Monday, February 18, 2008

McWorship: Faithfulness

On Sunday we saw our seventh key word as we have been studying through the Old Testament book of Malachi. Each word is helping us to see how we can be an authentic worshipper of God in the fast-food culture in which we live. This week we saw the word “FAITHFULNESS” which showed us that authentic worship involves having a genuine faith with no hypocrisy.

In Malachi 3:13-18, we see a contrast between two types of people in Israel. There is the foolish one who does not serve God and the faithful one who does. The foolish one is seen in verses 13-15 and is characterized by arrogance. God states this as a fact. The words of Israel have been arrogant. It is so important that we control our tongues. Scripture attests to the fact that the prime evidence that God uses to judge are our words (Jude 14-15; Psalm 139:4; James 3:5-6; Matthew 12:36-37). These words have wearied the Lord. Israel has questioned every fact God has stated. How have you loved us (1:2)?; How have we despised your name (1:6)?; How have we defiled you (1:7)?; For what reason (2:14)?; Where is the God of justice (2:17)?; How shall we return (3:7)?; How have we robbed you (3:8)? There words had wearied the Lord (2:17) but this does not impede Israel’s pattern. They again question this latest fact by asking, “How have we spoken against you?” They once again have denied and trivialized their sin.

Their arrogance results in two major accusations in verses 14-15. First, they state that serving God is a waste of time (v14). They say that it is vain to do so. The word “vain” means worthless. They make this conclusion because they can see no immediate profit to obeying God. They are mistakenly making their judgment based on the world’s values. Their second accusation is just as stunning. They say that the way to real success is through wickedness (v15). In their mind, those that do wicked are “built up.” In other words, it is the wicked that are profiting by the world’s standards. They also believe that those who do wicked escape God’s punishment. They again conclude this by seeing the profit of the wicked according to the world’s standards. Asaph wrote of similar feelings in Psalm 73. Only Asaph handled these feeling correctly. He took those feelings into the sanctuary of the Lord and concluded that in the end, we who are the children of God win!

In contrast to the foolish, Malachi 3:16-18 describes the faithful. We see first their value to God. God says, “They will be mine…my own possessions.” This is the idea of being a beautiful, priceless jewel. This is true because of their virtues. The faithful fear the Lord meaning that they take Him and His word seriously (v16). They also think upon His name continually (esteem His name, v16). Finally, they speak often about Him (v16). Those who fear God think about Him often and those who think about Him often speak well of Him. Malachi reminds Israel that the Lord hears it all. In fact, we learn that God keeps a book of remembrance containing the words that we speak. As a result, he knows who the foolish are and he knows who the faithful are. Even though it may at times seem that the wicked are the ones who are prospering, in order to be authentic worshippers of God we must continue to have a genuine faith with no hypocrisy.

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