Faithlife Sermons

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Malachi 3:16
In Memoriam
 
Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another.
The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name.[1]
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irst of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.
They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?
Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.
By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.
By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgement and destruction of ungodly men.
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.
He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.
The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?
You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.
That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.
He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters.
His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
To him be glory both now and forever!
Amen [*2 Peter 3:3-17*].
Impious people speak against the Lord God.
They thoughtlessly blaspheme His Name and ridicule His promises.
It is bad enough when they do so among themselves, but their rage seems frequently to lead them to speak against the Lord God and His truth even in the presence of God’s own people.
What is fascinating to note is that when the impious speak against the Lord God, His people begin to speak among themselves.
They encourage one another and urge one another onward toward righteousness.
In doing this, God takes special note of the words of either group.
God’s Value System — Closing his second missive of the canon of New Testament, Peter accentuates Malachi’s words found in our text.
It is all together too easy to overlook little words in Scripture.
Don’t read so fast that you overlook the little words in the text.
The Hebrew word za; marks the time in which the impious conversations were taking place.[2]
Then—when religious people were speaking without reverence of God.
The verb WrB]d]nI looks back to the same verb in *verse 13*.
“You have said harsh things against me,” says the LORD.
“Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’”
 
Fear is a great motivator.
Those who fear bucking conventional wisdom will speak against God, or at the least they will be silent when people disparage faith in the Living God.
In Peter’s missive, he speaks of scoffers who follow their own evil desires.
Such individuals ridicule Christ’s promise that He shall come a second time.
Though wicked people may scoff at the thought of Christ coming to judge, yet His people look forward to the fulfilment of those very promises.
Do the majority of those scoffing at the promises of Christ do so out of mirth?
Isn’t it rather that they join in the ridicule out of fear of what some might think of them?
I recall such difficulties arising while as a young Christian I studied in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Dallas.
I stood firmly against the humanistic views which endeavoured to exclude God.
My stand generated consternation in some faculty and angry resolve in other professors.
Secretly, a few post-doctoral fellows found their way to me, as did a number of staff, informing me that they also believed as I did, but they did not wish to expose themselves to ridicule or even censure.
I recall one of the last conversations I had with a man who chaired the Graduate Studies Committee of that department as I was completing my studies.
He had tried to gain a concession from me concerning my convictions, but I would not yield.
Despite threats and pressure to concede to evil, I held firm.
At last, spinning on his heel he strode down the hall until he had paced perhaps twenty or more long steps.
Suddenly, he spun around and walked back to me with grim determination.
Stopping immediately before me, he said, “I just want you to know that I don’t agree with one thing that you stand for.
However, if I am ever in trouble, I hope you will come to pray for me.”
His respect for me was of greater value than his camaraderie with other, secret Christians in that same department.
In our text, God has just exposed those who opposed Him.  “Your words have been hard against me,” says the Lord.
“But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’
You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God.
What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts?
And now we call the arrogant blessed.
Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape’” [*Malachi 3:13-15*].
The picture we have is dark.
The nation had reached a spiritual ebb.
Religion was obeyed as mere ritual.
People went through the motions—reciting prayers instead of praying, mouthing praise which they didn’t feel, performing required rituals.
However, they had no joy and so they spoke against God and against serving Him.
Such religion is best described as peg-leg religion—a form of religion which infects much of our nation today.
You have to strap it on every day.
Though it does the job of getting us around, it is cold and lifeless—there is no feeling in it.
If that were all I had, perhaps I would speak against it.
Notwithstanding all the darkness which had settled upon the land, God had His people, just as He has His people in this day.
This is the meaning of John’s witness in the opening words of His Gospel.
In the beginning was the Word;
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
All things were created through Him,
and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created.
In him was life,
and that life was the light of men.
That light shines in the darkness,
yet the darkness did not overcome it [*John 1:1-5*].[3]
Malachi draws back the curtain separating time from eternity, and as he does so, we witness God observing mankind.
The scene is reminiscent of *Psalm 33:13-15*.
From heaven the LORD looks down
and sees all mankind;
from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth—
he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.
Though the majority rejects the Faith and treats religion as a commodity, God examines the hearts, observing the actions of all mankind, especially of those who honour Him.
The character of those who honour God’s Name is revealed in the fact that they fear Him.
They speak of Him to one another.
This balances the equation.
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