(Today’s post by Chris Queen)
You know, when we read these Old Testament prophecies, it can be easy to think, “Man, these are harsh!” But the truth is that the sins the Israelites committed as God’s chosen people hurt, offended, and riled Him up so much that such harsh statements are the only response to such heinous sins.
Malachi compares the unfaithfulness of God’s people to a man who has been unfaithful and chooses to divorce his wife:
2:14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. 15 Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.
16 “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.
Then, responding to the question of, “Where is the God of justice,” God promises His judgment on Israel:
3:1 “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.
2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.
5 “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.
God loved – and still loves – His chosen people. I don’t believe that when we sin we set out aiming to defy Him, but our sins break His heart. If we look at our disobedience in that light, it may make resisting temptation a little more urgent – and maybe even easier. Here’s hoping we all can live in the light of not wanting to break the heart of the God who loves us more than anyone else ever could.