Upside Down and Inside Out
That's the Book: Malachi
We just got home from a walk down to the local park. My kids rode bikes, my spouse played with his new drone and I held my breath when my eldest hung upside down from the parallel bars. I let my kids climb trees and scamper over larger rocks. I really try not to panic or over react. I want to raise brave and tough people. But my hearts stops a bit when they hang upside down. It isn't the view I expect and the consequences of falling are high.
Malachi was the last prophet to the people of Israel before the New Testament. He spoke about 100 years after the people had returned to Israel from their captivity in Babylon. The book involves a conversation between the people asking questions - oh let me be blunt - they were whining and complaining - and then God's response. They wondered when God loved them. Where was He in the midst of their hardship? Why did they suffer? Malachi covers a wide range of issues. Justice, marriage, tithing, the priesthood. Basically corruption and unfaithfulness were again (still?) the norm of the day. You know. Sin. Same answer. It's the reason for the pain. It's what bound people's hearts and broke their society. Crud. Nothing changes. But I think Malachi is interesting in the context of being the last word before the long 400 year silence before the Messiah came. Watch what happens.
"You have wearied the Lord with your words. "How have we wearied him?" you ask. By saying, 'All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord and he is pleased with them" or "Where is the God of Justice?" Malachi 2: 17
The people had their truth upside down. Good was bad and evil was celebrated. Power, lust, anger, financial gain and oppression were rewarded. So the people were a mess and needed help and were angry at the One who could do something about it.
"I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple. the messenger of the covenant whom you desire will come,' Says the Lord Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears" For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap." Malachi 3:1-2
When I'm annoyed or fed up with my kids or my spouse my first reaction is to shut down and pout. And then the quiet voice of God speaks to my soul and reminds me that love doesn't cut and run. He whispers about how when the world needed help He dove in. Deep water in. Love does not disengage. Love gets in the mess. It fights to get clean. Sometimes I listen. Works best when I do. When my inside governs what happens on my outside my family benefits. Inside Out.
"On the day when I act," says the Lord Almighty, "they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him." Malachi 3:17
See. Last word is that God will spare the people just like a father spares his son. Only in this case God saved the people BY sacrificing his son who served him. You see right? Jesus the promised Messiah came into the mess and poured himself out on the fire as the sacrifice. God's economy is frequently upside down and backwards. The foolish things teach the wise. The perceived as weak things like love and forgiveness can break the powerful and mighty. God's message to His people was I am coming to fix what you broke. He took the consequences of our fall. Upside Down and Inside Out.
Does your marriage need help???
Marriage is hard sometimes. Wow baby. Malachi wasn't kidding about the importance of your marriage. "The man who hates and divorces his wife," says the Lord, the God of Israel, "does violence to the one he should protect," says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful." Malachi 2:16
If you are wading through one of those heavy dark rains will you consider getting help. Marriage Team in Vancouver, WA is a great option. Marriage couching with another couple can offer a new way to respond. Visit their website HERE.
Tithe? What in the world is Tithe?
Malachi has some clear instruction on tithing.
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test time 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 there will not be room enough to store it. Malachi 3: 10
I didn't have space to cover this but I love the section of Malachi on tithing. It's one of the only places in the Bible where God says "Go ahead and test me on this one." Kinda fun. If you need some background or help in your finances or wonder what tithing looks like in your budget check out Dave Ramsey's article on tithing HERE.
Need more info?
Last book of the Old Testament. Wonder why it matters? Check out the Bible Project's Read Scripture YouTube for their overview. Educational, great graphics and intriguing.
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