Sunday, December 18, 2005

Lysol, Living, and Leaping (Malachi)

(I am indeaded to John Piper for the outlines of this sermon)
Malachi is the latest Old Testament prophet and prophicied against idolatry
Malachi 2:10-11: 10: Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? 11Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god.

There are is a significant similarity between Malachi's day and our own: It was a day of waiting for God to fulfill his promises.

1. Haggai had said that the latter splendor of the temple would be greater than the former, and that treasures from all the nations would fill it. Haggai 2:4-9
Haggai 2:4-9: 4Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, 5according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. 6For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. 8The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. 9The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’ ”

2. Zechariah had said that their king would come to them (9:9), a new fountain of forgiveness would be opened (13:1), a spirit of prayer would descend on the people for repentance (12:10-14), many nations would join the Lord, and God would be in their midst (2:11).

3. The hope that fires a people to be pure and take risks and venture great things with God is fading.

4. The great temptation for Israel in the Old Testament and for the church of Christ today is to forget that we are pilgrims not natives in this world. The temptation is to let the Lord's delay make us settle into the world and become passive as we wait; to forget that we are aliens and exiles, sojourners, strangers on the earth, seeking another homeland, desiring and yearning for a better country (Heb. 11:13-16).


Fallen condition Focus: The great threat to the church in America is not that we are persecuted and homeless and driven about like refugees; but that we are so much at home here.
So let's look at Malachi's word to his day and ours for Christmas

Theme: The purpose of Christmas is to lysol a priestly people who live and leap for the glory of God's name. or by living for the glory of God’s name.


To unfold that message I ask four questions:
1) Is Christmas in view in Malachi?
2) Is the purpose of Christmas to purify a priestly people?
3) What does God aim to purify us of?
4) What is the essence of Christmas purity?

First, we ask, Is Christmas in view in Malachi?

1 Peter 1:10-12: 10Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Malachi 2:17: "You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, 'How have we wearied him?' By saying, 'Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.' Or by asking, 'Where is the God of justice?"'

God has drifted so far out of their lives that whether a person is evil or good doesn't matter; the God of justice has delayed his coming so long he is unreal.

Then notice Malachi's response in 3:1, "Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight (irony!); behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts."

  1. There seem to be three persons coming in this verse.
    First, the messenger to prepare the way of God:
  2. Second, God himself; the messenger is preparing his way. "
  3. Third, there is the "messenger of the covenant."

The first person is identified for us in Malachi 4:5,6" The messenger who prepares the way of the Lord is called Elijah and in In Luke 1:16,17, an angel told Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, "[John] will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children…"


Therefore, the fulfillment of the forerunner in Mal. 3:1 is John the Baptist.

Christmas is not the whole story. But it is the beginning of the great day of the Lord."
So Jesus is the Lord who comes to his temple in Mal. 3:1.

From the standpoint of the New Testament we can see why "the Lord" and the "messenger of the covenant" seem distinct on the one hand and seem identical on the other.
The reason, I think, is that Jesus the Messiah is God. "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the word was God …" (John 1:1,14).
As Isaiah prophesied, "For unto us a child is born ... and his name will be called … Mighty God" (9:6).
So in answer to our first question, Is Christmas in view in Malachi? the answer is yes.


The second question is: Is the purpose of Christmas to purify a priestly people? Malachi 3:2-4:
At Christ came at Christmas to build a bridge across the chasm of sin to eternal life, but the name of the bridge is purity.
The only way to eternal life is along the path of sanctification.
Romans 6:22 puts it like this: "Now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life."
There is no lukewarm Christians, casual Christians. If you know someone that does not burn with passion for righteness then they are probably lost and need the savior this Christmas

So the purifying of Malachi 3 began with the coming of Christ.

Now when it says in verse 3 that the sons of Levi will be purified, it does not mean God is indifferent to the purity of the whole people, but that all judgment begins at the house of God.
And in the New Testament Peter teaches us that the church of Christ is a "holy priesthood" (1 Pet. 2:5) or a "royal priesthood" (2:9).
All Christians are sons of Levi.
The purpose of Christmas is to purify a priestly people.

The third question is, What does God aim to purify us of? 2:14-16
Two kinds of impurity get special treatment in this book: marital unfaithfulness and the love of money.
Christ came to keep it pure and to give you the will and the power to keep your vows as long as you live.
The purpose of Christmas is to purify us from the sin of divorce.
May I suggest that some of you husbands get alone today and pray and seek what you should do this year to make your Christmas celebration spiritual with Christ at the center.

The purpose of Christmas is also to purify us from the love of money. 3:8-10

The reason people bring blind goats to the house of God and don't even tithe is twofold:
1) they love the pleasures and comforts money can buy more than they love to advance the gospel, and
2) they believe that if they maintain possession and control they will be able to make a more promising future for themselves than God can if they give up possession and trust his sovereign grace.


Which leads us to the final question, What is the essence of Christmas purity? 1:11
Christmas purity is not essentially the removal of sin, but the restoration of righteousness.
Christ never takes away from his people one thing which he does not replace with something better.
The essence of Christmas purity is not what you stand against, but what you stand in awe of, the glorious name of God.


The purpose of Christmas is to purify (Lysol) a priestly people who live for the glory of God's name.
But not just live, also leap: 4:2,
When you open your eyes to the glory of the name of the mighty God, and set yourself to love him above all else, you will go forth leaping with the freedom of a newborn calf.
Free from the love of money; free from marital faithlessness; free to lift your hands in praise to the Savior; free to discover the thrill of godliness and love; free to decrease that Christ might increase and that God might be all in all.

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