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Introduction:
Describe the difficult day in which we try to minister:
Main Thought: Let's strive to send out God's Word they way we received it, pure: Keep it with purity; study it personally; speak it with power!
Sub-intro:
Chap. 2. The Lord, by the prophet, in this chapter, addresses a word of rebuke to the priests now, as He had done to the people before.
The Spirit awakens a word in the bosom of the prophet, challenging the abominations that were committed in Judah and Jerusalem, the treachery against the nation’s covenant—letting the people know that they were not straitened in the Lord who had provisions for them in the Spirit to fulfil His part in that covenant, but that they had been their own enemies, unfaithful to their conditions in the same covenant.
The covenant is spoken of under the figure of a marriage-contract, or marriage vows, according to the style of the prophets generally.
And it is such a figure as the Lord’s own words about Himself and His people Israel would warrant and suggest.
[J.
G. Bellett, The Minor Prophets (Galaxie Software, 2004), 85–86.]
Body:
The LORD's Commandment to the Priests through His Messenger (Mal.
2:1-10).
I.
The Promise of the Levitical Covenant Reiterated (Mal.
2:1-7).
A. The Intended Audience: the Levitical Priests (Mal.
2:1).
B. The Indictment Against them (Mal.
2:2-7).
1.
The Curse of Dishonoring God's Name (Mal.
2:2-6).
a.
The Caution to Heed (v. 2).
Note the importance of protecting your heart for the things of God:
The first matrix of human health represented in the Shema is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your lēbāb.”
The term lēbāb, translated “heart,” is more accurately “heart-mind.”
In English, the heart is considered the seat of the emotions, whereas in Hebrew the lēbāb is the seat of decision-making, thought, and the will.
It is the locus of mental-emotional health, the integration of a person’s passion and intelligence.
When a person’s intellect and passions are at odds, the heart-mind is divided.
The integration of one’s intelligence and passions may be used for good or evil, but its integration is the first element of a healthy heart-mind.
Resisting God is described as being “hard-hearted” (stubborn) or “fat-hearted” (rebellious) (Exod.
7:13; Ps. 95:8; Mal.
2:2).
The Shema and its broader Sinaitic context offer three foci for a healthy lēbāb: learning the instruction given at Sinai, choosing to act on the instruction, and integrity.
[James K. Bruckner, “Health,” ed.
Joel B. Green, Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 352.]
b.
The Consequence of Ignoring It (v.
3).
Note Wiersbe's summary:
In short, God was saying, “You’re treating Me with disrespect, so I’ll treat you like garbage!
You don’t value the priestly ministry, so why should you be in office?”
[Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Amazed, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 147.]
Note the BKC's observation of the Hebrew play of words between "spread" and "seed":
“Spread,” from the verb zārâh, is a pun on the word zera’ (“seed”), the descendants who were the object of God’s rebuke (v.
3).
[Craig A. Blaising, “Malachi,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed.
J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1579.]
Note the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery on "Dung":
Dung is first associated with the sacrificial rites of Israel.
Since dung was an unclean substance, God mandated that it needed to be burned outside the encampment and later, outside the gates of Jerusalem (Ex 29:14; Lev 16:27; Neh 3:13, 14).
Dung was also used as fertilizer (Lk 13:8).
However the metaphorical power of dung’s coarse connotations is found in the various contexts of judgment pronouncements in the OT prophetic and historical books.
For example, in 1 Kings 14:10 dung is a metaphor applied to the ruling family of Jeroboam, where God says he “will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung till it be all gone” (KJV).
The corpse of Jezebel is to be scattered like excrement in a field, “so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel” (2 Kings 9:37 KJV).
In Ezra 6:11 King Darius warns that anyone who interferes with the restoration of Israel’s temple is to have his home turned into an outhouse—destroyed—“made a dunghill” (KJV).
Besides the judgment of dung being pronounced on Israel’s enemies (Ps 83:10; Is 25:10), the majority of dung judgments are assessed against Israel, the very people of God.
Graphic examples of these judgments are found in the Prophets (e.g., Jer 9:22; 16:4), but the most extreme metaphor for God’s displeasure with his people relates prophetic judgment to spreading excrement across the faces of apostate Israel (Mal 2:3): “Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, [even] the dung of your solemn feasts” (KJV).
Such strong language expresses God’s right as Creator of all things-even dung-to use any creature or created substance as a means of expressing his divine will.
[Leland Ryken, Jim Wilhoit, Tremper Longman, et al., Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 221–222.]
Note on avoiding hypocrisy in our walk with God:
Here is a demonstration of sincerity, from the right performance of the duty set forth by the antithesis in the fifth verse.
“But thou shalt not be as the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.”
Enter not thy house only, or thy common chamber, but thy closet, the most secret and retired privacy, that others may neither discern thee nor rush in suddenly upon thee.
God will answer thee and perform thy request, as a gracious return to thy secret sincerity.
God is pleased by promise to make himself a debtor to secret prayer.
It brings nothing to God but empty hands and naked hearts; to show that reward in Scripture sense, does not flow in on the streams of merit, but of grace.
It is monkish divinity to assert otherwise; for what merit strictly taken can there be in prayer?
The mere asking of mercy cannot merit it at the hands of God.
Malachi 2:3.
Our most sincere petitions are impregnated with sinful mixtures.
We halt, like Jacob, both in and after our choicest and strongest wrestlings.
But such is the grace of our heavenly Father, who spies that little sincerity of our hearts in secret, that he is pleased to accept us in his beloved, and to smell a sweet savor in the fragrant perfumes and odors of his intercession.
[Samuel A. M. Lee, “Secret Prayer Successfully Managed,” in The Bible and the Closet: Or How We May Read the Scriptures with the Most Spiritual Profit; and Secret Prayer Successfully Managed, ed.
John Overton Choules (Boston: Gould, Kendall and Lincoln, 1842), 54–55.]
c.
The Correction in the Warning (Mal.
2:4-6).
i.
The Levitical Covenant's Inception (v. 4).
Note Dr. Phillips' remarks concerning the bravery and dedication of the Levites:
In 2:4 God referred the priests to His original covenant with the tribe of Levi, the tribe chosen by Him to be set apart for His service.
We read about that covenant in the Pentateuch: When apostate Israel sinned so grievously in making the golden calf, Moses threw down the gauntlet.
“Who is on the Lord’s side?” he demanded (Exodus 32:26).
The only ones to respond were “all the sons of Levi.”
Rewarding them for this decision, God consecrated the whole tribe of Levi to the ministry (Deuteronomy 10:8–9).
[John Phillips, Exploring the Minor Prophets: An Expository Commentary, The John Phillips Commentary Series (Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp., 2009), Mal 2:1–4.]
ii.
The Levitical Covenant's Integrity (v. 5).
iii.
The Levitical Covenant's Intent (v. 6).
Note Dr. Phillip's memorable way of describing the influence of the Levites:
Levi was inspired by the fear of the living God and as a result God gave him a threefold ministry: he was an example to all by his words, his walk, and his witness.
He was an example by his words in that “the law of truth was in his mouth” (2:6).
He upheld the inerrancy, inspiration, and infallibility of the Word of God.
Levi was an example by his walk in that “he walked with [God] in peace and equity.”
His conduct was such that he enjoyed the constant smile of God’s approval and the conscious sweetness of His presence.
Levi was an example by his witness in that he “did turn many away from iniquity.”
He did away with apostasy, put the fear of God into the rank and file, defended the faith, and encouraged those who wanted to live for God.
[John Phillips, Exploring the Minor Prophets: An Expository Commentary, The John Phillips Commentary Series (Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp., 2009), Mal 2:5–7.]
Note that this (Mal.
2:6) is the verse used in the Title Page of Spurgeon's Autobiography.
Note John Bunyan's treating of Christ's Character:
He is full of truth.
Full of grace and truth.
Truth, that is, faithfulness in keeping promise, even this of the text, with all other, “I will in no wise cast out” (John 14:6).
Hence it is said, that his words be true, and that he is the faithful God, that keepeth covenant.
And hence it is also that his promises are called truth: “Thou wilt fulfil thy truth unto Jacob, and thy mercy unto Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.”
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