Lord's Day Evening Meditations January 18, 2004

Malachi 2:10-17

Faithful or Unfaithful?

We have been seeing the Lord speaking to the people whom He loved, trying to arouse their hearts to their condition, to draw them back to Himself. He continues to speak to them in chapter 2, through the prophet Malachi; the first part of the chapter was addressed directly to the priests, but the last part is addressed more generally to the people. "Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother?" v. 10. We have the word "treacherously" in this verse, and we have it also in verses 11, 14, 15, and 16. The other English translation uses the word "unfaithfully," which is a little easier to understand. What we find in these verses is that the people were dealing unfaithfully with their brethren; secondly, they were dealing unfaithfully with the Lord Himself; and thirdly they were dealing unfaithfully with their wives.

"Why do we deal unfaithfully every man against his brother?" As parents we don't like to see quarrels, etc. amongst our children, and the Lord doesn't like to see it either. In the natural relationship, whether family or marriage, and in the spiritual relationship, there are two things required: love and faithfulness. We have brothers and sisters in Christ, and we are to be characterized by love, as the Lord said in John 13:35, "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another."

In verse 11, "Judah hath profaned the holiness (sanctuary) of the Lord which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange God." In speaking to His beloved people, and trying to attract their attention and their hearts, the Lord often used the example of the marriage relationship - He was their husband, and they were His wife. In this way He showed them their unfaithfulness to Him. Here, however, He changes that so that Judah is the husband, and Judah has turned away from the One he once loved and has joined himself to an idol. Anyone who is, or has been in that relationship would understand how they would feel if the one they loved forsook them for someone else. This relationship was an example to Israel, but it is a reality for us, for every believer is a member of the body of Christ. Paul, who was raised up to teach that truth, began to learn it on the way to Damascus when the Lord asked him, "Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" What was done to His members on earth, the Lord in glory took as done to Himself. Eph. 5:30 says, "For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones." As such, we are most precious to Him, and He rightly looks for the love of our hearts in response to His.

In the world, Satan has his captives under his power, but he tries to get those who are not his. How does he do it? How did he get Samson to fall, the man whom nobody could resist? He attracted his heart by an evil object, and Samson fell. With a new nature, and the Spirit of God dwelling within us, all the power we need is available to us to be faithful to the Lord. But if Satan can attract us by one of the world's idols, he knows that we will fall. That is why we read, "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." That is where Israel fell. He had once loved the sanctuary of the Lord, but then he turned his back on the Lord and went after "the daughter of a strange god;" he went after idols.

We might think that for us to go after the world's idols is not serious, but think of it this way. Those of you who have a husband or a wife, how would you feel if the one you love were to turn their back on you and go after someone else? Would that be serious then? You wouldn't want them to do that to you, and the Lord doesn't want us to do it to Him either. But that is what we do to Him if we allow our hearts to go after some idol in the world. Turn to 1 John 5:21 - "Children, keep yourselves from idols." We sang,

Have I an object, Lord, below

Which would divide my heart with Thee?

Do we have divided hearts, part for the Lord and part for the world? There's a beautiful poem entitled "Peerless Worth" which says,

'Tis the look that melted Peter,

'Tis the face that Stephen saw,

'Tis the heart that wept with Mary,

Can alone from idols draw -

Draw and win, and fill completely,

Till the cup o'erflow the brim.

What have we to do with idols,

Who have companied with Him?

That was written on a statement in the book of Hosea. Hosea is the backslider's book. The Lord pleads with Israel to return to Him, and when Ephraim (Israel) is restored he says, "What have I to do any more with idols?" Hosea 14:8. What is the key to clearing all the idols out of our hearts? It is to have such a view of the Lord in His beauty; it is to have such a sense of His love and grace and goodness that the heart is filled to overflowing leaving no more room for anything else. We sometimes sing,

Jesus, Thou art enough

The mind and heart to fill.

He is enough to fill and satisfy the heart of God; surely He is enough to fill and satisfy our hearts also.

In verse 13 we see them bringing an offering to the Lord "with tears, with weeping, and with crying out" - great outward expressions of affection, and the Lord wanted none of it. Why? They were doing all the wrong things that we have seen in this book this far; they had turned away from the Lord in their hearts; yet, they were trying to keep up a good appearance, to make a show of affection. When our hearts are right with the Lord, we don't need to try to impress Him with our love. He knows the love that is, or isn't, there, and we can't deceive Him with appearances. But that is what was going on here, and it is so sad to see it. When the Lord was here He saw this in the scribes and Pharisees. They were outwardly blameless in the observance of the law, but the Lord called them hypocrites, whited sepulchres that were full of dead men's bones. Our Lord looks for reality. May He find it in us!

The Lord gives another reason, in verse 14, for rejecting their offerings and their tears. "The Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously (unfaithfully)." This brings before us again the natural relationship, and the relationship of the Lord to His people. In the natural relationship these Jews were being hardhearted and unfaithful, putting their wives away at their pleasure, whereas "the God of Israel saith that He hateth putting away." We are reminded again of God's thoughts: "And did not He make one?" This is another way of saying, "And they two shall be one flesh"- God's original intention that the relationship would be permanent.

As to the Lord and His people, this is the reason why He has not put them away, even though they did everything to Him. He has set them aside for a time, but He will yet restore them to Himself. There was no lack of love on His part, and no lack of faithfulness either. They had dealt unfaithfully and broken the covenant He made with them, but He was ever faithful to them, and will yet restore and bless them under a new covenant that He will write, not on tables of stone, but on their hearts. However, as to ourselves, our relationship to the Lord is not that of a covenant. "We are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones," and "He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit." 1 Cor. 6:17. We are not in an agreement with the Lord, we are part of Him, and that union cannot be broken.

In the last verse Malachi says, "Ye have wearied the Lord with your words." v. 17. Compare that with Isa. 40:28 - "The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary." Isaiah says He never gets tired, and Malachi says, "You're tiring the Lord with your words". There is no contradiction. You can bring all troubles, all burdens, to the Lord and be troubling Him continually with your needs, and He will never get tired or impatient. But to misrepresent Him, as the Jews did, saying that He delights in evil and doesn't judge it, that is what tires Him. S.L.