] against you?” The word “spoken” (in Hebrew dabar) carries the meaning of the “reciprocal sense, speak with one another.” We are listening-in on a conversation among persons who are hard-hearted toward God (see dabar, below).
We in the West have permitted our institutions of Higher Education to teach anti-God philosophies. We can restrict the classrooms of our K-12 grades from teaching it, but those who teach have been taught by godless professors.
Sowing and Reaping
On one occasion in the old First Baptist Church sanctuary in Atlanta, I heard Charles Stanley make this observation about sowing and reaping—”We reap what we sow; we reap more than we sow; and we reap later than we sow.”
I agree with Dr. Stanley! Our current religious situation began with hiring the first anti-Christian professor. He taught many students over the years who became teachers themselves; Etc. If Christian members of the various alumni associations had said, “We won’t give a dime to the university’s sports program, nor will we attend any more ball games until you get rid of anti-Christian professors,” We would have seen a different atmosphere in our institutions of higher learning today.
Marvin Olasky asked then Gov. George W. Bush to rein-in the higher educational institutions in Texas. Sadly, Gov. George W. Bush said he didn’t have the power to take on that strong cabal.
We do not have the power to take on strong cabals in our world merely with our human abilities. But this is not the end. See Zechariah 4:6 [The angel] said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.
Next time we’ll look further at Malachi 3.
Notes on Sources
Dabar. (1939; 1994). Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon to the Old Testament. Accessed 9 October 2021 from https://biblehub.com/hebrew/1696.htm
Hazaq. (1939; 1994). Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon to the Old Testament. Accessed 9 October 2021 from https://biblehub.com/hebrew/2388.htm
Selbrede, M. G. (2017). “Power Grabs in Church and State.” Accessed 9 October 2021 from https://chalcedon.edu/magazine/power-grabs-in-church-and-state
Images from Wikipedia or public domain.