Monday, August 18, 2014

Betraying God By Getting Married and/or Divorced (Malachi 2.10-16)

Scripture: Malachi 2.10-16
Translation: 2.10Isn’t there only One Father for all of us? Didn’t only One God create us? Why do we—each one of us—betray his brother by desecrating the covenant of our fathers?  11Judah has betrayed and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem, because Judah desecrated the Holy Place of Yahweh, Who loves [us], and married a daughter of a foreign god! 12Yahweh will cut off the man who does these things, waking up and responding from the tents of Jacob and bringing a gift to Yahweh of Armies!

13But you do this second thing: tears covering the altar of Yahweh—weeping and crying, from the fact that there is still no turning to the gift and taking satisfaction from your hand! 14And you say, “What’s the reason?” The reason is that Yahweh testifies as a witness between you and between the wife of your youth, who you betray. And she is your partner and the wife of your covenant! 15And didn’t The One make [you]? And the rest of life belongs to Him? And what is the One seeking? The seed of God. So keep a close eye on your life and don’t betray the wife of your youth! 16Because I hate divorce—Yahweh the God of Israel says! And violence covers his clothes—Yahweh of Armies says! So keep a close eye on your life and don’t betray!

1.      Once upon a time there were two couples. The first couple started dating, fell in love, got engaged, had a beautiful wedding, and later they had children. The second couple went through a similar journey of dating, falling in love, getting engaged and married, and having children. But this second couple started to have problems, and one of the pair wasn’t attracted to the other anymore, and started looking for greener pastures, and finally filed for divorce, even though they had been married since they both were young.
2.      So you tell me, which couple sinned? What if I told you that it was possible that they both sinned? Today we will see how both stories are actually a betrayal of commitment.
1.      Structure:
a.       Whole Book
                                                              i.      Heading, 1.1
                                                            ii.      Case 1: Denial of God’s Love (1.2-5)
                                                          iii.      Case 2: Denial of Honor to God (1.6-2.9)
                                                          iv.      Case 3: Rejection of Godly Marriage (2.10-16)
1.      Part A: Undefensible: Marrying an Idol Worshiper
2.      Part B: Flagrant: Divorce/Adultery of the wife of their youth
                                                            v.      Case 4: Rejection of Justice (2.17-3.5)
                                                          vi.      Case 5: Rejection of Repentance and Tithing (3.6-12)
                                                        vii.      Case 6: Rejection of the Value of Serving God (3.13-15)
                                                      viii.      Exonerated: The Faithful (3.16-4.3 [heb. 3.16-21])
                                                          ix.      Closing Statements: (4.4-6 [heb. 3.22-24])
1.      Call to Obey (4.4 [heb. 3.22])
2.      Call to Wait (4.5-6 [heb. 3.23-24])
b.      Section: Case 3
                                                              i.      Part A: Betrayal via Marriage (2.10-12)
1.      Accusation: You act like God is not your Creator by desecrating the Covenant (2.10)
2.      Defense: None
3.      Rebuttal: You marry women who worship idols (2.11)
4.      Judgment: Yahweh will off the man who breaks the covenant in this way (2.12)
                                                            ii.      Part B: Betrayal via Divorce  (2.13-16)
1.      Accusation/Judgment: Crying covers Yahweh’s altar, because He doesn’t answer their prayers (2.13)
2.      Defense: What is the reason (2.14a)
3.      Rebuttal and Call to Faithfulness (2.14b-16): The reason is that you are betraying the covenant (with God and your wife) by divorcing your wife
a.       Rebuttal Part 1 (2.14b-15e):
                                                                                                                                      i.      Yahweh is your wife’s witness in court (2.14b-d)
                                                                                                                                    ii.      Yahweh as your Creator owns your life and marriage (2.14a-c)
b.      Call to Faithfulness 1 (2.15d-e):
                                                                                                                                      i.      Watch your lives
                                                                                                                                    ii.      Don’t betray your wife
c.       Rebuttal Part 2 (2.16a-d)
                                                                                                                                      i.      Yahweh hates divorce
                                                                                                                                    ii.      Abuse covers your clothes
d.      Call to Faithfulness 2 (2.16e-f):
                                                                                                                                      i.      Watch your lives
                                                                                                                                    ii.      Don’t betray [Yahweh or your wife]
2.      Themes
a.       Betrayal
b.      Marriage
c.       Covenant
d.      Idolatry
e.       God as Father
f.       God as Creator
g.      Judgment
h.      Divorce
i.        Call to faithfulness 
j.        Wife/partner
k.      Gifts/sacrifices/offerings
l.        Crying/weeping/tears
m.    Legal dispute
n.      Why/because
3.      Doctrines
a.       God is the Creator of all, and as such is owed all by everyone
b.      Marriage must be to a Christian; marrying a non-Christian is a sin
c.       Yahweh rejects divorce: getting a divorce is a sin
d.      Having and raising children to love and fear Him is something God desires from us, as well as evangelism

1.      Outline
a.       You can sin by getting married
                                                              i.      If you marry a non-Christian, you will be betraying your commitment to God, your relationship with God will be violated,
                                                            ii.      However, if you marry a non-Christian, you will not just be violated your relationship and commitment to God, but you will also be violating your relationship and your commitment to the church, to your brothers and sisters in Christ, to your Christian family
1.      It is interesting to me that God doesn’t say they are violating their relationship with Him, which they obviously are, but that they are violating their relationship with the wider believing community. God tells them that by marrying someone who is not wholeheartedly committed to Yahweh, they have actually betrayed their community
2.      This is true because this sin pollutes not just their relationship with God, but the health and wellbeing of the community, it violates the community’s relationship with God
                                                          iii.      Notice that unlike what happens in the next section, and what happened in the first two sections, before this, there was no defense of the actions, no excuses, no marginalization of the heinous betrayal coming through their actions—see this is strange, because if you look at all the other sections in this book where God makes an accusation, there is always a defense (except for in the second half of the rebuke of the priests, which since it is part of a larger section and since it is likely closely related to the first part, it may not need a further defense, or it can be consider just as indefensible as here), but here there is none. I think what that means is that they knew it was so wrong for them to have married outside the covenant community, and since it was so explicit a command, they don’t even have a defense to offer. Yet, oddly, in our culture and day, we love to excuse this sin, we make defenses and excuses for it all day long, in fact we use some of the same excuses the Jews used for some of their others sins.
1.      One excuse we especially like to use for dating and/or marrying a non-Christian is the one found in 1.13 to explain away their garbage offerings, “It’s too hard to do it God’s way!” look, it’s hard sometimes to find a Godly person to date and marry, I get that. Trust me, I’m not married yet, so I get how hard it is to find a solid Christian that you are attracted to and able to develop a meaningful friendship with. But, it’s not too hard, and it is even less difficult for you all than it is for me. moreover, some of you are in college or about to go to college, and that is frankly a time where you will have the time, energy, and multiplicity of options for finding a good Christian, if you want.
2.      The other excuse that we often make is that he/she is close enough to what God wants to count. We say, well, he/she grew up in church—wrong! Doesn’t mean nothing! Or we say, “well, he/she goes to church—wrong! Doesn’t mean nothing! Or we say, “he/she is open to Christianity—wrong! Doesn’t mean nothing! Or we say, “I can change/convert him/her—wrong! You can’t change anybody’s heart!
a.       Look how ridiculous it is for you to think you have the power to make so and so a Christian—did you have the power to change your own heart, do you even have the power to completely change your heart now on your own—NO, so how arrogant and foolish is it for you to think you have the power in an of yourself to change her/his heart!?
3.      In our culture, there are strong values of religious pluralism, which basically means we let people believe whatever they want, which is actually can be a very good thing, but you can take it too far by starting to think that it doesn’t make any difference what you believe or how you live, or more specifically what faith you follow, they all can be true or compatible. But while letting people believe whatever they want about everything is generally good for society, it is really bad to think that it doesn’t matter what they believe or what they do. It does matter. it matters to God and it matters to the Christian community. It not just whether you could pull it off, it is a matter of who are you most committed to: God, yourself, or another person?
4.      Look, I know that sometimes by the grace of God—the GRACE OF GOD—GOD SAVES SOMEONE who was brought into opportunities to hear the Gospel via this relationship, but that doesn’t mean we should ever do it or use it as a strategy, because God cares about your relationship with Him! Just because God is good at taking the garbage and sin we give Him and making something beautiful out of it, doesn’t mean we didn’t give Him garbage and sin. It means He is a Gracious, Loving, Merciful, and Compassionate God Who Saves, not that our sin wasn’t sin!
a.       However, God does want us to invite people to church, to bring them into our community, and share the Gospel with them! We need to do that, a lot of that! But we can’t violate our own relationship with God to give someone else the possibility of a relationship with God.
                                                          iv.      God really doesn’t care what excuses we make, He rejects marrying outside of Christianity as a heinous form of idolatry! You see at the heart of it is that we have a deeper love and commitment and desire for either our own will or for a relationship with this other person than we have for God. And that is a clear form of idolatry. Back in the Bible times, it was incredibly clear that it was idolatry, because that person was in league with idols, worshipped idols, and the like. But the truth is that while the form of the idols have changed, the reality of the betrayal against God is just as real!
                                                            v.      Finally God will punish/discipline such egregious idolatry, He will not accept your worship. He will deal with it. And for the record, however, we are not talking about the person who was married to a non-Christian before becoming a Christian, but the person not-yet married who chooses to ally him/herself to another god via marriage
b.      You can sin by getting a divorce
                                                              i.      This may seem more obvious to us, but divorce is so rampant and almost assumed as a possibility or even inevitability that some of the heinousness of it is lost on us
                                                            ii.      However, it is very serious, so serious in fact that the judgment on the person divorcing his/her spouse, and perhaps even on the community at large is unanswered prayer and unaccepted worship.
                                                          iii.      But then just like now, they didn’t see what was so bad about getting a divorce once the heat and commitment had dissipated
                                                          iv.      But Yahweh is the One Who is watching, and He will give justice to the person wrongly divorced, to the person who was faithful to the covenant of marriage and to the relationship with God
                                                            v.      Divorce is a betrayal of God, because God is the God of justice and takes up the cause of the oppressed and abused and violated, but also because it is another form of idolatry and because He hates it
                                                          vi.      Divorce however is also a heinous betrayal of the other person
                                                        vii.      Getting a divorce is a rejection of God authority and ownership over you as the Creator
                                                      viii.      God wants children for Himself
1.       This means having children is a beautiful thing
2.      But we can also give God children by sharing the Gospel with people
2.      Questions
a.       How do you think marrying a non-Christian would be bad for your relationship with God?
b.      How often do you think about God being Your Creator

c.       How could we as a community help one another stay faithful to God in our romantic relationships? 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Importance of True Doctrine (Malachi 2.1-9)

Scripture: Malachi 2.1-9
Translation: 2.1And now to you, the priests, [I give] this command. 2If you don’t listen and if you don’t decide to give glory to My Name—Yahweh of Armies says—then I will send the curse on you and I will curse your blessings, and moreover I will curse it, because you haven’t decided [to give glory to My Name]. 3Look at Me! I’m rebuking the descendents that belong to you, and I will smear entrails on your faces, the entrails of your feasts, and it will take you away with it!
 4And you knew that I sent this command to you in order that My covenant would be with Levi—Yahweh of Armies says. 5My covenant was with him. The life and the peace—I gave them to him. I’m something to be feared, and he did fear me, and he was terrified before My Name! 6An instruction/law of faithfulness/truth was in his mouth. Moreover, injustice was not found on his lips! He walked with Me in peace and in uprightness, and he brought back many people from sin! 7Because the lips of the priest should protect knowledge, and they should seek instruction from his lips, because he is the messenger of Yahweh of Armies!
8But you turned from the way! You trip up many people in the law/with your instruction! You destroy the covenant with Levi! Yahweh of Armies says. 9Moreover, I gave you despicable and pathetic people to all the people despite the fact that none of you are keeping My ways and rendering justice through the law/instruction!

1.      Structure
a.       Second Case: 1.6-2.9
                                                              i.      Part A: You have defiled/desecrated My Altar! (1.6-14)
1.      Issue: You give me garbage for offerings, so I don’t accept it! (1.6-10)
2.      Cause: I am Great, but you treat Me like I’m not! (1.11-13)
3.      Judgment: The Scammer is cursed for offering less than his best (1.14)
                                                            ii.      Part B: You teach lies!
1.      Judgment: I’m cursing your blessings, defiling you, and getting rid of you (2.1-3)
2.      Cause: The Covenant of Levi was to provide life, peace, and instruction to the people (2.4-7)
3.      Issue: You have broken that covenant of Levi by teaching lies (2.8-9)
2.      Themes
a.       Cursing/blessing
                                                              i.      The priests were responsible for giving the blessing of the animals and the people, but their ungodly actions, has resulted in God turning those blessing pronouncements into curse pronouncements
b.      Defiling/desecrating
                                                              i.      This theme continues with the reversal of the blessings into curses
                                                            ii.      And God’s threat to smear them with entrails, which were considered extremely unclean is a threat to defile them (like they have been doing to His altar and His people), and to get rid of them, like entrails are…taken out of the camp and burned there
c.       Sacrifices
                                                              i.      Sacrifices are again alluded to, but in this case as part of the judgment Yahweh is threatening the priests with
d.      Sending
                                                              i.      Yahweh is sending His command via Malachi
                                                            ii.      This calls up images of Moses, especially with all the talk of Torah
e.       Torah/instruction/law
                                                              i.      The word תורה here alludes to the Mosaic law to be sure, since the Levites were charged with teaching it to the rest of the people
                                                            ii.      However, the word is probably a bit broader as well, alluding to instruction in general, the priests and Levites should have been teaching the people wisdom and instruction in general, especially as application and interpretation of the Torah.
f.       Glory and Honor to Yahweh
                                                              i.      In 2.2 the theme of glory and honor to Yahweh is again renewed as a facet of the second part of the charge
g.      Name of Yahweh/Yahweh of Armies
                                                              i.      Yahweh is very concerned with the honor and glory due His Name, and His Name is referenced, as is the “Yahweh of Armies says” formula.
                                                            ii.      The “Yahweh of Armies says” formula is clearly both an affirmation of the authority of the message as much as it is a threat that Yahweh Who reigns over the heavenly armies as well as earthly armies will bring judgement upon the covenant breakers via those armies. The point is they are not messing with a powerless God, but the all-powerful God.
h.      Abuse
                                                              i.      The abuse here seems to result from false teaching, and probably a denial of justice and hope for the people
i.        Covenants
                                                              i.      Here the Covenant of Levi for priesthood is in view in terms of it being violated
                                                            ii.      In contrast, the overall setting for the prophetic message of Malachi is the Covenant Love and Faithfulness on the part of Yahweh, without it being particularly reciprocated by the Jewish people
3.      Doctrines
a.       Yahweh is the King of the Universe
b.      Yahweh is the source of the power of both blessings and curses
c.       Yahweh will send Judgment if people refuse to repent
d.      False teaching is hated by Yahweh, therefore, it must be dealt with, and people should be careful to watch out for it
1.      Outline
a.       We must glorify Yahweh as the Sovereign Judge
                                                              i.      This means recognizing that Yahweh is the one in control of all spiritual blessings and cursings—our blessings only have power if Yahweh is behind them, and so do our curses, but likewise the curses of others only have power if Yahweh backs them up, and it is clear that for us in the church today, Yahweh has taken all the curses away when He died on the cross.
                                                            ii.      This also means giving Him the appropriate fear, respect, and glory, because we know that He is the One Who is evaluating our actions and who can punish us harshly
                                                          iii.      It also means that we don’t need to be ashamed of the doctrine of hell, because it gives Yahweh glory and is an important facet of seeing Yahweh as the Ultimate Judge
b.      We must see True Teaching as Important
                                                              i.      This means that we need to be careful to evaluate the teaching we receive
                                                            ii.      This means that we need to be careful to get good teaching
                                                          iii.      This means that we need to be careful to give good teaching
c.       We must fulfill and embrace our own calling to be Yahweh’s messengers in the world
                                                              i.      This means getting our walk with God strong and healthy in Jesus’ Name by the Holy Spirit’s power—faithful, Godly Christian lives
                                                            ii.      This means getting deep into the word and into Christian theology
                                                          iii.      This means getting into the world, and bringing Yahweh’s message, hope, and truth into it
1.      You see, we all in Christ have been made into priests and messengers to the world, we don’t need a priest to mediate our relationship with God apart from Jesus Christ our Great High Priest, but non-Christians do need you to be the person they can come to with their problems, where they can get good advice, where they can find out about God and salvation, where they can find someone who will tell them the truth and teach them the Scriptures
2.      Questions
a.       How do your friends feel about hell? How do you feel about it?
b.      Where are some places you can find reliable Bible teaching/preaching/advice?
c.       Plan an event for us as a group to go out into the world and fulfill our calling to be God’s messengers.

1.      My Grandmother and Arminian Theology

2.      My friend and hyper-charismatic theology and cessationist theology 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Quit Giving God Garbage Worship (Malachi 1.6-14)

Scripture: Malachi 1.6-14
Translation: 1.6“A son glorifies his father, and the slave his lord: but if I’m a father, where is My glory? And if I’m the Lord, where’s My fear?” Yahweh of Armies says to you, the priests who treat My Name with contempt, but you say, “How did we treat Your Name with contempt?” 7“You’re bringing to My altar desecrated food! But you say, “How did we desecrate You?” By you saying about Yahweh’s table, “It’s despicable.” 8And when you bring something blind for sacrificing, “there’s nothing evil.” And when you offer something lame and/or sick, “There’s nothing evil.” Bring it to your governor, will he be happy with you? or will he make you happy [lit. lift up your face]?” Yahweh of Armies says. 9But now beg God’s Face, and will He be gracious to us? This is from your hand. Will He make any of you happy [lit. lift the face of any of you]? Yahweh of Armies says. “Moreover, who is among you, so he could close the [Temple] doors, so you don’t keep making My altar ablaze in vain! There’s no delight for Me among you!” Yahweh of Armies says. “And I won’t accept a gift from your hands! 11Because from the rising of the sun and until its setting, My Name is great among the nations, and in every place incense must be offered to My Name and a gift must be clean, because My Name is great among the nations.” Yahweh of Armies says. 12But you are desecrating Me! By your saying, ‘The table of My Lord, it is desecrated, its fruit is despicable, [so is] its food.!’ 13Yet you say, ‘Look, what a hardship!’ And you blow it off!” Yahweh of Armies says. “And you bring in something stolen, and something unable to walk, and something sick. So you bring the gift, will I accept it from your hand?” Yahweh says. 14And the scamming person is cursed, if there is in his herd a male—the person who’s promising and sacrificing what is ruined to My Lord, because I am a Great King,” Yahweh of Armies says, “and My Name is feared among the nations!”

1.      Structure
a.       Second Case: 1.6-2.9
                                                              i.      Part A: You have defiled/desecrated My Altar! (1.6-14)
1.      Issue: You give me garbage for offerings, so I don’t accept it! (1.6-10)
2.      Cause: I am Great, but you treat Me like I’m not! (1.11-13)
3.      Judgment: The Scammer is cursed for offering less than his best (1.14)
                                                            ii.      Part B: You teach lies!
2.      Themes
a.       Defilement/desecration
b.      Less than the best (stolen, weak, injured, etc.)
c.       Excuses/denial
d.      Accepting
e.       Offering
f.       Yahweh is Great
g.      Glory/honor/fear vs. contempt
3.      Doctrines
a.       Yahweh is Great everywhere, worthy of all honor, glory, and worship
b.      Yahweh demands true and good worship and offerings
c.       Yahweh will judge offenders

1.      Outline
a.       Intro:
                                                              i.      Last week we saw that God truly does love His people, and is strongly committed to them, to us. Yahweh’s strong love and commitment to His people, to us, is actually the overarching context of the whole book. Yahweh is going to be saying some harsh things and calling out some of our secret sins, but it is coming from the God Who loves us totally by grace! He loves us, so don’t take what He will say as a denial of love, but as His commitment to love us when we are unlovable and refuse to love Him!
b.      Quit Giving God Garbage!
                                                              i.      Reasons:
1.      Because it dishonors Him, but He is Great!
2.      Because it won’t get you anything, except God’s anger
3.      Because it won’t be accepted by God as worship, only as sin
                                                            ii.      Possible Responses to this accusation:
1.      Denial
2.      Apathy
3.      Excuses
4.      True Interest
5.      Repentance
                                                          iii.      Ways you could be giving God garbage worship today
1.      Giving God stolen money,
a.       which includes money that you didn’t pay taxes on
b.      but it also includes money made in unrighteous ways, such as cheating your customers into buy fake products, or overpricing and gouging people
c.       or even money from a fraudulent lawsuit,
d.      or making money from selling ungodly things, such as porn
e.       turning a profit isn’t bad, but you can cross the line and stop profiting and become someone who is simply taking advantage of people or abusing them
2.      Giving God half-hearted worship when we sing together
3.      Giving God half-hearted attention during sermons
4.      Giving God half-hearted prayers
a.       I’m just talking about a lack of faith in prayers, but also in treating prayer as something less than a true interaction with God
b.      Not meaning your prayers, which means both “praying what you’re ‘supposed to’ pray” but not really having any authenticity behind it; and praying for show, and trying to look good in prayers
5.      Giving God half-hearted service, when serving His people, our church and even the global church
6.      Giving God the leftovers of your time, attention, energy, talents, and money
7.      Giving God the best you have to offer, but doing it with a disgruntled spirit
8.      Giving God nothing
9.      Giving God sin, sin, and more sin
10.  Giving God only partial control over your life
11.  Giving God silence and shyness, instead of boldness and openness about your faith in Him
12.  Trying to minimize the costs of your worship or relationship with God
13.  Refraining from giving God Glory for Who He is and what He had done
14.  Refraining from fearing God as God
                                                          iv.      Qualifications
1.      God isn’t expecting more than you have to give, the problem is giving God garbage when you could give Him diamonds. It’s not a sin to give God $5 when all the money you made that week was $50, but it is probably a sin to give God $5 when you made $500 that week, and almost assuredly a sin to give God $5 when you made $5 million that week.
2.      While God will no longer curse and judge believers today, punishment and discipline from God are still very real possibilities. Moreover, it is the mark of a true Christian that he or she is in the habit of giving God true worship. If you never give God true worship, perhaps the problem is that you need to come to Christ in repentance and faith for the first time—i.e. maybe you’re not a Christian if you never given God true worship
3.      While God is the One Who is ultimately in control of who gets saved and who doesn’t, giving God garbage for worship, shows other people all over the world that our God is not great. Yahweh makes clear that He is Great, and everyone who sees even a glimpse of Him recognizing that, but giving Him garbage worship denies His Greatness and Worthiness of Worship! It is perhaps possible that if people saw that your whole life was true and costly worship to God, they may be more interested in God. You will never convert a Muslim by showing him how little you actually care about your God!
2.      Questions
a.       Have you been giving garbage worship to God? How? Why?
b.      How could you give Him true, and even costly worship? What about us as a community?
c.       What is one thing you can take home from the sermon and apply this week? How will you apply it?


1.      Right now your mom or dad might be really touched by a cheap gift, but in 20 years after one of you has invented the next facebook, they might be a little offended if you made them pay for dinner.