Is It Even Worth It?
Read Malachi 3:1-2 (ESV)
“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts, But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.
Have you ever gotten stuck in a spiritual rut? Have you ever wondered if wholehearted commitment to God is worth the effort? How does Malachi inspire you to stay fully devoted to Christ?
All of us have days when the fire goes out a little bit. We get weary of the day in/day out struggle, lose sight of our “why,” and wonder if any of it even matters. Many of us have even gotten stuck in a spiritual rut. But it’s important that we don’t stay in the rut for long because when our love for God begins to cool-off, we can start to get careless, complacent, and crass in our attitude towards God. And when that happens, compromise and corruption easily creeps in.
Unfortunately, this is what happened with many of the Jews living in Jerusalem after returning from captivity about 100 years before. While they were waiting on the Messiah and for God’s promises to their nation to be fulfilled, doubts and disillusionment started to sink in. They started to wonder if living set apart for God as He commanded was really worth it.
As it always does, the attitude of their hearts became apparent in their outward behavior. Many of the people kept up the ceremonial rituals of the Law but their hearts weren’t in it. Because they had lost sight of the sacrifices’ significance, they started to short-change God. Instead of giving Him the first fruits and the best of what they had, they started to give Him the leftovers and the defectives. The nation began to backslide into the very same sins that had led them off into captivity! Idolatry, adultery, inter-marriage with pagans, greed, and other wicked deeds were all outward signs of their internal spiritual issues.
So once again, God sent them a prophet, but this time, it would be the last prophet He would send for about 400 years. The prophet, Malachi, wrote what we know as the last book in the Old Testament sometime around 450-430 B.C. His overall message was to repent and turn back to God. Malachi used a question-and-answer format to convey his oracle from the Lord. He started off by reminding them that God chose Israel specifically to be His people: “I have loved you, says the LORD” (Malachi 1:2). But apparently, the people had forgotten all of the ways that God showed the Israelites love over the years because they responded by saying “How have you loved us?”
Malachi went on to call out the corruption of the priests, the faithlessness of the nations of Israel and Judah towards God’s covenant with them, and the adultery committed by the men who divorced their wives. The people were wondering why they weren’t experiencing God’s blessings and His answer through Malachi was because of their lack of faithfulness to both their covenant with Him and the covenant of marriage.
Malachi had to bring a harsh message of coming judgment to the people. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a Scarlet Thread of redemption in the book. In today’s verses, God promised that He would send another messenger ahead of Him. In other words, one more prophet would come to prepare the way for the Messiah. We know now that this prophecy was fulfilled in John the Baptist, who finally broke the 400-year silence from God and did prepare the way for the Messiah, Jesus Christ. John came and preached a similar message to the one Malachi had preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). But the second part of this prophecy has not yet been fulfilled—Jesus’ second coming.
The fact that the Messiah is coming again is good news for those who choose to accept Him. When He comes, He will purify, refine, and cleanse His people and make them acceptable in His sight. But He will come suddenly and without warning. Those who chose not to repent are facing imminent judgment. Malachi described the “great and awesome day of the LORD” (Malachi 4:5) as a day of utter destruction for those who don’t fear Him.
But for those who do fear the Lord, Malachi wrote: “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. They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him” (Malachi 3:16-18). Friend, if you are in a spiritual rut, keep drawing near to Him. Stay in the Word, fellowship with other believers, confess your sins, ask God for help through prayer. Keep leaning in, instead of away. Don’t be discouraged. He’s coming back and those who fear Him are His forever.
Lord, thank You for the promise that those of us who fear You belong to You forever. I am longing for Your return, but sometimes the waiting gets discouraging. Draw me close to You and help me faithfully love and serve You with wholehearted devotion. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
If you found value in this post, please share your comments, questions, and prayers with us!