August 20, 2023
Malachi 3:2-7b, 16-18
2 “But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. 3 He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord. 4 Then once more the Lord will accept the offerings brought to him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as he did in the past.
5 “At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
A Call to Repentance
6 “I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. 7 Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
“But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’
16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name.
17 “They will be my people,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. 18 Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Following the weekly gathering, you’re invited to respond to the service by engaging in group discussion.
Toward the end of his collection of Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis suggests that “the fine flowers of unholiness can grow only in the close neighborhood of the Holy (for) nowhere are we more tempted as on the very steps of the altar itself.” Perhaps this is why the most devout are sometimes the most dishonest, or perverse, and thus the hardest to save. So Malachi preaches a message of integrity in our worship that reaches far from the sanctuary, to the most remote places in our lives.
- What parallels, if any, can you draw between the conditions in Malachi’s day and those in our day?
- If you were to summarize the message of Malachi into a single sentence for the people of God today, what would that be? Be brief and be prescriptive.
- What are the implications of that for the places where you work and live? What about those places makes this harder? What keeps getting in the way?
- What could we do differently to overcome those obstacles, to get better at practicing this message? What would it take to do that?
- Play that out: Walk us through what would happen (as opposed to what normally happens) if you started that practice tomorrow.
- Pray for one another, that you would be “filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might,”