Author: reformanda

Understanding and Honoring Your Wife

1 Peter 3:7 

An area of culture where so much turned on its head, mixed up and confused – how should people relate to one another and themselves? Has prompted development of whole new collection of words as people struggle to express themselves. Rapidly getting to place where anything goes and no one has the right to challenge how another thinks or acts. Are a number of factors involved in promoting these sorts of developments, one of most fundamental comes from mankind’s fallenness:

When Miley Cyrus sat down with Out magazine, she explained: “I don’t relate to what people would say defines a girl or a boy, and I think that’s what I had to understand: Being a girl isn’t what I hate, it’s the box that I get put into.”

The God who made all things including man and woman did not leave it up to mankind to figure these things out on their own. Gave clear instruction preserved in his word the Bible about how many genders he made, what his expectations are for each gender. Included how he intends men and women to relate to one another. Satan grasps significance of this far better than most people, why he is working so diligently to deceive and confuse. Satan’s progress has profound effect throughout all of society including the church.

Last specific category Peter addresses here is husbands, how husbands are to regard their wives and relate to them. If you really want to be noticed, take Peter’s instruction to heart and put into practice. And don’t put too much stock in negative push-back you might get – at its heart is rebellion against God and his design for mankind. Represents a way of life, system of choices destined for destruction, also by God’s design.

Individuals and corporations and governments are spending countless hours and dollars to save the planet from greenhouse gases and climate change and single-use plastics and population growth. Yet God’s word the Bible tells us Jesus came to seek and save the lost, not the planet. Is carrying out his plan, extending his kingdom here on earth through the church. “Christ loved the church and gave himself for her”. Has given his people a way to display / picture / model that love for all the world to see. Peter outlines three principles to guide husbands as they relate to their wives – understanding, honoring and inheriting.

A. understanding

her

ladies, might wonder how husbands get away with only one verse instruction to your six – see what you think after we unpack this one verse

husbands, God calls you to immense task and responsibility, one that may seem impossible – it really is, apart from God’s help

understand your wife: her physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual strengths and weaknesses – her strengths are for your benefit, your strengths for her support and protection

to know your wife this way takes time, attention, conversation and communication, observation, devotion, lots of it

you

understand your own physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual strengths and weaknesses – rely on wife’s strengths, that’s why God gave her to you, to be a fitting complement to you

use your own strengths to encourage wife’s growth and development, work on improving own areas of weakness where possible

understand your own tendencies to take undue advantage of wife and her abilities, guard against doing so

God

need to understand God, his ways, his word well enough to be spiritual leader your wife needs, helping her apply Bible to life

there are all the ways the world says to indulge and affirm your wife, then there is God’s way – husband needs to know the difference, live accordingly, help your wife to be content in that

B. honoring

cherish

“Cherish is the word I use to describe / All the feeling that I have hiding here for you inside” (1966) – sort of describe it, don’t really define or give synonym for this really good word

“treat with tenderness and affection; hold as dear; treat in a manner to encourage growth” – Webster, 1828

hold your wife in high regard in thought, speech and action – if you don’t think highly of her, you will treat her accordingly, both speech and action will communicate that to others

protect

NOTICE: Peter says to honor your wife as a weaker vessel, not because she is weaker – at times she may be far stronger than husband, in some ways may always be weaker, that is not the point

are to relate to your wife with consideration and deference that should be shown to one who deserves to be cherished and protected

is husband’s duty to see that wife is not harmed by mistreatment either from himself or others – husband is protector, defender

goes for the home, too – husband sets model for honoring the wife, has duty to require proper honor from children

requires continual awareness, sensitivity to (especially) emotional/spiritual demands on wife, awareness of vulnerability

provide

is expected the husband will provide for needs of wife and family – man leaves father/mother, assumes responsibility for his own family beginning with wife

Peter may not have known about 21st century economics but Holy Spirit did – model here is of primary dependence being of wife on husband, not other way round

C. inheriting

companionship

fellow-heirs – walking together along same path toward shared goal of spiritual inheritance, being sure not to risk other’s inheritance

means everything else that makes up relationship – priorities, values, choices – should be consistent with joint spiritual goal

gets back to what makes for thorough understanding: time, attention, conversation and communication… not hiding out in “man cave” and leaving wife to fend for herself – wife should be best friend

anticipation

difficulties in companionship easily interfere with that spiritual goal and progress toward it – spiritual piece of relationship often first casualty when there is conflict

husband-wife relationship should have future always in view – how does what is happening relationally now impact heaven

D. modeling

for your family

from before they can understand principles, boys should see demonstrated how a man honors his wife, grow up to be men who do similarly for own family

girls should see first-hand how a godly husband treats his wife, look for same in their own husband, not settle for any less

should go without saying – ought to be the way of it outside the home as well; reinforcing example of other godly men in the church; demonstrating healthy family for neighbors to see

for the world

Christian husbands and wives need to get it right now more than ever – because of how culture has changed, never been easier to be noticed

remember what Paul said: in so many words, relationship between husband and wife pictures to the world the love Christ has for his church – getting it wrong distorts that picture, dishonors Christ and his church

Yes, we have example of Christ, how he lived and died. But studying an example does not make one an expert. Yet, these are not suggestions. Are exhortations to act in certain way, only possible in full dependence on God – indwelling Holy Spirit to change, instruct, direct. Lord Jesus and his example to inspire us. Since we are heirs of salvation, already have down payment of Holy Spirit to equip and enable us to live pleasing to God.

 

…the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved. Adam lost a rib, and without any diminution to his strength or comeliness (for, doubtless, the flesh was closed without a scar); but in lieu thereof he had a help meet for him, which abundantly made up his loss: what God takes away from his people he will, one way or other, restore with advantage. In this (as in many other things) Adam was a figure of him that was to come; for out of the side of Christ, the second Adam, his spouse the church was formed, when he slept the sleep, the deep sleep, of death upon the cross, in order to which his side was opened, and there came out blood and water, blood to purchase his church and water to purify it to himself. Matthew Henry

 

52. Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?

Luke 2:49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

Read: Luke 2:41-52

“Did you not know that in the this of my Father it is necessary for me to be?”; “about my Father’s business” NKJV; “in my Father’s house” ESV; “involved in my Father’s interests” CSB

Setting: Temple in Jerusalem, probably in one of covered porch areas along sides of Court of the Gentiles

Passover followed by 7-day Feast of Unleavened Bread – so, 8 days in Jerusalem, a day’s journey out, another back, then the search… 11+ days

last Passover/Feast time for Jesus before his bar mitzvah, becomes legally responsible for own actions, allowed to lead in family/community religious exercises

participating in theological discussion with religious teachers, astonishing those who were listening

Person(s) being questioned:

Mary & Joseph – 2 ways to know it was both: he said to αυτους (them); why were you seeking (2P), didn’t you know (2P)

no reason to believe Jesus or parents made a scene

might have called Jesus to the side, kept it a low-key family matter; τέκνον more than simply son in general (υἱός) or male child (παῖς); τέκνον includes aspects of affectionate relationship (can be used without respect to age, e.g., children/sons of God 3x, John 1:12; 1 John 3:1-2)

Question behind the question:

Why did you need to search? Where else would you expect to find me?

Who is my father? Who should receive primary allegiance?

Don’t you understand who I am? Don’t you know why I am here?

Expected response:

all of these things were crystal clear to Jesus – at least on “human level”, he assumed they would also be clear to Joseph and Mary

if Jesus’ real mission was ever family topic of discussion, end result was only partial comprehension on part of Joseph and Mary

probably expected his questions to be reminder to them – “oh yeah, now I get it, duh”, especially from Mary… given what she heard 13 years prior from Gabriel, Elisabeth, Simeon

do need to remember: although Jesus was eternal God, at same time he was 12 year old boy – not at full maturity yet (see v.52)

Jesus’ point:

three things need to be kept in proper place – Mary’s statement (v.48c), Jesus’ response (v.49b), Luke’s summary (v.51b)

Mary raises Jesus’ step-father’s concerns – Jesus responds with Heavenly Father’s concerns – in practice, Jesus was subject to both

Luke had already shown relationship of Jesus toward Heavenly Father, includes important fact that Jesus maintained proper attitude toward Joseph and Mary also

given Jesus’ true identity, shouldn’t take too much thought to figure out where he would probably be, what he would be doing

even at age 12 Jesus had pretty clear sense of mission, recognition of God’s call on his life – understood priority of God’s demands, at same time, did not treat authorities as mutually exclusive

submission to requirements of Heavenly Father included being subject to earthly parents – still had some growing up to do

Modern Application: 

Jesus was unique, at same time he was one of us – young age should not by itself cause us to discount child’s ability to know God’s will and purpose for their life

if it is genuine, will be accompanied by teachable spirit, willing submission to other legitimate authorities (parents, teachers, pastors, etc.)

God is umbrella authority, not exclusive one – he ranks highest, yet at same time he has purposely made place for earthly authority structures/individuals in home, church and state

proper submission to God’s authority and will requires proper attitude toward other “secondary” authorities – only escape clause: will submission to earthly authority cause sin against God… forbid what He requires, require what He forbids

Disturbed But Not Disheartened

Malachi 2:17-3:5 

At this point in Malachi’s prophecy perspective changes to future, looking forward across coming 400 years to next big event on God’s timeline. Makes proper conclusion to OT revelation, introduction to NT events and progress of redemption. Important to keep in mind theme of Minor Prophets – “Redeemed from Ruin”. Even though God, rightly, promises judgment on those who persist in rebelling against him, God does not have “scorched earth” policy. Does not intend to annihilate his disobedient people, instead intends to redeem them.

Just as God’s righteous holiness requires a Judge to carry out just punishment on sinners, so his grace and mercy requires a Redeemer to rescue those he intends to save. Yet, as is case so often, our ideas of how things should go rarely match God’s plan. Was true for Jews of Malachi’s day, continues through every age including our own.

Jews of Malachi’s time plagued with tunnel vision – had hard time seeing beyond immediate, especially seeing beyond borders of own country. Weren’t really interested in what God might be doing or have in mind for other people groups, what their part might be in God’s plan for them. Something that plagued them then, continued in Jesus’ day, still persists. And… principle doesn’t get all attention it should in our country. e.g., Samaritans sequestered and shunned; instead should have been evangelized and assimilated.

Like most, they fell for Satan’s insinuation – if life isn’t all you expect it to be, then maybe God is holding out on you. In response, God spoke pretty sharply, gave reality check and reinforced his earlier promises. Good reminders for us, even though disturbed, to not be disheartened by what we see, what we don’t see.

A. “Where is God?”  v.17

empty promises?

no minced words here – God’s ears tired of being abused, his people expressing doubts about Him and his character

have considered promises God made, compared with present circumstances, figured something is wrong… on God’s side of things

should have known better, probably didn’t want to take responsibility – easier to blame God for hard times

a changed standard?

are disturbed by what they perceive as evil going on around, rightly so – they just connect the wrong dots

since God seemed to be blessing the wicked, he must approve of actions – do you wonder God’s ears hurt??

this after had declared by prophet Isaiah: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”  Isa. 5:20

lots of wrong theology there: prosperity = blessing; that God’s standard of right/wrong would change, that none of problem was with them

no hope for justice?

since injustice at least continuing, if not increasing, God must not be paying attention… or doesn’t care about what’s happening

theodicy question: if God is good, why is there evil? – lots of possible responses/conclusions, most of them wrong… have too narrow and uninformed view of things

important to keep starting point straight – Christian must start with God, his character, his truth, then try to make sense of circumstances

Jewish people of Malachi’s day like many throughout all ages, were approaching it backwards – trying to understand God in light of circumstances, coming up with wrong answers

B. “He is coming”  v.1-2a

the messenger first

God is not sleeping, has not forgotten his promise, is still committed to continuing his plan… on his timetable

is the next big thing on his timeline and he intends to announce it – will send a messenger to prepare the way

no need for us to wonder about messenger’s identity – Mark, Luke and Jesus all tell us explicitly: Mark 1:2-4, Luke 1:76, Matt. 11:7-10 

“As it is written in the Prophets: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.” “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.'” John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,” (Zechariah)

“As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? “But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.  “But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. “For this is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.'”

the Angel of the covenant

another Messenger to follow first, this one introduced with specific historical reference – the Angel that would go before them during the Exodus through the wilderness – Ex. 23:20 

and… perhaps also word of warning to Malachi’s audience: Ex. 23:21 

“Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him.”

will it be a good thing?

that depends – will come suddenly, means his people should be prepared… whenever it actually happens

those who truly love God have great desire for him to come, everyone else not so much

and… makes difference which coming is being considered – next time when he comes as Redeemer, later when comes as Judge

C. “He will purify”  v.2b-5

fire and soap

will be irreversible action that happens as result of Jesus’ coming – what fire and soap accomplish will not be undone

probably both comings in view here, object of actions can be somewhat distinguished – individuals and entire people group

don’t take it too far, descriptions hold up for a little – first coming and intervening time focused mostly on individuals, second coming on entire groups of people

purify

both fire and soap purify – fire, refining by separating impurities and bring to surface, leaving pure substance behind

soap along with water separates impurities and flushes away, likewise leaving clean object behind

purpose of this to purify people, sinners, who will give acceptable and pleasing worship to God – impossible to do in natural state

punish

not a good outcome in view for what is being removed in purifying process – dross, dirt not fit for use and is thrown away

for some kinds of impurities, heating in fire consumes them – certainly a picture of the Last Day, final purification of God’s people and punishment of the lost forever

will be a just punishment – consequences for sinful behavior, but foremost because they do not fear God

do take note of specific behaviors identified, bear in mind their prevalence today:

“those who practice divination, those who commit adultery, those who break promises, and those who exploit workers, widows, and orphans, who refuse to help the immigrant” NET

And so the bottom line here: God is still God and his eternal purpose is still moving forward even when we cannot see the wheels turning. We should be disturbed by injustices and evil we see, should do what God enables and equips us to achieve to make things better. At same time, do not be disheartened – final outcome does not depend on us and… God hasn’t changed his mind. He will still have final victory over sin and Satan. Wrong shall fail, right shall prevail.

Biblical Beauty

1 Peter 3:1-6 

If a fellow wants to live dangerously, good way to do it is address… publicly… what Peter declares in our text – things like woman’s attitude toward husband, what defines beauty, appropriate fashion choices. Certainly topics that can easily raise the temperature in mixed company. People have strong opinions, not only about topics themselves, but also opinions on who has a right to express an opinion about them. If Peter’s theme is “Pilgrims Living Counter-Culturally”, he nails the counter-cultural part right here.

Many would say Peter is old-fashioned, hundreds of years past sell-by date, waste of time to give any consideration. So, for starters, look at condition of family in our land, divorce rate, number of children who do not live with one or both parents… and tell me how it’s working. If the world’s measure of beauty and attractiveness is accurate, why are those who spend the most on being beautiful the most miserable people who have few if any enduring relationships? Just for practical reasons, ought to give Peter a listen. Most important, this is God’s word, given to all generations – needs no defense, needs no apology, simply needs to be heard and heeded.

Another very important point needs to be made – this text along with verse 7 shamefully mistreated… by professed Christians! Don’t need to get into all the sordid details, fall into 2 general categories – trying to make text say what it does not, not allowing it to say what it means. Yes, Peter wrote to group of people living in 1st century Greco-Roman culture. Knowing that helps us understand some issues they were facing. At same time, Peter wrote to the church, believers living in the world as pilgrims. Is true of our text – verses 1 thru 6 addressed to Christian married women, verse 7 to Christian married men. Focus of Peter’s instruction on how married Christian men and women should behave so as to please God.

We will see as we go along, kind of beauty Peter describes not one that is put on in front of the mirror, taken off later. Is rather a beauty, an attractiveness rooted in the character of the person and reflected in their appearance. Attractiveness first expressed in the home, carries over into rest of life.

A. words vs. life  v.1-2

voluntary submission

willingly following leadership of husband – remember who the example is, “likewise”, Peter has just drawn attention to Lord Jesus as model for us to follow

submission can’t be a bad thing if Jesus practiced it – “I must be about my Father’s business”; “not my will but yours be done”

then there is Paul’s concise summary of much OT teaching, “husbands, love your wives…” and marriage as picture of Christ/church

Peter looks at relationship in other direction, relationship between church and Christ – attitude and  behavior of wife toward husband intended to picture how church should think and act toward Christ

especially needful when husband not saved – wife who has proper relationship with husband because she loves Christ has much more credible / persuasive witness

powerful silence

secondary point – things that apply to “mixed” marriage, saved wife and unsaved husband – addressed remarks to wives, makes application to some

by no means endorsing marriage of believer/unbeliever, situation came about after marriage… and seems to be minority position in the church – “even if some”

whether husband is saved or not, nagging is not the way to get him to shape up, especially when wife has areas needing improvement

also not endorsement of silence as weapon – needs to be healthy communication, expressions of belief, backed up by consistent behavior

purity of life

are countless ways wife can communicate volumes without ever saying a word – am sure ladies know what I’m referring to – way things are done… or left; what is attended to first… and last; facial expressions, the look, eye roll

when general character of day by day life is that of pure and reverent conduct, that is something God can use to change husband

notice kind of change in view: may be won over to obedience to the word – is just as applicable to saved husbands as unsaved

ladies, don’t get in a huff – husband’s turn comes next week, DV – for now, if husband is not all you’d like, first check character of own life and kind of relationship you have

B. appearance vs. substance  v.3-4

maybe more choices, greater expenditure by Westerners on things related to appearance, by no means only ones who pay attention to such things

spend billions of dollars decorating the outside, next to nothing developing the inside of the person – not biblical order of priority

modest accessories

should be accessories, not center of attention – this is not criticism of attention to appearance: should look like we appreciate who God has made us to be and take reasonable care of it

at same time, things that are put on should complement beauty God has already given – should not draw attention to things of secondary importance

here’s the important thing – God doesn’t expect/approve use of accessories to try to appear as someone other than who you really are

God wants his people to be truthful in more than just their words, sincere and honest in all they communicate

the real you

what is of greatest value to God is the person that you are, not the body in which you live – is your person that gives life and beauty to your appearance, transforms average into attractive and beautiful

which brings up another important point: what are you investing time and treasure in… things you put on or take off… or… the inner person of the heart

lasting beauty

thanks to a couple’s choices in the Garden, maintaining unchanging external appearance is losing battle, no matter how hard someone tries to make it otherwise

not the same with the real you, the inner person, that endures throughout this life and into next life – can in fact improve with age

especially so when diligent effort is made to cultivate a “gentle and quiet spirit” – God’s word and Spirit essential to making that happen, permeating person from inside out

C. courageous goodness  v.5-6

holy heroines

Sarah just one of many who demonstrate truth of what Peter says – could include people from own personal experience

are also those who were used by God in conversion of husbands – not guarantee, but God does work that way on occasion

winning combination

trust in God – developing and demonstrating kind of beauty God treasures is impossible apart from trust in him… continually

is especially needful in difficult situations, when it is hard to remain faithful in face of hardship or opposition

do good – must trust in God to supply wisdom and strength and (often) the courage to do good, to be kind of wife God can use to bring about his purpose in home and church

What will serve best to develop and enhance kind of beauty Peter writes about is closeness to Christ – committing to knowing Christ, following Christ, serving Christ by serving others. Others will see and respond to that kind of beauty, will be encouraged by it, will be drawn to the one who supplies it.

 

The Meaning of the Cross

1 Peter 2:21-25

Couple weeks ago, Supreme Court issued decision re: Peace Cross, Bladensburg, MD, 10 miles from White House.

“The cross was chosen because it was reminiscent of the fields of crosses marking the graves of fallen soldiers buried overseas. On the pedestal supporting the cross is a bronze plaque with the names of the 49 soldiers from Prince George’s County who gave their lives in World War I.”

87-page decision in American Legion v. American Humanist Association – not only in 1st century, the cross and its message is still foolishness in 21st century.

Apostle Paul made abundantly clear in first letter to church at Corinth:

1 Cor. 1:18 Read it

Didn’t discourage Paul or cause change of mind, also makes plain preaching the cross of Christ not something he did by accident:

1 Cor. 2:1-5 Read it – I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

1 Cor. 15:3  I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 

Cross was central in Peter’s theology also. Has given instruction how we as followers of Christ should behave in public, our civic responsibilities, and in workplace. Has set high standard, the example of Lord Jesus, maybe one you think is impossible to meet. Wait until we get to part about husbands and wives!! Now before you get discouraged and hang it up, Peter has more to say… about the cross. If we are to live as pilgrims in the world, going against tide of culture, can only do it in power of the cross.

A. perfect example  v.21-23

how to live

Jesus lived purposely – intentionally living out his life as first Adam should have – walked carefully, leaving clear footprints for us

Jesus did not set bar of example impossibly high so we could never achieve it – simply lived and acted pleasing to God, showing us how to do it and made sure Gospels had the record preserved for us

how to die

here’s something that really goes contrary to culture today, including here in Maine – governor signed Maine Death with Dignity Act into law on June 12, 2019

wonder what advocates of bill would think about crucifixion, whether meets definition of dignity – Jesus didn’t protest against it, try to find way to avoid it

Jesus’ intent was to satisfy / please Father in death as in life – expects his people to follow in those footsteps just like the rest

don’t buy the (New Age) lie

w/o question, Jesus said he is the way… to the Father, not to godhood  like New-Agers claim – he showed us the way to live pleasing to the Father but not apart from Jesus

common practice with apprenticeships – show/instruct how to do it, watch apprentice do it, then “you’re on your own” – Jesus never said that to his followers

another thing Jesus never said… that we could ever satisfy God’s demands apart from him – in fact he said just the opposite, John 15:5 

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

B. problematic implementation  v.24

power of sin

as soon as we try to follow Jesus’ example, immediately find out there’s a problem – if are walking in his footsteps, should only be one set of prints behind us – go ahead, look, what do you see?

there you see power of sin over our best intentions – pushing, pulling, persuading to wander away from path Jesus’ walked

if were up to us to set standard, would figure out way to accommodate weakness, failure – drop the bar a few notches

power of the cross

instead of taking standard down, he took our sins up with him, paid full penalty

“This, the pow’r of the cross: Christ became sin for us; Took the blame, bore the wrath—We stand forgiven at the cross.”

what Jesus accomplished by his willing sacrifice intended to change how we live and die… as well as what comes after death

is only the power of the cross that breaks power of sin – to condemn us, to enslave us – can be enticed by it, need not be slave to sin

our only hope is in coming to the cross, embracing the Jesus who died there as Savior and Lord, fully depending on him and his righteousness

purpose of the cross

far more than simple insurance policy – embracing Christ does relieve of punishments of hell, does not leave us in our sin

is why God graciously prevented Adam & Eve from tree of life – is committed to fully redeeming us from corruption / condemnation from sin… beginning at moment of conversion

die to sin – dead person does not respond to anything, no matter how tempting – one who is dying to sin does not respond

since we stand forgiven at the cross, are new creatures in Christ, have power as well as desire to resist sin’s enticements

as Holy Spirit applies truth from God’s word to us, we follow Spirit’s leading, side effects of sin gradually being flushed away

live for righteousness – here’s purpose of the cross declared… not simply that we should live forever but live for righteousness – iow, “that [we] should follow his steps”

purpose not to empower us to earn God’s favor – clear reminder given: “by [his] stripes you were healed” – is Jesus’ merit, Jesus’ righteousness applied to us that gives us right standing with God

is Jesus’ power that comes to us through ministry of the Holy Spirit that equips us to live for righteousness

C. provided facilitator  v.25

shows the way – Shepherd

a shepherd leads his flock, doesn’t drive them – sheep literally follow shepherd’s steps – our shepherd has followed path all the way: life, death, heaven

Jesus doesn’t give followers GPS, expect to figure out how to get there – dozens trying to avoid traffic jam in Denver ended up stuck in mud on farm road

one driver: “There is no way that Google could have known that that was the situation out there.”

keeps his people on the way – Overseer

notice what Shepherd Overseer cares about – souls… not bodies – Jesus the only one who has resources necessary to guard our souls

because of who he is and what he has done, everyone who follows Jesus can have absolute confidence – he knows what he is doing, where he is going, will not take wrong turn or lose any along the way

The cross means God’s standard is not impossible… not because of man’s effort but because of God’s grace. For sake of his son the Lord Jesus, he accepts us as righteous and pleasing to him… when we do our part, depending / trusting him to help us. We do not need to see road ahead, only need to see one step at a time, make sure is Jesus’ footprints we are following.

People we all know, ones we will meet who are enslaved by all sorts of things, are powerless to overcome. Remember what Paul said: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Is a message of hope and encouragement for all who will listen… including us.

 

God, Why Are You Upset with Us?

Malachi 2:10-16 

Book of the Twelve begins and ends on same thematic note: marriage. Same is true for beginning and end of Old Covenant text. Might wonder what a social institution has to do with salvation – Redeemed from Ruin theme. Let’s back up a few millennia, Day 6 of Creation, principle stated in Gen. 2:24

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

Notice where emphasis is – on becoming one. When God through Moses described first marriage, identified principles involved, first thing God comes to is marriage being something that demonstrates oneness, unity. Result of marriage expected, except in unusual circumstances, to involve offspring raised in home with father and mother.

If we take Adam as prototype, the first of his kind, two important things presented to us from week of Creation:

Adam as one made in image of God is to be faithful husband to his wife with whom he has become one

Adam also to be faithful father to his children in the setting of a family that demonstrates faithfulness and unity

Should be no surprise to us in New Covenant period that God has graciously given visible tangible things to represent to us invisible intangible realities – things like baptism, Lord’s table. Same is true to extent with marriage – strong parallels between marriage covenant and God’s covenant with his people. Between relationships present in marriage and family and that between God and his people. From God’s side, reaches pinnacle in Christ and his relationship with church. By no means an entirely new idea first revealed in Ephesians. Paul himself credits Moses with first presenting concept as we read above.

Given strong and close connections between God’s covenant and marriage covenant, no wonder God makes big deal about marriage being done right. Then there is practical reality – if “observance” of either covenant is compromised, both are at great risk. When principles of one are held lightly, disregard for principles regarding other quickly follow.

In our text, God not happy with his people. Through prophet Malachi identifies two primary and a secondary reason for his severe displeasure with his people followed by a stern warning. btw, don’t have to look too hard to see much of what Malachi and contemporaries experienced taking place in our own nation and neighborhoods and families.

A. dishonoring God’s covenant  v.10

one Father – relationship

personal pronoun changes here, from “you” to “we” – lets us know Malachi not talking about universal Fatherhood of God, brotherhood of man – has covenant people in view

ancient treaties emphasized sovereign/subject relationship – subjects not to forget who is in charge, what they owe to him

God no less a sovereign than ancient rulers but… not aspect of relationship that is at front here – using affection based on paternal relationship to woo his people back

one choice – election

for those who knew their Bible, this portion of Malachi’s message must have reminded of Moses’ instruction to Israelites in Deu 7

themes of marriage, election, covenant woven together – who they should not marry b/c are chosen people in covenant with God

makes it plain God chose them (not other way round) to be his people, was that God who made them a people

one family – at risk

God does deal with people as individuals, also as group – a Father who has made up a people is concerned with his entire family

one member acting out can put well-being of human family at risk – clear example of that after fall of Jericho and defeat at Ai because of one man, Achan, and sinful actions

sinning against God puts other family members, even neighbors at risk; sinning against neighbor puts relationship w/ God at risk

B. dishonoring the marriage covenant  v.11, 14-16a

setting: Ezra 10:1-17 (457 BC)  Neh. 13:23-27 (between 430 and 424 BC)

ongoing issue in Israel’s history as well as other nations / groups – is important issue, must be addressed, yet marriage issues really a symptom of something bigger

Ezra had to deal with unbiblical marriage when he arrived in Jerusalem, 30 years later Nehemiah faced with same issues

at same time, church was in trouble… all sorts of wrong things happening – neglect of church, improper use of facility, disregard for Sabbath requirements

treachery

“violation of allegiance or of faith and confidence • betrayal of trust” – if marriage intended to picture God’s relationship w/his people, making own rules for marriage a violation of allegiance to God

theological ground totally confused when believer marries unbeliever – besides practical family compromises – unbelieving spouse usually makes unbelievers of children, maybe more

puts “believer” in impossible position – cannot be loyal to both God and unbeliever, must break trust with one or other or both

violence

implication in v.11 + v.14: men had divorced wives to marry more desirable pagan women, viewed by God as domestic violence

wrenching apart two whom God had made one, tearing apart fabric of family when children involved – violence strong word that includes both cruelty and injustice

displeases God because of violent nature that is contrary to his character, defeats his intended purpose for marriage

God seeks godly offspring, those who worship him in spirit and truth, the next generation in his family as well as the home

C. dishonoring the worship of God  v.12-13

worship like nothing is wrong

disobey command that is known – had copy of the Law, reminded by Ezra and Nehemiah, could not plead ignorance

put on outward appearance of obedience – followed rituals, mostly, knowing rest of life didn’t please God = hypocrisy

religious but not moral – talked the talk, did religious things but loyalty was to things other than God, offensive to him

expect God’s continued blessing

assumed if they did some things right God obligated to respond – no thought for kind of people God wanted: “be holy…”

mourning loss of the wrong thing – grief b/c they lacked material things, not b/c relationship with God was in trouble

same for all idols they worshiped – wanted benefits promised, more a commercial kind of transaction than personal relationship

D. watch it  v.16b

of utmost importance in worship

right god – God commands full and exclusive loyalty of heart and action, will not share his glory with any other (Isa. 42:8; 48:11)

right attitude – honest, sincere desire to please God plus diligent effort higher priority for God than quality of performance

and with spouse

the one you might choose – start with principles God (not the world) has established, keep desires in check for later

the one you have – nurture loyalty / faithfulness to spouse, treat him/her as one of God’s good gifts to be cherished

anyone/thing you desire – not everything we desire is good for us or pleasing to God, should not have everything we want, governed by mind not emotions

for the sake of the church

v.15 – “he seeks godly offspring” – goes back to Creation Mandate, institution of family to provide useful citizens for church/state

in the home – right attitudes/desires need to be both modeled and taught… for sake of family, church, and state

violence and treachery in the home has profound consequences in classroom, workplace, government, church, public

in the church – disloyalty to spouse/brother/God outside the church has impact on relationships / behaviors in the church

When things aren’t going way we think they should, experiencing hardships or suffering we don’t expect – ask what is wrong with me/us, not what is wrong with God.

Problems we observe in family/church/state have root in relationship with God, attitude toward him and his commands – other problems are symptoms.

True and lasting solution to those begins with the Gospel, does not end there. e.g. refugee situation

 

God’s People Need Faithful Leaders

Malachi 2:1-9 

In previous chapter God took people and priests to task for improper attitude toward worship – in particular, people bringing, priests accepting and offering sacrifices unacceptable to God. And they expected God to be ok with that… and continue blessing them. Both people and priests were responsible for actions and attitudes, priests more so because of position of influence. Priests expected to lead people to truth with both life and lips, were seriously deficient in both.

Here God narrows focus to priests, accusing them of unfaithfulness to his covenant, threatening to bring on them curses promised for not keeping the covenant (Deut. 28). No guesswork here about what God expected of his people, how they had sinned against him, how he would respond. Like earlier at Nineveh, God’s threats are great act of grace – warning his people, giving time for repentance, opportunity to get back to right standing with God.

Some details different for us – are under different / New covenant, so not surprising things might have changed. No longer single place for worship, gather on Sunday rather than Saturday, many ceremonial requirements don’t apply. However… God is still the same, need to treat what he says to us with as much respect as ancient people should have. And basic principles of worship have not changed – first and most important is about us giving God his due, taking to heart what he gives to us, take seriously the need to give glory to God in worship.

A. God must be taken seriously  v.1-4

need to hear what he says

are to be active listeners to God in his Word and in worship – pay close attention with goal of comprehension

striving to make mental associations, find hook to hang it on (or one it’s already on), keep it accessible for future use

those in leadership in particular need to master God’s truth not just for own benefit – need to understand it well enough to pass along to others… accurately

Neh. 8:8 “So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.”

need to take it to heart

iow, take what God says seriously – God not like us, talking endlessly about things that won’t matter in 100 years (minutes)

everything God says has significance – not taking his word to heart means we don’t really take God seriously

God expects his Word not to merely inform but to transform – both process and result of transformation give glory to God

is those who have been and are continually being transformed who give kind of glory to God (worship) he wants/deserves

God will have his way

is against God’s character to simply stand by while he is not honored, even dishonored… esp. by those who should know better

God also not content to deal only with present… is concerned about future… and so should his people be – what is done now forms foundation, sets stage for future generations

if his leaders and people fail to heed, will get worse than egg on faces – both they and their rituals will be covered in refuse

refuse / offal what was removed from sacrificial animal before offered as burnt offering, then burnt outside the camp because considered unclean

strong implication if Malachi’s hearers (priests and people) continued disregarding God’s expectations, would be treated same as offal and destroyed

bottom line: God was / is determined to have a people who respect him and his covenant, take worship seriously, do their best in his strength to please him

B. Levi was a good example  v.5-7

God gave, Levi responded

at head of line was Aaron, from tribe of Levi, ones to whom worship responsibilities were entrusted

might seem otherwise, harsh and confining and impossible to keep, yet God’s intent was for good of his people

God would be faithful to his covenant – if his people responded properly, they could count on him for protection and provision, life, peace

God’s intention that his people would learn to fear him – “combination of affectionate love and deep respect, joined to an awareness of majesty” – and show him proper reverence

Levi was faithful

God didn’t give them wiggle room, couldn’t say he expected too much from them, had set his standard too high for anyone

picks out Phinehas, Aaron’s grandson (Numbers 25) – people got into serious trouble, sacrificing and worshiping Moabite gods until God sent a plague

Phinehas took action, stopped the plague – feared God more than he feared powerful people among both Jews and Midianites

he was influential… for good

as good leader Phinehas taught truth – people could count on getting right instruction from him as spiritual leader

in both day to day life and at time of crisis he put his understanding of God’s truth into action, did the hard but right thing

did as God expected one in his position to do – lived at peace with others, had reputation for integrity, honored God with life/lips

result of his constant faithfulness – God used his teaching and example to turn many away from sin, iow were converted

C. you have undone what he did  v.8-9

priests were unfaithful

not simple neglect, harmless error, failure to do good job professionally – weren’t doing it right in their own lives

apparently in God’s eyes behavior in private life / off the clock is as important as job performance… particularly in the church

nothing about slipping, backsliding, losing their way – was an intentional turning aside from what they knew was right

priests encouraged the people to be unfaithful

didn’t want to lose face by having people show them up so… dragged everyone down with them, leading astray

encouraged others to believe couldn’t or didn’t need to meet God’s standard, put every covenant blessing in jeopardy

not something that went away quickly – think Pharisees of Jesus’ day, how much they twisted true sense of law into something incredibly burdensome

there would be serious consequences for all

their plan would backfire – instead of maintaining reputation and influence, God would make sure they were held in contempt and humiliated before everyone

if there were no serious repentance on part of priests and people, covenant curses would kick in and everyone would lose

Have some liberties now they didn’t then – aren’t stuck with corrupt / incompetent spiritual leaders. Have opportunity and responsibility to sit under sound teaching. Right along with that, need to do two things: encourage those spiritual leaders who are, like Phinehas, doing well; take God’s word and their teaching to heart, working along with Holy Spirit to be transformed by the Word.

Another blessing we have – his Word in variety of versions suited to different reading abilities that make it less challenging to read and comprehend. Need to make the time, listen with intention of understanding and applying, depending on Holy Spirit for help and strength.