Doubting the Character of GOD…….Bible Study Series

“YOUR WORDS HAVE BEEN STOUT AGAINST ME, SAITH THE LORD. YET YE SAY, WHAT HAVE WE SPOKEN SO MUCH AGAINST THEE? YE HAVE SAID, IT IS VAIN TO SERVE GOD: AND WHAT PROFIT IS IT THAT WE HAVE KEPT HIS ORDINANCE, AND THAT WE HAVE WALKED MOURNFULLY BEFORE THE LORD OF HOSTS? AND NOW WE CALL THE PROUD HAPPY; YEA THEY THAT WORK WICKEDNESS ARE SET UP; YEA, THEY THAT TEMPT GOD ARE EVEN DELIVERED.” Malachi 3:13-15

There is so much going on in the country and world today it gets to a place that you just don’t want to listen to the news. You try to live as GOD WANTS YOU TO and it seems like the unbelievers are getting more of the benefits. They appear to be doing well and work less. They are getting all of the money and then when they mess up we are bailing them out. To top it off when we bail them out then they go and spend over $400,000.00 of our money and go and have a spa weekend with golf and we don’t have 400,000 pennies. With the economy being so bad and people loosing their homes, jobs, retirement and life’s savings it makes you wonder if its really  worth it to be a Christian. I do understand what you are feeling and can relate. However all that glitters is not gold and we have so much more. The beauty of it all is that when we find ourselves in these types of situations we can always turn to THE WORD OF GOD AND HE WILL HAVE THE ANSWER WE NEED. It has been said that there is nothing going on now that hasn’t been done already. If you live long enough you will see the same things over and over again. Prime example is clothing. The styles that I grew up with are now the latest designers must haves. Many times my own daughter will say “Mom why didn’t you keep that dress, sweater, or shoes?” My answer would be “I never thought I’d see that outfit again ever!!!” So with this bible study we see a time that reflects much of what we are seeing today. When the prophet Malachi wrote it was during the time when the post-exilic Jews in Palestine were again experiencing adversity and spiritual decline. The people had become cynical and were doubting GOD’S love and promises. They were questioning his justice and disbelieving  that there was any profit in obeying his commands. Because of this their faith began to dim. As their faith dimmed it caused them to become mechanical and insensitive in their worship observances, indifferent to the law’s requirements and guilty of all kinds of sins against the covenant. At that time not only the people but the priests had become corrupt and people were not giving their tithes and offerings. They were breaking their laws where marriage was concerned and the men were divorcing their Hebrew wives to marry pagan women. It appeared to them that they were better off not serving GOD in the way that he commanded. From what they could see those who were not of GOD lived better and had more. This was not the golden age of the Jews and they didn’t have the wealth that would come later. They begin to doubt GOD’S CHARACTER. As far as we know Malachi’s message was proclaimed sometime between 430-420 b.c. However this sounds like what’s happening today in 2008!!! But as always I’m getting ahead of myself. Looking at the above scripture, I personally like the way the New International Version says it “YOU HAVE SAID HARSH THINGS AGAINST ME, SAYS THE LORD. YET YOU ASK, WHAT HAVE WE SAID AGAINST YOU? YOU HAVE SAID, IT IS FUTILE TO SERVE GOD. WHAT DID WE GAIN BY CARRYING OUT HIS REQUIREMENTS AND GOING ABOUT LIKE MOURNERS BEFORE THE LORD ALMIGHTY? BUT NOW WE CALL THE ARROGANT BLESSED. CERTAINLY THE EVILDOERS PROSPER, AND EVEN THOSE WHO CHALLENGE GOD ESCAPE.”  The majority of the people felt like this. What is the point they said to serve when they were not seeing the material benefits. Why couldn’t they have the younger prettier pagan wives??? Why couldn’t they keep the tithe and offerings after all they needed it more than GOD, HE WAS SUPPOSE TO ALREADY OWN EVERYTHING ANYWAY??? And then really….just look at the priests who were suppose to be the spiritual leaders!!! The priests had corrupted the ministry to which GOD had called them into. These very priests no longer revered the NAME OF GOD. They no longed feared HIM in other words they had lost respect for HIM. They failed to proclaim HIS word or to live a good and righteous life. They showed partiality to the rich and influential, allowing them to continue in their unjust and sinful ways. Instead of confronting them with GOD’S WORD OF WARNING. The priests were chosen from the tribe of Levi. GOD ALMIGHTY used Levi and his faithful descendants as examples of what ministers should be. They must show love and respect for GOD. They must live honestly and righteously. They must preach the truth of GOD with power and conviction. Then they must live in such a way that their lives are examples and their words would turn many from sin. These priests were doing the opposite. They embraced the corrupt and welcomed the dishonest. They loved those with money and rebuked those who were attempting to serve the LORD in the right way. They didn’t care that the people were robbing GOD. The more they robbed GOD the more money kick-backs they got. Wait are we still talking about 430b.c. or 2008??? Again nothing new under the sun!!! We are seeing the very same things. Our leaders both religious and political are cozing up with the rich and putting the little guys down. If you are not one of the big tithers in your church you will be ignored. We tolerated those who hate the LORD to put prayer out of our schools. We tolerated same-sex marriages and unions. We tolerated big business giving people homes they knew they couldn’t afford and watched hard working people loose everything they had worked for. We watched a president send our sons and daugters to die in a war that was not our fight but to look the other way and not go after the people who killed our people in 911. We tolerated a political party to steal the white house with corrupt votes. We even see our country go back to bigotry and hatred because a black man is running for a chance to live in the white house. Oh but I’m not done yet. We are seeing that the very words on our money and the reason that this country was founded is being challaged and the evil ones want to take GOD OFF OF EVERYTHING. And we wonder why things are going so horribly wrong??? Like the people during Malachi’s time the people were doubting that GOD really loved them. We too are wondering the very same thing. After seeing all this disastrous things going on there are those who are accusing GOD OF BEING UNFAITHFUL TO HIS COVENANT PROMISES. There are many of his church leaders who like the priests during Malachi’s time are showing contempt for GOD by offering him their least instead of their best. As leaders of Christ’ church we should be a living sacrifice to him. We should choose the choice time of the day for prayer and bible study. Not when we are too tired to do anything else. The priest were bringing the crippled or diseased animals to GOD as a offering, this was against GOD’s LAWS. HE told them to bring the first fruits the best. Just like today we put him last. We get stuck in religion instead of relationship. We don’t tithe with our money or our time, and when we do its just busy work and we want to be rewarded for giving what belongs to GOD. They kept their tenth of their earnings and did not give to GOD AS THEY SHOULD basicly they robbed HIM. OUR LORD ALWAYS PROVIDES FOR THOSE THAT LOVE HIM. HE STATES in verse 10 “BRING THE WHOLE TITHE INTO THE STOREHOUSE, THAT THERE MAY BE FOOD IN MY HOUSE. TEST ME IN THIS, SAYS THE LORD ALMIGHTY, AND SEE IF I WILL NOT THROW OPEN THE FLOODGATES OF HEAVEN AND POUR OUT SO MUCH BLESSING THAT YOU WILL NOT HAVE ROOM ENOUGH FOR IT.” Bottom line then and now if we would repent, and return to GOD, and, as a sign of our repentance, begin to support GOD’S work with our tithes and offerings we would be abundantly blessed. In times like this we must turn with all our hearts to HIM. We must take the money that we do have and bless HIS house. HE said if we don’t believe him to just try and prove HIM. Its almost like when you were a child and someone said I dare you. OUR LORD IS SAYING DON’T DOUBT ME OR MY CHARACTER. PROVE ME FOR I AM GOD ALMIGHTY AND I DON’T LIE. WHAT I HAVE SAID IS ALREADY DONE!!! Now look at verse 16-18 ” 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. THEY WILL BE MINE, SAYS THE LORD ALMIGHTY, IN THE DAY WHEN I MAKE UP MY TREASURED POSSESSION. I WILL SPARE THEM, JUST AS IN COMPASSION A MAN SPARES HIS  SON WHO SERVES HIM. AND YOU WILL AGAIN SEE THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE WICKED, BETWEEN THOSE WHO SERVE GOD AND THOSE WHO DO NOT.” This is the part we need to focus on…there were still a few who honored GOD. In contrast to the majority who were doubting his character. This small group still loved and respected GOD and when they came together they talked among themselves encouraging each other to follow GOD’S WILL. This lets us know how important it is to gather together and encourage one another. It also gives us accountablity one to another. Together we can keep our focus on the things of GOD. That’s not to say that we don’t evangelize, we can’t keep the world out but the more we gather and encourage one another the better we are. This passage assures us that OUR LORD obseves and records our faithfuness to HIM and our love of HIM. There will be a time in heaven when we will have to stand before HIM AND HE WILL REMEMBER OUR DEVOTED COMMITMENT AND TREAT US ACCORDINGLY. THE DAY OF THE LORD IS COMING AND HE WILL BRING DEIVERANCE FOR ALL WHO LOVE AND SERVE HIM. LORD JESUS has already given us salvation. In HIS KINGDOM OUR LORD’S GLORY AND RIGHTEOUSNESS WILL SHINE LIKE THE SUN, BRINGING TO HIS FAITHFUL PEOPLE THE ULTIMATE IN GOODNESS, BLESSING, SALVATION AND HEALING. Everything will be made right, and we will leap for joy. Our LORD JESUS has told us that while here our HEAVENLY FATHER will provide all our needs. So in these hard and bad times, when money is low and everything appears to fall apart set your eyes ON JESUS. You don’t have to know how HE’S going to do it just know that HE WILL AS LONG AS YOU ARE OBEDIENT TO HIS WILL. Malachi’s people doubted GOD’S CHARACTER and as a result GOD DID NOT SPEAK TO ISRAEL FOR 400 YEARS!!!. It wasn’t until John the Baptist came along who is the last known prophet and alerted the people that the Messiah was coming did Israel here from GOD again. After that LORD JESUS came on the scene and we all know how they acted with that. As these times prove to be challenging and sometimes downright frightening don’t worry or be afraid draw closer to JESUS. Pull out your bible, study and meditate on HIS WORD. Talk to HIM. Ask HIM what you need to. HE WILL LEAD YOU IN THE WAY YOU SHOULD GO. Speak to your pastor and elders in your church. If you don’t have a church leave questions for us and we will answer you to the best of our ablity or direct you to where you will be able to get help. These are the times to turn to those who KNOW THE LORD. These people will be able to lift you up with encouragement or directions on how to rest in his peace. I know for sure that this too shall pass. This is not the time to focus on the world. This is not the time to wonder why they appear to have it good when you are following THE LORD AS BEST YOU CAN. Don’t stop doing what GOD HAS ASKED US TO DO!!! Don’t stop living the way he has taught us to. Don’t do like the people of Malachi’s time. We must keep atuned to HIS VOICE and pay attention to HIS WILL. Just wait and see the GLORY OF OUR GOD.

As always we ask you to go back to the word and see what THE LORD IS TELLING YOU ABOUT THIS BIBLE STUDY. Malachi is a short book and we have covered many parts of it. I suggest that you read the entire book. Please let us know if this study has helped you in any way or if you have any questions or comments (good or bad) they are always welcome. Below are some questions you can focus on or answer during your study time.

1. What do you think caused the people in Malachi’s day to distrust GOD?

2. In what ways did the priests show contempt towards GOD?

3. Compare the priest in Malachi’s day to the Pastor’s of our day do you see any similarities?

4. How do you feel about the way the men of Malachi’s day divorced their Hebrew wives for younger/prettier pagan women?

5. Why should we follow GOD’S PLAN during times of trouble?

6. How do you feel about the people robbing GOD of HIS tithes and offerings?

7. When you have financial difficulties do you still pay your tithes and offerings? If so why?

8. Why do you think GOD stopped speaking to Israel via HIS prophets during Malachi’s day?

9. Do you think GOD WILL DO THE SAME THING WITH US today?

10. With the events going on in this country and the world today how would you tell someone about trusting in GOD TO PROVIDE ALL THEIR NEEDS when it appears that they are going to loose their job,home,and life savings?

11. During these days of possible recession examine your current walk with GOD.

12. What does it mean to Fear the LORD?

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