Posts Tagged ‘Malachi’

The Evil Heart of Unbelief

October 13, 2011 Comments off

Some thoughts from various sermons:  S. Lewis Johnson’s Hebrews series, also the Malachi series, and a Spurgeon sermon I read recently.

By nature man thinks “horizontally” about relationships to others, giving far less attention to the vertical relationship with God.  We see this in many ways throughout the Bible as well as actual experience.  From the Malachi series (and really all the minor prophets), we see a people much like the modern church, focused on outward worship and hypocrisy, going through the motions but without true heart worship of the God with whom we have to do.  The book of Hebrews is addressed to Christians who have become cold and indifferent, and the writer challenges them to beware the “evil heart of unbelief.”  Yet in several places in the OT prophets, God rebukes His people for their lack of love toward Him, for their empty, meaningless sacrifices that He actually hates.

Spurgeon made a great observation concerning the fact that we focus more on the sins against other men, not on sins against God:
From “Limiting God,” #272  (Aug. 28, 1859)

When God gave forth the Law it was engraved upon two stones. The first table contained the commandments concerning man and God, the second dealt with man and man. Sins against God are sins against the first table—sins against man are offenses against the second table. Man, to constantly prove his perversity, will put the second table before the first, no, upon the first, so as to cover and conceal it! There are few men who will not allow the enormity of adultery, fewer still who will dispute the wickedness of murder. Men are willing enough to acknowledge that there is sin in an offense against man. That which endangers the human commonwealth, that which would disturb the order of earthly governments—all this is wrong enough even in man’s esteem, but when you come to deal with the first table it is hard, indeed, to extort a confession from mankind! They will scarcely acknowledge that there is any such thing as an offense against God, or if they do acknowledge it, yet they think it but a light matter.

What man is there among you who has not in his heart often lamented sins against man, rather than sins against God? And which of you has not felt a greater compunction for sins against your neighbor, or against the nation, than for sins committed against God and done in His sight? I say that such is the perversity of man, that he will think more of the less than the greater! An offense against the Majesty of Heaven is thought to be far more venial than an offense against his fellow creature. There are many transgressions of the first table of which we think so little that we scarcely ever confess them at all—or if we acknowledge them, it is only because the Grace of God has taught us to estimate them aright. One offense against the first table which seldom agitates the mind of an unconvicted sinner is that of unbelief and with it, I may put the lack of love to God. The sinner does not believe in God, does not trust in Him, does not love Him. He gives his heart to the things of earth and denies it to his Creator! Of this high treason and rebellion he thinks nothing. If you could take him in the act of theft, a blush would mantle his cheek. But you detect him in the daily omission of love to God and faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, and you cannot make him feel that he is guilty of any evil in this! Oh, strange contortion of human judgment!

Oh, blindness of mortal conscience, that this greatest of iniquities—a lack of love to the All-Lovely and a lack of faith in Him who is deserving of the highest trust—should be thought to be as nothing and reckoned among the things that need not to be repented of!

A Study In Malachi: God’s Name Will Be Great Among The Nations

October 10, 2011 Comments off

From S. Lewis Johnson’s Malachi series, a few thoughts from study of Malachi chapter 1.

Looking specifically at verses 11 and 14:

For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.


For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.

The King James Version puts it in the present tense.  Modern translations render it more accurately, as pointing to a future time.  Certainly the text itself does not describe the time of Malachi: at that time there were no offerings being offered among the Gentiles that were pure.  Only offerings made in Jerusalem, at the temple, were pure.

Some commentators apply it to the church age, by broadening the scope of the words (spiritualizing), as for example from John Gill concerning “a pure offering”:

meaning either the Gentiles themselves, their souls and bodies,  Isa 66:20 or their sacrifices of praise, good works, and alms deeds  Heb 13:15 which, though imperfect, and not free from sin, may be said to be “pure”, proceeding from a pure heart, sprinkled by the blood of Christ, and offered in a pure and spiritual manner, and through the pure incense of Christ’s mediation.

However, the overall text describes a time when God’s “name will be great among the nations.”  Similar to the idea of Satan now being bound, to suggest that God’s name is now regarded as great among the nations is very wrongheaded, a view that rejects both the NT writers description of this age as well as observed reality.

Malachi was addressing the remnant returned from the Babylonian exile, a group that had already gone astray, thinking more about themselves than of God, as evidenced by their polluted offerings.  God addressed the people in Malachi, this last word from God before the NT age, with rebukes to the priests (Malachi 1:1-2:9) as well as to the people (Malachi 2:10-16).

Malachi 1:11-14 is telling the people of that time:  I am a great God.  The time is coming when the whole of the earth will be worshipping me.  They will bring pure offerings.  Your attitude now is entirely contrary to the future.

In the words of Dr. Ironside, commentary on Malachi 1:

But it is blessed to know that, whatever the present failure, God shall yet be fully glorified; so we read, “From the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, My name shall be great among the nations; and in every place incense shall be offered unto My name, and a pure offering: for My name shall be great among the nations, saith the Lord of hosts” (ver. 11). It is hardly the present work of grace among the Gentiles that is here contemplated, but rather that wonderful era of blessing which is still in the future-the times of restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the ages began. Then shall Jehovah’s name be honored and His word obeyed throughout the whole earth, when all nations shall bask in the sunshine of His favor.

The Old Testament with S. Lewis Johnson: Nearing the End (Malachi)

October 3, 2011 Comments off

It’s been a little over two years now since I started seriously listening to S. Lewis Johnson sermons, starting with his Genesis series.  At that time I set a goal to listen to all his book series, starting sequentially through all the Old Testament books he taught.  SLJ taught through far more of the Old Testament than many other preachers had, at least from what was available on various church websites, and from my general study of eschatology at that time I was coming to appreciate the Old Testament: for all the references to it in Revelation and elsewhere, for instance.

I had heard his name somewhere online, though I forget exactly where and when, in reference to John MacArthur:  another teacher of similar beliefs.  That summer (2009) I listened to the Eschatology series on the headphones at work (the incredibly small M3U files in Windows Media Player), and then started looking at the various names of Bible book series on the Believers Chapel website.  Listening to half-hour “Grace to You” radio programs before breakfast every morning wasn’t working very well (due to personal circumstances), and so the idea came, to instead listen to half-sermons each morning, downloaded and burned to MP3 CDs, starting with the 66-part Genesis series.  Previously I had read through John MacArthur’s Genesis series, which only covered the first 11 chapters, and listened to a few topical series including Jim McClarty’s Eschatology series, and MacArthur’s Revelation series.

Along with the Horner Bible Reading (started that March), it was time to get into OT book studies.  Here is my first blog reference to Johnson’s Genesis series, from July  2009.  Last week I started the Malachi series.  Actually a few more Old Testament series are lined up after this:  the second Zechariah series (The Jewish People, Jesus Christ, and World History), also “Messianic Prophecies in Isaiah”  and “Old Testament Anticipation of the Messiah” (a radio series of half-hour length teachings).  But Malachi of course ends the Old Testament book series, it being the last book in our Old Testament (though not, as Johnson points out in the Malachi introduction, the last book in the Jews’ Bible).