We are at the conclusion of The Return era
Malachi is the last prophet of the Old Testament
The next prophet to come along will be someone named John the Baptist...perhaps you have heard of him? 😉
John the Baptist is related to someone you might know 😉
Tomorrow we begin The Maccabean Revolt which includes 1 and 2 Maccabees and the Wisdom Literature including Sirach
If you’ve never read The Book of Sirach, you are going to LOVE IT!!
Nehemiah is finishing STRONGLY
What always happens!
Yesterday we talked about the story and how it unfolded all the way back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
Here’s slavery in Egypt and being set free
Here’s Moses and Joshua and all those folks
They were doing well
Yes, we had the prophets who had to speak to the people who had come back from exile because they weren’t building the Temple right away, because they weren’t building the walls
There seemed to be LESS idolatry
There seemed to be LESS division
There seemed to be MORE faithfulness
What happens next?
Nehemiah goes back to spend the summer with King Artaxerxes who had just let him go on alone
He did not set Nehemiah free from his service
He gave him the chance to go to Jerusalem and Judah and rebuild the walls for this project of renewal
So Nehemiah had to go back to Artaxerxes to check in
So he comes back to Judah and it seems like THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE THINGS STAY THE SAME
The people had been unfaithful
So Nehemiah takes charge of all these things
He makes sure people who have corrupted Temple worship are no longer corrupting Temple worship
He makes sure people who have intermarried are no longer taking those steps
He even cites King Solomon
This is one of those HUGE pieces for us
St. Paul is going to say something like this near the end of the New Testament as well
“If you want to have a family united in faith, don’t start it out disunited in faith. That is not wise. That is not a wise thing to do.”
Nehemiah 13:26, “Did not Solomon king of Israel sin on account of such women? Among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel; nevertheless foreign women made even him to sin.”
So are we going to do any differently?
That is KEY for us
Later on in The Book of Malachi, he makes it very very clear in Ch 2
Malachi 2:16, “‘For I hate divorce, says the Lord the God of Israel…’”
Here are these people who are turning their back on the Covenant
The Covenant is ultimately MARRIAGE
The Covenant is that “I am yours and you are mine.”
That one flesh union between God and His People
It is the one flesh union between a man and a woman
So you might have caught this in the four short chapters of Malachi
He is writing and he is the MESSENGER
“Malachi” means “my messenger”
It is taking place around the same time as Ezra and Nehemiah
He is consistently calling out and doing what Nehemiah does at the end of The Book of Nehemiah
He is basically saying, “Ok here are all the things that you are doing…”
There are at least six points where Malachi, with the voice of the Lord, utters the word that people will say in rebellion against God
Malachi 1:2, “‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have you loved us?’ ‘Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?’”
God says, “I declare this. I love you.”
And the response is, “Oh yeah? How have you done that?”
And God has to say, “Uh, maybe because I favored you among all the other nations. Maybe because I have not blessed other nations in the way that I have blessed you. Maybe because I fought for you. Maybe because I have fed you. Maybe because I have led you.”
All of these things that the people of Israel would challenge God, “Well, how have you done this?”
Malachi 1:6, “And if I am a master, where is my fear? Says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. You say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. And you say, ‘How have we polluted it?’ By thinking that the Lord’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil?”
This BLINDNESS that corrupted the priesthood
This BLINDNESS to God’s love for them
This DEFILEMENT OF MARRIAGE
ALL THESE PIECES
Not only that…
But in our modern context, there is this word of God in Malachi 2:17, “You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, ‘How have we wearied him?’ By saying, ‘Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.’”
THIS SOUNDS EXACTLY LIKE US IN OUR MODERN CONTEXT!!! 🤯🤯🤯
This is a HARD WORD for a lot of us
Because as Christians, so often we emphasize that God loves us
Also as Christians, we FORGET that God loves us
We have this tightrope where we go from one extreme to another
We either FORGET that God loves us just like in Malachi Ch 1, “I have loved you” and then “Well, how have you loved us?”
There is also the sense that on the other hand we say, “Well then everyone is good. Everyone is fine. There is nothing really evil in the sight of the Lord. Everyone delights the Lord. Even in their evil.”
By saying again, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord and he delights in them.”
Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice? He hasn’t shown up. He hasn’t brought justice. He hasn’t brought judgment.”
So we have what is commonly known as MORALISTIC THERAPEUTIC DEISM
It’s a term coined by Christian Smith, who is a sociologist who is from North Carolina and worked at UNC-Chapel Hill and now works at Notre Dame
He says that MORALISTIC THERAPEUTIC DEISM is the PREDOMINANT RELIGION OF THE MAJORITY OF AMERICANS
While we might say, “Well I’m Jewish or Catholic or Protestant or Muslim or Atheist…”
Most Americans have this view of God that is MORALISTICALLY THERAPEUTICALLY DEISTIC
MORALISTIC means don’t be a jerk
THERAPEUTIC means that God is there for you when you WANT him and He doesn’t really bother you when you DON’T WANT him and he’s there to listen to your problems
DEISTIC means the “clockmaker God” where he is not really really involved in your life, he just kind of wound up the world and let it go
So this belief is that God is there when you WANT him but he is not there when you DON’T WANT HIM
It’s this God you can take off the shelf and then put back on the shelf
He likes all the things that YOU like
He hates all the things that YOU hate
He thinks the way that YOU think
That’s the idea between MORALISTIC THERAPEUTIC DEISM
Here in Malachi Ch 2 we see it on display
Once again, THE MORE THINGS CHANGE THE MORE THINGS STAY THE SAME
The last little piece here, because we CANNOT walk past this
Malachi Chs 3 and 4 have INCREDIBLE PROPHECIES OF JESUS
Malachi Ch 3 is the prophecy of John the Baptist
Malachi 3:1-2, “Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?”
OH MY GOSH!!
So we have the prophecy of John the Baptist
THE LORD WHOM YOU SEEK WILL SUDDENLY COME TO HIS TEMPLE!!
JUST LIKE JESUS DID AND UPSET THE CARTS!!
Not even when he was an adult when Jesus turned over the tables of the merchants
EVEN AS AN INFANT
When he was presented in the Temple by Mary and Joseph and Simeon exclaimed, “Now, Lord, let your servant go in peace. For my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people, a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your children Israel.”
Lastly, we have Malachi Ch 4 The Great Day of the Lord
This is something we read at least once a year in Catholic Mass Lectionary
Malachi 4:1, “For behold, the day comes, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings.”
WHAT AN INCREDIBLE PROMISE OF THE LORD!!
HE HAS NOT FORGOTTEN US!!
HE WANTS US TO BE FAITHFUL TO HIM!!
HE WANTS US TO LOVE EACH OTHER!!
HE WANTS US TO OBEY HIM!!
HE IS COMING!!
HE IS RETURNING!!
Even now, Malachi applies to US
Yes, The Day of the Lord came already
Jesus, Incarnate here on the earth, in the flesh, 400 plus years after Malachi wrote these words
HE IS GOING TO COME AGAIN!!
So we ask the Lord to HELP US BE READY
Not only hope to celebrate and commemorate his FIRST COMING
But to recognize his PRESENT COMING as he comes into our lives in his Holy Spirit and Power and Truth
But also his great FINAL COMING, the Last Judgment
Where Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead
We ask God to help us BE READY FOR THAT GREAT DAY OF THE LORD
It’s a long day today!! (I, for one, LOVE IT...I want Fr. Mike to KEEP GOING!!! 🤯🤯🤯)
But it’s the last day of The Return
Tomorrow, we start The Maccabean Revolt
IT IS GOING TO BE AMAZING!!
A lot of people have not read many of these books
A lot of people who are journeying with us for the last 281 days have gone through a lot of the Bible
This will be a NEW STEP FOR SO MANY PEOPLE
We are very excited to read 1 and 2 Maccabees
We are very excited to read The Book of Sirach
We are very excited to read The Book of Wisdom
Then we go to The Gospel of Luke and we’ll be living in the New Testament!!
That’s coming up REALLY SOON
FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER