Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.”
God made at least seven comments to Israel through Malachi, to which His people responded with haughty, indignant questions, challenging His wisdom and justice. God’s words were simple and true, but by that time in Israel’s history, they had been so badly taught by their ministers that even simple truth was too much for them to bear.
“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me. But you say, ‘Wherein have we robbed you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed me, even this whole nation.”
The “you” in this comment from the Lord is plural, as becomes clear when God explains that He is speaking to “this whole nation”. The whole nation of Israel was robbing God.
Now, the whole nation of Israel was still worshiping. That is clear from many observations made by the prophets. Repeatedly in the Old Testament books, we are told that God’s people built altars for sacrifice “on every high hill and under every green tree” (e.g. 1Kgs. 14:23). The whole nation of Israel was still making sacrifices; in fact, they became so fervent in their zeal to make a sacrifice that they sacrificed their own children (Jer. 32:35). God’s people were praying daily, and asking for spiritual guidance (Isa. 58:1-2). According to Jesus, they were even making evangelistic journeys to win the lost across land and sea (Mt. 23:14-15). And all the time, God was being robbed.
God mourned when Israel robbed Him of His gold and silver and His fruits of the field and the flocks by offering them to other gods (Ezek. 16:17-19). He mourned when Israel robbed Him of His children and offered them on Molech’s altars (Ezek. 16:20-21). He mourned when Israel converted Gentiles to their brand of religion and robbed Him of the glory that those hungry souls would have offered to Him. He saw the increase in the sizes of Israel’s congregations and lamented, “Israel is an empty vine; she bears fruit to herself.” God was robbed, as Israel increased in prestige among the Gentiles.
But it was a prestige purchased at a high price, for when God was robbed, Israel lost her true riches of God’s favor and blessing.
These things are written for the admonition of God’s New Testament saints. We worship, but who gets the glory? We make offerings, but by whom are they really received? We win souls, but whose converts are they when they are made? The whole nation of Israel thought they were pleasing God at the same time that God was sending them prophets to tell them that they were not. Those prophets were despised, ridiculed, beaten, and slain by men who afterward returned to their worship, confident in themselves of God’s approval.
There is a reason that God, by a few small voices, is calling His children out of Christianity and church religion. God is not wrong. His people are robbing Him again, all of them, and He is deeply grieved. We are told that Jesus was, and is, the very image of the Father (Heb. 1:2-3). Then what is it that we are being told by Isaiah’s prophecy of Jesus, saying that “He is a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief ”? Or what can we learn about our heavenly Father by reading this description of His Son, who is His exact image: “He is despised and rejected of men . . . and we hid, as it were, our faces from him. He was despised, and we esteemed Him not”?