When a preacher makes reference to the Book of Malachi, most church members cover up their wallets and purses.
The most “popular” verse is in the last document of the Old Testament is found in chapter 3, verse 10. It’s about tithing. But the word from God through the prophet whose name means “my messenger,” is a profound one for the day in which we live, even if scribed 2,500 years ago.
The basic theme of Malachi is consistent with the entire Bible — “God loves you.” He loves us with an unchanging, unmerited love. But the people of Malachi’s day asked, “If He loves us, why doesn’t He show it more? If He is so good and righteous, why aren’t we seeing more evidence of prosperity and the fabulous days predicted by the prophets?”
Ezekiel had predicted that the land would rebound and become fruitful (34:26-30). Isaiah had predicted that the population would grow in size and might and that all nations would serve Israel (54:1-3; 49:22-23).
Jeremiah predicted that the nation would rise to a new glory (23:5-6). Politicos have been promising the same things for America!
But the Israel of Malachi’s day was experiencing a drought (physically and spiritually). Sound familiar? Malachi’s response to the people was that the harshness of their lot was more than justified by their frigid formalization and outright disloyalty to God.
Their suffering was a direct result of their sin. They were missing the evidence of God’s love because they were self-focused and feeling sorry for themselves.
Today we find ourselves reflecting on an election process. The nation is divided in its expectation of future hope. Do we trust the system, our emotional gut, or is there a more certain mode of confidence that can assure healing in and for our nation?
Malachi wasn’t the only prophet of God who struggled with a message of hope in the midst of national sinfulness. Read the Old Testament. Read the daily news. We just can’t seem to solve the problem with our own best efforts. But we don’t have to. God has prescribed a remedy.
He declared it to David’s son Solomon, “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sins, and will HEAL THEIR LAND” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
The process is sequential: repentance (“turn from wicked ways”) only comes from focusing on God (“seek His face”), which happens through prayer, which is only effective when expressed through a humble heart.
The key words to set the process in motion are “My people.”
God is not asking the rebellious, pagan, non-faith, whether politicians or well-meaning societal architects, to effect healing. It must come by and through God’s people.
Those who “trust Him with all their heart and do not lean to their own understanding; but in all ways acknowledge Him to direct their path” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Do you want to see a healing of our land? Are you a believer? God says it all depends on you!
What is your plan? Calling for change in others, or effecting God’s plan of change in yourself?
The Rev. Jimmy Towers is pastor of LifeWay Fellowship in Killeen.