Lord's Day Evening Meditations January
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
"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
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
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.