Blessings Amid Curses

Genesis 3:14-24 

Is easy to start with perfection of Eden, hear the hammer blows of each curse, each consequence for sin falling on his creation and think “how awful, devastating, profoundly and radically changed life was after that. Is all true, but is not all there is.

From Adam and Eve’s perspective, when God showed up any hope they had for future disappeared. He told them the consequences of what they had done would be death – maybe understood what it meant, maybe not, knew it wouldn’t be good. Yet God did not leave them without reason for living, hope for some kind of future, even of something good after death. Every element of curses God issued accompanied by something to give hope.

Is important point to remember – in all the bad things that happen to us, neighbors, world there is cause for hope… when viewed from God’s perspective. Is not putting good spin on something truly bad, is recognizing there is more to existence than what we see with our eyes. Requires faith, spiritual understanding, Holy Spirit to grasp more fully – those of us who have it can pass it along to some degree to others who may not yet be born again.

#1 Satan’s ability to deceive is hindered

crawling in the dust

means Satan has to work harder to deceive – natural appearance not very seductive; also far fewer opportunities to engage “targets” from that position

opposed by at least some in the world – requires discernment

is not all seduction, relationship between agents of Satan and Seed will be one of conflict, hostility – Satan not permitted to move his agenda forward unopposed

significant “weapon” opposers have is truth and discernment Holy Spirit supplies – can be used to effectively unmask

#2 The woman will have children

greater blessing than #1

even though Satan can no longer deceive Adam and Eve as easily, not as significant if they are only humans on earth

as dire as their situation was… including eventual death, God intended human race to continue, carry out his original mandate

future generation might include a solution

even without knowing exact way God’s plan would work out, that there would be children huge opportunity for hope

#3 One of those children will further hinder Satan

greatest blessing of all

not much to go on here but… would be at least two generations and one of those offspring would cripple the serpent

hope for all generations

we know from later revelation: their sin caused offspring to be born in sin, in need of rescuing by the one Seed

#4 The man will provide for and protect the woman

failure will not end family

God’s original design for dad/mom/children will persist in spite of sin – dysfunctional, not nonfunctional

even though results are far from perfect, none of present alternative options come close to fulfilling God’s design

ruling comes with responsibility

good ruler who has best interests of ones ruled in view will: be kind, compassionate, giving and forgiving, protect and provide

dependence of wife and children on husband built into God’s design of man / woman and family – not related to worth or significance but need and God’s plan to meet it

#5 The ground will produce

thorns, thistles and herbs

seems like it produces more thorns than herbs, yet sin did not so corrupt significant number of plants to make them unfit for food

amazingly the ground produces something in abundance in majority of places without any effort made by man – grasses, trees, herbage adequate for needs of all creatures

what it produces will nourish

of sufficient quality and correct “ingredients” to adequately supply all of mankind’s nutritional needs… w/o need for meat, capable of sustaining individual life for several hundred years

#6 Mankind will in some measure carry out the Creation Mandate

subduing the earth requires extreme effort

nature itself does not cooperate as in the beginning – rocks, thorns, fear/violence in animals – yet man has brought much of natural world under his management

results almost certainly fall short of original potential for quality and quantity, yet even sinful man can do much according to plan

raising a family causes pain

pregnancy and childbirth only beginning of pain, continues in various forms throughout life – and yet families have spread to nearly every habitable corner of earth

#7 God set the pattern for forgiveness and reconciliation

first experience with death

skins for clothing required probably an animal apiece – prior to this time death was only intellectual concept, not experienced reality

carried out for their benefit and learning

was extremely graphic illustration leaving no doubt what ultimately awaited them – hard way to learn cost of their willful sin

God also modeling for them what now would be necessary regularly – sacrifice for sin and in return receiving God’s forgiveness, privilege of reconciliation to him

#8 God set a boundary to prevent their eternal misery

death itself would mean existence in sin-corrupted body and world is finite

saw from sacrificial animal they would not physically endure corrupting effect of sin forever – release would come at some point

at same time, begs the question of what comes after… and how would sin play into that – could they hope for final freedom

made certain by guardian assigned to tree of life

if Adam and Eve took of the tree of life, would have been irretrievably lost… forever… trapped in sinful condition with no hope of escape or deliverance

knowing man could not be trusted, God raised stakes for disobeying limits around tree of life: instant death

Don’t think God was making all this up on the fly – creation, fall into sin, subsequent death, promise of a redeemer all elements of God’s plan from before he made anything. Life on earth going just as God expected, his response to man’s need going according to plan also.

God surely displayed his righteous anger at sin that had occurred, but was not all God showed. Entire scene one where God’s grace and mercy are just as obvious as judgment. God made plain from beginning He was committed to his plan, his people, his purpose in all things. Rather than derail his plan, sin coming into the world gave opportunity for God to reveal aspects of his character that otherwise would have remained hidden.

Know from 7 days of creation that God is all-powerful. Know from this scene in the Garden our all-powerful God is also good… and he is determined to have a close personal relationship with his people. That should give hope to people of all kinds – if God went to lengths he did to restore Adam and Eve to fellowship, will he do any less for us?

54. Which of them will love him more?

54. Which of them will love him more?

Luke 7:42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”

Read: Luke 7:36-50

 

Setting: Nain: 10 miles SE of Nazareth

house of Simon the Pharisee; requested Jesus to join him for a meal – given way Simon treated Jesus, had less than upright reason for invitation

Pharisee who likely prided himself on keeping of “religious” rules failed to observe basic rules of hospitality toward Jesus

no water to wash his feet, no kiss (= handshake or hug) of greeting, no fragrant olive oil poured over his head

given relative social position, Simon looked down, way down on the woman; thoughts could have been reflected in expression, giving him away – Jesus knew what he was thinking

Jesus received permission to speak, told parable of two debtors: one owed two month’s wages, the other nearly two year’s wages, neither had any spendable income to satisfy their debt yet both were freely forgiven

Person(s) being questioned:

as often the case, Jesus intended everyone within earshot to hear and benefit – question was specifically directed to Simon

there were others at the table – see v.49

Question behind the question:

What are the connections between debt, forgiveness, and love?

Who has shown Me greater love?

Since there are two debtors equally destitute and the woman is one, who is the other?

NOTE: they are both in debt, they are both totally unable to satisfy their debt

Expected response:

since Jesus kinda set him up to give the right answer, he expected the one Simon gave

is obviously so from Jesus’ reply to Simon’s answer: “You have judged rightly”

Jesus’ point:

both Simon and the woman had a debt to God they were unable to satisfy – the only difference was perhaps one of degree

the woman by her actions showed her understanding of her need and Jesus’ provision, Simon had showed neither

God’s gift of forgiveness is freely given, yet it comes with an expectation – that the one who receives will show understanding and appreciation

understanding of need and its magnitude, appreciation for the gracious gift, action to demonstrate both

Modern Application:

we and others have same kind of debt, same absolute lack of resources to satisfy it, same dependence on God’s gracious forgiveness

really only one difference: we cannot show thankfulness directly to Jesus as the woman did – must be filtered through his statement: Matt. 25:40 “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'”

the more we believe we have been forgiven, the more love we should show to one another

Curses, Curses

Genesis 3:8-19 

Returning to study of Genesis and The Basics. Is essential, if we are to give comprehensive answer when people ask questions, to have good foundation in basic principles for all of life. We find them at least in seed form in first 10 chapters of Genesis. Who am I, where did I come from, why am I here, where am I going, how do I know all come to light in first book of the Bible. Better we know that, better we will understand how to approach life, how to help others approach life in God-honoring way.

Is a large segment of our culture and world that operates on presupposition that man is basically good; if he appears or acts otherwise, it must be because of something in his environment. This chapter lets us know if that view is correct, something that has a bearing on how most government departments are run and policies they try to implement. Some wonder why world is way it is, what went wrong with it – answer in our text.

How many times in the course of human history could God have rightly said, “I told you so!” Probably countless times in the life of each and every individual, Adam and Eve no exception. Had clearly told them, Gen. 2:16-17 

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Along comes the serpent, spin doctor with no equal, persuades the woman God didn’t really mean what he said. Adam and Eve about to find out who spoke truth – God or the serpent. Don’t know how much they knew, what they might have suspected, how their lines of thinking actually ran. They for certain were not dummies, primitive ancestors of some type – quite the opposite, well informed, highly intelligent creatures with powers of reasoning equal to or greater than the best of our day. The instant they broke the law, they knew at least intuitively, something was dreadfully wrong, and probably no going back to the way it was… ever.

A. man hid  v.8

behind fig leaves (v.7)

first obvious sign of trouble: man-to-man relationship broken, started putting up walls, boundaries between

covering was a proper response to what had just happened, should not have relied on own genius to figure it out

today: Muslims want to cover more to prevent sin, unbelievers want to uncover more and deny sin

behind trees

tried another of their own solutions, like the first was totally inadequate for their need – really covering up the problem rather than solving it

from one another

things would surely lead to things, keeping secrets from each other quickly led to accusations, opposite of what God expected Adam to do

from God

almost certainly knew trees could not hide from eye of God, but didn’t dare to face openly – would rebel when he was out of sight, pulled back some in his presence

B. God called  v.9-11

God took the initiative

had already shown they wanted to fix their own problem, were not interested in seeking out God and his help

if there was ever to be communication/reconciliation between them and God, would have to start with God – even more true today, man has moved farther away, become more rebellious

God gave opportunity for confession

was justified in throwing book at them… but didn’t – graciously, tenderly approached by asking questions, drawing them in

God asked four questions, each one an opening for Adam and Eve to take responsibility and seek God’s forgiveness

man compounded his sin

kept putting walls up higher, defending behavior instead of acknowledging sinfulness of it – and God did not lose patience

C. man blamed  v.12-13

the man blamed the woman

just the opposite of what God wanted / intended Adam to do – his role: protect and defend, not sell her out to save his own skin

the man even blamed God

a two-finger blame game here, implying that God could / should have given him a better woman to get better results

real problem not with the quality of the woman / the helpmeet – problem with how Adam failed in his responsibility to both God and Eve – continues today, encouraged by feminists / LGBTQ / etc.

the woman blamed the serpent

Eve came closer to right response – she did tell the truth, really was deceived, acknowledged her act but not its sinfulness

none voluntarily took responsibility

both Adam and Eve stated what they did but nothing about it being disobedience, no hint of personal responsibility for actions

sound like the victim mentality so common today? blame-shifting, and attempted guilt-shifting, but God doesn’t buy it

D. God cursed  v.14-19

the serpent

Satan already in trouble, had led previous rebellion of angels against God’s authority and lost… facing certain eternal doom

God began with primary instigator – not entirely serpent’s fault, yet God still held him accountable, consigning him to crawling in the dust

also puts Satan on notice that his entire existence will be one of conflict… between himself and the woman’s Seed… and her natural offspring… without intermission or victory

the woman

already knows some of what she will face given the sentence on Satan – her future likewise one of conflict and suffering

had begun to experience some of that suffering, now is informed that will be way of life for her and all her descendants

quickly becomes obvious rosy picture serpent painted about what eating fruit would produce in reality all a sham – sin and what world / Satan promises never lives up to its billing

an action “intended” to free from restraint (God’s) actually further limited Eve’s freedom – husband will rule – no longer simple complementary partnership, is authority involved

the man

Adam’s sin as identified by God has two parts – failed to carry out duty as defender of his wife, taking leadership role in family

and… after that, he followed wife’s leadership into sin – Adam sinned against both Eve and God, condemning them both

consequences for Adam more fully described – life at home and in workplace now one of struggle and conflict and opposition

greatest consequence, life now would end – “to dust you shall return” – promised death is inevitable if not immediate

the ground

even nature itself pays a penalty for man’s sin – much of what God created good now diverted to different use / purpose

will no longer be perfect cooperation between man and his attempts to manage his surroundings, opposition instead

Every part of mankind’s existence and environment damaged, distorted, corrupted by entry of sin into world. God being God could not simply overlook it – had laid down the law: if you disobey, you will die. But God in his great mercy didn’t end the story there. His comprehensive plan did not end with condemnation and judgment. Have skated over some important principles in this passage, those that were designed to give Adam and Eve hope in an otherwise hopeless situation. You’ll have to come next week to hear that!

Victory In Jesus

1 Peter 3:18-22 

Inspirational poem from century ago goes this way:

We can’t all play a winning game –  /  Someone is sure to lose,  /  Yet we can play so that our name  /  No one may dare accuse;  /  That when the Master Referee  /  Scores against our name,  /  It won’t be whether we’ve won or lost  /  But how we’ve played the game!

Perhaps in some situations winning doesn’t matter; how you play does matter all the time, including before God. Yet apostle Paul says we should play to win:

1 Cor. 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

Peter agrees, when it comes to living life so as to please God, we should play so as to win the prize. If Lord Jesus is our Lord, Savior, Example, true follower of Christ will strive to follow his example and achieve the goal he has set: victory over all our enemies – sin, Satan, Satan’s agents. If we are Christ’s, even in culture like ours we can and should live victoriously. Going our way confidently, head held high, eyes and heart focused on the finish line where Savior stands ready to welcome us home.

Troubled by what is going on around? Yes. Grieved by all that is done to hurt our Lord? Absolutely. Discouraged and overwhelmed by opposition and persecution and apathy? No way! People Peter wrote to lived in culture further down road of moral decay than ours. He encouraged them to think rightly, to act rightly, gave best possible example and encouragement for doing so – the Lord Jesus. Take heart: since Christ has had the victory… and will have final complete victory over all his enemies, so shall we who are one with him by faith.

A. Christ did the hard, necessary work

he suffered

what we don’t like to hear – since Jesus suffered, we should expect the same – if we suffer for sake of the Gospel, rejoice!!

we do like: just as significant, Jesus suffered for a purpose – to bring us to the Father, and he did it in our place

unless his suffering was pointless, it will achieve his purpose – if he suffered for you, you believe that, you will experience the eternal life he bought for you

he died

don’t like to hear about death, most people don’t want to deal with death – yet Jesus’ death was necessary payment for our life, a payment he made willingly

if Jesus has experienced death for us, we should be willing… even if not required… to experience same in his cause, for his sake

he went to heaven

we like this part, that heaven is our future – notice where Jesus is: at the right hand of God, notice who is subject to him: angels and authorities and powers

nothing can stand in the way of Jesus bringing us to the Father – he has both the position and the power to make it happen

B. Not everyone gets saved

they heard the “gospel”

people of all kinds had opportunity to hear the warnings, see deliverance taking shape in front of them – took Noah 120 years

from God’s perspective, even though free to roam the earth and to appearances do as they pleased, were effectively in prison

they kept on their merry way

God was patient, longsuffering, putting up with their daily disobedience and mistreatment of the one who found grace in his sight

kudos to Noah’s family, too – don’t forget they suffered along with Noah, could have chosen different way to go but stayed faithful

they drowned

difficult but necessary truth: the wilfully disobedient and unrighteous met a just end, the righteous continued to receive grace and mercy from kind and loving God

those who remained true to God… publicly (nothing hidden or secret about the Ark) received the reward due them from God

NOTE: the ark delivered Noah from judgment, the water delivered Noah from his enemies – same water that floated the ark destroyed the unrighteous

same Gospel message that brings some to saving faith hardens the hearts of others – difference is working of Holy Spirit

C. True believers will be delivered

pictured in baptism

Paul makes one kind of connection with symbolism of baptism, Peter another – Paul pictures death to sin, burial with Christ, raised to newness of life through faith in him

Peter focuses more on what baptism shows as result of conversion – a conscience cleaned from things that would displease God

and… is unspoken reference to deliverance from enemies – persecution and persecutors and evildoers are only temporary – will someday be delivered from them just as Noah and family were

one more thing – the ark in which Noah and family entrusted their lives no less effective than ark of Jesus Christ to deliver his people from judgment

a good conscience

basis is Jesus’ perfection, not ours – we are completely powerless to change ourselves, our conscience, our eternal destiny

we cannot present ourselves in acceptable condition before God, only Jesus can… and has… on his own behalf and ours

again, Paul Eph. 5:25-26 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 

same water brought judgment on the wicked, mercy for the righteous – some folks have big problem with God flooding entire world, drowning all those people

everyone without exception deserved it, and keep in mind God did save eight people with massive task of starting over – even in judgment, God showed great mercy

guaranteed by Christ

if Jesus is everything we claim him to be, if death/burial/resurrection/ascension accomplished all we believe it did, have no cause for discouragement or fear

should be no shadow of doubt in mind… if total confidence in Jesus and his righteousness and not our own… heaven is our destiny

complete and final victory over all our enemies, those within and those without, will be ours as we share in Christ’s victory

Meanwhile, we still live in the here and now, not the by and by. If we believe all this, if we have desire to be faithful Christ-follower, requires particular lifestyle. As we said last week, must be living hopefully in a world filled with hopeless people. Here’s something else: if we need to be ready with a defense, an answer, for the hope we have… means we need to be consistently acting in a way that encourages people to ask questions. Our public witness must be one that invites people into a relationship… with Jesus. And keep in mind, we’re looking toward that goal when we enjoy victory in Jesus. 

53. Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?

Luke 6:46 “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”

Read: Luke 6:46-49; cf. Matt. 7:21-23; also, Mal. 1:6 

 Setting:

Luk 6:17-18  “…a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits”

side note: Sermon on the Mount vs. Sermon on the Plain (Matt. vs Luk.) – Luke could be summary of Matt., could also be subsequent “sermon” given after selection of Twelve

Person(s) being questioned:

primary focus of Sermon on the Mount was the disciples, probably greater number than 12; focus in Sermon on the Plain his disciples (v.20) with huge crowd listening in also

is mixture of plain teaching that could be understood by all his listeners interspersed with one or more parables (more pointedly for benefit of disciples)

bridge to next event indicates all of the Sermon was given in hearing of both disciples and multitudes – question probably not specifically directed, more a “to whom it may concern” kind

Question behind the question:

Why do you profess great respect but without any follow-thru?

What do you expect lip-service to gain you?

If both of these things are true, what kind of person does that make you?

Expected response:

if this is a “thought” question intended to provoke personal reflection, no response is expected

Jesus’ point:

should be careful NOT to read too much into word “Lord” – remember when this scene took place… near beginning of Jesus’ ministry

has not begun to say anything to his followers about his full identity – kyrios used 9000 times in LXX, 6000 to replace YHWH, but Jesus’ hearers would not make that connection first

most common daily use the equivalent of Sir or Master – would be used by anyone toward authority figure, servants toward masters

to verbally claim respect, actively show absence of respect is hypocritical – will earn rejection from one addressed

when master/lord gave a command or instruction, expected it to be obeyed instantly without discussion or argument

Modern Application:

concept of deity, association with Jesus as his name came later… after resurrection – became article of faith at Pentecost (Acts 2:36), established as evidence of salvation (Rom. 10:9-10) in early church

fits with what came immediately before (tree and fruit) – the one who rightly claims Jesus as Lord will do what he says, will show by their fruit what kind of tree

the one who does not do what he says shows by their fruit what kind of tree – should not be surprised to hear “I never knew you”

so we’re not guilty of hypocrisy, make sure we do what he says; and… don’t be afraid, under right circumstances, to challenge someone who says but does not do

can remind / read to them what Jesus said – see Matthew and Luke

Hopeful Living in a Hopeless World

1 Peter 3:13-17 

Is easier each day to become frustrated and angry with decisions made, policies implemented by those in positions of leadership. Time after time, they try to give appearance of knowing what they are doing, yet too often solutions are worse than problems are attempting to fix. Even more significant, plans put forth offer little genuine hope. And that’s really sad – either doing simply for sake of doing something, or worse, deceived into thinking plan is a good choice.

Not just people in leadership who lack genuine hope for a bright future. Those in all walks of life desperately trying to make it through the day, survive until next paycheck, wanting next word from doctor to be encouraging but afraid it won’t be. Fewer people thinking about next generation, even fewer thinking about next life. Depending on tangible things of this life to help them make it through the day… or night.

Yet those who are honest recognize emptiness of living according to world’s standards and principles. And… they recognize those who live differently. How others respond will vary – sometimes positive, other times not so much. Yet goal of believer to be different… in a good way. Don’t need purple hair or piercings to stand out in a crowd. Do need to have confidence based on solid foundation traceable to God’s word the Bible.

A. What do you have to lose?  v.13-14

who will bother you

general principle: do the right thing, mind your own business, won’t get hassled… usually – is the way God intends it to work

may not like what you believe, often like what you do and glad to benefit from it, is good incentive for doing what is right

still… not most important thing: Christians should be motivated by principle, not pragmatism… what is right, not simply what works

fact that are fewer hassles to doing good is nice side benefit, thank God for it, do what is right because you love Him

what if they do

are some in every crowd, determined to hassle the Christians because they are Christians… make unbelievers look bad, feel uncomfortable, motivated by Satan or hatred of God

when that does happen, take heart – is a blessing in it for you… you now have that in common with Jesus, his sufferings

remember what He said: Matt. 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

what can they take

think for moment about things you consider yours: how tightly do you hang on to them, what do you feel when you lose them

now count up how many of those things will go with you to next life, how many will be left behind here when you leave

enemies can make all kinds of threats, even take many things away – no earthly force can ever take away anything of eternal significance to you

Jesus said, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven”, not great is your treasure on earth

B. What do you have to give? v.15

a soft heart

a heart devoted to God, where Christ is ruling master – needs to be clear to you… and everyone else who you serve

credible witness requires consistent life, one where motivations and actions confirm what words say – think of it like packaging

if what people find on the inside doesn’t match labeling on the outside, they won’t be interested in what you have to offer

besides, heart where Christ truly is Lord is others-minded not self-centered – more and more connected by text, need to be connected by heart… real relationships

a sweet answer

if you are carrying on real conversations with people, in their space, communicating with more than just words, will have opportunities for serious Q & A

remember: goal is for person without hope to have genuine hope; means they must come to Christ, not your logic or powers of persuasion

gently and respectfully answer their questions – tell them your story, tell them about Jesus… who he is, why he is important

keep in mind who Jesus hung out with – religious leaders criticized him for being around those kinds… “if you only knew about…”

if we are to share hope we have with others, must be spending time with hopeless people, showing them there is sound reason to have hope

a sturdy hope

can’t be an “I hope so” kind of emotion, must be solid confidence based on character and promises of God found in Bible, experienced in your life

the Bible says God is like this, let me tell you how I have experienced that – things of daily life, not only conversion

if hope / confidence is in next life, what should that mean about things limited to this life? don’t be like environmentalist trying to preserve things at any cost, use it up in service for Christ

best use for what God has blessed you with in this life is to spend it on things that matter in the next life – using time, treasure, talent to advance Christ’s kingdom

C. How will it turn out?  v.16-17

a good conscience

if Christ has rightful place in your heart and life, no problem with conscience – right motivation, right action, right outcome… according to God’s perfect design

how your words and actions are received not your responsibility – burden of that is on other person, if done with gentleness/respect

a good confession

notice theme here: “follower of what is good”, “good conduct in Christ”, “suffer for doing good” – actions that confirm witness

best kind of confession to have – declaring before everyone by both word and deed that Christ is indeed Lord of your life

not defensive speech or action but consistent godly conduct that proves accusations of evildoing have no basis in fact

a good compensation

when it is God’s purpose that you suffer for good, be confident he will reward accordingly – reward based not on how much you achieve for God but how much you suffer for his sake

Since God has gone to trouble of giving us heads-up, we should take heed and be ready – for opposition and suffering when it comes, also for opportunities when they come. Always be ready, be prepared to give an answer. Hold on to things of this world loosely, ready to give them up to God’s use at moment’s notice. Don’t try to win arguments, rather win people to Christ. Be ambassadors of hope, found in Christ, that lasts forever and no one can take away.

Problem and Promise

Malachi 3:13-4:6 

Not really a surprise, God holds true to character as described and displayed since the beginning – beautiful blending of justice and mercy. Even though time after time mankind individually and collectively deserved destruction because of sin, God held back. Preserved those who were his (a remnant), gave all opportunity to repent and turn back to him. Kept reminding people he would not do that forever – is day coming when he will carry out final justice on all.

Is not a “wait until your father gets home” kind of threat – Bible assures us God knows exact timing of day when he will carry out his purpose… he just hasn’t told anyone yet. Meanwhile, God still going the extra mile (and a million) to woo people away from their sin and back to him. God invites, God pleads, God reasons, God threatens, all the while demonstrating gracious and loving faithfulness.

In bringing OT revelation to a close, once again identifies problems with Jewish attitudes toward God, implying a challenge: “if what you have said is true, if what you have done is justified, then explain why I am going to do this.” Many / most of Jewish people had made up for themselves a representation of YHWH that wasn’t even close to the real deal. Had convinced themselves of all sorts of wrong things about God that would make impossible for him to keep his promises. Yet, we know is exactly what he did… and will do. And God was still gracious and merciful to them… and us.

A. a problem attitude  v.3:13-16a

the many

discourteous – God charges them with bringing strong and and heavy accusations against him… speaking way out of turn

not said frivolously, they really meant it, accusing God of doing things contrary to his nature and character… then responding basically with “yeah, so what?”

defeatist – thought because of who they were that God would bless them tangibly… in the present… in ways they could measure

couldn’t see the payback, figured all was God’s fault, must not be worth their effort – more a business transaction than loving relationship marked by obedience

distorted – either standard changed or God doesn’t care, is the unrighteous who prosper, who test him w/o consequences

the few

delighted – were some who loved and deeply respected God, well aware of his majesty and delighted in him – were only small minority, yet noticed by God

edified – spoke often to one another, encouraging to remain faithful, sharing what God was teaching them during quiet times

“…His visits to friends were times when he sought to do good to their souls; and never was he satisfied unless he could guide the conversation to bear upon the things of eternity. When he could not do so, he generally remained silent.” Bonar on McCheyne

meditated – this part of reason why God so provoked with majority… were some who had wits to meditate on his name (character), connect right dots together

these few had proper attitude toward God and their circumstances/surroundings – probably had right attitude about themselves, their responsibilities

B. a promised Book  v.3:16b-18

remembrance

for those who fear God – an encouragement to persevere, stay faithful even when/if not noticed by others… God sees

reassurance

they shall be Mine… and God will do all necessary to protect/preserve them from harm when that Day finally comes

not uncommon in military conflict for things to get mixed up, casualties from “friendly fire” – will never happen by God’s doing on Judgment Day or any other

reward

I will make them My jewels, prized personal possession – brought all the way from total depravity to position of honor

those whose names are found in Book will be singled out for attention before all mankind and angels on that Day – God showing off his greatest handiwork for all to see

rescue

I will spare them – not-so-subtle reminder, is because God takes pity/shows compassion on those who fear him – no room for boasting, taking credit from God for what he has done

how will that be possible w/o violating God’s character? God has a plan, will somehow change his people… so they get it

C. a promised Messiah  v.4:1-3

purifying

this not the very next big thing, is really the very last big thing on God’s schedule for this age: “great and dreadful day of the Lord”

the stubble burned up – possible, even likely that Peter had this in mind (2 Pet. 3), purifying fire of judgment removing evildoers from earth as stage of God’s action

neither root nor branch – no reproduction – this planned judgment will be final, no hope of any future for the wicked

blessing

healing – otoh, far different future planned for those who fear God, brought about by work of Sun of Righteousness

must be the Messiah who does this, parallelism of Ps. 103:3 “Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases”

fattening – hardship, privation of this life all past – all vestiges of the curse removed… from people and planet

work of Messiah takes care of past, restoring to better than original condition, and guaranteeing future

overcoming

trampling the wicked – Messiah’s first coming succeeded, as far as was intended – second coming needed to finish work

all those who are his share in his triumph, having full and final victory over evil and evildoers… including baddest of all, Satan

helps to keep their apparent present prosperity in perspective – is of limited duration, really evidence of God’s grace

D. a promised Prophet  v.4:4-6

reminder

meanwhile, the Law still the standard – those who belong to Christ no longer under its condemnation, but…still serves as rule of life for the believer

segue into announcement of Prophet – their ministry to confront people over failure to keep law, call to repentance

once more God makes clear is his intention to redeem, not destroy – many will end in ruin, yet… a remnant!

warning

the Great Day is coming – ministry of John the Baptist should have awakened to seriousness of their condition

if God promised both a Prophet and a Day, kept his promise about the Prophet, pretty sure thing about the Day too

opportunity

repent while there is time – John’s ministry was effective, many did turn back to God and eventually follow Jesus

John’s coming is past, Day is future, clock is ticking – as long as it ticks, still opportunity for sinners to repent and be saved

people need to hear both – the warning and the opportunity for rescue – don’t know how long window of opportunity will be open

May be tempted to think – huge task, no way can be done, people won’t listen, etc, etc. Much of that is true, yet… since Christ has not come back yet, must mean are still others who will come to faith. They need to hear Gospel truth, need to see it lived out day by day, leave results up to God. Our job to…Rescue the Perishing